For much of the United States, harsh winter weather is a fact of life, and that means it’s a fact of life for the animals we keep too. Our horses especially struggle through this season since they’re in barns. You have to prepare your barn for the winter and prepare the animals themselves to protect them from the freezing weather. Keep reading to learn how to prepare your horses for harsh winter weather and keep your animals safe.
Prepare for Emergencies
Accidents seem to happen more in the winter, so you need to prepare your horses and your barn for emergencies, including physical injuries to your horses. Have an equine first aid kit prepared with basic medications as well as basic supplies that can last several days in case snow traps your horses in their barn. This includes having enough feed and water for your horses. If you’re unsure how much to plan for, estimate 12–20 gallons of water per horse and 12–15 pounds of hay and other feed, depending on your horse’s diet.
Keep Blankets Handy
Most of your horses shouldn’t need blankets to get through the winter as long as they stay dry and have good shelter. However, older and younger horses may need blankets to help them get through the harshest parts of the winter. You may also want to have blankets if you and your horse have recently moved to a colder area and your horse has never experienced freezing temperatures. Make sure the blankets are well-fitted on your horse to avoid friction injuries and ensure that the blanket stays dry.
Check Hooves Regularly
Although horse hooves tend to grow slowly in the winter, they’re also more at risk of damaging their hooves on the hard ground. Ice and snow can also easily pack into their hooves, putting them at greater risk of falling or injuring their legs. Pick your horse’s hooves daily to prevent this ice or snow buildup, especially if it’s snowing or sleeting outside. You can also put snow pads over their hooves before they go out. Keep up a trimming schedule of every 6–12 weeks depending on the age of the horse and their activity level.
Important steps toward preparing your horses for harsh winter weather include stocking for emergencies, having blankets handy, and checking their hooves regularly. These precautions will help make sure your horses stay healthy throughout the frigid winter months.