Your horse is your priority. You try to keep them well and safe. But, what do you do for them during the winter? Do you know how your animal feels throughout the cold, sometimes brutal months of the year?
Horses are often precious domesticated mammals, and they feel the winter just as harshly as we do. In the wilderness, a typical horse would grow a winter overcoat. This is hard to manage with a domestic horse, as a natural winter coat requires regular grooming. A horse's winter coat can quickly collect dirt, mud, and other debris. For this reason, many people recommend clipping the overcoat. Although this will remove some of the natural protective jacket, it will also assist in cleansing away and drying collecting horse sweat. The sweat of clipped horses generally dries faster than that of other horses.
Would you want to go outside without a jacket? Probably not. Your horse is no different, and not immune from harsh temperatures. Without their natural overcoat, they will feel cold. So if you're not going to have them rock a natural winter coat and be responsible for grooming it, it's recommended that you deck your horse with a blanket.
And remember, even when it's cold, a horse still requires plenty of water! It is recommended for a horse to drink 4-20 gallons of water per day. Check on their water trough frequently, as it may freeze during the winter.
Obviously, your horse needs to be fed. But did you know that their digestion also produces energy and heat? It is recommended that you feed your horse hay instead of grain during the winter months. This way, the horse receives more fiber, which in turn keeps them warmer through the winter.
Finally, shoeing your horse keeps their tender feet away from cold winter snow.
Overall, keeping your horse warm and healthy should be your first priority. With these tips and your own good judgement, it will be hard work that's easily done.
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