With shorter daylight hours and icy temperatures sweeping across the U.S., understanding your horse’s needs is critical to keeping your horse happy and healthy in the approaching winter.
Use Your Head
While horses are better equipped to handle freezing temperatures, lung burn is an issue that should never be taken lightly.
Similar to the burning sensation you feel after an intense run in freezing weather, your horse can experience severe lung damage if exposed to chilled weather for extended periods of time, especially when engaged in strenuous activity.
During the colder months, it’s ideal to have your horse participate in light exercise to maintain their physical fitness. Ensuring proper warm-up, in addition to training in an indoor facility, can keep your horse active even in the harshest of winters.
Shed the Extra Layers
While riders need layers of clothes to stay warm and regulate body temperature, having too many layers on your horse can do more harm than good.
With a full winter coat, horses are likely to become sweaty fairly quickly as they must put extra effort into their movements when faced with sleet or snow. During this time, be aware that the drying process can often take hours and limit physical activity to keep your horse from sweating too much as this can result in chilling.
Stay Off the Ice
Although ice skating can be a fun winter activity for humans, the same cannot be said for horses. NEVER attempt riding on ice.
Ice provides very little traction and can cause your horse to lose their footing and experience issues getting back up after a nasty fall, opening them up to injuries like fractured limbs.
Take increased precautions when you do decide to brave bitter conditions by ensuring your horse is properly shoed to provide better grip and avoid drifting.
Horses adapt quickly to cold weather so long as they’re well-taken care of. While wintertime might come with a host of challenges, taking the conditions into account as well as making a greater effort to equip yourself with knowledge on proper horse care can make the transition into winter quick and seamless.