Readers Share Winter Horse Care Tips

Readers Share Winter Horse Care Tips

Several readers suggested ensuring that horses have plenty of hay and shelter during the winter months.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

We asked horse owners from across the country to share their tips, ideas, and suggestions to help make caring for horses and farms during the winter months a little easier. Here are some you might find useful!

Creating Safe Walkways

“In really icy weather I make paths from droppings and straw from stables to field. I also have old stair carpeting, double width, in the gangways in the stable buildings to stop horses with packed hooves from slipping when we have snow.” – Denise Tross

“We snow blow paths to all gates and along certain fence lines to make it easier to turn horses in and out and during feeding time. We use a sled to take hay along the paths and toss the hay over the fence to the horses. On icy areas, we use barn lime for better footing. It doesn't melt the ice, but makes it non-slip and is safe for animals. It's also cheap at about $2.50 for a 50 pound bag.” – GreyStone Tank

“We plow/snowblow a path from the house to the pasture to make it easier to traverse snowy ground. Also if you have to transport hay any distance, a plastic sled works far better than a wheelbarrow in the snow.” – Marnie Kemmetmueller

No More Frozen Water

“Heated buckets make me nervous. From failing to heat, to shocking, to starting fires, I just don't like them! Instead, I use bucket cozies. They're like a blanket for your bucket, and they help keep it from freezing for a longer period compared to non-insulated buckets. If you use warm water to fill them, they will still be steaming several hours later!” – Aradia Diane Willard

“I have a quick disconnect on my water hose. Love it! It saves my hands and fingers in the cold!” – Dierwood Farm

“I have used heated 100 gallon Tupperware tanks for 20 years with the heater in the plug. I have ground fault plugs, I water two horses with each tub, and I've never had a problem.” –Sandra Paul

“My water heater that sits on the bottom. It works great and the horses drink!” – Vicki Anderson Gatza

Drink Up!

"I add about a palm-full of salt to any feed they get. It helps them drink a little more water for better hydration. If you don't usually grain them, a little oatmeal, brown sugar, and salt will do." – Russell Garland

Deep Clean

“When grooming I focus on getting through all that winter hair to lift the dirt and dander off the skin, especially the topline area. I carefully use a flea comb that has teeth that are close together (fine or extra fine). The metal is rigid enough to get all the way down to the skin, it's amazing just how much dirt/dander will come up, and the horses love it.” – Audrey King

Warm Winter Dinners

“My three horses have access to as much hay as they could want, and on particularly cold mornings I soak alfalfa cubes in warm water and mix with their their ration for a mash. It's a special treat for them!” – Kelli Griffith

“When the temp drops to below 20°, I add hay cubes soaked in warm water to my horses' rations. They absorb a lot of water and make the horse thirsty. Plus, it gives them the quick burning energy they need to stay warm. Also, I feed ground oats, soak the feed, and up beet pulp when temp drops below freezing. I also have a stock tank heater and keep a Redmond Rock (a salt source) next to tank, I'm big on getting them to drink.” – Beverly Hubbard

Stay Dry

“Keep the horses dry! When they're wet, that's when they are cold. Shelters and wind breakers are a must.  Make sure their water dosen't freeze and that they have plenty of food.” – Eva Anderson

Safe Riding Tips

“Don't ride them or longe them on icy ground.” – Cheryl J. Brinkmann

Winter Hoof Care

“I use Vaseline inside the hooves (to keep snow and ice from building up).” – Pam Swift

No Frozen Halters

“I keep a large, flip-top plastic container at each pasture gate to hold halters during bad weather. It keeps them nice and dry and safe to use.” – Donna Lewis Alley

You can find additional resources on winter horse care and winter horse back riding tips at! 

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