If you live in a country with four seasons, taking care of animals like horses can be more demanding than you first thought. There are challenges that each transition to a new season brings, most especially the possibly unforgiving drop of temperature come winter. Picture this—if it’s cold for human beings with heaters in their homes, how much more for horses left in stables.
Especially for aging horses, special care, love, and attention during the winter season are crucial. Several considerations have to be taken into account to give them the best possible care, like food, water, and specialized shelters like the ones at metalcarports.com. If you have horses, know that you can winterize them. Some things you can do to protect your horses during winter are:
- Doing Some Feed Modifications
To get the calculation approximately right, a horse needs to eat at least 2% of its body weight per day to keep its health in good condition. For horses with other underlying conditions like medical problems and pregnancy, this requirement increases from 2% to 3%. A horse’s diet is predominantly comprised of forage, usually pasture or hay.
For instance, a horse weighing 1,000 pounds needs to consume roughly 20 pounds of hay per day. During the winter months, however, there’s a need for feed modification. This means increasing from 20 pounds to at least 5 to 10 pounds more, or 25 to 35 pounds of hay on average. This is necessary for your horse to maintain their internal body warmth.
- Providing Adequate Water Supply
The increase in food or hay intake also means increased thirst for your horse. To meet those additional requirements, ensure their adequate water supply. On average, an adult horse will need at least 10 gallons of water daily, perhaps even more. It’s not just the increase in food consumption that may increase thirst in your horse, but the temperature change, too.
Because of the cooler weather, keep the water temperature between 40-43 degrees Fahrenheit. Make it as easily accessible to your horses as possible. If you’re using electrical heaters, check them every day as you feed your horses. That way, you can be on the lookout for any damage or frozen pipes due to the snow.
Your horses need fresh water every day for their digestive system to function well and to encourage healthier eating habits. If your horse drinks less water, they also eat less, making them weaker with less energy for the cold months.
- Providing Proper Shelter For Your Horse
Like food and water, another basic need of your horse during the winter month is adequate shelter. They should have protection from the cold wind and ice. If a building isn’t available, a shed with nearby trees will do.
Remember that the most that many horses can tolerate, in the absence of cold wind, is a temperature around 0 degrees F. With proper shelter, your horses will manage up to –40 degrees F, depending on the thickness of their hair coat.
You know your shed space is enough if it can fit two horses and has a covered area with at least 12×20 feet of space. Also remember to check your horses’s pasture.
- Paying Close Attention To Extra Detail
If you ride your horse during the winter months, you need to pay close attention to them before bringing them back to the shed. For instance, horses that sweat after going out for a ride need to be completely dried out first before warming them in the shed.
It’s as simple as rubbing the horse dry with a towel, feeding hay, and applying a water-wicking cooler. Horses have to be dried for their natural defenses against the cold to kick in. The insulating value of the horse’s long winter coat is lost when the horse is wet or covered with mud. This is why it’s important to dry your horse before bringing them back to the stables.
- Supplementing With Vitamins When Needed
This fifth care tip is something you’ll have to decide on with the help of your veterinarian. All horses should have access to additional vitamins as needed during winter. An example of this is what’s known as trace mineral salt, necessary for your horse to meet its electrolyte needs during the colder months.
With these winter care tips for your horses, don’t forget this most important insight—there’s no better advice you can gather than that given by your veterinarian. Whenever there’s something you’re uncertain about, always ask your vet. They’re the medical professionals who can be your best partner in ensuring the overall health of your horse. The tips above are merely there to help you take a proactive role in caring for your horse during the colder season.