Baby it’s cold outside! Keeping horses warm in cold weather. January 2018
The horses are all very furry this time of year and all that hair can be deceiving. To make sure your horse is not losing too much weight in the cold take off your gloves and run your fingers over their ribs at least once a week.
Make sure your horses and other livestock have access to water. Good hydration is necessary to stay warm. Supplying warm water is good to do so they don’t have to use body heat to warm the water. Lack of fluid if the gastro-intestinal tract can also lead to impaction colic.
When increasing the calories for your horses in the cold the first thing to feed more of, is hay. Not only will you provide more energy but the fiber fermentation provides additional warmth for free. If your ponies already get free choice hay or can’t eat enough of it to stay warm then you need to increase the amount of grain or pellets they get to maintain their body heat without burning their fat reserves or even muscle mass to maintain body temperature.
If someone is shivering something needs to change. Some old or skinny or young horses may need to be blanketed. Maybe they need a better wind break or even be kept inside for part of the time. Run-in sheds are great.
Take your gloves off and check their ears to see if they are warm enough. The ears will be cooler than the main part of the body mass but they should not be COLD.
Make changes in feeding and housing now if necessary and avoid being shocked when they shed out in the spring or even losing an old horse who can’t eat enough hay to stay warm anymore.