Hello Winter… 4 ways to help keep your horse warm this winter

Author: Jean-Mari de Villiers (Canega Brand Ambassador)



As the winter chill sets in, we are all getting ready to ensure our horses are kept warm and provision made for the colder temperatures, but how much is too much? Sometimes, coddling and over compensating can be just as dangerous as when insufficient precautions are taken.


I have listed a few of the things that I believe are important to take into consideration to help keep our horses warm this winter, such as proper food, good quality roughage, water, exercise, shelters/stables and blankets.


Food

Much like us, for horses to stay warm when it is very cold it requires a lot more energy, so it is very important to provide proper feed. Lots and lots of roughage, these high fibre feeds, through digestion, provides heat. You can also look at adding an oil‐based supplement to your horse’s diet, for example Canega EquiPlus Oil which is high in Omega-3. It helps them grow a healthy winter coat and supports weight maintenance. A nice thick layer of fat under a good winter coat will help your horse stay nice and warm.



Image: supplied


Blanketing

This is a debatable topic and often comes down to personal preference and beliefs. When it comes to blanketing, there is a lot to be taking into consideration. If your horse has been clipped recently or still has a fluffy winter coat, resist the temptation of over blanketing. With a clipped horse you can look at using a lightweight blanket.


Water

Don’t forget that hydration plays an important role in keeping your beloved horse warm. You can add some salt to their current diet to help them drink more water. In places that reach very low temperatures, investing in some sort of heating device to warm up the water could be a consideration. Another tip is to warm up some water and add it to your horse’s food, providing them with a nice warm meal. Just think, if it’s cold, you won’t be drinking ice water.


Image: Supplied


Shelters/Stabling

Thick winter coats are a horse’s natural protection against the cold. It provides a natural insulation by trapping the hot air against the skin. However, if it rains and horses get wet, the coat does lose some of its insulating properties. Thus, we can provide adequate shelters for our horses to take cover against the cold, rainy and windy days.


You can also add some bedding under your shelters (straw or shavings) this will also help keep your horse nice and warm should they decide to lie down. If your horse sleeps in a stable, add some extra bedding for those very cold nights.


Horses that are in good condition, that have a full winter coat and adequate shelter, may not need blanketing on most days. In some cases, a blanket may do more harm than good as this prevents the ability of the coat to stand up and trap heat close to the body. Make sure that blankets are in good condition and properly fitting, as ill‐fitting blankets can be harmful.

Remember, you know your horse better than anyone else. Acclimate horses to the cold winter days, but don’t keep them from enjoying the great outdoors. With good quality hard feed and roughage, shelter, warm water, extra portions of feed/roughage and then wise use of blanketing, horses will stay warm and happy.




Canega Equiplus is a rich source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats, which are essential to a well-balanced and nutritious diet. Available now from a tack shop near you.


www.canega.co.za


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