Temperatures throughout France and the UK this week have hit the lowest this winter, but is your horse feeling the cold too?
With temperatures plummeting down to as low as -10 at night and barely past freezing in the day, you may be wondering whether your equine friend needs rugging..more rugs adding.. stabling..or bringing into the house (only joking folks!).
An age old technique is to feel at the base of his ears or armpits to feel his temperature, also notice if he is shivering or if his coat is standing up. Horses can actually withstand very cold temperatures, it’s when they get wet in cold temperatures that they really feel the chill. Obviously we don’t want them to lose condition through the winter so you may want to rug up depending on age, condition,breed etc of your equine. One of the best ways though to keep your horse warm is to feed more hay, not hard feed, as hay is digested in the cecum and colon resulting in heat production by bacterial fermentation. Concentrates are digested quickly in the small intestine so not producing so much warmth.
Often overlooked at this time of year, but a real threat just the same, is dehydration.This is caused by a combination of breathing in dry winter air and a reluctance to drink icy cold water. Obviously water is needed to keep the digestive system flowing so try and encourage your horse to drink , if possible, by offering warmed water to him, or if this isn’t possible ensure your water butts/buckets are topped up and ice smashed. Adding salt to the water will not be effective, plus too much salt is not good for his health…and will make him more thirsty!
If you’ve had snow, like us, and your equine looks like he is walking on stilts, try generously smearing something greasy like cooking fat, petroleum jelly or glycerin around the inside of the hoof and hoof walls to prevent the snow compacting.