I find myself waking to cool mornings and there are rumors that we will be seeing snow before too long. The winter brings plenty of fun festivities (look for my next blog for more details), but it can also bring more work and worry. Take a look at the following tips to minimize the hassle and make sure you have time to enjoy the holiday season!
Winter brings ice along with it. While the ice may be fun for skating on, it can make providing a continuous supply of fresh, unfrozen water for your horse difficult. I’ve heard that heated waterers are the way to go. Just make sure to check it daily to ensure it’s working properly.
Staying warm is also important. Remember, though, that horses don’t feel the cold the same as you do. That’s because our critical temperatures (the temperature at which calorie use is increased to maintain body temperature) are different. I’ll start to burn more energy when it reaches 30 to 50°F outside. Sometimes you can help us out by blanketing, but our natural winter hair coat and any fat layer we may have do a pretty good job of keeping us warm. (I knew there was a good reason to eat more cookies!) The wind and rain are what really make staying warm difficult. Providing some sort of shelter from the elements will make your horse happier and warmer. If you have questions about whether or not to blanket your horse, there are plenty of great resources including this Equine Science Center Fact Sheet on To Blanket or Not to Blanket.
I have to admit my favorite part about the dropping temperatures is the chance to eat more! Unfortunately, I’ve been told I can’t eat just anything (and here I was hoping I could sneak even more cookies in). Increased hay consumption is the best thing for my horsey friends and I because it will ferment inside our digestive tracts and produce more heat than grain or other feeds. For each degree below the horse’s critical temperature, hay consumption should increase by 1%. I say bring on the next meal!
As we enter the festive part of the year, take a moment to count your blessings! I am sure you are all thankful for your horsey friends. We horses are thankful for the wonderful owners and staff who provide for us. Use the tips provided here to make sure you’re on the list of responsible horseowners this year so we can be thankful for you too!
Until Next Time!