|We are very pleased to bring to our readers a blog series from Dr. Corey Paradine, a local veterinarian here in northeast Ohio. If there is a specific topic you would like her to discuss, you can email it to me, email@example.com, and I will pass your ideas along to Dr. Corey OR you can place it in the comment section of this blog.”Polar Vortex,” that is what our local Meteorologist have been calling our recent run of extreme cold weather here in northeast Ohio. With daytime highs in the single or negative digits, not including wind chill factors, we need to remember our horses comfort levels.
Dr. Corey has put together the following blog as a friendly reminder of some of the important things horse owners should consider in these frigid temperatures.
Cold Weather Considerations:
Cold weather has set in and there are some important things to keep in mind in regards to our equine friends.
1) Monitor water intake. Cold temperatures can lead to frozen water buckets and water troughs. Many horses don’t drink as well when it’s cold, which puts them at a higher risk for dehydration, and as consequence impaction colic. It’s important to make sure there is continual access to water.
2) Remove blankets on a regular basis to check for sores, rubs, and weight loss/weight gain.
3) Pay particular attention to your horses’ skin/legs, as long hair can cover wounds/injuries.
4) Make sure your horse has access to shelter (both from precipitation and from wind). A long hair coat can be enough to keep a horse warm in cold temperatures but wind will inhibit the effectiveness of a thick coat, as will heavy precipitation. Snow will generally not affect a horses’ ability to stay warm if they have a thick winter coat.
5) In extreme cold, an increase in forage (hay) is often necessary to help horses maintain adequate body temperature.
6) If your horse has shoes, check often for snow build up within the shoes or consider asking your farrier to put snow pads in. These pads help push snow out of the foot so it does not build up and create an uneven surface for the horse. The uneven snow buildup that occurs in shod horses (not a concern for barefoot horses) can make them unbalanced and put them at risk for injury.
7) Just as with people exercising in cold weather, your horse needs a longer warm-up and cool down than in warmer weather. The actual time varies depending on temperature, wind chill, location (inside vs outside), hair coat, fitness, expected level of activity (for warm up), and actual amount of work (for cool down), but the colder it is the more time you’ll need for warm up and cool down.
As with anything, if you have any questions or concerns regarding your horse, please contact your veterinarian.