Well I’ve not seen weather like this for quite some time. I thought as I’m stranded at my Mums house I’d do a little bit of research and write a blog about top tips for keeping your horse warm during this cold snap!
Top tip no. 1: A full winter coat is highly effective during the cold weather at keeping your horse warm. If your horse has been clipped it is advisable to use blankets to help keep them toasty. It is recommended that a turnout rug with a neck of approximately 400grams should be used when temperatures get as low as -10 to 0 degrees.
Top tip no. 2: Turnout rugs are not just for when they are outside. I always use a turnout rug when my horses are inside the stable. Condensation from the roof can mean stable rugs soon become wet. Wet rugs can mean your horse can catch a chill and decrease their body temperature. Get those turnout rugs on inside!
Top Tip no. 3: Magnetic rugs/stable boots: These are suitable to be left on overnight and can help regulate your horse’s body temperature. It is important to remember that exposure to magnets should be built up over time so it’s advisable to start this sooner rather than later. See Equilibrium's website for more details: >CLICK HERE<
Top Tip no. 4: For those horses who are turned out a shelter will be required with plenty of bedding in. Straw is very beneficial as it has insulating properties, so long as it is kept dry. It is why it’s so popular to use on thatched roofs.
Top Tip no. 5: Keep bedding dry! No matter what bedding you use, ensure it is dry and comfortable for your horse to lie on. Wet bedding can make your horse’s temperature drop so keep it as dry as possible. Rubber stable mats are also good at insulting your horses stable. All my stables have mats down and good thick, dry bed.
Top Tip no. 6: When temperatures drop horses tend to go off drinking as the water is so cold. Dehydration can lead to colic so adding flavour or warming up the water a little can encourage them to drink. Introducing soaked diets such as fibre beet (also a good hay replacement for poor doers), or adding water into their feeds can help replace this. (Tip courtesy of Dengie Horse Feeds).
Top Tip no. 7: Food. Heat is produced through the digestion of feed, so hay is a great way of increasing body temperature, especially for those horses who are ‘poor doers’ and their body weight might not be ideal. Plus remember, horses are constant grazers so mimicking this when stabled is essential. Remember to increase the amount of hay they intake during these cold snaps, warm them from the inside, out.
Top Tip no. 8: A constant temperature is better than fluctuations. Remember if exercising your horse do not overdo it. A huge raise in temperature, for it to then decrease massively can be detrimental. Maintaining a consistent temperature is better for their health, so avoid strenuous work outs. A quiet stretch of their legs is better and remember your exercise blankets and hot water bottle! See my previous blog about cold backed horses >HERE< and how to warm up your horse correctly >HERE<.
If you have any tops tips to help during Winter I’m all ears, but for now, stay safe and think hard before you do anything. I’m currently sat here listening to the news as they declare Red warnings throughout a lot of Scotland and the South West meaning this is a threat to life and we need to respect that.