an open shelter right there." This is because horses are somewhat
claustrophobic by nature. They have to learn that it is safe to go into
a shed and may prefer to stand out in the elements.
a horse is not being worked regularly during the winter months, it is
preferable to avoid using blankets to keep the horse warm. If blankets
are used on a regular basis, then the horse will not grow a thick hair
coat, which is important to protect the horse from the cold
temperatures. If a blanket is used on a regular basis at the beginning
of winter, then it must be used throughout the cold months to compensate
for the thin hair coat.
if a horse is worked regularly a blanket is encouraged because the horse
can become overheated during exercise if its hair coat is too thick.
Another way to inhibit the hair growth is to provide 16 hours of
daylight per day using a 60 to 100 watt bulb, followed by at least 6
hours of darkness per night. Dr. Scoggins says, "This method will
trick the horse into thinking that it is summertime, and the hair coat
will either not grow or will shed early."
hard work, horses are often hot and sweaty. When it is very cold
outside, it is very important that the horse be dried thoroughly and
that the hair is brushed so that it stands up. This prevents the sweat
from causing a chill, which can lead to illness. The brushed hair
provides the horse with insulation against the cold.
may need more calories to sustain them through the cold months as well.
An all-you-can-eat, high-quality diet of hay should be provided. The hay
is not only important for the normal functioning of the gastrointestinal
system of the horse, but the digestion process also generates heat. The
horse may also need an increase in grain in its diet to ensure that it
is getting enough calories.
one of the most important factors in caring for your horse in winter is
the availability of water. Not only is frozen water unavailable for
drinking, but horses will also avoid drinking water if it is too cold.
It is possible to increase a horse’s intake of water by 60 percent or
more if water is maintained at around 65 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
paying attention to the needs of your horse during winter months you can
ensure that your horse stays healthy and ready for a productive spring.
If you have questions about taking care of your horse during the winter,
please contact your local equine veterinarian.