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 Post subject: Get ready!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:37 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 23, 2010 7:14 am
Posts: 24
I know, I know, you don't want to hear it, think about it or deal with it. But. Winter is just around the corner; it always comes much more swiftly than I am ready for. Are you ready?

So many things to consider; from blanketing and shoeing to pasture Vs. stall. How do you know you're doing the right thing, the best thing for your horse? Should you blanket your horse? Should you increase grain intake? Should you shoe?

As for blanketing, as anything else horse related, there is no simple answer. Up here, it is highly subjective as well as dependent upon your own emotions regarding seeing your horse with a layer of snow on his back and ice hanging from his whiskers. The hair coat is designed to insulate and warm the horse and blanketing can cause the hairs to lay flat, thus reducing the insulating effect. Tight fitting or heavy blankets can prevent the hair from acting as nature intended as well.

But some horses simply do not grow enough hair, or are elderly and need a little more help. Some horses live in paddocks where there is no shelter and a blanket is helpful and oftentimes welcomed. For horses that are being shown during the winter. a shorter coat is desired and blanketing is a must. In addition to blanketing, the amount of daylight (photoperiod) has a direct effect on the hair growth cycle. To maintain a slick coat through the winter, lighting programs that offer 16 hours of light per day should be started in the early fall, usually in early November for us.

Horses often colic in the dead of winter--the coldest cold snap seems to be the worst. Is there anything you can do to be sure your horse drinks enough water? As water temperature lowers (especially below 45 degrees Farenheight), horses tend to drink less. And heating the water in their troughs is important. Horses on pasture drinking from a creek may not drink enough if they must first break the ice. Efforts should be taken to ensure that horses continue to consume as much water as possible during the winter months. These steps may include changing the water often to prevent freezing, using automatic waterers, using water heating devices and adding salt or electrolytes to the feed. Adding water directly to the feed to encourage additional intake doesn't do much especially when it freezes before the horse eats it.

Since a large percentage of what the horse eats goes to maintenance of body temperature and organ function, feeding practices may need to be adjusted to maintain adequate body condition during the winter. Remember that the heavy winter coats cover any bony protrudences and other signs of weight loss so you need to take a good feel over the ribcage to determine body fat levels. An increase in roughage may be needed since digestion of hay will generate heat internally and help keep horses warm during the winter. If your horse is being ridden less during the winter months, a decrease in the amount of concentrate that is fed may be needed, whereas horses in full work may not need any changes. Talk to your vet to determine what's best for your horse.

Geriatric horses are more sensitive to extremes of temperature and may require a higher level of care during the cooler months than their younger counterparts. Horses with arthritic joints may experience more soreness during cold weather. It is often helpful to maintain turnout and self exercise in the older arthritic horse but consult with your veterinarian for specific recommendations for your horse. Poor dentition can make adequate hay consumption more challenging. The use of higher fat, more digestible senior diets can help these older horses maintain weight and generate heat through the winter. Adding Rice bran to the diet helps maintain enough body weight and is a "cool" source rather than charging your old guy or gal up. So remember, provide good shelter from snow, wind and rain, check water sources often, monitor water intake and feed plenty of good quality hay to ensure optimal horse health throughout the winter.

Here is a list of some other things you might want to prepare for:

Have your veterinarian do an exam in the fall and discuss the best care options for your horse
Get your horse's teeth foated if needed
Dewormer ordered
Water tank and heater in working order.
Blanket(s) cleaned, repaired and water-proofed
Roof of barn/shed/shelter is sound and leakproof
Tack room straightened out and organized (I hate doing this in the cold!)
Salt and Lite salt on hand for adding to mash to encourage thirst
Hay stored in a water-tight place
Heat lamp on hand and in working order (in case of severe chill)
Move all perishable items into a heated room (fly spray, medications, supplements, etc)
Snow shovel in a handy place
Winter boots, hat, gloves, coat are ready and waiting

Brrrrrrrrr! and Happy Trails!

Tanya Buck

*******PRIVATE one hour riding lesson for $50, (normally $75) with mention of, email; must be within 20 miles of Conifer, CO.

Tanya Buck was born and raised in Carmel, California, where she grew up on a small ranch. A graduate of UC Davis, she majored in Animal Science with a concentration in Equine Reproduction, and a minor in English.

She is certified through UC Davis as an Equine Breeding Manager, is a certified horse show judge, and a Reiki Master. Currently, Tanya and her husband live in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with five horses, four dogs, three cats, a couple of parrots and a bunch of fish.

Besides her passion for horses, Tanya is an avid Scuba diver, an active bicyclist, and loves to hike, snowshoe, read and write. She is currently working on two books, one fiction that needs an agent now, and a creative nonfiction about training horses written from the horse's point of view.

Tanya has been helping to bridge the communication gap between horses and humans for over 35 years.

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 Post subject: Get ready!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:28 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 7:24 pm
Posts: 54
:Thanks: Hoping to see more of the :sunshine: before the big chill tho. Having said that...I've just ordered thermal winter breeches. :VeryScared:

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