If you have been hit by the snow this weekend – (as we have at Totally Horse & Pony Towers!) then the temptation is to keep your horses stabled till the ice and snow passes – but horses do well in the snow and with a little care and attention, there are some things you can do to make it safe to turn out – even if it’s just for a leg stretch. Here are some things you can try to make sure your ponies can enjoy all the fun and frolics of the snowy season.
Sprinkle some grit and sand
Walk the route you will take with your horses from stable to field and identify any icy or slippery patches. Then, sprinkle some grit, sand or salt on the area to eliminate those patches and make the area safe.
Offer lukewarm water to encourage drinking
Horses prefer not to drink freezing water so if you can boil a kettle and add it to your bucket of cold water just so it takes the edge off the cold temperature, it will encourage them to drink. You could also add salt into their feed which will laso encourage them to drink.
Plan on feeding extra hay in the field
If your horse is used to being out on grass, turning him out in a snow covered field where he can’t find grass will be frustrating not to mention a potential health issue since the average horse should be consuming about 2 percent of his body weight per day in forage. So, give him readily available hay in the field to keep his digestive system going and generating heat to keep him warm.
Spread out hay piles to keep your horses moving
Encouraging movement, even in small ways, is crucial for maintaining muscle tone and joint comfort during the winter season. It also keeps your horse warm through the exercise. One way of doing this is by spreading the hay into piles around the field so they walk between them.
Manage your horse’s temperature
To check how warm your horse is – slip your hand under the rug behind the withers. If it doesn’t feel warm then you should consider rugging up, or introducing a warmer rug. If its damp, then your horse is getting sweaty and you should drop the weight of the rug he is wearing. It’s important to remove them frequently in order to check for signs of rubbing and discomfort.
Make sure to pick out your horse’s feet
When bringing your horse in, bring a hoof pick with you w so you can remove any “high heels” (packed ice balls) he may have acquired in his shoes before walking him down a potentially slippery track.