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How to Care for Horses in Winter: Horses and Cold Weather

David considers himself a huge fan of equestrian sports who is into sharing his experience with other horse riders.

Horse with a blanket in winter

Horse with a blanket in winter

Cold Weather Horse Care

Winter is just around the corner. That means you need to revise your rules for horse care. What is the difference between winter care and summer care? How do you keep horses warm in winter?

Let’s take a look at the horse grooming basics that are especially important for novice owners.

Why Horse Clipping?

Grooming a horse in winter involves clipping. Depending on how quickly the horse’s coat grows back, it may be clipped several times during the winter.

What’s the point? Short hair is easier to care for than long hair, and it dries out much faster, which means less risk of colds. The short coat prevents the horse from overheating.

If the day and night temperature is quite different, you can cover a horse with a blanket. This will help to protect your horse from freezing while it’s having a nap.

Besides, there are also turnout horse blankets that are waterproof and can be worn in rainy and snowy weather.

Prepare the Stable for Cold Weather

Starting in the fall, you need to make sure that the stable is ready for the first frost. Otherwise, the horse can easily catch a cold and get sick.

  • The stable should be warm and as dry as possible. Make sure there are no leaks where the wind can get inside from.
  • If the stable has old windows that let the cold through, you should cover them with foil to keep the place warm.
  • Pay attention to the general condition of the stable. The time before the cold weather arrives is ideal for changing rotten planks and, if necessary, insulating the walls.
  • Keep in mind that the stable will be damp in winter. This means you need to provide sufficient supplies of the bedding to change it more often and avoid germ accumulating. For the same reason, the stable should be ventilated regularly.

These conditions will be perfect for your hooved friend.

White horse standing on the trail

White horse standing on the trail

Horse Riding in Winter

Winter is not a reason to lock down an animal in a stable. Pleasure riding with a horse is possible and even necessary as it helps your companion to stay healthy. But it’s crucial to know a few rules to avoid complications:

  • Go horseback riding when there’s no strong wind.
  • Avoid going out when it’s snowy or rainy.
  • Try to turn out your horse in the daytime.
  • The ideal walking time is up to an hour per day.

At the same time, you shouldn’t ride a horse at a gallop as it’s a heavy workload, especially if there’s hard snow outside. Additionally, you should give preference to riding in familiar places in winter.

Winter Horseshoes

The horses should wear winter horseshoes. They are slightly different from summer ones, and they prevent snow from sticking to them. Thus, this ensures that the horse doesn’t slip on the street or fall down.

Before riding, special thorns are placed into the horseshoes, which must be removed after a walk.

Equine Hygiene in Cold Weather

Horses are not showered in winter. The cleanliness of the coat is maintained with a special brush and scraper. In case of stubborn dirt, it can be removed with a damp sponge and then wiped dry with a cloth.

In addition, pay attention to feeding your companion. Your horse needs a little more food than in summer.

Watering Horses in Winter

During the winter, horses consume a lot of hay; thus, the need for water increases. However, animals refuse to drink cold water. And this may end up in digestive problems.

  • Horses are watered twice a day in winter—in the morning and in the evening.
  • You should serve them with warm water.
  • A sufficient volume of liquid for an adult stallion is 10 to 15 gallons. As for foals, it’s calculated according to the formula—1 gallon for every 100 pounds of weight.

Besides, it’s worth remembering that in winter, horses are prone to have a fit of the blues as well as colic and respiratory diseases. That’s why you should pay more attention to the animal and check their well-being—you'll nail winter with flying colors!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2020 David Garcia