As the winter months approach, it's essential to ensure the well-being of your horses and ponies, especially if they are in their later years. Older horses, like humans in their older age, should be given special care and attention during the colder months so that they stay healthy and feel comfortable.
In this article, we’ll provide some helpful winter care tips for older horses to help them thrive throughout the chillier and wetter parts of the year:
1. Insulated shelter and warm bedding
Older horses are more susceptible to the cold and dampness of winter, making it crucial to provide them with proper shelter. A well-insulated barn or shed is perfect for this. On top of this, make sure they have access to dry bedding, such as straw or shavings, which helps keep your horses and ponies warm and comfortable while preventing them from lying on cold, wet ground.
Investing in a good quality rug can make a significant difference in your older horse's comfort during winter. Rugs and stable blankets are understandably great at helping to retain body heat and keep them dry, reducing the risk of hypothermia at the end of the day.
3. Increased calorie intake
Older horses sometimes have a harder time maintaining their body weight in the cold. To help them stay warm, consider increasing their calorie intake. Consult with your vet on what to adjust in their diet if you want to add more calories to what they eat, like adding extra hay or providing a veteran horse feed supplement specifically formulated to meet their nutritional needs. You should also ask your vet about how the gut health of your horse could be improved.
4. Regular dental care
Proper dental care is essential for horses of all ages, but it’s even more crucial for older horses and ponies. Ensure that they have regular dental check-ups to prevent any dental issues, as it may hinder your horse's ability to chew food and digest it effectively!
5. Regular exercise
Don't let the colder weather stop you from keeping your older horse active, mobile and happy! Staying active helps to keep their body heat high, as well as maintain muscle mass and reduce possible arthritis pain. No matter what age we are, it’s important to have a bit of exercise, so make sure your equine companion also receives this to a level that’s comfortable for them.
6. Regular health check-ups
Understandably, veteran horses are far more vulnerable to having health issues. With this in mind, it's essential to book in routine health checks for your horse. Consulting your veterinarian for regular check-ups is always recommended, while you should also have in mind keeping vaccinations and worming status up to date.
7. Hoof care
Proper hoof care for your veteran horse is crucial all year round, but it becomes even more crucial in winter when the wet conditions can lead to issues like thrush and foot abscesses. You should regularly clean and inspect your older horse's hooves, and consider using hoof boots if really needed.
8. Social interaction
Older horses often benefit from the companionship of other horses. The social interaction can help reduce stress and keep them mentally and emotionally healthy, during the winter months but also throughout the year.
In conclusion, older horses deserve extra care and attention during the winter to ensure their well-being. By following these winter care tips, you can help your veteran horse stay healthy, happy, and comfortable throughout the colder season!
Remember that every horse is unique, so it's essential to tailor the care you give to your horse. If you ever need any guidance, then it’s always a good idea to consult your vet.