As he steps into the age bracket of 15-20 Years, your stud may not be as sturdy as he had been earlier. He may be showing signs of ageing in form of tiring easily, low immunity, stiffness and weight issues. If you have noticed any of these symptoms recently then you may have to really take special care of him this winter.
Winter is a challenging season for horses but more so for the older ones because they are highly vulnerable to the winter related illnesses and conditions. These simple tips, warning points and discussions will help you keep your long- time companion fit and in shape.
Common ailments knocking at the door
There are certain medical conditions associated with horses that are particularly troublesome during winter. The slush of the muddy grounds causes bacteria infestations leading to Rain Scald and Mud Fever in horses. The moist conditions accelerate the bacterial growth that resides in the horses’ hide, which leads to these skin infections. The cold wave accompanied by incessant winds and hail may bring about recurrent airway obstruction which is very much like cough and cold in humans but with more severe symptoms.
If your horse has been experiencing wheezing, difficulty breathing or bouts of asthma-like breathlessness than this is the condition your beloved friend might be suffering from. Colic is also common in winter and sets in due to longer periods of inactivity.
Prepare the stables for winter
A little care and effort can save your horse from the harshness of winter ailments and keep him hale and hearty through the season. Ensure that the rugs, bedding and the interior of stable are cleaned regularly. Winters and cold don't mean that you should “air-proof” the stable; basic minimum ventilation is a must.
The hay for the horses needs to be devoid of dust to protect them from respiratory problems. Regular and periodical check ups from a veterinarian throughout the winter is also a great way to ensure overall health of your horse.
Of hooves and hide
The frozen ground increase the chances of toe decay as the remnant ice crystals melt and seep into the gaps in the hooves. Use a farrier to check between the hooves regularly.
The hide of the horse should also be combed every day and dried thoroughly. Your old buddy at this juncture may also need an additional blanket to ward off cold.
Nutrition and immunity
As with humans, horses also tend to experience degeneration of their immunity with age. They are more prone to illnesses and deficiencies in their bodies. Ensure that you have given them all recommended vaccinations before the winter begins. Additionally plan their nutrition and diet in consultation with a dietician. The quality and quantity of hay fed to them needs to be revisited during such consultation. A great nutrition plan will work only if the horse is able to chew it well so his dental health should also be examined by the doctor during his visits.
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