Food for Thought

Many of the horses and ponies that find their way to us here at Remus arrive underweight and hungry. One of the ‘five freedoms’ that we choose to align our Horse Welfare Watch with is, of course, freedom from hunger or thirst. With us, these horses and ponies are free to live a safe, happy life and regularly enjoy a bucket of their favourite dinner!

We all know the way to our horses’ hearts is through their stomachs, but sometimes it’s tricky to know what we should be feeding, how much and how often. With winter more or less upon us, you may have started to reassess your horse’s diet in preparation for the colder weather. This article from Horse & Hound looks at how to feed your horse what he needs, while keeping an eye on what you’re spending.

You may also like to take a look at our winter feed appeal, which will help us to feed the horses and ponies that have no one to care for them.

Time to Turn Out

What a long, hard winter it has been. Even over Easter it was miserable and, although every one of our horses here at Remus gets the very best individual care and attention, you can tell even they were starting to wonder who had stolen the sunshine! Wet, muddy paddocks have been an issue for all and such testing conditions can throw up all sorts of unwanted ailments from mud fever to respiratory problems if turnout has been limited.

Here at Remus we’re lucky enough to have large shavings paddocks for our horses to enjoy. They’re perfect for the wetter weather and essential to keep our older residents moving to prevent stiffness. Whatever your facilities, the decision to leave horses out or bring them in is rarely without compromise. This recent article from Horse & Hound sums up nicely the pros and cons from veterinary and welfare professionals, as well as owners.

Caring for your Horse this Winter

We’ve been seeing some gloriously sunny days with a bright blue sky, but it does mean that the ground is hard and the temperature extremely cold. As a result, we’ve put together a few tips to ensure you and your horse are as warm and as safe as possible.

Winter Prevention Measures

  • If you haven’t already, lag your pipes to help prevent freezing.
  • Remember to drain pipes and hosepipes at the end of each day.
  • Put a ball or similar in the water troughs to prevent them freezing over.
  • Buy in extra hay and feed in case you cannot get supplies due to heavy snowfall.
  • Stock up on grit – always carry some in your car in case you need it – but ensure it’s in a sealed container as it is corrosive.
  • Keep antifreeze and WD-40 in your car too.
  • In case of snow carry a blanket, torch and shovel and ensure your mobile phone always has some charge on it.

Safety

  • Be aware of ice – do grit where possible or put down used straw to make a safe path for you and you horse.
  • Be aware of the risks of heaters and especially of putting clothing over them – whilst we are all trying to dry our gloves and socks and dry out our horse’s rugs we put ourselves at risk of fire. Its best not to dry or warm anything over an open flame and never leave clothing unattended on a heater.

Warmth

  • In winter, keep your horse as warm as it needs to be using rugs, stable bandages and deep beds.
  • If your horse is living out make sure there’s a deep bed in the shelter and plenty of hay for him or her to eat. Remember that a horse uses food to provide inner warmth.

Water

  • Ensure you break the ice on your horses’ water supply, if you haven’t added a ball or something to the surface as we mention above, so that it can get to fresh water, and bring in hoses if necessary.
  • Your horse is more prone to impaction colic in this weather, so you might like to consider adding some warm water to its feed to ensure it takes in enough water to optimise gut mobility.

Food in the Winter

  • Try to warm food before feeding if you are feeding wet products (ie, soaked foods such as sugar beet or mashes) rather then feeding icy cold food. You can do this by just adding warm water – again see above.

Older Horses

  • Remember that older horses that are more restricted during the colder wetter weather are also more prone to impaction colic. Because the water is cold they tend to drink less and this also increases the risk, so if you can’t keep the water above freezing then try putting water in their food to ensure that they are getting sufficient fluid intake.

Those less Fortunuate

  • Please do keep an eye on any horses near you that aren’t getting the care they should, and either help out as needed or report to one of the welfare groups. We provide more information on Horse Welfare here.

There is no let up in the horse welfare crisis in the UK. Please continue with your support. We can only help these poor animals, if you help us.

Please make your donations to help us to help them here: https://www.remussanctuary.org/donate/. Alternatively you can contribute directly to our winter feed appeal here.

Winter Chill and Caring for your Horse

We’re finally seeing the cold weather we would ordinarily expect for Winter, with probably more to come, here are a few tips to keep yourself safe, make life a little easier and ensure your horse is as warm as can be.

Winter Prevention Measures

  • Lag pipes now to help prevent them freezing.
  • Remember to drain out pipes and hosepipes at the end of the day.
  • Put a ball in the water troughs to prevent them freezing over.
  • Buy in extra hay and feed in case you can not get supplies in due to snow.
  • Stock up on grit now. Always carry some in your car in case you need it – but ensure it’s in a sealed container as it is corrosive.
  • Keep antifreeze and WD-40 in your car.
  • In case of snow carry a blanket, torch and shovel and ensure your mobile phone always has some charge on it.

Safety

  • Beware the ice – do grit where possible or put down used straw to make a safe walkway for you and you horse
  • Beware the risks of heaters and putting clothing etc over them – whilst we are all trying to dry our gloves and socks and dry out our horse’s rugs we put ourselves at more risk of fire. Never dry or warm anything over an open flame and never leave clothing unattended on a heater.

Warmth

  • In winter, keep your horse as warm as it needs to be using rugs, stable bandages and deep beds.
  • If your horse is living out ensure there is a deep bed in the shelter and plenty of hay for it to eat. Remember a horse uses food to provide inner warmth.

Water

  • Ensure you break the ice of your horses’ water supply so that it can get to fresh water. Bring hoses in etc.
  • Your horse is more prone to impaction colic in this weather, so why not add some warm water to its feed to ensure it takes in enough water to ensure gut mobility.

Food in the Winter

  • Try to warm food before feeding if you are feeding wet products (ie, soaked foods such as sugar beet or mashes) rather then feed icy cold food. You can do this by just adding warm water.

Older Horses

  • Remember that older horses that are more restricted during the colder wetter weather are more prone to impaction colic. Because the water is cold they tend to drink less and this also increases the risk, so if you can’t keep the water above freezing then try putting water in their food to ensure that they are getting sufficient fluid intake.

The Less Fortunate Ones

  • Please do keep an eye on any horses near you that aren’t getting the care they should, and either help out as needed or report to one of the welfare groups. We provide more information on Horse Welfare here.

There is no let up in the horse welfare crisis in the UK. In fact the RSPCA only reported an increase just a week ago. Please continue with your support. We can only help these poor animals, if you help us.

Please make your donations to help us to help them here: https://www.remussanctuary.org/donate/.

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