Winter Care for Horses

2014-12-03 | Food & Nutrition


Hydration

During the spring, summer and autumn many horses are getting most, if not all, their forage from the grass. In the winter this is subsituted by hay. But did you know that grass is 80% water whilst hay has only 10% water! Added to the fact that horses and more likely to drink warm water then cold icy water (this goes for stabled as well as horses turned out). So the reduced intake of water along with the increased intake of dry forage such as hay could lead to impact colic. Try these tips to help increase your horses intake of water:-

 

1. Add more water than normal to their concentrate feeds.

2. Offer warm water in a bucket once or twice a day. This could be water you bring with you from home in a water carrier, or by adding hot water to the tap water down the yard. I boil a kettle and add that, but please check the temperature before offering it to your horse.

3. Sprinkle some electrolytes on their food, which should encourage them to drink. The addition of electrolytes is beneficial in the winter months, when their longer coats means they may sweat more when exercised, which could lead to the loss of essential minerals and vitamins (See our Revive).

4. If you think your horse hasn't drunk anything and the water bucket is still full after a night in the stables, follow this tip that I use for my mule Molly:- Simple syringe warm water into their mouth and as she does not like cold water, I use warm water (tested first to ensure the temperature is safe).

 

Feeding

With the grass not growing in the winter and even if the ground isn't frosty or covered in snow, your horses will need some additional feed throughout the colder month. Normally a horse can cope with 2% of its body weight being fed in forage (hay/grass) daily, however in colder weather that need can increase to 20%. As well as feeding hay in the stables, it is advantageous to feed additional hay out in the field on really chilly days. As horses are hind gut fermenters, the digesting of the forage will warm them up a bit.

 

Longer stabling times

Try feeding your horse hay in a hay net with smaller holes then the average net, something like a haylage net, this means it takes them a little longer to eat their hay, which occupies them for longer. If you can arrange to feed them little and often throughout the day rather than one big net in the morning, this stimulates them further during the day.

Treat balls are a great thing, so long as your horse likes playing with them! Although try to avoid high sugar concentrate treats and go for the healthier options on the market.

Grooming them not only gives them some time with you and occupies their minds, But by regularly grooming the mud from their coats it returns it to a fluffier coat, giving them better warmth protection that clodded wet or muddy coats dont give. If your horse is turned out use a brush that removes the mud but leave most of the natural oils, which is added waterproofing chill protection.

If your horse is stabled without turnout, due to snow or rules on the yard made to protect the grazing long term, its important to get your horse moving at least once, if not twice a day. If you can't ride out, try and use the menage or an area outside that you can walk them in hand for 10 -15 minutes. Not only is this good for their peace of mind, the movement gets the blood circulating through their body and legs and prevents stiffness.

Another good daily activity is to get your horse gently stretching in their stables. After a groom, use some food or treats to get them bending their necks and shoulders by offering a treat out from their side and getting them to take it without moving their front legs, gradually moving the treats/food closer to their girth area. You can also stretch their legs, picking them up and stretching their front legs forward and hind legs moving them backwards and forwards. Finished with a nice gentle massage along their necks and backs, which encourages blood circulation and best of all makes them feel great and loved.

 

Our winter recommended products

NoBute and NoBute Premium- In our top sellers list. The NoBute contains a natural anti-inflammatory which can be given long term. It is a very strong devils claw extract for the nutritional maintenance of healthy joints and bones. NoBute Premium has the added benefits from MSM, Vitamin C and Glucosamine Sulphate.

Immuboost- An infusion of Echinacea, which is established as having a beneficial effect in maintaining a strong and healthy immune system.

Winterwash- A non rinse Tea Tree shampoo in a handy spray bottle. It removes grease, sweat and mud without having to soak your horse which reduces the risk of them getting a chill.

Leg Wash- A Tea Tree shampoo especially formulated for washing the legs of mud. Tea Tree has natural anti-bacterial properties.

Revive- A natural great tasting supplement. It is full of essential salts and minerals lost through sweat. The salts can also encourage a horse to drink more.

Wheatgerm Oil Blend- A great addition to the feed which contains Vitamins A, D&E as well as increasing the fat intake in the diet. This all helps to attain and maintain coat and skin condition.

Soothit Cream- A thick Tea Tree and Lavender cream. This can be used on minor cuts,scrapes and irritated skin to soothe and soften the area. Its residual action means it can offer some protection to areas aswell/

Anti- Bacterial Bedding Powder- This natural anti-bacterial bedding powder eliminates ammonia, reduces viral and bacterial contamination, kills odours and reduces bedding dampness.