Horses stay warm by digesting fiber, so extra hay will help keep him warm.
n Happy Thanksgiving! Give your horse a special treat and some time to just
hang out with you as thanks for the wonderful year you’ve had.
n If your riding or training schedule continues throughout the winter, con-
sider giving your horse a trace clip or body clip. This will allow him to exercise
at moderate levels without getting sweaty with a winter coat. Remember that a
clipped horse will need the extra warmth of a blanket.
n Bare hooves grip ice and snow better than shod hooves. If your horse can go
barefoot in the winter, consider pulling his shoes now. Going barefoot also allows
his hoof to expand and grow out nail holes.
n While rotational deworming programs are generally considered out of date,
there can be merit to deworming with ivermectin after the first hard freeze to
kill bots. Check with your veterinarian.
n Begin increasing your horse’s rations to compensate for the colder weather.
n Gather your winter feeding and care toolkit: headlamps, flashlights, spot-
n During the long, dark days of winter, adjust your schedule when possible to
take advantage of daylight. Try to feed at least one meal during daylight to mon-
itor your horse for injuries and general well-being. It can be easier to miss things
in a dimly lit stall or shed.
lights, batteries and backup power sources.
n Try to prevent snow from packing into your horse’s hooves by coating the
n Let the holiday treat season begin! While our horses don’t need special
treats, they enjoy a sprinkle of shredded carrots or a chopped apple on occasion.
n If you can provide free choice forage during the coldest months, this will help
your horse stay warm, maintain body weight and increase mental well-being.
n While we humans like to gather inside and tuck ourselves under warm blankets,
horses thrive with movement and fresh air every day. Unless the ground is a sheet of
ice or a blizzard is predicted, try to allow horses as much outdoor access as possible.
bottom with petroleum jelly or spray cooking oil. If your horse is shod in the
winter, ask your farrier about rubber pads that pop the snow out with each step
or adding ice caulks to his shoes.
n If you use water buckets, try to work with your horse’s preferred drinking
n To save some money on electric bills while still keeping your horse supplied
with drinkable water, consider putting your tank heater on a timer and adjusting the
time to the daily temperatures. The heater can be shut off during the warmest hours
of the day or cycle on and off every couple hours, then turn on from dusk to dawn.
n Ideally, locate the water tank where it will be in the sunshine for part of the
day. This will help warm the water and keep ice from forming as quickly.
schedule and provide fresh water at those times.
No matter where you live,
a quick daily assessment
can help you spot signs of
trouble. Early action can
help avert a crisis—and the
vet bill that comes with it.
MONITOR THE FOLLOWING:
Fresh, clean water available continually
Correct amount of manure production
based on feed quantity and type
Feed consumed completely (if soaked
feeds are not eaten completely in the
warm months, the feed can sour or
Indoor stalls clean and outdoor paddocks clean when ground is not frozen
Regular manure removal and effective
manure management or composting
No signs of illness: coughing, wheezing, behavioral changes, teary eyes,
No signs of injury: scrapes, cuts,
bruises, puncture wounds, lameness
Fly protection applied as needed:
sprays, ointments, fly sheets and
No signs of hazards in the stalls,
pens or pastures: no protruding nails,
downed fencing, open or broken gates
If your horse frequently wears a fly
sheet or a winter blanket, check
underneath to be sure he’s not overheating. Remember to take sheets and
blankets off regularly for grooming
and to assess any hair rubs on shoulders or withers.
Remove winter blankets during the
warm part of the day, or switch to a
lighter weight to prevent overheating.
Check that the sheet or blanket is not
torn, which can be dangerous if a
horse gets hung up in it, and adjust if
it’s shifted to one side.