Winter Messages

It will be late January when you receive this issue of the magazine. Winter already has been tough on many of us, and on our horses. Lots of snow, freezing rain, and below-normal temperatures make us wish for more temperate climes where we actually can get on our horses and ride on something not frozen. Someplace where our ears, fingers, toes, and nose aren’t constantly numb by the time we finish chores. Blessed are those with indoor arenas in this type of weather.

Winter also is colic weather. Horses don’t tend to drink as much water when it’s cold -- and we don’t much like chopping ice -- so they are more prone to impaction colic. They also don’t get as much exercise, and often owners mistakenly feed horses too much of the wrong thing to "help them fight the cold weather." Hay is the ticket to keeping the digestive system working naturally and "warming up" the horse. After all, equines are designed to be "hay burners."

In case of emergency, make sure you have your veterinarian’s phone numbers close to the phone, and know what you need to tell him or her if your horse isn’t "acting just right." Make sure you have:

A halter and lead rope close at hand;

A thermometer with a lubricant to take your horse’s rectal temperature;

A watch with a second hand to take respiratory and pulse rates;

A stethoscope (or a knowledgeable ear) to listen for gut sounds on both sides of your horse;

The ability to judge capillary refill time on your horse’s gums.

Being able to relate this information, along with your horse’s actions, will help a veterinarian determine if your horse is in critical need, or if it can be a "let’s wait an hour and see how he does" case.

It is important to call your vet early in any scenario that you think might be colic; the sooner the veterinarian makes a determination of the cause and severity, the better your horse’s chances if it does happen to be serious and require surgery.

Electronic Horse Health Newsletter

For those of you who are forced to stay inside in this weather, we offer a suggestion: Surf our content-rich web site ( and see if there is something there to help you keep your horses healthier.

We receive hundreds of e-mails each week, sometimes hundreds a day! Our policy is to answer as many as possible. Most are requests for information on a specific topic, many of which can be found on our web site. Those requests help drive the content of this magazine, let us focus our web site to better suit the needs of users, and now assist in serving a weekly base of thousands of equine professionals with The Horse Health E-Newsletter.

Many of these requests for information come from people who have gotten diagnoses from their veterinarians, then want to know more about the conditions or diseases affecting their horses. We currently have more than four years worth of magazine articles archived at Plus, we have news added online nearly every business day, and there are other sections on our web site that contain information updated on a regular or as- needed basis (such as West Nile).

Our company also operates, an e-commerce site that allows secure shopping for everything from our own Understanding series of horse health books to gifts and art.

What all this means is that The Horse and its associated departments are reaching out to the equine industry in new ways, and honing our skills in publishing information that you can use today, and reference tomorrow.

We talked in last month’s issue of The Horse about The Horse Health E-Newsletter. This free weekly service is designed to help us disseminate information in a more timely -- and abbreviated -- manner, and to inform those owners who wish to be more knowledgeable about the health and care of their horses.

If you aren’t receiving the free e-newsletter, go to our web site at and sign up on the home page. If you are receiving our e-newsletter, send us feedback and let us know how we can refine the content to better suit your needs. This newsletter was created because you, our reader, said you wanted the same type of in-depth, reliable horse health information as is contained in this monthly magazine, but on a more frequent basis.

Among the comments we have received on the e-newsletter thus far: "I thought most of the topics presented were interesting. I am following all the news on the West Nile virus -- hoping that either a vaccination or a cure will be developed before it gets out West. I also enjoyed the article on cloning horses. I found the links to the AAEP Convention notes and articles very helpful. I ended up reading quite a few of the reports (not just the ones covered in this week’s newsletter) and have some ‘informed’ questions to pass on to my vet.

"Thanks again for a great newsletter. I have a feeling it will be the weekly highlight of my e-mail messages."

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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