3 Tips To Prevent Winter Horse Health Challenges

A winter trail ride enjoyed by both horses and riders.
A winter trail ride enjoyed by both horses and riders. Obakeneko

Newsdate: Tues 31 December 2019, 7:10 am
Location: PLYMOUTH, Massachusetts

In their January blog, SmartPak gives horse owners 3 important tips about how to protect horse health during cold, snowy weather and notes: "With the right management, you can help your horse cope with winter's worst and stay healthy and happy."

Trainer lunging horse in a field of snow.

Trainer lunging horse in a field of snow

Caring for horses during the winter brings unique challenges which can wreak havoc on your horse's GI tract and increase his risk for digestive upset.
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Caring for horses during the winter brings unique challenges which can wreak havoc on your horse's GI tract and increase his risk for digestive upset. But with the right care and support, you can help ensure your horse has everything he needs to maintain a happy and healthy hindgut.

Risk: Increased time inside

Winter weather often leads to changes in your horse's turnout and exercise routine. Research shows that increased number of hours spent in a stall has been associated with increased risk of colic. It also suggests that there is a higher risk of colic in horses that have a significant change in activity.

Smart Tip:

Keep your horse's turnout and exercise schedule as consistent as possible, and try to make any changes gradually. When winter weather limits your horse's turnout time, try hand-walking, lunging, or riding if possible.

Risk: Inadequate water intake

Some horses drink less in the winter because of cold water, but proper hydration is essential to your horse's well-being no matter season it is. Because a dehydrated horse may not have adequate water supplies to successfully pass feedstuffs through his digestive tract, he's at risk for GI trouble, including impaction colic.

Smart Tip:

Make sure your horse has fresh water, ideally free from ice, available at all times. If your horse is a poor drinker, consider adding loose salt or a daily electrolyte like SmartLytes Pellets to encourage normal drinking. In addition, a heated bucket or water bucket cover may be helpful if you notice your horse isn't a fan of cold water.

Risk: Hay and grain changes

Changes in hay, including switching types or feeding a new cut, can increase your horse chances of developing colic by ten times. In addition, studies indicate that changes in the amount or type of grain can increase his risk up to five times.

Smart Tip:

Keep your horse's diet as consistent as possible. If you must make a change to your horse's hay or grain (either in type or amount), make the change gradually over 7-10 days. A digestive supplement that provides yeast, prebiotics, and enzymes may also help keep your horse's hindgut happy as he makes feed transitions.

Now that you know more about winter colic risk factors, learn how you can help keep your horse's digestive system healthy- protect yourself and your horse by enrolling in ColiCare! With the comprehensive support of clinically studied ingredients and a veterinarian-directed wellness program, you can rest easy knowing that you're providing the ultimate in digestive health.

Best of all, ColiCare provides up to $7,500 of colic surgery reimbursement, should your horse ever need it. Signing up is easy: Apply today at SmartPak.com/ColiCare

Information sources:

  • Cohen ND, Factors predisposing to colic, 8th Congress on Equine Medicine and Surgery, 2003.
  • White NA, Equine Colic II: Causes and risks for colic, 52nd Annual Convention of AAEP, 2006

About the Author

Flossie Sellers

Author picture

As an animal lover since childhood, Flossie was delighted when Mark, the CEO and developer of EquiMed asked her to join his team of contributors.

She enrolled in My Horse University at Michigan State and completed a number of courses in everything related to horse health, nutrition, diseases and conditions, medications, hoof and dental care, barn safety, and first aid.

Staying  up-to-date on the latest developments in horse care and equine health is now a habit, and she enjoys sharing a wealth of information with horse owners everywhere..