Whether you keep your horse in a lot over winter or whether he lives out all year round we have some tips to keep him happy and healthy this season.
1. Offer shelter
Providing field shelter is essential if your horse is going to stay out all winter. Make sure the shelter is big enough for all the field residents to prevent squabbling and give them all the chance to get out of persistent rain if they want to. If you do not have a field shelter, chose a field with trees and large hedges to provide shelter from the elements.
2. Cool him down after exercise
Horses that live out risk catching a cold or a chill if they are turned out hot and sweaty after exercise. Stick to a thorough cool down routine after exercise and only turn him back out once he is thoroughly dry. Walk him round with a cooler rug on to ensure he is properly cooled down.
3. Prevent boredom
Horses living out are less likely to get bored over stabled horses however to provide some entertainment in the field try hanging swedes on ropes around the field in safe and appropriate locations or dot safe braches such as apple around the field to gnaw on.
4. Look after his feet
Standing around in damp conditions for long periods of time is not ideal for hooves. Pick his feet out twice a day to clear debris and give you the chance to check for thrush. Regular farrier visits are essential to deal with cracks and any other issues. It may be useful to feed biotin through the autumn and winter months too.
5. Keep an eye out for winter ailments
The colder months can carry health risks for horses. Keep an eye out for conditions such as rain scald, mud fever and lice.
1. Spend time with him
Grooming your horse is a nice way to spend time with him and will relax him. You can also give him a massage at the same time.
2. Provide a range of fibre
Horses' guts are designed to be working almost constantly. To keep the gut functioning and prevent stomach ulcers provide a range of fibres for your horse. This can also help prevent boredom. Scatter small piles of hay around the stable to keep him moving. Provide different fibre options for your horse such as hay, haylage or chaff.
3. Look after his respiratory system
A horse has less access to fresh air in his stable so do all you can to look after his respiratory system. It is better to open a window and put on an extra rug as fresh air will blow away dust particles. Feed good quality hay off the floor and if necessary steam or soak the hay to reduce dust.
4. Provide good company
As much as possible stable your horse next to his friends and allow him physical contact with them. Horses are herd animals and can find being kept alone very stressful.
5. Keep him entertained
It is inevitable that a horse will get bored stood inside for long periods. Use treat balls, branches that are safe for him to eat, swedes on a rope and other horse toys to give him something to do. Also try and get him out and about as much as possible to break up his day. Take him for a walk in hand or build an obstacle course in the school for something different to do.
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