Winter checks on horses are essential
Christmas is nearly here and we are all busy so this is just a message to remember to keep watching out for our horses, ponies and donkeys.
The days are short and we are often checking on horses in the morning and the evening when it is still dark. This makes it challenging to notice small wounds that can be covered by rugs, and on a tight timeline to get to work we think we don’t have time to take them off. Make sure that at least once a day a thorough check under the rugs is carried out.
The fields are not yet at their wettest, but try to keep a close eye out for mud fever on horses’ legs. If horses are kept out then washing all the mud off every few days to check for wounds or skin infection is advised. Lanolin-based creams can act as a useful barrier to mud.
Check the water supply to fields at least once a day in case of frozen water or contamination with dead animals or droppings, which can stop horses drinking and lead to impaction colic. Automatic drinkers are in the same category. Fresh water availability is essential.
Older horses and ponies can find winter difficult as the grass is less. It is important to make sure they have enough fibre in their diet that they can chew easily if their dentition is not 100 per cent. Weight loss and colic in older horses is common in winter so start feeding geriatric type feeds early enough.
On the other hand, for horses that need to lose some weight this is the time to resist feeding too well, and don’t over-rug. Let nature happen and use winter to help these ones lose weight before the spring grass arrives.
Free yard weigh clinics can be useful to get advice about managing your horse over winter. Book on 01670 897597.
Merry Christmas to everyone and their horses, ponies and donkeys.