For horses, keeping the cold away is a start
By Aimee Elyse Robinson, Valley Vet Supply Content Manager
Having horses in the wintertime is picturesque—especially when they are outside your front window, calendar-ready with snowflakes seemingly purposefully placed on their forelock and mane.
Now, what goes into keeping them beautiful and healthy in the cold months…admittedly, that is not quite as effortless. These seven items you need to help you and your horse weather the winter months.
1. Insulated overalls
For too long, I layered my clothes best that I could, but I was always chilled to the bone. Two years ago, I ordered some Berne Apparel insulated ladies’ overalls. I personally love bibs vs. coveralls because when you warm up after cleaning stalls, you can easily peel off your coat and still be toasty because your own “heartgirth” is covered.
2. Waterproof, insulated boots
No matter how many pairs of socks you layer on, tennis runners or cowboy boots are likely not going to keep your feet warm. One must invest in a solid pair of waterproof, insulated boots. Skip the hassle and frozen toes—this is a worthy investment.
3. Heated water sources
Nobody wants to break ice on a cold, blistery day. And sometimes, breaking ice is only a temporary fix—cold will freeze it over in no time. There are automatic heated waterers available to help lighten the load come winter, or for a more cost-conscious route, there are also heated water troughs and heated flat-backed buckets that are perfect for paddocks or stalls.
4. Good barn gloves
And I’m not talking about the cutesy kind you get at a department store. When running down the list of winter barn chores, we all require a good pair of insulated, ready-to-work barn gloves. Not only does it make our chores more enjoyable, but it also ensures we do things the right way rather than rushing through to shave time because of frozen fingers.
5. Cozy riding helmet cover
While it’s easy to skip out on riding due to cold, don’t overlook the importance of riding in the wintertime to keep your horse fit, engaged and ready for nicer riding weather come spring. While they might be a bit fresh, it’s certainly a best practice. For winter riding warriors, I cannot overemphasize the value a riding helmet cover brings to time in the saddle. Equipped with a fleece ear and face warmer, they will keep you cozy when the brutal cold keeps hitting you in the face.
6. Weight-building supplements
At my home we have mostly off-track Thoroughbreds and seniors, which means we have mostly hard keepers, especially come wintertime. That also means that we incorporate weight-building supplements into their diets.
Tony Hawkins, DVM, technical service veterinarian at Valley Vet Supply, said, “It is important to try to improve their body condition, which will support their thermoregulation and overall health. In addition to increasing their total hay intake, we recommend adding a high-quality protein and energy supplement to help support healthy weight gain.”
7. Waterproof, durable horse blankets
Make sure horses have a sturdy blanket to shield them from the elements. This is especially important for seniors, hard keepers, and those without access to a windbreak or shelter.
When selecting a horse blanket, remember that “denier” means the durability of the blanket or sheet, which can range from 70 to 2400D. “Fill” is padding that adds an extra layer of warmth. Both with denier and fill, the higher the number, the tougher or warmer the blanket’s material will be.
We always keep some medium-weight stable blankets, no-fill rain sheets or at least 1200D waterproof turnout blankets on hand to have some options—one never knows what a winter day will bring.
Hopefully, these must-haves make wintertime with your horse a little easier to manage. Remember that hot cocoa and coffee travel well in a thermos, and try to embrace the colder months this winter, rather than wish them away!
About the author
Valley Vet Supply content manager, Aimee Elyse Robinson, draws from her lifelong experience with horses, coupled with the veterinary wisdom bestowed upon her from her years working in animal health. She resides with her husband on an Oklahoma ranchette that’s also home to off-track Thoroughbreds, and rescue and foster dogs. Co-recipient of the 2022 AHP Equine Media NextGen Award.