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Posted - 01/21/2006 :  10:32:46 AM  Show Profile Send Parrothead a Private Message
There has been a lot of “talk” About blankets, feeding and so on for the winter months. Thought some of you may be interested in an article I received yesterday in the Equine Health Update from Purdue University. For what it is worth here it is

Winter Wonderland
Caring for Horses when the Temperatures Fall
By Nicole Tavel DVM student (Class of 2006)

Although the warm cozy fire is crackling inside, the bone chilling winds and snowdrifts are raging outside. When winter temperatures fall, horses need special care to stay warm and healthy. Outdoor winter housing is an acceptable means of providing shelter from the cold during the winter months. Horses are well adapted to cold temperatures due to their ability to grow long, thick, hair coats, and the presence of large muscle masses covering much of their body. Horses also use metabolic energy derived from food digestion for body temperature regulation. By considering the following recommendations, horses can comfortably tolerate harsh winter condition with no detriment to their health or body condition.

1.Feed- Until temperatures drop below 20ºF a horse will not require additional calories to meet maintenance requirements. Old and young horses tend to loose body condition over the winter. Although it is tempting to supplement these animals with a high concentrate diet of grain and oats, this practice should be avoided. Horses, whether in good or poor condition, need moderate to high quality grass or alfalfa hay to produce heat and maintain body temperature. It is essential to provide a source of forage that be consumed thought the day. The net energy requirement in cold (<14ºF) conditions can be up to 35-50% greater than that required in the warmer months. Forage amount should be increased as the temperature decreases with continual observation of body condition. Excessive weight gain should be avoided and can easily be masked by winter coats. Supplementation with grain or vitamin/ mineral mixes to maintain a balanced diet is acceptable. If animals lose condition, oils (e.g., 2-4 ounces corn oil) can be added to the diet to provide calories without the risk of digestive problems associated with consumption of large quantities of grain.

2.Shelter-A horse can tolerate temperatures as low as –20ºF with a full winter coat combined with adequate shelter from the wind and precipitation. A horse without shelter will only be able to tolerate temperatures as low as 18ºF Horses can adapt by grouping together, turning their tails to the wind, and running in the pasture to produce additional body heat if necessary.

3.Blankets-The question of whether or not to blanket is an age old one. A horse in good flesh with an adequate hair coat does not “need” to be blanketed. A horse that is either clipper or maintained in short hair coat undoubtedly needs to be blanketed during cold temperatures. Once the decision is made to blanket, it must be strictly adhered to for the entire season. A horse left without a blanket can become chilled and much more susceptible to cold stress and disease. Additionally, a wet horse or one that is not checked daily can quickly become chilled or develop blanket sores. It is always prudent to remember blankets must be tailored for daily climate changes and different weights will be necessary as spring arrives. Basically, if a short coat is not absolutely necessary over the winter, allow your horse to grow his natural winter hair.

4.Exercise- Winter riding can be very relaxing and enjoyable for both rider and horse. Always make sure the horse is completely dry after the ride and before he is subjected to cold and windy conditions. Consider using a quarter sheet as protection on especially cold days. Remember, long periods of walking before and after exercise will help to warm up the muscles, generate heat for the horse (and you), and keep his muscles in shape. Muscle is an excellent insulator for the equine and provides protection from the cold in addition to an overall healthy body condition.

Winter Tips

Provide good quality forage for health and warmth, not additional grain

Warm water can help increase intake during cold months and prevent gastrointestinal difficulties

Indoor, heated housing creates poor ventilation and respiratory problems

Remove shoes if possible to prevent slipping on ice and hard snow build up in the hoof

Always ensure a horse is dry after exercise prior to returning him to pasture on cold days

Ensure horses have free access to salt and minerals

Here are other articles written for this publication http://www.vet.purdue.edu/horses/list.htm

Life is too short to ride bad horses.


985 Posts

Posted - 01/21/2006 :  10:44:26 PM  Show Profile  Visit beccajane's Homepage Send beccajane a Private Message
Thanks for posting....good article!
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Trail Boss (Moderator)

6117 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  06:53:43 AM  Show Profile  Visit Hook's Homepage Send Hook a Private Message
Thanks PH. Great article that summarizes all the scattered comments. Good reference for all of us.

Hook(ed)......on Horses

"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. " Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
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Trail Boss (Moderator)

2546 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2006 :  09:13:02 AM  Show Profile  Visit Saddletramp's Homepage Send Saddletramp a Private Message
Good article, Parrot! (Go Purdue!) :)


"She never moved the stars from their courses,
but she loved a good man and she rode good horses"
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