Taking care of your horses through the later half of the year can be a painless process as long as you are maintaining your horse correctly. Letting your horse lose condition or eat excessively can be detrimental to their overall health and will leave you with a more difficult experience in the warmer months to try and get your horse back in shape. Consistency is the key with working your horse and your methods shouldn’t vary significantly in the colder seasons.
Your horse has a thick coat and is much more tolerant than you are of the cold. Their coat continues to grow and thicken as the days get shorter all the way to the winter solstice. It’s important to try and avoid blanketing your horse as much as possible in this period because that will inhibit the growth of your horse's coat. Most of the very cold days come in the winter/early spring so avoiding this in winter is advisable. Horses don’t need blanketing until around 5 degrees Fahrenheit which is colder than it usually gets around here on this side of the mountains. This rule of thumb also goes for enclosures. The less exposure you get them to the elements, the less they will be acclimated to them. If you clip your horse in the winter you may need to look into a blanket. Both of our locations have a huge selection of Weatherbetta Horse Blankets to fit your horse!
Despite the cold weather and the short days the biggest concern for horse’s is hydration. Getting enough water is vital for every aspect of your horse's health and can lead to colic, dehydration, constipation, decreased digestion, and other severe problems. Winter poses multiple problems for ensuring your horse is getting the water they need. The first factor is moisture in their diet. In spring and summer when the grass is lush and green, they can receive up to 40 of their moisture needs from their grazing. When the grass dries or dies then the moisture dries up with it making the only source they have their water bucket. The cold then needs to be taken seriously. Their water source can freeze and can prevent them from getting it for extended periods of time. For a horse that’s 1000 pounds, they will drink around 10 gallons per day. If they have multiple hours where they can’t get that water it's clear to see how much that would set them back from their needs. At the Co-op we carry a large selection of options to keep their water full and unfrozen!
Keep your tanks full with the automatic float valve!
For preventing Ice here are some of our favorite products:
Body composition should be scored regularly. In the winter their activity levels can change, as well as their feed. Under their thick warm coats sometimes huge changes in their composition can happen without you even knowing including loss of weight and muscle, or the packing on of pounds and fat storage. Neither is ideal. Naturally smaller horses retain heat worse than naturally larger horses. Young and old horses have more difficulty regulating their temperature over the middle aged horse. Whichever category your horse falls in, by doing regular composition score checks you can make sure to adjust their feed accordingly before a large change happens.
Before going straight to a grain to add weight and heat for your horse, consider first increasing their forage. Forage is largely made up of complex carbohydrates and fiber that need to be broken down in the hind gut and with fermentation. This actually will produce more long term energy for your horse and help with their overall health, as excessive grains can create bloating and other potentially dangerous health results. Slow feed hay nets are a great option to give your horse an activity while also increasing their forage consumption.
As much as possible let your horse exercise. Penning for long periods of time with lack of activity can lead to problems in their digestion, swollen legs..
Keep their bedding and stall area clean with regular shaving changes. We carry Hempalta hemp bedding in our stores now which are more absorbent than regular shavings and also reduce the amount of bacteria. Look into options like Sweet PDZ which will absorb ammonia and other harmful elements and will make your shavings last longer by aiding in water and odor maintenance.
Both our locations carry great selections of items if your horses need supplements for weight grain that will fit their dietary needs.
Vitamins and minerals are a necessity all year long so make sure to look at all of our options including loose and salt blocks.
A great option is the SweetLic Omega .This has all the vitamins and minerals they need in a tasty form that is great for that extra energy you want to give them to cope with the cold and keeps them entertained.
Stop by the Snohomish or Monroe Co-op for all your equine needs, and chat with our staff!
We’ll see you at the Co-op!