When winter is upon us and the temperature is dropping, here are some top tips on how to keep your horse or pony as happy and comfortable as possible, once the winter weather arrives.
Beat the stable blues!
With many horses restricted to their box due to ice and snow preventing turnout or exercise, there are lots of things you can do to help keep your horse from going stir crazy.
The first thing to adjust is your horse’s energy intake to reflect his decreased exercise. This can be done by reducing your horse’s concentrate ration and increasing the fibre part of his diet. This will not only help keep him calmer, but will help keep him warm from within, as his digestive system will be kept moving.
With freezing weather it can become virtually impossible to soak your hay. Instead, try a good quality haylage, preferably a brand which is dust-free and clearly states the nutritional content, and select one that is higher in fibre.
Try using more than one hay net (one inside the other) or purchase one with smaller mesh as this will help slow down your horse’s eating, allowing him to trickle feed like he would when grazing. It will provide mental and physical stimulation, resulting in reduced stable boredom.
Water intake can be massively reduced when it is freezing, especially in older or fussy horses. When cold, horses are less keen to drink from a freezing water bucket. As water is the most essential component in the horse’s diet, it is vital you do all you can to ensure your horse’s consumption is sufficient. Try adding warm water to your horse’s feed and also add some to your horse’s cold water bucket. Ensure the water is not so hot it will burn your horse!
If you keep your horse away from home, make sure you have his nutritional routine written down and kept at the yard. This will ensure that should you be unable to make it to the yard yourself, someone else can make sure your horse gets the right feed whilst you’re not there.
Thanks for HorseHage for their help with this article.