Q: What should we do to keep all animals –and especially our horses— healthy during the extremely cold weather?
Animals left in vehicles, chained outdoors or just forgotten about to wander the streets or countryside are freezing to death at alarming rates,” says Cavallo Horse & Rider President Carole Herder.
“Unprecedented cold weather is wreaking havoc across the North American continent and our animals are paying a price. Some of our pets and livestock can and do adapt, but many do not. It is up to us to have this understanding. A Siberian tiger may easily adapt to survive, having come from colder climates like Russia and Mongolia, but most animals require an option. They may prefer the outdoors, but it is our duty to give them the choice, to provide safe options and monitor their progress—especially during the night. Our dogs, cats, birds and other friends aren't the only animals in need of special care during extreme weather. Horses and other livestock require consideration, too.”
Herder reminds you to “schedule veterinary visits for your animals that are pregnant, or very young or old. Animals with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing's disease) can have a hard time regulating body temperatures during extreme cold.”
Give me Shelter
“Cold temperatures are usually tolerable, but add wind, rain, or snow and your animals will require more calories to maintain body heat,” Herder says. “Be sure you offer your animals access to shelter that will block the wind. Blankets can help protect horses, but a structural shelter with proper ventilation and dry bedding is the best method of protection. If you do blanket your horses, be sure to check underneath often for signs of injury, infection, or malnutrition. And if you do start blanketing, you must continue until the weather subsides. You should also have a spare blanket, because wet blankets are worse than none. Change your horse’s blanket any time it is wet and to make sure it is clean against his skin. Your Cavallo Hoof Boots are an absolute necessity, not only to protect your horse’s feet, but to prevent ice balling and to increase traction on ice and wet ground.
Put me to Bed
“In moderate climates, horses’ hooves thrive on a flat surface with minimal bedding to provide a firm counter effect for the hoof mechanism,” Herder explains. “However, when it’s very cold and your horse is staying inside, the bedding should be thick, dry and changed regularly to provide a warm, dry environment. The door to the shelter should be positioned away from prevailing winds. Do not use space heaters or heat lamps unless you are diligent in your monitoring. Fires can burn out of control—even in cold weather. Frostbite is hard to detect and may not be noticed until after the damage is done. If you suspect your horse or pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately. Keep driveways clear of ice, snow and mud to allow easy access for veterinarians and hoof care practitioners. Know what areas of your property become muddy and prepare sand, wood chips or gravel to help you manage paddocks and driveways so you’ll have access to your horses and your horses will have safe footing. In any wet or slick footing conditions, protect horses’ hooves with Cavallo Hoof Boots.”
Keep in mind that your horse keeps warm when food is working through his system. According to Herder “your horses need enough calories to heat themselves. This often requires an increase in the amount and quality of feed. Now, I am not saying to fatten them up like a cow for the market, as excessive weight has its fair share of problems, too. Just make sure they have enough to keep warm. A little left over is better than going hungry in cold weather.”
“It is crucial to provide fresh and unfrozen water,” Herder says. “Tank heaters or heated buckets can help keep water at an appropriate temperature. Your horse will not consume enough water if it is near freezing.”
Dark out Here
Herder recommends preparing for winter outages. She says “winter weather also brings the risks of severe cold weather, blizzards and power outages. Prepare a disaster/emergency kit and include help for your horses. Have enough food, water and medicine on hand to get through at least 4 days.”
“It may seem counterintuitive, but more snowfall during winter storms is another aspect of climate change,” Herder explains. “Our warmer planet is evaporating more water into the atmosphere, which means more precipitation in the form of heavy snowfall and intense rain. As we continue to pump carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the eco-balance is being disrupted. During warmer months, this is now causing record-breaking floods. But during the winter – when our part of the world is tipped away from the sun – temperatures drop, and instead of downpours we can get massive winter storms.”
“According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1997,” Herder says. “And the National Atmospheric and Oceanographic Administration (NOAA) reports that recent decades have been the warmest since at least around 1000 AD, and that the warming we’ve seen since the late 19th century is unprecedented over the last 1,000 years. In the 2018 Global Risks Report, three of the top five risks ranked by likely outcome were environmental ones, while four of the top five ranked by impact were the same. Extreme weather was the biggest concern among the 1,000 members the World Economic Forum surveyed for the report, followed by a failure to mitigate and adapt to climate change.”
Meanwhile in the Outback
Temperatures fluctuate quickly, Herder says. “Alternatively, an extreme heatwave in Australia has led to the deaths of more than 90 wild horses in the outback,” she says. “Wardens found dead and dying animals in a dried-up waterhole near Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory, last week. About 40 of the animals had already died from dehydration and starvation. Surviving horses were later culled. The record-breaking heat hit temperatures of 49.5C (that’s 121.1F). Making things even worse, emergency services in more than 13 districts are on alert for fear of possible bushfires. This devastation never ends well for wild animals.”
“Taking care of our companions is not only a responsibility, but a privilege,” Herder says. “This honor can be enjoyed for years to come and through all the changes our climate fluctuations may deliver. It requires a little planning, foresight, perhaps a touch of creativity and a good helping of courage. The reward of love and friendship is always worth it.”
Enter Our Spring Giveaway:
Enter now at Cavallo Spring Giveaway to win a pair of Cavallo Trek Boots for your horse! You pick the size if selected. Enter before the deadline, May 1, 2019. One winner will be notified by email and announced on the Cavallo Horse & Rider Facebook page within one week after the deadline. One entry per person/email address. Delivery to North America only. If the chosen winner does not respond by email within one week, the second-choice winner will be notified. No cash value, no returns or exchanges. One entry per person. Void where prohibited.
About the Source:
Carole Herder is the author of the #1 International Bestseller, There Are No Horseshoes in Heaven. She has been involved in horse health since 1993. Her company, Cavallo Horse & Rider Inc., develops, manufactures and distributes horse products in 26 countries. Herder designed and developed Cavallo Hoof Boots and Total Comfort System Saddle Pads. She presents trainings around the world to teach the benefits of keeping horses in a natural state. Herder is an honored recipient of the Royal Bank of Canada Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She is a member of the Women’s Presidents Organization, supporting female entrepreneurs in every industry.