Top Tips for Surviving Snow with Horses.
1) Plan Ahead
Now as a general rule, Equestrians are pretty good at preparation. If you're expecting bad weather plan ahead, keep a spare pair of gloves and socks near your stable or in your car, so if you get caught out you have a way to keep your hands and feet warm. Order in extra hay, straw and feed before the weather hits, so that if you get snowed in, you have essentials till it clears. If your pipes are likely to freeze, store some water in containers under your straw/ hay store to stop it from freezing.
2) Rug (But don't over rug!)
Lots of horses now are clipped out through winter so its essential you provide them with good quality warm rugs to replace the hair that they've lost. If you have a native type that is unclipped, you can probably leave them as nature intended, their coats are perfectly designed to deal with extreme climates. If your horse is more of a poor doer, make sure they have adequate protection to keep them warm.
3) Fibre Fibre Fibre
Getting fibre into your horse will keep them warm from the inside out. Proving lots of good quality hay will ensure they always have something to eat and can turn the fibre into energy and ultimately, use it to keep warm. If your horses are in, consider using bigger, small holed nets to ensure that they always have enough to eat, especially in the event that you might not be able to get there. Feeding a Blue Chip Feed Balancer helps to keep them warm from the inside out by helping the fermentation process in the hind gut.
4) Boredom Busters
If your horse is stuck in for days on end, its important to ensure their brains are kept occupied. Feeding in slow feeder nets will give them more to do for longer periods of time and using things like stable toys and boredom balls can occupy and engage their brain and stop them getting as stressed.
5) Soak your Blue Chip Balancer with warm water!
All Blue Chip Feed Balancers can be fed soaked with warm water. This provides your horse a warm meal with all the essential vitamins minerals and nutrients they need to stay healthy and happy (and it smells delicious!)
6) Keep an eye on your Senior Horses!
Senior Horses often need a little extra attention in winter. Ensure careful attention is made to ensure they are warm enough and have enough feed to keep them happy. Soaking hot mashes is a great idea for horses who have poor teeth and will keep them warm and full.
7) Stop your waters from Freezing
There are lots of inventive ways from stopping your water from freezing, many people put footballs in their water, which will bob around in the wind and stop your water from freezing. Alternatives include putting straw or manure around your water buckets, and placing small water bottles full of salt water in the buckets, the salt water wont freeze, and stops your water from freezing.
8) Feed a Joint Supplement
Some horses who struggle with stiffness, will struggle when kept indoors for prolonged periods of time. Providing your horses with a joint supplement will help to keep them moving freely and promote healthy joint mobility, so that when they can go back out, they are fully prepared and supported from the inside out.
9) Vaseline your hooves!
To stop your horse getting snow shoes, you can pack their hooves (and shoes if shod) with Vaseline (or another oil based product) this stops the snow sticking and means it will simply fall out. Barefoot horses do really well in Snow, but beware of ice that could be lurking underneath! If you do ride, make sure you take a hoof pick with you!