First of all, I want to apologize for falling behind in my posts. Our granddaughter seems to trump all else. I am already talking to her about what color pony she would like. So far the black pony with a white star seems to get the biggest reaction. My daughter had a pony just like that when she was a little girl so I may be creating that response. LOL
So winter is here and we need to think about how we want to support our four-leggers in the colder weather. Horses burn more calories in the winter. How we handle this, depends on the type of living situation our horse is in. There are several factors involved when deciding whether to add calories or blankets.
If you are working your horse through the winter and perhaps even competing, you are most likely going to have your horse body clipped. If this is the case, you will not only be adding a blanket but also increasing their calorie intake. If your horse is living in a stall, you should consider adding a hay lunch so they have something to do during the rainy days when they aren’t turned out. This will occupy them much longer than a scoop of pellets and is easier on their digestive systems.
If your horse is living in pasture please think carefully before adding a blanket. I know this is a controversial subject for horse owners. I can only speak from my experience on this subject. A horse is better off being cold for awhile with the potential of drying off when the sun comes out then wearing a blanket that has soaked through and is holding the wet and the cold against their bodies. I have found horses, twisted up in saturated blankets, literally unable to walk to keep themselves warm or get to water. This is heart-breaking and cruel. If your horse is in a situation where someone can see them at any given moment, then blanketing is a viable option. If they are in a pasture where they are only seen a couple of times a day, graining is a much safer way to go. It also allows you to check them over and make sure they haven’t incurred any injuries or illnesses since the last time you’ve seen them. Horses should always have access to shelter whether it’s summer or winter. In northern California when the wind accompanies the rain, it is essential.
Check with your veterinarian about grain supplements. They vary greatly and are designed to support horses of all different ages and activity levels. When choosing a blanket, fit is crucial and choosing the right type (low temperature, waterproof etc.) for your horses living situation will make the difference between them being comfortable or miserable. So have a winter plan and be consistent with it. Ensure that you will enter into spring with a healthy, happy horse.