The first day of winter is here, and yet many places in America have already been dealing with ice and snow! Winter horsemanship is not always the most fun. Taking care of horses in winter means a lot of time spent in freezing temperatures when it seems like everyone else in the world is cozy on the couch with hot cocoa and Netflix. There’s nothing quite like the words “polar vortex” to make an equestrian question their life choices!
Maybe that’s why we have so many articles centered around winter horse care tips at this blog. A search for “winter horse care” brings up at least half a dozen articles on training, feeding, shoeing, health, blanketing, and even items to help you, the human, keep warm through it all! We gathered together a collection of these links to make it easy for you to click through and find the winter horse care tips you need to get through another sub-zero season.
Winter training: It’s not easy being stuck inside all winter! Indoor arenas get monotonous when the outdoor arenas are icy and frozen over. At big farms, you might find the indoor arena is so packed with riders at times it’s impossible to get any meaningful work done. If you don’t have an indoor arena, you might feel sidelined every time a big winter storm rolls through. That’s okay – winter is the perfect time to brush up on your horse’s ground manners, and ground manners make a big difference in your horse’s under saddle work! The reason? When you tone up your horse’s attention to key pressure points you use under saddle, you’re priming your horse for a more sensitive ride. We have four indoor riding and training activities you’ll love at this blog post.
Winter shoes: Maybe you really need to get outside with your horse! Choose the right shoes for the job. If you’re trying to choose the right winter horseshoe option, you’ll find plenty of choices. Start with your horse’s hoof history, then look at the type of work you’ll be doing. You might be surprised to find there are specific nails and shoes available for icy work! We have tips for selecting winter horseshoes here.
Winter tack care: Love your tack year-round, but love it extra-hard in winter. Winter tack care is exceptionally important because of the destructive influences leather is exposed to – fluctuating temperatures, mud, sweat and dirt from furry horses, constant dust from indoor arenas, and frigid air. Leather and extremes do not go together well, so to avoid waking up to cracks and permanent damage in spring, take care of even tack you’re letting hibernate through the cold season. Our blog post with tips for winter leather care has more!
Winter horse health: Horse health care shifts with the seasons, with the one constant being that there is no such thing as too much attention to detail. In winter, consider the implications of cold weather on your horse’s health, as horses often refuse to drink cold water. They can also find their water troughs covered with ice. We have tips to help you keep your horses drinking water all winter here. As for hay and grain, did you consider these factors in determining if your horse is getting the right nutrient levels in winter, or which vitamins diminish in hay as the winter wears on?
Keeping warm all winter: Both you and your horse need to stay warm! Does your horse need a blanket all the time, or are there other ways to boost your horse’s natural ability to stay warm? It’s actually possible to feed for warmth. Make sure you’re feeding right and have the right winter wardrobe for your horse. Then, get our suggestions for cold-weather riding gear for you and your horse. Because we know you can’t resist a little riding time, no matter how frightful the weather!