Horse in Snow, Horse care tips in the winter with Helmet Brims

How to Take Care of Your Horse in the Winter

Winter is just around the corner here in Australia, and as anyone who takes care of horses knows, that means it’s time to start prepping for the change in seasons. While horses require constant care all year round, the cooler months can come with a couple extra steps in our day-to-day horse care. So here are our five top tips for taking care of horses in the winter!

Horses in Snow, How to take care of your horse in the winter, Helmet Brims Australia

  • Reframe the idea of “shelter”

Shelter doesn’t necessarily mean having a barn to keep your horses in. Even in the winter, horses are able to stay happy and healthy outside with trees for shelter. In fact, being kept outside is usually better for their respiratory health, and horses’ coats will naturally grow a bit longer and thicker to provide more insulation. However, this means that they are less able to cool down quickly after exercise. Clipping long hair and blanketing the horse in weather-appropriate equipment is a great way to ensure they are cosy and able to cool down when necessary!

  • Alter your horse’s diet

Horses, just like us, burn more calories to keep themselves warm in the winter. And, whether impacted by the elements or not, the nutritional value of pasture grass usually falls in the winter, limiting food options for horses. Altering their diets by feeding them slightly increased servings of hay and grains can make up for this lack of extra grazing, helping them maintain their normal body weight, and nutritional intake, as much as possible.

Horses eating Hay, How to take care of your horse in the winter, Helmet Brims Australia

  • Increase water supply

Similar to the last point, horses need more water during the winter, mostly due to the lack of moisture in hay and grain feed. In warmer months, lush pastures contribute to their water intake, but this is limited thanks to shifts in their diets in the winter. As a result, it’s important to ensure they have greater access to water during colder months. Providing your horse with warm water can also be beneficial, as well as slightly increasing the salt concentration in it.

  • Provide more time for exercise

Exercise for your horse in any form, such as riding or lunging, requires more ‘prep’ work before and after a workout, so give yourself more time to be able to prioritise this. For example, warming up your horse before a ride, and then cooling and drying them afterwards, are things we can forget but are essential to ensuring their health during the winter. Other small habits you need to readopt in cooler months, such as warming up bits before inserting them in a horse’s mouth, may also take more time than expected, so give yourself, and your horse, the patience and time needed to ensure you’re both safe, healthy, and happy!

Horse and owner in snow, How to take care of your horse in the winter, Helmet Brims Australia

  • Prioritise hoof care

Winter weather, such as increased rain, reduced sun and overall cloudy days, can make it hard for your horse’s legs to dry off completely. This can increase risk of infections, such as mud fever. Ensure that you are checking your horse’s legs and hooves daily and use these tips to care for your horse’s hooves in wet weather.

A quick final note is to remember that each horse is an individual, so something that works for one may not work for another. If you want to learn about understanding your horse better, we recommend reading this next.

We hope these tips were helpful for the impending season change, and that you and your horse have a happy and healthy winter! 

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