Caring for horses in sub zero temperatures

Caring for horses in Sub zero temperatures

This cold weather can be something of a worry for horse owners. With freezing cold water some horses can reduce their drinking. This, combined with longer periods indoors or less time moving due to the hard rutted ground can result in a risk of colic which we all want to avoid. I am lucky enough to keep my horses at home and am checking them more frequently than usual. In addition my horses are 21 (Blue) and 30 (Charlie) so their general physiology may not be as efficient. Due to Charlie being a little dentally challenged nowadays I have been feeding well soaked grass pellets from  this year and the horses love them with the advantage that the horses are taking in water while eating. The horses have access to ad lib hay and I am popping out late at night with a hot kettle to top up their water containers. In the past I have put small plastic water bottles,partly filled in stable water containers. These bob around and can delay or prevent the water from freezing. In the past I have also added cheap apple juice to the water to encourage drinking.

Feeding Salt

In addition the horses get a mash feed and this includes salt to encourage them to drink water.  Salt is of course necessary to horses in any case. Charlie is not a big fan of salt so I have to spend quite a time standing in the cold persuading him to eat his feed. As Charlie is also diagnosed with PPID I keep a close eye of how and whether he is moving around so that I can spot any foot soreness. I also massage his legs to improve the circulation. Stabled horses could wear leg wraps.  If this were to happen I might use comfortable boots with soft pads. Hay is provided ab lib both in stables (which are free access) and out in the fields so that the horses are never in a position where frosty stressed grass is the only choice as that is also risky for any laminitis prone horses. Blue also needs ad lib fibre having previously suffered from ulcers, the mash that I feed also contains probiotics.  I use extra micronised linseed to maintain weight and being thoroughbreds in a very exposed environment, my horses are rugged.

What are your tips?

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