PREPARING FOR WINTER
TARGETTING OVERALL HEALTH AND WEIGHT GAIN
As the nights draw in and the weather changes, it is even more imperative to keep our horse’s health foremost in our minds. Providing them with the correct vitamins, minerals, amino acids and continuing to provide base electrolytes is critical to their health and wellbeing.
Increasing the amount of calories your horse is consuming is vital if your horse loses weight during winter. This is because more energy is burned while keeping him or herself warm. Increasing the amount of feed is not the way to do it as their tummies are only the size of rugby balls! There is a better way to do it through the use of Equisoy (human grade, debittered, GM Free soy is a fabulous way to do it!) being used in addition to their feed providing the protein needed without the additional bulk that they can’t digest readily.
Supplying your horse with extra hay and/or whole oats can assist in maintaining condition on a horse through winter. Feeds like Emerald Green Alfalfa-mazing and Grass-tastic are fantastic as the high fibre content supports fermentation in our horse’s hindgut which produces heat. It is important to do this gradually and slowly to reduce the chance of colic.
Changing and increasing roughage. Opting for higher energy hays such as pasture hay or oaten hay to make up the majority of the hay fed. It can be more beneficial than feeding low sugar hays.
Clipping and Rugging
Clipping and rugging appropriately is vital through winter to ensure that your horse says warm but doesn’t overheat. Your horse can regulate his/her body temperature between 5 – 25 c so ensuring that we are not overugging them is also an essential consideration. We are a nation of over-ruggers, some of the easy signs are loss of mane, muscle atrophy so light layers rather than heavy rugs!Shop Rugs on the centre line
During colder temperatures egg production decreases, so it is not always recommended to worm throughout this time. It would be more beneficial to conduct a faecal egg count to understand whether your horse has a worm burden or not.
Try to ensure that you have enough room to rotate paddocks or parts of paddocks to prevent overgrazing and oversized mud patches, which will struggle to recover come spring.
Review your horse’s diet and condition coming through winter, to not only ensure that they will be meeting their nutritional needs but also so their bodies are supported through the change of seasons.
Help their immune system!! Horses who are renowned for picking up infections may be lacking in vitamins and minerals through their diet. Prevention is always better than cure.