Caring for horses in winter can be tough, whether you’re stabling your horses or turning them out… or just want to ride! We’ve put together a few tips on how to look after your stabled horse in winter, which brings about a few challenges.
The number one challenge when stabling horses is likely to be stiffness and or lack of circulation.
The easy way to explain how they might feel is if you think about how you feel on a flight. You might not only feel stiff after sitting for long periods of time, but your feet and legs may begin to swell too – making you feel quite uncomfortable.
The obvious solution would be to keep your stabled horse as mobile as possible. One way might be to use a Munch Block in a Munch Net. It encourages them to use their lips, neck and back in ways similar to when they are browsing in the field. Take a look on how to use it and the benefits here.
Other ideas include:
- Using treat balls.
- Putting hay in different areas.
- Taking them out for frequent bouts of exercise/hand walking
- Hand-grazing several times.
Sometimes it’s not always possible to keep stabled horses moving if you’re not around. In this instance, using a boot or chap can help. It will provide gentle compression to the lower leg can help keep it warm. This in turn will help keep the circulation moving. Stable Chaps are perfect for this, but if your horse needs a bit more help then Magnetic Chaps might be a better option. Hind & Hock Magnetic Chaps also provide coverage higher up their hind legs.
Another common challenge when stabling horses is keeping your their brain occupied.
As we’ve experienced during lockdown – seeing the same four walls for extended periods of time is not great for our mental health. The same could be said for our horses too.
Keeping your horse occupied and mentally stimulated in the stable will help. Again, using a Munch Block in a net will ‘activate’ their natural foraging behaviour. Other ways of doing this include treat balls or even just hiding carrots. Hanging the munch net in a spacious area (i.e. not against a wall) will make your horse have to work harder for it too. Sprinkling SimplyIrresisitible over hay or haylage will keep your horse occupied as they forage for it. It will benefit their digestive system too with the probiotic it contains!
Which leads us onto the next challenge! Nutrition.
Stabling horses shouldn’t mean their diet changes too much in terms of make up. We all know forage/fibre should make up the majority of their diet.
There are some other challenges winter poses to some of the nutrients our horses require. Rugging horses and keeping them in inhibits their ability to absorb Vitamin D from the sun. Lack of fresh grass also means they don’t get Beta Carotene, which is essential for Vitamin A. Feeding a multi-vitamin such as SimplySunshine will ensure they are topping up on vitamins and minerals. It also contains high levels of Vitamin D and Beta Carotene. The probiotic pellet will help the hindgut too if your horse has gone from having turnout, to no turnout.
Forage blocks such as Munch Blocks can help top up their fibre too. Our Munch Blocks contain 50% of the essential vitamins and minerals recommended for the average horse (500kg). Did you know you can soak the munch blocks in warm water too for a warming high fibre treat! See the video below.
Does your horse get limited turnout too? Read our article here on dealing with turnout in winter, including with snow!
Find out more about our Simply Nutrition Range here.
Read about our Magnetic Range here.
Find out more about our Stable Chaps here.