In the past week the weather has taken a turn towards much colder temperatures in much of the UK. It isn’t snowing – YET! – however a change in temperature means a change in management for our horses and ponies, which can provide a challenge for equine owners, so it is important to be clued up, in order to handle the adjustments to your horse or pony’s care that may be forthcoming.
One of the main factors to be borne in mind is your horse’s nutritional needs over wintertime. During Autumn and Winter, monitoring your horse’s weight is advisable, as it can be of detriment if they loose weight during this time, approaching Winter below par.
It is vital to recognise that during the winter months, our equines’ grazing is reduced, or it may even be frozen over on cold days, and this is in addition to the fact it will be depreciated in nutritional value. Therefore it is vital to supply ample hay or haylage both during the day at pasture and whilst your horse is stabled at night.
A weighty issue
Keeping your horse the correct weight and supplied with the necessary nutrients can be a challenge in winter time and it is all too common for equines to loose weight during this time. Essential fibre in the form of hay or haylage keeps the gut healthy and mobile. Also digesting bulky forage helps to keep our horses warm through the fermentation process of the roughage being digested and this helps your horse to stay toasty and the correct weight! This should be provided alongside a correctly balanced concentrate feed when required and a vitamin and mineral supplement such as Scientific Nutritional Products’ Horse & Pony Multivitamin Supplement!
An equally critical point is to remember that in cold weather, our water buckets and troughs are susceptible to freezing. Upon reaching the yard this should always be the first thing horse owners check in wintertime, as our horse’s water source may have been inaccessible for a period of time if there has been a hard frost over night! It can be wise to add hot water to your horse’s water buckets, if it is safe to do, so the night before as this can help prevent the buckets freezing over!
Some horse owners allow their horse’s coat to grow in order for their own natural resources in a warm winter coat to support them.
However, if you intend to work your equine hard over the winter season, it may be essential to clip them. Make sure you only apply a full clip if your horse needs one, or if they are simply in light, gentle work, a blanket or trace clip may suffice. If your equine is clipped it is important to ensure they are sufficiently rugged in order to make sure they doesn’t lose energy, calories and weight whilst keeping warm. It is advisable to check the weather forecast each morning and night so you can accurately judge what rugs your horse needs!