It’s that time of year again, the dark nights are quickly drawing in and the winter chill is on its way. The upcoming months can bring a whole host of challenges for horse owners, having to keep them comfortable and stay on top of common issues such as their water trough freezing over. Especially for more vulnerable horses who may be older or have health issues, taking extra precautions in the winter months is vital. To help you get ahead and prepare for the chilly weather, we’ve pulled together our top tips that can help you rest assured your horse is warm and healthy.
- Choosing the right rugs
As the weather starts to turn, rugging your horse with suitable options for the conditions will help them maintain a comfortable body temperature. Good quality turnout rugs are a common choice for the wet and windy weather due to their wicking properties, keeping your horse protected from the harsh conditions. As the temperatures get particularly low, a fleece rug can be used either on its own in the stable or underneath existing rugs as an extra layer of protection to keep the warmth in. It is important that your horse rugs are well fitted, sitting closely against the skin without digging into their body or restricting movements.
- Checking on dental health
This is the perfect time of year for a dental examination, checking on the condition of your horse’s teeth before the winter approaches. Grazing is a massive part of your horse’s lifestyle, especially in the winter months as it allows them to utilise the energy source they need to stay healthy. If any dental issues are present within your horse’s mouth, this can affect the way they eat and minimise their intake, having an especially bad effect within the colder months, so ensure that regular checks are carried out to prevent this.
- Kit out their stable
Ensuring your horse has suitable living conditions is especially important during the winter months. Lay down good quality hay or bedding that doesn’t produce dust, keeping a layer of insulation from the cold flooring. Many horse owners opt for a layer of footing material such as sand or a wood product which makes for easier maintenance whilst providing your horse with a suitable base for the winter weather. As well as the base, ensure that their living conditions remain dry, eliminating any areas prone to leaks or strong draughts.
- Prepare for the harsh weather
Get yourself ready for any unexpected storms or snow spells, ensuring you have everything in place to continue providing your horse with the daily care it needs. It is common for your horse’s water supply to freeze over during the winter but it is vital that you stay on top of this so they have access to fresh water at all times, considering heated buckets if the issue perseveres. It is also recommended to keep a stock of food and pasture so you have a back up supply if you are unable to reach a source or there is a winter shortage.