Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
Click on Logo (Original artwork by Lanie Frick for Messick Quarter Horses. Not permitted to be copied)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Keeping Horses Warm

(Photo from last winter)
Horses stay warm in the winter by eating lots of hay! Eating helps to keep the horse warm from the chewing and digesting of the hay. Horses are grazers, and should have hay in front of them at all times. Then they can graze when they want to. And then they usually get too fat over the winter.

Making sure the hay is a high quality forage will keep the horses from developing that “hay belly”. Large amounts of indigestible, tough, stemmy, hay lays in the large intestine of the hindgut, causing the intestine to stretch, giving the appearance of the hay belly. (But make sure the hay belly isn’t from worms, as commonly seen in young horses that have poor nutrition).

(Photo from last winter)

Keep the horses somewhere out of the wind. Most people think they need to keep horses in a barn or lean to. I don't have either of those for my larger group of horses. They have the tree line, even though there isn't much cover from rain and wind, now that the leaves are off. They also get behind the round bale. Most of the time, my horses stand side by side, with their butts to the wind. Most horses do ok outside, until it gets to be a cold rain. Older horses will need a winter blanket, as well as a horse that is by him/herself in a pen and is shivering.

Provide water that isn’t froze over! Horses won't drink freezing water, or as much water as they should. Keep the water thawed. Some people even cover their tanks and only leave a small opening for the horses to drink. My horses would probably destroy the cover, nibbing with it all the time! We have put a large piece of white foam insulation under the tank, cutting it the same size as the water tank. That lasted until the horses kept pawing at the edge of the tank, breaking up the styrofoam.

Provide salt, so they lick the block when they need to. I also feed a small amount of a granular mineral salt mix with their grain. Either way will make the horses thirsty, and drink more.
Grain is optional. I just starting graining everyone again, as I have young growing horses, mares in foal, and some working horses, even though they aren't working too hard right now. Grain does not provide the digestible heat that hay does though.

I give a high fat grain, as the high fat helps the horse to utilize the nutrients. I also grain with a product high in vitamins and minerals.

I don't use winter blankets, but if you do, make sure they are waterproof!

Check their hooves, and now may be the time to trim before winter hits harder. But I don't like a hoof too short, as they may bruise their sole on the frozen ground. Keep the hooves cleaned out from ice balls. Hooves won't grow as fast during the winter, as nutrition is going to keep the horse warm and not to coat shine and hoof growth.

1 comment:

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Lots of helpful information for horse owners who may be just starting out.
I love seeing happy horses outside just enjoying being horses.



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