Winter is now upon us. After a warm and rather extended summer period in the UK, the cold and frost to which we are clearly used to have begun to re-emerge.
With this colder climate brings new challenges to horse owners, like yourselves, which you must overcome in order to ensure that your horse remains in peak condition during the colder months ahead. Here we detail some tips to help deal with the challenges that may arise in the winter months.
Ensure that your horse continues to have plenty of exercise.
During the winter it is easy for horse owners to simply confine their horses to avoid the blustery and rainy weather that usually appears in the winter months. But despite this, limiting your horse’s daily exercise content exposes them to potential health problems as they would struggle to maintain their body mass. It is essential, therefore, that your horses continue to have plenty of exercise, irrespective of weather conditions, to ensure that they remain healthy over these months. Of course exceptions may exist, such as extreme weather conditions like snow, but in general, the colder weather should not act as an excuse for not regularly exercising your horse. Providing opportunities for exercise, as you would do in the summer, must remain the norm.
Increase your horse’s water intake.
The key to your horse’s health is for their water intake to be maximised as much as possible. However, the winter months can make this process more tricky. Food sources such as grains and hay, which your horse usually consumes in greater levels during the winter, do not share the same water content as the intakes that horses normally feed on in the summer. With this in mind, it is important to make sure that your horses have access to greater quantities of water. Ensuring this would prevent any alterations in your horse’s diet from potentially appearing while also limiting the possibility of them being subject to colic.
Don’t over blanket your horse.
The colder weather usually leads to owners wanting to provide their horses with winter horse blankets. While this is perfectly understandable in order to ensure that your horse is kept warm, it must be remembered that their thick hair already acts as a blanket of its own. During the earlier winter months, horses are still developing their natural winter coat and as the days begin to get longer in the New Year their summer coat begins to develop. Providing winter horse blankets, for the intention of keeping your horses warm, would definitely make more sense when your horse does begin to develop their summer coat. The key is, therefore, striking a balance between ensuring that your horses are kept sufficiently warm and not over insulating them.
We hope these winter horse tips are useful to you in ensuring that your horse remains healthy during the winter period. But do always remember to call your local vet if your horse shows any signs of sickness.