No Off-season for Horse Health - 4 Tips for Better Winter Health

Woman and horse enjoying a moment of togetherness.
Woman and horse enjoying a moment of togetherness. Equine Guelph

Newsdate: Wed 24 November 2021 09:30 am
Location: PLYMOUTH, Massachusetts

The weather is cooling off, but that doesn't necessarily mean your horse's supplement program should, too. While there are some types of supplements that you don't need all year, many of the most popular supplements are critical even in your horse's off-season.

Insuring horse health as seasons change

Insuring horse health as seasons change

Even if you're taking the winter off, your horse's body systems are still on the clock, so make sure to make joint, hoof, digestive and skin health a priority.

Read on to learn about four areas of support that are key to your horse's health no matter what time of year it is.

Joints: Keep them healthy all year

No matter what your horse's age, breed, discipline, or workload, he's at risk for joint problems. In fact, research has shown that even wild mustangs that haven't been ridden a day in their lives can experience joint deterioration.

Your horse's body is designed to repair and build the normal "wear and tear" to joints that comes with being a horse in its natural state of roaming and grazing. However, due to the increased demands of riding, training, and competing, your horse's joint tissues might benefit from daily support.

Joint supplements can help by making sure your horse always has a steady supply of the ingredients he needs to cope with the stress of exercise and to maintain healthy joints.

When it comes to supplements, consistency is key. If your horse has the same exercise routine all year, then your joint supplement routine shouldn't change, either. However, if your horse's training program changes in the winter, reflecting that in the level of joint support he receives may be a wise choice.

A horse stepping up his game to compete on the winter show circuit may benefit from having his joint support stepped up, too. On the other hand, if your horse spends his winter on vacation, consider switching him to a supplement that provides a lower level of joint support. You'll save some money while still giving your horse the help he needs to spring into action when the weather warms up.

To find the right joint support for your horse's winter workload, visit SmartPak.com/SmartFlexFinder for a personalized recommendation.

Hooves: Build a strong investment for next year

While your horse's hoof growth may slow down during the winter, it doesn't stop completely. That means that your horse's hoof support shouldn't stop, either. Because hooves grow at an average rate of 1/4 inch per month, the growth you're seeing from the coronary band now is hoof that will be supporting your horse through next spring, summer, and fall!

To help ensure that the hooves you ride on next year are as healthy as the hooves you’re riding on now, it'€™s important to support strong, resilient hooves all year round.

In addition to regular, professional maintenance from your farrier or trimmer, environmental management, and plenty of exercise,proper nutrition plays a vital role in hoof health. Daily support from a supplement that provides the nutrients needed for healthy hooves is smart no matter what season it is.

GI Tract: Help manage digestive stress

Horsekeeping during the winter brings its own unique challenges, and can wreak havoc on your horse's hindgut, increasing his risk for digestive upset.

Winter weather often leads to changes in your horse’s turnout and exercise routine. Unfortunately, research shows that an increased number of hours spent in a stall has been associated with an increased risk for colic. Studies also suggest that there is a higher risk for colic in horses that have had a significant change in their activity level.

Adding to the winter digestion challenges, some horses drink less in the winter, but proper hydration is essential to your horse'€™s health. Because a dehydrated horse may not have adequate water to successfully pass feedstuffs through his digestive tract, he’s at greater risk for GI trouble.

During the winter, your horse may need more feed to maintain his ideal body condition. However, studies have shown that changes in the amount or type of grain fed can increase his risk for colic up to five times. Additionally, changes in hay, including switching types or feeding a new cut, can increase your horse's chances of developing colic by 10 times.

Luckily, you can support a healthy and balanced digestive system with the right care. Hindgut supplements provide researched ingredients like prebiotics, probiotics, yeast, and enzymes to help your horse's body manage digestive stress.

Keeping a digestive formula in your horse's supplement program all year round is a smart way to make sure his hindgut is always protected.

Skin & Coat: Help your horse's good health shine through

A shiny coat starts with healthy skin, so if you want your horse to gleam when he sheds his winter coat next spring, now is the time to support him from the inside out.

Skin and coat supplements provide fatty acids like omega 3s and omega 6s from sources like flaxseed, rice bran, and fish oil to promote skin cell health. By giving your horse what he needs for a healthy skin all year, you'll help make sure that he's never short on shine.

To get your joint, digestive, hoof, and skin and coat support all-in-one, consider one of our multi-purpose supplements. Our five SmartCombo formulas combine the active ingredients from several best-selling SmartSupplements with up to 25% savings over buying the products individually! Visit SmartPak.com/SmartCombo to find the perfect multi-purpose support for your horse.


Article is a repost of article first published November 2015 on EquiMed

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.

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