Caring for horses in winter can be tough! We’ve put together a few tips on how to look after your horses living out 24/7 or those who are just turned out for a period of time.
Turning your horse out in the snow.
Some horse owners may decide not to turn out in the snow due to the risks. While fresh snow is fine for most horses, compact, icy snow can certainly cause a problem. As snow starts to melt, it can also cause the field to become incredibly wet and slippery.
Here’s a few tips for dealing with the snow:
- Using grit or sand on areas which are likely to get slippery, i.e., gateways and tracks.
- Vaseline or similar under their feet can help prevent snow balling up and compressing in their feet.
- Keep a hoof pick at the field to clear their feet as much as possible.
- Make sure they have enough to eat. While horses will certainly browse for grass under the snow, eating forage will help ‘ignite’ their internal heating system to keep them warm.
- A warm settled horse is less likely to run around in the snow and wet. If your horse does tend to, a protective turnout chap might help.
- As the snow melts and the field becomes increasingly wet, you might want to think about shielding your horses’ legs from the elements. Using a breathable turnout chap can help create a barrier to keep skin healthy until the field has dried up a bit.
Leg protection for horses on limited turnout.
While this might apply for ‘field hooligans’ who live out 24/7, horses on limited turnout in winter may be ‘fresh’ and exuberant. We know their legs are precious and easily injured. Using a protective turnout boot, such as our Hardy Chaps, will help reduce the impact of any potential injuries. They also provide some protection against the elements too, keeping legs drier and less muddy.
Leg protection for horses living out 24/7.
There are 2 main considerations you may want to use turnout boots or chaps for when your horse is turned out all the time.
Skin protection and health. Being out in the wet and cold (and snow!) takes a toll on skin. There are arguments for and against feathers, which may provide a natural barrier for some horses. Using a breathable turnout boot, such as the Close Contact Chaps, to keep legs drier with the majority of mud off to keep skin healthier. This may be of benefit for horses prone to Mud Fever.
Stiffness. Especially for the golden oldies out there. While we don’t want to wrap them up in cotton wool, stiff joints can be tough for horses living out. Using a turnout chap to keep the legs warm and dry, such as our Hardy Chaps, can help those stiff achy joints.
Access to water, especially for horses living out 24/7.
If you horse is just out for the day, you can break the ice on their water and that should last them in the normal UK winter temperatures. However, if your horse is living out 24/7, their water could potentially be frozen overnight… Using a tennis ball or a plastic bottle with water and salt in it will help keep the water moving. This helps to prevent it freezing.
Other things to consider:
- Don’t just break it, take the ice out.
- Using a bigger trough will reduce the likelihood of freezing over
Other things to think about for your horse in the field:
- If they are out 24/7, make sure you check their rugs twice a day.
- Additional forage. They might need a bit of extra help or something to keep them busy if the grass is limited. Munch blocks are perfect for a fibre boost and contain added vitamins and minerals.
- If they aren’t getting regular hard feed, they may need a multivitamin. Essential vitamins and minerals help maintain healthy skin, bones, muscles and digestion. Simplysunshine is perfect for horses living out as you can feed it directly from the hand. Just as you might take a multi-vitamin tablet every day.
Is your horse in the stable overnight? Read our blog here about caring for your stabled horse in the winter.
Find out more about our Simply Nutrition range here.
Find out more about our turnout boots here.