It is that time of year again when thoughts turn to frozen waterers, burst pipes and icy fields. Here are a few quick thoughts on horse keeping in frigid weather. And a link to a humorous look at deciding when and how to blanket your horse. Stay Warm!
- Horses generally do better if allowed turnout as opposed to 24-7 in a stall.
- Horses generally tolerate cold temperatures, down to 0° to 10˚F, better than people.
- Water should be warmed up to approximately 50˚F in the winter as colder water leads to less consumption.
- Snow covered pastures can be okay as long as the snow isn’t too deep or iced over on the top.
- ICE can be dangerous – if the pasture is icy, risk for injury goes up significantly.
- Care should be taken that horses don’t get wet, either from freezing rain or sleet. Wet coats lead to less natural insulation from the hair.
- Horses should have access to shelter in the event of frozen precipitation or gusty winds.
- Blankets, if used, should fit properly and be checked frequently. Improper fits can lead to chafing, sores, etc. “Waterproof” blankets that soak through are more harmful than no blanket.
- Horses need lots of energy from feed to better cope with cold. Hay is an excellent source. More hay is needed in winter to replace the roughage they don’t get from grazing pastures.
- Horse hooves will do far less damage to winter pasture if it is frozen than if it is wet. Compaction of 2 to 4 inches is very common on wet fields. But if you just seeded your field and are still waiting for it to reach optimum growth try to find another option
- Horses in good condition and acclimated to the weather are often better off and would rather be outside.
Here’s some good information about blanketing….