Cold winter weather can be hard on animals especially horses if they are not cared for properly. Here are some tips to help your horse handle the cold conditions:
- Provide easy access to a clean, fresh water source. Horses can’t survive very well on snow and ice. Switching the ration from pasture grass to hay increases the amount of water a horse must drink to maintain a healthy digestive system.
- Plenty of good quality hay should be fed. The energy requirements of a horse increases as the air temperature decreases. Alfalfa hay usually has more energy than grass hay. If a horse can’t maintain the proper body condition on hay, grain can be added to increase the energy level of the ration. Many horses don’t require grain to meet their energy requirements.
- Some shelter from the wind should be provided. Blankets and stalls are not usually necessary if the horse has developed a dense hair coat. This hair coat protects them from cold temperatures as long as it stays dry. A wet hair coat provides less insulation. Poorly ventilated stalls can cause respiratory problems if moisture and ammonia levels are high.
- Allow horses to have some exercise. This increases their appetite and reduces boredom, which causes chewing, biting, and kicking of facilities.
More information - Winter Care for Horses, Nebraska Extension.