Unfortunately yes, it is that time of year already — where did the summer go?! So with colder, shorter days looming, here’s some helpful pointers to get you best prepared for these tough times with your horse.
Prepare your grazing
The autumn months are a great time to prepare your winter grazing (up until mid-October, weather dependent). Clear any ditches surrounding the field so that there is greater opportunity for excess water to escape. This is also a great time to cultivate and seed grassy areas lacking vigour. Suitable decompaction should be carried out to maintain an open soil structure.
As your horses are more likely to be spending more time in their stables as the days get shorter and colder, it will benefit their overall health if the stables are spotless. Making their environment as dust-free as possible will aid respiratory health which is of paramount importance for the inevitably long winter months.
Feeding horses during the winter can be a challenge and your number one responsibility to your horse during winter is to make sure he receives enough quality feedstuffs to maintain his weight and enough drinkable water to maintain his hydration. Forage, or hay, should make up the largest portion of his diet, 1–2% of his body weight per day.
If your horse is stabled at night and is in full work during the winter, he or she will need complementary hard feed to meet their higher energy requirements, while forage remains their primary ration.
Older horses, particularly those with poor teeth, can struggle in the winter and lose condition dramatically. High-fibre cubes soaked into a mash are a good addition or alternative to forage when chewing becomes difficult.
While feeding should be kept simple where possible, there are a number of supplements which can aid your horse if he struggles with something in particular.
If you are unsure about the best diet for your horse, speak to an independent equine nutritionist, who will be able to advise you.
Stock up! It is also worth cleaning them and patching them up where necessary.
Get them serviced now so that they are ready to go when you need them.
Prep wet areas
Where there are areas that are prone to becoming wet, muddy or flooded such as field gates and drinkers, raise and level them with gravel or hard core. This will prevent your horse from skidding and falling on ice.
Order grit salt now
We all know that once snow strikes, stocks of grit salt become very hard to come by. To beat the rush, order some in now so that you’re ready for when the snow arrives.
Remember when all of your taps/pipes froze up last winter? Help prevent this now by using lagging from DIY stores and old duvets to insulate pipes where necessary.
Freeze/thaw cycles and muddy or wet conditions can lead to thrush in the hooves and mud fever on the legs. Your best protection against these conditions is to keep the horse in as clean and dry surroundings as possible, picking out his feet frequently, and keeping the lower limbs trimmed of hair.
Does your horse require a boost this winter? Check out the Animalife website
to see if one of our unique products could aid your horse through the colder months.