The cold has arrived here in Colorado. And if you are like the rest of us, you were scrambling yesterday to make sure your horse (and barn) were ready for the weather change.
Here are just a few tips to try to make the temperature (and weather) transition easier on all of us:
- Feed extra hay: the digestive process helps keep your horse warm, so extra hay will keep them warmer. Another benefit is the more constant food supply will help avoid colic.
- Heated waterers: use some form of water heater to avoid frozen water sources. This will keep your horse hydrated during cold snaps as well as make less work for you. No one likes breaking up ice! Plus, who likes drinking ice cold drinks during a snowstorm anyways?
- Blankets: if your horse has not grown a substantial winter coat yet, you might want to consider a blanket for added warmth and protection from the cold, snow, and dampness.
- Salt/Minerals: be sure to provide your horse with quality salt/minerals all year, but especially during the cold. Inadequate salt in the diet can result in abnormal eating behavior such as licking or chewing objects which have salt on them or licking/eating dirt. Water intake may also decrease without proper salt/mineral intake, increasing the risk of impaction colic.
- Shelter: good shelter is important all year in Colorado, but during the cold and winter it is even more important. Horses need a way to get out of the wind and inclement weather in an effort to stay warm (and for their forage to not blow away). This can come in the form of a shelter in a pasture, a stall in a barn, or other methods depending on your property’s setup.
- Bedding: you may want to add extra bedding for your horse’s comfort. It will give them a soft/warm place to lay down. It will also help soak up any urine before it can turn to ice and become dangerous.
- Footing Needs: Pay attention to the footing in your horse’s area. Most horses can cope with deep snow, but ice can be dangerous. Where needed, apply snowmelt to help icy conditions. If your horse is shod, you might also need pads to help prevent snow and ice balling up in the foot and causing a slippery situation for your horse.
And remember, our first hard freeze kills off many of our annoying (and disease-carrying pests), so it is not all bad!