The top 5 cold weather hazards for horses!
Sure, the bugs and humidity are gone, but winter and cold weather have their own set of challenges. Here are some things to watch out for:
- Keeping your horse hydrated! This is “easy” if you do daily gum checks. Run your finger between the upper front teeth and the gums and notice…. sticky or dry is BAD, slippery is good. Stay ahead of freezing temps with a plan for water – heated tanks, bucket insulators, constant filling by hand. Pick what works best for you. Also, add some warm water to feed meals for some added hydration. This article has more on dehydration and what to look for!
- Your horse’s waistline! Some horses pack on the pounds, some horses drop them away. But it’s human nature to not notice the big changes if you see your horse every day. Use a weight tape weekly or so to notice trends and make adjustments. You may need to add extra calories somewhere, you may need to add extra exercise.
- Watch the ground! My very own vet euthanizes at least one horse every winter due to a fall on the icy ground. Make changes to your horse’s turnout if the ground is icy. Also, be wary of frozen ground – uneven areas are a tripping/twisting hazard. Not to mention the absolute concussion of frozen ground.
- Be on colic alert! There’s a whole lotta science that says BOTH weather causes, and doesn’t cause, colic. But really – it boils down to hydration, movement, feed, exercise, barn management. And most importantly, you paying attention. For more on colic signs, read this. For more on weather changes and colic, read this one!
- Skin issues! This may seem pale in comparison to the hard ground or hydration issues, but skin issues are real in winter. A winter coat can trap moisture from sweat and create the perfect petri dish for rain rot (a bacterial infection), sores from hair and goop and maybe tack friction, and overall grossness.
What do you stay on alert for in the winter?