Five Ways to Keep Your Horse Healthy This Winter
Is the cold weather and endless snow getting you down? Even if you are enjoying the winter season, your horse may be affected by the low temperatures and snowfall. Whether your horse is a hard-working performance horse, aging senior or trail companion, there are a few factors to consider during winter. Here are five ways to keep your horse in great shape all season long:
1) Monitor Water & Salt Intake
One challenge in the winter is making sure your horse gets enough water. As temperatures drop, it is difficult to keep fresh water available. If you don’t have a heated water bucket, you can heavily mix salt in a 12-ounce plastic water bottle and set the bottle in the water bucket to prevent freezing. Continue to give access to a trace mineral salt block; this will encourage water intake as well.
2) Make Adjustments to Feed
Your horse may need more calories in colder weather. Depending on his or her age, body type, exercise levels and specific dietary needs, add a higher fat, higher protein pelleted feed to your horse's current diet. Some horses are more prone to colic in the winter. Up your horse's water intake and consider a supplement for digestive support, like our Assure System. It is backed by our Colic Assurance Program and designed to keep your horse's digestive system healthy year-round. Need additional advice and want to speak with an Equine Nutritionist? Sign-up here to book a free consultation our on-staff Nutritionist.
3) Keep the Barn Area Clean & Dry
The snow melts eventually, and mud of course will build up. This can cause problems for your horse. Excessive mud on the skin can make your horse prone to fungal or bacterial infections. Ice build-up on the hooves can promote joint and ligament issues. Keep the barn area clear of mud, warm and dry. Wipe mud off your horse after outdoor activity and consider a bath if needed. Check out our article on bathing your horse safely in the winter.
4) Blanket Your Horse As Needed
Blanketing your horse can go a long way in the winter. Be sure to adjust your horse's blanket to the elements. For example, if your horse is out to pasture, a waterproof blanket is essential to repel water. Weather around 40 degrees calls for a lightweight blanket; weather below –10 degrees calls for a heavy blanket. Don't let your horse get overheated or sweat profusely under their blanket to prevent fungal and skin infections. Run your hand under the blanket to check the temperature and wipe down your horse before placing blankets.
5) Consider Additional Nutritional Support
Have you noticed any respiratory concerns in your horse this winter? If so, consider a high-quality supplement such as Aleira, our DHA-based equine respiratory supplement for common issues like Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO) and Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD). For seasonal allergies or immune support during times of stress or travel, Equilite Herbals Citrus C/Q formulated with vitamin C, quercetin, and citrus bioflavonoids, all of which can help boost your horse's immune system and reduce winter allergies.
If you notice any unusual behavior or symptoms from your horse, such as reduced appetite or laying down in uncommon places as temperatures drop, be sure to contact your equine veterinary professional right away. In the winter, attention to detail and these simple tips can make a world of difference for your four-legged companion and lead to much happier, healthier winter season.