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How to Condition Your Horse Through the Fall and Winter Seasons
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How to Condition Your Horse Through the Fall and Winter Seasons

If you want to remain productive in the upcoming cold months - both you and your horse - then understanding how your equine friend's body reacts to the chilly temperatures and accordingly adapting to its effects is paramount. During this period, the biggest challenge for riders is how to stay warm and avoid frostbite. Although it isn't possible to control the weather, with some bit of knowledge and prior planning, you can navigate through the colder season quite well.

Naturally, your horse will take about 2 weeks to fully adjust its body to the lower temperatures in its surroundings. Once this is achieved, most of the warmth in its body will be concentrated on the most vital organs to keep the animal alive and its crucial body operations at an optimal level.

However, since there is very little warmth, and its body can produce only so much heat, body parts such as muscles, bones, and joints are going to make do with much lower heat levels. This greatly reduces their performance. For instance, while muscles become stiffer and less receptive to the impact of shock received in various working conditions, a viscosity of the synovial fluid found at the boundaries between bones makes joints stiffer.

Cold weather also causes vasoconstriction in the horse’s skin, diverting much blood flow to the working muscle. Although this is a good thing for the muscles, it carries the risk of frostbite on the blood-deprived skin. For both riders and their horses, a low-temperature workout can also lead to exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB) in the respiratory system.

So, what do you do to help the situation?

  • Lead your horse in a warm-up indoor exercise before an outdoor cold workout;
  • Keep him warm and dry using blankets and other clothing;
  • Ensure his environment remains well-ventilated at all times;
  • Use proper shoeing to avoid injuries during times of deep snow and frozen mud.

Image source: flickr.com

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  1. Of Horse Support
    Of Horse Support
    This is an important post for the upcoming winter months! Thanks for sharing, Dajine.
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