1) Heated Water Source
Your outdoor horse needs a lot of water in order to keep ingested materials moving through the gut normally. To lower the risk of equine colic, also make sure that your horses’ water sources remain freeze-free.
2) Top Quality Hay
Of course, providing your horses with the best quality hay is something you should do all the time. However, the winter season’s cold brings with it more energy needs in the equine body. Therefore, high-quality hay is very paramount. And don’t forget to look out for mold and dust in round bales to avoid respiratory issues.
3) Appropriate Shelter
Whether constructed or natural, your horse’s shelter is essential in offering a windbreak. That’s why its location is quite important. If constructed, such a shelter should have a sturdy foundation and be constructed on a slight grade -- typically 2-3 degrees -- to allow for an easier runoff. It should also be built in such a way that prevailing winds blow against its walls rather than the entrance. Finally, each horse should have ample room.
4) Fencing and Gates
Your equine fencing should be safe, durable and highly visible. The gates should be wide enough to enable safe leading of animals, and also for ease of bringing in machinery. They should also be sturdy and have well-anchored posts. All posts should also be situated in a place that drains well to avoid accumulation of mud around them. As for high traffic places, there are mud management systems in the market to minimize the mud.
5) Maintain Safe Footing
Maintain all pathways in the equine environment clear. Cover the ground with a handy mix of wooden chips, sand and rock salt. Always have these items ready by stocking up on their supplies before the commencement of the storm since they can become scarce. Watch out for unsafe footing, ice or uneven ground in the paddocks. Consult your farrier on the options of either going barefoot or putting on snow pads. Avoid regular steel shoes since they provide lower traction in winter and allow snow-balling inside.
6) Regular Checks
During winter, make sure you give your horses an everyday once-over. This may include hoof-picking, checking for wounds, as well as checking under the blanket for change in weight. Remember to also check if the blanket hasn’t slipped and isn’t rubbing.
Image source: flickr.com
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