Do Horses in Mild Climates Need Extra Care During Winter?

Do Horses in Mild Climates Need Extra Care During Winter?

Blanketing is not a necessity for most horses in warmer climates, but will benefit horses with clipped coats when temperatures drop.

Photo: iStock

Texas and other southern states might have mild winters, but that doesn’t mean temperatures can’t drop below freezing. On these cold days, how will horses stay warm?

In general, horses’ coats are enough to keep them warm in the winter, even in snowy weather, said Leslie Easterwood, MA, DVM, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, in College Station. But for owners who clip their horse’s coat short during the winter, you’ll need to help your horse stay warm.

One way to help your horse stay warm is by providing shelter. A closed-in barn is nice, but not required, Easterwood said. Generally, as long as the horse has some way of escaping the weather, their unclipped coats should be adequate in maintaining body heat.

“Horses generally grow enough hair to stay warm,” Easterwood said. “The worst weather for them is when conditions are wet and windy. If they have a shelter to avoid the wind and rain, then they will be more comfortable.”

Another way to keep your horse warm is to provide a blanket. Blanketing is not a necessity for most horses in Texas, but will benefit horses with clipped coats when temperatures drop. However, as it warms up throughout the day, the blanket will need to be changed to prevent sweating.

If keeping warm requires more calories, should you feed your horse a more calorie-dense diet in the winter?

It depends on the horse’s activity, said Easterwood. Most horses’ normal diets are sufficient through the winter, but if your horse is in regular exercise or underweight, you might consider increasing their caloric intake.

“Usually owners ride less in the winter, which could allow for energy to be diverted to keeping warm,” Easterwood said. “But if owners continue to ride during the winter, it could be necessary to provide more roughage for the horses.”

The winter months in Texas might not be as cold as other places, but horses with clipped coats may still find the weather to be too cold to bear. If you’re going to clip your horse’s coat during the winter, be sure to provide them with ways to stay warm.

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