Sudden and unpredictable weather change is standard for the UK, but one thing we can count on is freezing temperatures during winter. This leaves many horse owners asking how they can best care for their horses when it gets more than just a bit nippy outside!
Horses can do fine living outside through the winter, especially if your equine friend is a sturdy breed such as a hairy Cob or a heroic Shetland! As long as they are metabolically healthy, are eating enough calories, develop a nice winter hair coat, and have appropriate shelter, they can happily deal with those winter chills.
However, winter can bring with it all sorts of challenges, such as mud, mud and MORE MUD! You can read more about why mud can be damaging to your horse’s well being here to your horses in our article here, and shop our range of gateway mats here!
A great tip for if your horse or pony is blessed with magnificent feathers is to soak their legs in pig oil with sulphur! Fill a bucket and with a sponge, soak those feathers. They’ll have to stay in the stable for a few hours while it soaks in else it will damage your grazing, but this helps defend not only against mud, but also against those pesky mites which can cause such irritation. (Remember, winter is the breeding season for mites, so be extra vigilant!)
The phrase “bulking up for winter” is exactly what your horse will be doing! Horses spend significantly more calories keeping warm in the winter than they do any other time of year, many shiver to keep their body temperatures up, and this too burns calories. High-quality hay should be the core of any winter diet, especially for horses that are turned out a lot. Grass maybe iced over or simply poor quality this time of the year, meaning supplementary feeds should be given. They should have dry, fresh hay available at all times.
Older horses, or horses with significant dental disease that cannot eat hay productively, need to receive calories more frequently in a form that they can use, such as senior feeds.
Be very cautious about ice on surfaces where the horses walk, either to get to turnout or within their turnout. Fractured bones or “down” horses can be a sad consequence of dicey footing. This can be another great benefit of rubber mats, offering great grip in stalls, and a steady footing in gateway spots in the field.
Don’t forget you can get in touch with the All Horse UK team if you have any questions about rubber matting!