Top 10 Winter Tips for Horses

At Deer Creek Equine Clinic, we want to help you give your horses the best care possible. So we have put together our top ten suggestions for surviving the winter.

Dehydration is the biggest problem facing horses in the winter; horses in good condition can survive for days, even weeks with no food.  However, they will die quickly with no water and snow is not the same as water!!

  • If your horses are stabled, ventilation is a must! Do not close all the doors and windows of your barn or you will increase the likelihood of respiratory disease. If your horse has respiratory problems, they will be better off with a run in shed and outdoor access all the time.
  • To be sure the horses have access to water, break the ice that forms on the water so the horses can get to the water. Make sure the horses have water next to where they eat, not across the pasture or outside of the stall. Horses drink the most when they eat. So a water bucket next to the grain bucket is very important. Horses will drink more water if it is warm, so a tank heater that keeps the water from freezing and even heats will encourage the horses to drink more. Another tip for keeping ice from forming on the water is to put a football in the water tank so when the wind blows, it moves the football and disrupts the ice as it is forming. This won’t work if it is REALLY cold, the football will just freeze in the tank.
  • Add warm water to feed or make warm bran mashes for the horses. Beet pulp will work too; just add lots of water to increase the horse’s intake of water. Consult your veterinarian with any questions about feeding.
  • Add salt or electrolytes to the feed. Don’t add it to the water put it in the feed to be sure the horses get it!
  • Hay, not grain, is what keeps horses warm in the winter. As the hay ferments in the large colon, it produces heat that helps keep them warm. High fiber grains (complete feeds like an equine senior) will have the same effect.
  • Adding oil to the feed, like corn oil, will increase the fat content of the horse’s feed. Caution: if you are not feeding enough grain and/or hay, fat will not help keep your horses weight up, fat is just a supplement and too much can cause ration imbalances.

Contact us if you have questions about your horse’s nutrition requirements.