Summer is always the best time to be a young rider: Your days are filled with endless hours at the barn surrounded by friends and ponies! However, summer—like anything—can’t last forever, and soon school comes back into session and night time arrives earlier, cutting those carefree afternoons at the barn shorter. While some of your winter days will always be spent dreaming about summer, these tips will help both you and your horse make a healthy transition into crisper temperatures during the changing of seasons.
1. Do your general horse health research. Horse health is something that can be easily affected by the change of seasons, even if you don’t live in a climate that gets frigid in the winter months. For example, did you know that your horse grows his winter coat based off of the hours of daylight and not the dropping temperatures?
Spend those dark afternoons reading up on horse health care and follow up with your barn manager to see if they have any hands-on tips.
2. Be aware of blanketing. While you may feel the desire to reach for a sweater as soon the temperature drops, horses and ponies may not need the extra layer just yet. If your horse is still growing a winter coat, it could be a while before a blanket is needed.
However, if your horse gets a body clip, he may appreciate the extra layer as much as you do. Check with your trainer or barn owner about what is most appropriate for your horse, as well as doing your own research on the different types of blankets out there.
3. Watch that water intake. Water is a vital part of your horse’s diet. Since the majority of what he eats is high in fiber, water helps move all that fiber through his digestive track, which helps lower his risk of colic.
Horses, like humans, also rely on water to help them produce sweat, which in turn helps them to cool down. But when winter rolls in, horses aren’t sweating quite as much, which means their thirst is less.
However, even in winter, it’s still very important for horses to keep drinking. As the temperature drops, make sure your horse has access to clean, fresh, and non-frozen water. Ensuring your horse stays hydrated as the seasons change will help keep him healthy, no matter what the thermometer reads!
Summer is so much fun, but don’t let the winter woes get you down too much. With these tips, a little research, and an educational chat with your barn professional, you’ll be ready to tackle the dropping temperatures with a healthy and happy horse by your side.