Winter conditions bring with them some added needs for our equine counterparts. This handout is checklist of what your horse may need. For further information on these topics, please contact us.
- Worming: It is important to ensure worming is up to date. At the end of autumn your horse should be wormed to reduce the chances of intestinal worms and bots “over wintering”. There is an increased pressure for you to ensure that your horse’s digestive tract is functioning well.
- Teeth: These need to be checked and dental records kept up to date. To ensure good conditioning of your horse, its ability to apprehend and chew food is crucial.
- Shelter and warmth: keeping horses rugged is optional. However, if you choose to rug your horse you need to continue this practice as routine. It is essential that shelter is provided in the paddock, whether it be a solid wind tree break or a roofed shelter.
- Clean fresh water: Ensure that the water source is reliable and will not freeze over. Horses like water over 7 degrees in temperature, and may not drink as much as they need in winter. If you notice your horse’s consumption of water decreasing, add warm water into their water source to warm it up and encourage them to drink. Adding warm water through chaff and grain mixes will slightly increase their water intake and reduce the chances of cold weather colic.
- Body condition: This is extremely important through the winter months. You need to monitor your horse’s condition regularly and ensure they are getting adequate levels of nutrition. The energy demands for your horses are increased in winter because of the necessity of generating more body heat to stay warm. Fibre is crucial for providing warmth, as it is fermented in the intestines. These chemical reactions generate heat, increasing core warmth. Providing fibre in forms of hay with a high leaf to stem ratio, or good pasture will assist in this process. If your horse is not maintaining body condition, particularly through the colder periods of winter, supplying additional grain into their diet will help. Not only will supplements of hay and/or grain help with temperature regulation, it will stimulate gut movement and directly improve gut health.
More information on the above topics can be provided on request. We recommend that you go through this checklist regularly to ensure you provide your horse with first class care through these cold winter months.