By: Dr. Mike Guerini (www.dunmovinranch.com)
As winter is now in full swing with cold and rain and snow, it is time that we turn our attention to some very important winter health care concerns for horses. Here are five MUST DO’s to make sure your horse stays healthy.
1) Keep your horse’s feet properly trimmed. A balanced foot packs in less snow and mud. Sometimes when people are not riding or they are a bit short on funds they push-off the scheduled appointment for the farrier. Your horse’s feet are critical and need good care all year-long. This is a winter health care must for your horse.
2) If you blanket, check under the blanket daily. If you blanket your horses, either you or someone you trust must look under the blanket each day to make sure your horse’s skin, hair and body weight are in good shape.
3) If you live in areas that get muddy when it rains — get the mud off the feet and legs. We all know there are some therapeutic benefits to a mud bath (so I have been told) but it is critical that you make sure the mud does not cake on in pounds on your horses feet, tail and legs. Get that mud off every few days to make sure your horse does not developed cracked skin or bruises from the rough edges of the mud. This also applies to the snow. The Equine Hydro-T is great for helping get the mud off your horses feet.
4) Exercise your horse every few days at least. Take your horse for a walk on his halter. Make sure he keeps his feet moving. A horse needs to move its feet to make sure it is getting good circulation in the legs.
5) Clean the urine soaked stalls daily. If your horse tends to stay inside during the winter, high levels of ammonia from the urine can irritate the horses nasal passage and lungs. Make sure you keep those wet spots cleaned up in the stalls. Those wood stove pellets make for a great absorbent material (better than shavings) when you need to get that urine moisture out of a stall.
6) Keep the barn ventilated. You may think keeping everything locked up is great so that it keeps your horse warm. This is true but you need to make sure to get fresh air in daily if the horses do not have a winter turnout plan.
These are just a few ideas and I am sure you all can add more (and look forward to you doing so). You are the primary caregiver for your horse and it is important to make sure they receive just as much (if not more) care during the winter as compared with your Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons.
Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at http://www.dunmovinranch.com. Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (www.hydrot.com).