1. If you don’t ride much in the winter, it might be better to leave your horse unshod. Snow build-up in the hooves is much worse when a horse is wearing shoes.
2. If your horse stays in a stable at night, give him a nice, thick bed of straw or shavings to snooze on.
3. Wear loose, lightweight clothes in layers when you work or ride in the snow. Remove a layer or two if you get too warm.
4. If your horse is clipped, he must wear a rug or blanket.
5. Smear petroleum jelly on the bottom of your horse’s hooves if he’s shod. This helps to prevent snow and ice from building up there and making it hard for him to walk. If ice is really tough to pick out of a hoof, pour warm water on the bottom of the hoof to soften it.
6. Wear mittens to do stable work. Mittens keep your fingers warmer than gloves.
7. Check the water trough every day, and break up any ice that has formed on it. Don’t think your horse will stay healthy if he eats snow. Gulping snow may cause founder or other ailments.
8. If it’s really cold, feel your horse’s ears. If they’re cold, he’s probably chilly and you should put a blanket on him or bring him into the stable. If he’s shivering, he definitely needs to come inside.
9. A wet horse has a hard time staying warm in cold weather. His coat doesn’t insulate him so well when it’s wet. If the temperature is really cold, bring him in and dry him off.
10. If your horse wears a New Zealand rug or turnout blanket, check it every day to make sure it hasn’t slipped or ripped. Take the rug or blanket off every day to inspect your horse to make sure it’s not rubbing him.
11. When you go out to do stable work in snowy weather, wear a hat. You lose a lot of heat from your head, so cover it up with a cap.
12. Pour gravel or sand on icy pathways to cut down on slipping.
13. If your horse is stuck in the stable during a cold snap, get him out several times a day. Groom him, change his rugs or walk around the stable. If it’s not too slippery outside, take him for a walk.
14. If a pipe in your barn freezes and you can’t get any water to come out here are a few things to try:
- Use a hair dryer to blow warm air on the pipe.
- Go in the house and run hot water on some towels. Then wrap the towels around the pipe.
- Put insulation around the pipe before it freezes!
15. A horse needs plenty of hay when it’s snowing. Why? Because he needs to take in more calories to keep warm, and hay is a great source of calories. A pound of hay generates more heat in a horse than a pound of grain. Also, if it has snowed several feet, it might be difficult for your horse to find grass to eat, and he might chew on trees or fences.
16. If a blanket rubs your horse, try another blanket. If you can’t afford a second blanket, sew fake sheepskin or satiny material to the inside of the blanket where it’s causing rubs. Once a horse’s coat is rubbed off, it takes months to grow back in properly. You can also try spraying a coat conditioner on the coat where rubs start.
17. If you live where snowis on the ground for much of the winter, consider having borium lumps put on the bottom of your horse’s shoes. Borium gives shoes more traction, so you can ride in the snow. Don’t be silly and gallop around like a loony, though. Stick to a slower pace on snowy rides.
18. Once your frozen horse is inside, dry him with a towel, and put a blanket on him. Then walk him around for a bit to get his circulation going. When he seems back to his old self, give him a couple flakes of grass hay. Eating helps to keep him warm.
19. Did you know that a healthy horse with a thick, winter coat can stay out in temperatures below -20F (-29C), if he stays dry and out of the wind? Most horses would prefer to be outside, no matter how cold it is. If the temperature drops in your area, make sure your horse has lots of trees or a walk-in shelter to protect him from the cold wind.
20. If your horse is standing in snow all day, bring him in and dry off his legs before turning him out again. Too much moisture on his legs can cause infections or fungus attacks. You may have to dust his legs with an anti-fungal powder. Let his fetlocks grow long in the winter. They help steer water off his legs.