Â There are many signals we can see and feel that soon fall and winter will be upon us.Â It is good to prepare for the cold weather issues before they arrive as it is easier to do so during good weather versus winter conditions.
You will first notice your horse is shedding out the old summer coat even before the cooler nights begin.Â I think this is a signal that your horse is preparing for winter and I like to support this with practices that will keep your horse in good health during these months.
Your horsesâ€™ age is a primary consideration in the overall management and care for the winter.Â Young horses are more hardy in cold weather conditions but poor conditions can still have an effect overall health and future growth. Therefore, I really manage all ages similarly in terms of care practices:
1. Vaccinations: Flu, Tetanus, Encephalitis E.&W.
2. Deworming: Fall rotation: I use Ivermectin
3. Teeth Floating: All ages checked and floated for optimum mastication of feed.
4. Feeding: Observe changes in pasture grass and adjust hay types (i.e. protein levels) and amount allotted per day.Â Â Weighing your hay feeding portions is an excellent practice.
5. Check for consistent hay sources for winter. Have dry and clean storage making sure all old and possibly moldy hay is disposed.
Take notice of your horses living area, stall or corral.Â Add flooring material and level areas to prevent standing water.Â If possible provide wind and rain protection depending on type of climatic environment.Â Check all water pipes and wrap exposed pipes and fittings with winter foam and tape.
Blanketing your horse is a personal preference.Â All blankets should be clean and in good repair from the previous winter.Â I prefer to let them grow a winter coat.Â Â It is interesting how in nature, rain sheds off a horses long hair tips leaving most of the sides and underbelly dry. I am a bit skeptical of the so-called â€œall weatherâ€ blankets abilities during heavy cold rains.Â I also think a horse must adjust their body temperature when a blanket is removed for riding.
As with all aspects of horse care, consistent and common sense practices can make all the difference for your horsesâ€™ health in your specific climate.Â Â A little preparation can go a long way.
Jackie Brittain, Merriewold Morgans Trainer