All Things Horse

Forty-seven Years Of Horse Experience – At Your Service!

Winter Care for Horses

“Speak to me of every day things and I am likely to ignore you. However speak to me of horses and you will have my full undivided attention”Tina Bastian

We live in Canada and I think, this time of the year, everyone becomes concerned about their horses and their neighbours horse too.  Here on the islands, there are very few horses left amongst the people. On this island, Coffin Island, there are presently ten horses, five of which are mine. Last year there were three, all of which were mine and so on for many years. Before I got Copper, there hadn’t been any horses here since I was young.

What I am saying is that people in general around here don’t know about the needs of horses and some are very agitated that I don’t have a barn. I have shelter in the form of a large greenhouse structure covered in undamaged heavy duty plastic and a smaller temporary car garage, as well as many acres of spruce, pine and fir forests, that have thick, interwoven tops and no branches on bottom. These forests groves are surrounded by very thick spruce and fir underbrush and young spruce trees trying to find light to grow. They are so thick that our cat as difficulty picking her way through them.

I also have two sets of winter blankets for each of the five horses, just in case they are needed. One blanket is thick synthetic filled multi-layer, with a fleece liner and the other is an impermeable or a water-proof garment. Granted I try to not use the blankets often because I want the horses coats to come to their full potential for warmth, but I don’t take any chances on any of the horses getting cold either.

Another thing is that I and my son take turns, feeding all the horses, sometimes every hour around the clock, when the temperature really drops or it becomes a wet, windy day with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark. These are the worst days for my horses. Often they are standing belly deep in hay while other times the horses use the greenhouse, particularly if I put the food inside. But because the warmth in the greenhouse, winter coats tend to get stunted and extremely dirty and dusty, so although I used the green house frequently three winters ago, I found that last year the horses were happier outside and I had less conflicts amongst them. The flapping, snapping plastic, in the highest gale wind, doesn’t bother them in the slightest, which surprised me greatly. I thought it would spook them badly.

Yes, I’m up out of bed and out with the horses, throughout the night. I’ve been known to fall asleep while laying on a soft, warm back at 30 degrees below zero Celsius, only to have a rude awakening, face down in a snow bank, when Copper decided to shift his weight to the other foot. I don’t do that anymore.

Instead, I keep fresh hay with them constantly and bring water, warmed from the kettle on the stove in two and a half gallon buckets to each and everyone of them separately, a half a dozen times a day, throughout the winter. I try to get at least ten gallons of water into each horse per day. My original three, Gimme A Dream, Frilly and Willow drink up to 15 gallons a day each but the newest older guys, Bonanza and Shaman drink only a couple of gallons per day.

I have salt blocks and more recently large 24 kg mineral blocks set out to encourage the intake of water. They prefer the mineral blocks but I keep the salt blocks out, just in case they want a change.

Gimme A Dream, Willow, Frilly and Bonanza all have a high body condition score, about a 7, but 28-year-old Shaman has less. He is not a thin horse, in fact he is the best conditioned horse I have here. The others are fat, FAT, fat and with bigggggg hay bellies. They are so out of condition now (I am so ashamed of myself) but as the days grow longer and the temperatures start to rise, I shall start to cut their meals from them slowly until I’m feeding them tree times a day and give them less hay per feeding until they get about forty lbs each per day except for Gimme. He will continue to get more because of his great height and normal weight. And I shall be riding them again. They are retired from riding for the winter because I keep them barefoot all year round.

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January 25, 2010 - Posted by | health | , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] meet and get to know the horses of Old Harry beach see All Things Horse blog. March 22nd, 2010 | Category: MI […]

    Pingback by Horse Riding Vacation « Gimme A Dream | March 22, 2010


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