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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.