Horses need extra attention during the cold and wet winter months. By following these helpful tips you can help keep your horse healthy all winter.

Shelter: Horses need protection from the winter snow, wind, and rain. Provide shelter in the form of a barn or run-in shed. Shelter floors should be raised so that horses have a dry spot to stand. A wind or waterproof blanket is a good idea for horses that live outside full-time. Blankets need to be removed every few days and cleaned to limit fungus growth. Having more than one blanketing option is a good idea they can be rotated if one rug gets soaked through or dirty.

Water: Fresh water is a necessity. Horses can colic without continuous access to fresh water. If you use an unheated water source or an automatic waterer, check for and break any ice at least twice per day. Using a heated pasture water tank to provide warmer water could help ensure your horse gets enough liquids.

Feed: Horses need extra feed during the winter in order to help them maintain body temperature in the cold. In addition to a plentiful supply of hay, a supplemental feed can be provided. Consult your veterinarian about the best choice for your horse, especially if your horse is older; some geriatric horses lose weight during the winter months and should be monitored closely.

Hooves: Wet pastures can lead to problems for horses' hooves. Thrush is a common disease caused by bacteria and can affect horses that stand continuously on soggy ground. With long exposure to wet ground, hooves can even deteriorate, which can lead to lameness. Prevention is best; clean mud from your horse's hooves daily and consider applying a thrush medication once or twice per day. A few hours on "dry land" each day or a night in a dry stall can help prevent foot-and other-problems.

Skin: Keep your horse's skin healthy by vigorously currying its body daily. Keep your horses, the stalls, and all related equipment clean and dry to help avoid seasonal skin disorders, which can include rainrot, scratches, and ringworm.

Contact your veterinarian for additional winter horse care tips.

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