Creative Writing Lot 2 – Short Story, Prose 6-8 Top Ten: Lola Yde, Madison 7 Preparing Your Horse For Winter Winter will soon be here so its time to prepare your horse to endure the cold, winds, snow and change in routine! Shelter!: Full-time turnout (paddock and/or pasture) is the most healthful way for a horse to live, even in cold climates.
The best housing for horses in winter is no housing at all, or at most a windbreak or run-in shed.
Ideally your run-in should offer protection from the elements from at least one direction, with the solid side facing the prevailing winter wind.
Check that your sheds are in good repair, with roofing in place, nails safely embedded in wood, and no protruding sharp edges Protect from poor ventilation: !If you do stable your horse be careful of not closing the barn up too tight trying to make it warm.
A horse’s body heat warms air in a closed barn but unfortunately humidity, which is also trapped, makes the barn damp, dank, and cold.
Poor ventilation tightly traps stale air pollution including ammonia, endotoxin particulates from manure, dust, and molds from hay and bedding.
If high enough levels are in the barn, your horse is at higher risk of diseases such as inflammatory airway disease (IAD) or recurrent airway obstruction (heaves).
If possible, store hay and bedding in a separate building to reduce dust levels.
Also, turn horses outside when cleaning stalls to decrease exposure to molds, dust and endotoxin particles.
Veterinarians recommend vaccinating your horses against the respiratory viruses influenza, rhinopneumonitis, and strangles in both autumn and spring.
To Blanket or Not to Blanket: !Blankets are not needed by horses with full body hair.
In fact, blankets tend to compress the wooly coat’s layers, which makes them less able insulate against cold.
You may need to blanket your horse if you clip their winter hair growth so they can exercise without getting too sweaty and dry more easily.
Make sure your blankets are clean and in one piece before the weather turns.
Consider a partial rather than a full clip to get the benefits of easily cleaned sweaty areas and heavy hair coat in other areas.
Turnout!: While turning a horse out is ideal for his general health, doing so in questionable winter footing is not always safe.
Keep some gravel or kitty litter to put down when the ground is frozen in ruts created by hoof traffic and when open water areas freeze overnight into glare ice.
Exercise and Feet: Take shoes off if your horse isn’t worked heavily.
If you keep shoes on, use snow pads to minimize ice balls from forming and causing stumbling.
To keep your horse ready for more intense conditioning come spring, keep him in light exercise during winter.
Warming up and cooling down your horse is especially important when it’s cold outside.
Once a sweaty horse stops work, he can quickly chill.
Blanket your sweaty horse immediately after removing your saddle.
In addition, continue walking him a short while to maintain muscle (blood) circulation to avoid muscle cramping.
Once dry, the blanket can be removed unless the horse has been clipped. 8 Digestive Health!: Water intake is especially important in winter to maintain hydration and avoid impaction colic.
Encourage your horse to drink by providing warm water through heated buckets or stock tanks with heaters.
Feel your horse’s back, withers, and ribs routinely to track body condition and adjust rations accordingly.
Make sure your horse has a healthy fat covering over his ribs rather than entering winter months in too lean a condition.
It’s best to increase calories in winter by offering more hay.
Overloading on grain can cause a high carbohydrate load in the hindgut that could cause laminitis (inflammation of the sensitive laminae that connect the hoof to the coffin bone).
Good dental care maximizes the nutrition horses get from their feed so make sure your middle-aged and older horse has his teeth checked at least yearly.
Don’t forget parasite control.
This year the warm fall made for some late bot hatches, so check and give appropriate wormer.
Adapted from Winterizing Horses, www.thehorse.com. 9
Read more about Laminitis : Overloading on grain can cause a high carbohydrate load in….: