If you are anything like me, you spent the last day or two getting everything ready for the impending snow this weekend. For horse owners, winter poses special considerations when it comes to caring for these magnificent animals. I will touch on essential preparations and care tips to help you and your horses navigate the winter weather safely and comfortably below.
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- Don’t forget your water tank/trough heaters. Having access to clean unfrozen water is important for the hydration and health of your horse, especially during inclement weather.
- I use smart plugs with outdoor temperature automation to control my tank heaters. This way they are not on inadvertently when unneeded. This help me cut down on my electricity usage during the winter. Please note the plugs do need WiFi to operate. Also, be sure the wattage use of your heater is within the 1875W/15A capacity of the plug. Click here to see the smart plugs: https://amzn.to/3ShFXPf
- Make sure you are also using heavy-duty extension cords if you need them. These are rated to handle the same power as the smart plug and have a light so you can easily see if they are powered on or not from a distance. Click here to see the extension cord: https://amzn.to/49bwRtu
- Forage is important. To help keep your horse warm, it needs to be digesting. Hay is the best way to keep your horse healthy and happy during these winter storms. Constant forage also helps prevent colic.
- Prevent shivering. This can be done a variety of ways, but most important is cover from precipitation as well as wind block. Make sure your horse has adequate shelter. If you have a horse that still struggles to stay warm, you may consider blanketing your horse or stabling them. If your horse does not have an adequate winter hair coat yet, that is something else to keep in mind.
Some of the extra things I do to keep my horses happy and healthy during winter weather, and to make things easier for me:
- I turn their normal grain rations into a warm mash. I will also add hay pellets (of their normal hay type) to the mash to make it a larger quantity. Make it soupy/wet. Consider adding electrolytes to help your horse stay thirsty even when it is cold. Even just table salt will help! If the weather is going to last a significant amount of time, I will split it into 2 separate feedings to help keep moisture moving through their system all day.
- If it is going to be really snowy or wet, I will move their feeders inside their shelters (normally they eat outside).
- I use expandable hoses because they are so easy to empty. I let them collapse most of the water out and then hand-walk the rest of it out. They are easy to store and I haven’t had one freeze this way, even in the -30°F snap last winter. These are the hoses I use: https://amzn.to/495Dn57
- I also am in love with this heated had and heated neck warmer. It makes being out in the cold and snow much more tolerable! See the ones I use here: https://amzn.to/46NxVlM