Your Horse & Cold Temperatures
It is amazing how resilient horses are. They are naturally programmed to deal much better with subarctic temperatures then heat. Some of us feel bad when we sit in front of the fire watching our horses through the frosty windows. However don’t despair – horses will choose to stay outside all around the clock rather than being stalled up. If your horse is generally in a good health, isn’t clipped, has an access to a run in a shed and free choice hay, he will greatly benefit from staying outside at all times. Healthy respiratory system, better fitness, prevention of joint stiffness, decreased occurrence of ulcers etc. If your horse is clipped, has a thinner coat or doesn’t have enough “natural insulation” , go ahead and use a blanket. Make sure it fits properly though. Ill-fitting blankets is are very uncomfortable – just ask your horse.
Run in sheds that provide shelter from the wind are ideal for outdoor boarding. It allows horses to escape from rain and harsh winds whenever they need to. Wet coat decreases the natural ability of coats to fluff up & insulate. Feeding quality free choice hay is the best way to keep the horse’s inner furnace stoked and keeping him warm during cold winter months.
Digestion produces heat and makes horses able to deal with the energy loss through cold temperatures. With increased hay consumption (approx. 10% more for 10F decrease in temperature) requirement for free access to fresh water is a must otherwise impaction may occur. Water should be kept at 10 C / 50 F to encourage consumption. Free access to salt lick will also encourage your horse’s appetite for water.
Shod horses benefit from having their shoes pulled off for winter. Shoes cause snow to build up and your horse can end up walking on snowballs. If you need to keep the shoes on, make sure to have special snow blocking shoe inserts put in by a farrier. You can also try to spray the insides of the hoofs with vegetable oil that will prevent the snow to stick. Without shoes, your horses feet will regenerate themselves, strengthen and grow out nail holes.
The EcoLicious Equestrian