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Our Rural Teams Tips for Winter Horse Care

As Chartered Equestrian Insurance Experts, our Rural team are experienced equestrians, this allows them to give a higher quality of service to our equestrian clients. We have asked them to pull together their own top tips for winter horse care:

• Check water troughs and buckets first thing in the morning and break away any ice. The ice may mean that your horse has had no access to drinking water for several hours / over night so this is important to do every morning! • A hoof pick is handy for breaking frozen ice and keeping your hands dry!

• Put some warm water in your horse’s water bucket. In the winter, when the water can be very cold, some horses drink less. This is a problem because, like humans, water is one of the most important things a horse needs to be healthy.

• Put some Vaseline inside horse hooves to prevent snow and ice balling up and becoming frozen. Remember to clean them out at the end of the day as the Vaseline can cause hooves to become a breeding ground for bacteria.

• If you don’t have time to ride out in the darker evenings, a 20 minute lunging session will allow your horse to stretch his legs and help keep him fit! A horse walker is also a great exercising tool if available

• Remember – like us, horses need exercise all year round! Try to turn your horse out as much as possible through the winter months. • Feed a good quality oil in winter months to help keep condition and coat quality.

• Check your horse over twice daily and look for signs of mud fever, especially at the back of the pasterns. Towel dry legs a couple of times a day and apply sulphur powder daily. You could also apply liquid paraffin to dry legs before turning out. It is water-repellent, skin-kind and non-sticky.

• Put hardcore shavings or wood chips / used shavings down around field gates to prevent boggy gateways. Stock up on salt / grit for those icy yards!

• Keep a can of WD40 to hand for any locks that could ice over.

• A kettle in the tack room for hot drinks, pot noodles and adding warm water to feeds / water buckets can be invaluable!

• Check everything is in working order. Replace any stable / yard light bulbs. There is nothing worse than mucking out and feeding in the dark! Check all pipes are suffiently lagged to prevent burst pipes. Have a back-up water supply on hand if need be such as a large water container.

• Make sure you are stocked up on feed, bedding and any supplements you may need just in case your supplier has to close temporarily due to bad weather.

• Thermal clothes and socks, waterproof over-trousers and fingerless gloves are a MUST! It is a good idea to wear a hat as often as you can as you lose most of your body heat through your head!

• You can cut tails slightly shorter than usual to prevent muddy tails and hind legs. Alternatively a hunter plait will do!

• Feed your horse appropriately for workload and condition. Every horse’s needs are different and you will need to consider his feed throughout the winter and colder months. As temperatures drop, your horse burns more calories in order to keep warm. For some horses this may result in considerable weight loss. If your horse is not on a calorie-restricted diet, consider increasing his hay rations as is gets colder. Hay provides an excellent source of calories. Also, the process of digesting fibre (most hays are high in fibre) helps keep a horse warm.

• Keep up with your hoof-care regime. It is more important than ever during the cold winter months. Horses should still see the farrier regularly – every 6-8 weeks, regardless of season!

• Groom your horse daily. It provides a good opportunity to check your horse’s health, skin and condition – which could alert you to any illness, injury or weight loss.

• Don’t over-rug your horse. Carefully consider the types of rugs your horse will need over Winter. Take into account his breed, age, health, usage and workload. If you plan on not riding much or working your horse through Winter then consider leaving his full natural coat on rather than clipping unnecessarily. Over-rugging a horse can cause him to overheat, which can lead to dehydration and many other health problems.

• You can add a small amount of salt to your horse’s hard feed to encourage him to drink more water and avoid becoming dehydrated. Remember to make sure there is always a supply of fresh, clean water available.

• Last but not least, remember to look after your own health too! In order to give your horse the best care, you need to take care of yourself too!

Don’t forget to get in touch with the Ravenhall Rural team regarding any of your equestrian business requirements, Ravenhall Rural are specialists in Riding Centres, Riding Schools, Livery Yards and Equestrian Centres.

Call our team on 0345 2163000 or visit our Rural Pages.