It may be warm enough for the snow to have melted, but the springtime is still too damp and cold to jump right into summer practices. This makes spring one of the most tedious seasons to care for your horses, preparing them for the warm months of summer.
Luckily, we’ve put together a short to-do list so you can start preparing for the summer now.
- Schedule Your Check-Ups
The spring is the perfect time to schedule your horse’s annual wellness exam. It’s especially important to get them vaccinated for mosquito season as mosquitoes and other insects oftentimes carry preventable diseases.
- Check Your Fences
Once the snow and ice melts, you may notice that some things have shifted a bit during the cold weather – like fences for example. Freezing and thawing of the ground can cause fence posts to “heave,” resulting in downed rails, loose mesh or high tensile fences, which no longer have high tension. It’s important to make note of this now so you can tighten any fence posts that may have become loose over the winter.
- Hay and Grass Intake
When the first sprouts of grass begin to pop up, it’s common for horses to overindulge in the beginning. To prevent overindulgence, grazing muzzles can help to monitor grass intake. In addition, the use of a hay saver hay feeder can assist in preventing horses from overeating. It’s also important to keep a steady supply of forage for your horses as this is what will help to keep them warm through fermentation. The threat of laminitis due to over consumption is at an all-time high during the early spring.
- Hoof Care
Do not neglect regular trimming and resetting of shoes during the winter, even if your horses are not working. Letting horse hooves get overly long increases the chances of them chipping, cracking or other major changes in hoof angles. That’s why it’s important to keep up with hoof care during all seasons.
Summer is only right around the corner, so start gearing up for busy season while you can!
Winter is officially here, and with a change in the weather comes a change in horse care routines. While horses can live comfortably outside year-round, there are specific requirements that need to be met during the winter to ensure a happy, healthy and comfortable living environment for your horse. Here are some things to keep in mind when caring for your horses in the winter.
Watch for Ice
Oftentimes in the colder, icier months of the year, chunks of ice will accumulate in a horse’s hooves. When the ice builds up, this causes stress on tendons, ligaments and muscles. That’s why it is imperative to monitor the ice buildup on your horse’s hooves during the winter as they will need to be removed soon after it appears.
But it’s not just the ice on your horse’s hooves you need to watch out for, it’s all ice in general. When areas in or around the barn get icy and slick, it can cause accidents and sometimes even injuries. When you notice it starting to get icy out, take precaution by sprinkling sand on or salt on the icy areas to prevent any slips.
Shelter & Blankets for Warmth
Ideally, three-sided constructed shelters provide the best ample protection for your horse from any wind, rain, snow, ice and precipitation. Trees also serve as a natural wind barrier, providing some protection as well. Stocking up on blankets during the colder months is also a necessary step to keeping your horse safe and warm.
Blanketing your horses during the winter months will keep horses warm that cannot naturally grow thicker winter coats on their own.
Hay Feeding in the Winter
Lastly, hay feeding plays a major role in winter horse care. On average, horses need to consume at least 2 percent of its body weight in forage (hay and/or pasture) to maintain its body condition. It is the digestion of fiber that will keep your horse warm. When in doubt, feeding your horse additional hay meals will ensure that they’re getting enough nutrients and fiber to keep warm.