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Friday, 2 December 2016

The Equestrian's Winter : How To Care For Your Horse This Winter!

Staying Away From Mud Fever!

 Avoiding mud fever in horses can be very difficult if you live in a wet country!  Things that most commonly cause mud fever are -

  • Standing in wet bedding or mud
  • Prolonged wet conditions ( SCOTLAND!!)
  • Washing your horse's legs down every day
  • White legs!  They are more sensitive.
To keep your horse well away from mud fever you can do the following - 

  1.  Keep your horse's bed clean and dry at all times. 
  2. Corner off or add rubber matting around the gate of your field. 
  3. If your field becomes too wet then consider stabling them for a few days 
  4. Do not hose your horse's legs down.  Leave the mud to dry then dry off with a soft brush the next morning.
  5. Consider buying a pair of turnout boots for your horse.  

Keeping your horse warm during the winter!

The first thing to know is that if you want to know if your horse is cold or not you should feel his ears.  If the horse's ears are cold then the horse is cold.  

Next, you should learn a few things about rugs!  

  1. Look at a sizing guide online to find the right fit for your horse!
  2. Denier rating!  The higher the Denier rating the better quality the rugs fabric will be. 
  3. Rug filing which is measured in grams.  A Lightweight rug has 0-115g of filing, A medium weight rug has 180g - 240g and a heavyweight has 260g - 450g filings.  

Now that you know what Denier and Filing are you now need to choose the type of rug for your horse.  
A lightweight is almost always used for summer (or warm weather with rain and/or wind).  So in the winter you should either buy a medium weight for a horse with a thick winter coat or a heavy weight for a horse with a thin coat, a horse that feels the cold or a horse than is clipped.

You should also consider using two heavyweight rugs if you are in a very cold country and your horse is clipped.  

Hard Feed And Haylage!

In the winter months, you will want to add or increase hard feed into your horse's routine.  The best thing to do is cutting the hard feed into multiple feeds (morning and evening etc).  The hard feed that I use is -
  • Ready Mash Extra 
  • Conditioning Mix 
  • Apple Chaff 
  • Supplements 
You will need to feed you horse according to how your horse does in the winter.  My horses tend to lose a little weight so I use the Ready Mash Extra to keep their weight on.  

Next is haylage!  Most people will feed their horses hay from Spring to Autumn then change to haylage ready for winter.  Haylage is much richer so you need less of it as your horse won't eat as much.


The weather in winter is the biggest annoyance if you own horses!  It can also be very dangerous for you and your horse.

If you have deep snow or black ice around your barn do not walk your horse over it!  Even if it means that your horse has to stay in all day.  If you hack in the winter be prepared by telling someone where you are going and how long you will be (as you should anyway).  Don't go out if it is snowing heavily as it could turn into a blizzard.  Lastly, remember to stay well away from hacking on roads in bad weather!  You don't want to be nearby if there in a car accident and the stopping distance is so much longer in ice and snow that it would be a stupid idea.


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