No matter what horsepower you are taking care of this winter, a sports car, boat or our 4-legged friends preparation is key to keep performance high. Heading into fall all horse owners, stable owners, horse lovers, trainers, and riders should be thinking ahead to fall horse care before the first flakes fly or cold weather strikes.
An Ounce of Prevention
Horse activities may be slowing down but much like a boat or a seasonal vehicle, your horse needs care going into the winter months. No, you don’t need to pull the battery, shrink wrap and dry dock, or add more antifreeze but you will need to give this some thought. Beyond buying a blanket, fall health maintenance is a consideration. While cooler temperatures diminish insect-born disease, core vaccines and boosters could be needed. Mares who will be foaling during the winter months need to be on a vaccine schedule consistent with their due date. Likewise, foals that are weaned this fall will begin their own vaccination schedule. Check the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) website for recommended vaccine guidelines. Set up a herd health review with your veterinarian. Most veterinarians recommend at minimum vaccines, deworming and teeth floating.
Horse Care 101
Blanketing is a personal decision depending on your horse’s job. If he is a pasture pal he could get by with just a turnout rug for wet weather. Horses are generally healthy being out in the elements if they have a shelter, water, and forage. If you are on the show circuit, finishing or continuing your race meet, blanketing will be necessary to ensure a lighter hair coat for competition. Heavy exercise in cold weather can make cool-out time longer. Blanketing and clipping can help. Remember, stabled horses need year-round daily exercise and plenty of hay and water through their day to avoid health issues. Using slow feed hay nets is a great idea for stabled horses and could cut down on hay cost. You may decide to pull your horse’s shoes. Just like checking your tires for the winter be prepared with an easy boot or two in the barn to handle any hoof issues that may crop up during turnout on frozen ground.
Is that a word? Nothing is more aggravating than a downed board in the middle of winter during the worst snowstorm…it always happens that way am I right? Avoid this scenario by taking a walk-about to check fencing. Pick up fencing tools and repair items, and keep a toolkit in the tack room.
It is the perfect time of year! Fly free weather is around the corner. So enjoy trail riding through the leaves, showing or racing. Remember “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man”, Winston Churchill. Take care of your horse and he will take care of you!
Written by Big Dee’s Web Products Specialist, Kathy Kilbane