13 ways to keep your horse healthy this fall!
There are a few things to consider as we transition from warm weather into cooler or cold weather for your horse’s health.
- Monitor your horse’s water intake! Sometimes, horses drink less in cooler or cold weather. Use buckets or have an auto system that can be measured. And test your horse for hydration – the skin tent test isn’t super accurate. Use your finger to feel your horse’s gums. Slippery is good, sticky is not so good, dry is bad. For more on monitoring hydration, read this one.
- While you are checking on water intake, be sure to test your water heating system now. Heating elements and cords wear and tear just like everything else.
These pastures did not get the memo, and rain turned them into lush spring grass again.
- Check up on your pasture’s health. Fall is often the time for a sudden regrowth. Or, it’s getting stressed out because water and light resources are not as plentiful. This sets up your pasture to have higher “sugars”. Do some mowing, or irrigating as needed to make the transition to winter safer for your horse.
- Know that the fall is also the time for your horse to produce more ACTH than any other time of year. This matters because it increased cortisol, which increases insulin, which increases laminitis risks.
- Keep your horse muzzled on pasture grass in the fall. There are only good reasons for using a muzzle.
Just imagine this scene without the flowers. And maybe less green. This is the Greenguard Equine Grazing Muzzle and special “anti-houdini” halter.
- Keep the delicious and toxic pasture snacks away from your horse. Acorns are totally toxic and very tasty so this combo is horrible for horses.
- Maple leaves are also toxic, so as they fall, have a plan for keeping your horse away from the leaves. It’s usually the leaves from the red maple tree, but recent evidence is showing that the toxins are in many types of maple trees.
Delicious and oh, so dangerous.
- We can’t control the weather, but we can make sure our horse-keeping practices allow for weather changes. There’s great debate about any weather changes causing colic – it’s more likely that our barn management changes can lead to an increase in colic. Water intake is crucial, as is not drastically changing turnout or exercise routines for your horse. Buy more jackets and lined breeches if you don’t like riding in the cold.
- From a medical standpoint, the fall is a great time to check up on your horse’s bloodwork. You can check ACTH levels easily, and also insulin and glucose levels as well. Easy peasy. By the time your horse “shows” you that has a metabolic disorder, it’s quite advanced. Often the first sign is laminitis. Do the dang bloodwork. My Vet suggests starting it at age 13, but if your horse is unfit or overweight, do it sooner.
- Tend to his your horse’s hooves. You can pull shoes in fall and winter, but honestly, if the ground gets hard, your horse might better off keeping his shoes on. He might also benefit from pads. Plenty of hoof bruises occur from hard winter ground.
- Start to really think about blanketing and/or clipping. Without opening the flood gates of discussion, many horses benefit from one or the other. Pick a nice warm day to give a final bath to prep for clipping.
- Tend to your blankets as you pull them out of storage. Look for nests and spiders. If you have found a nest, you likely have some repairs to make, also. Add another coat of waterproofing.
- Keep exercising your horse. It helps his body and mind! This goes double for the horse with arthritis, the yo-yo weight horse, or the busy body horse. There’s a lot of truth to the phrase “move it or lose it!”
- Grab some saddle stick for the cold weather friskies. Ok, so this is a tip for you to stay healthy and in the saddle.
How do you keep your horse happy and healthy in the fall?
The best muzzle in the land – order one here! Also in raspberry and black colors.