It’s never too early to start preparing for the cold months ahead. If you’re reading this, then we have just the thing to help you care for your equine friend this winter season.
Whether it’s adding more hay to their diets, amping up your storage of water, rationing out your horse’s feed, or fixing up your horse’s stall and/or stable, we’ll discuss everything you need to know to prepare and care for your horse for winter.
And if you’re looking for the best supplements for horses — natural supplements that produce outstanding results — you’ll want to read on to learn more about our recommended equine diet supplements for the coming cold season.
But before we dive in, let’s talk about some of the challenges that winter brings our herbivore friends.
Common winter horse care challenges
As those brisk, snow-filled months storm on through, you’ll want to make sure to feed horses the right foods and take care of the following for your horses:
- Proper nutrition (like abundant hay and freshwater)
- Hoof care
- Proper deworming (We offer a non-invasive, natural horse dewormer that horses love!)
If you’ve touched on all of these elements, you’ll be in great shape for winter. Your horse will love you all the more for it!
Let’s take a look at what addressing each of these categories looks like in action.
Horses need more (clean) water in winter
Horses are a bit different than us humans (well, maybe a little more than a bit). They need to graze on pounds of hay per day throughout the day.
Wild horses can eat up to 20 pounds of food, and they can drink up to eight gallons of water per day. Horses are herbivores, and so they need to nibble and graze on food at a minimum of twice a day, because their stomachs are so small.
When it comes to knowing what to feed a horse during the winter, know that most hay in the winter contains less moisture than in the fall, spring, or summer. This hay may not provide the most nutritious and abundant source of energy for your horse.
For this reason, it’s important to include more water in your horse's diet during the winter. Make sure your horse doesn't drink frozen water, snow, or ice. Snow and ice can be contaminated, which can be toxic to horses.
It’s also important not to rely on snow or ice as go-to water sources for one last reason: snow and ice can also lead to gastrointestinal (GI) tract issues and a reduced appetite in your horse.
If your horse doesn’t drink enough fresh water during the winter, your horse could potentially come down with colic or founder.
Don’t worry, though. We have your back.
Many of our customers use Colic Eaz to help prevent colic in their horses. Know that you have our delicious and nutritious herbal supplements (ones that horses love!) to help prevent winter-related, colic-caused waterborne issues in your horse.
Providing access to fresh water for your horse is just one step you can take to help ensure your horse stays healthy this winter.
Warm your horse up with nutritious feed and food
Think about this: especially during this time of the year, a horse may only be receiving what we throw over the fence to them. Normally, they graze on grass hay for up to 16 hours a day.
Not so during winter. During winter, horses spend more time inside.
Some horses are lucky enough to scoop up a little variety of grasses in their hay (such as crested wheat, brome, orchard, or alfalfa). The luckier ones might even receive some oats as well.
But is that really enough? If you just want your horse to survive, it is.
But we all love our horses and want the best for them, so why don’t we give them better nutrition and care so that our horses thrive?
Since temperatures are much colder during the winter, a horse needs more energy to maintain body warmth. Imagine a horse out in the cold for hours and hours each day.
It’s unconscionable to feed them the same amounts of forage and hay they eat during the other seasons of the year.
And a poor, growing colt or mare? Forget it. They’ll have an even tougher time surviving than a full-grown stallion.
Whether young or old, you want to make sure you’re feeding your horse about two to two and a half pounds more forage in the winter — especially if the temperature drops below zero degrees. Doing so will help correct for any nutritional balances brought on by winter.
More forage helps ensure that your horse’s stomach can use the energy it needs to help keep itself warm for whatever the conditions may be outdoors.
By keeping your horse well-fed, you’re giving them the best shot at thriving and living well during the colder months of the year.
A warm stable leads to healthy, stable horses
At Silver Lining Herbs, we think it’s an absolute crime when horse owners don’t provide their horses with adequate access to warm shelter. A horse should be able to eat often and have access to warm shelter during the winter. Unfortunately, horses don’t often receive this kind of care.
It’s important that horses have access to adequate shelter, because most horses can only withstand temperatures being at or just below zero degrees. Anything below this temperature can cause problems for digestion and more.
If your horse is outside and they don’t have access to their stable, a high-quality and durable three-walled shed or grouping of trees can work. When it comes to shelter, you’ll want to make sure your horse stall is well-designed to keep the cold outside and the warmth inside.
That means keeping the internal temperature cool and comfortable, improving ventilation, and ensuring the trusses and joints of your barn can withstand heavy snow and rain.
To ensure the health and vitality of your horse, make sure your horses' stable is clean, sturdy, and ready for the changing seasons.
Keep your horse dry — and their coat well-groomed
Just as humans need additional layers during the winter time, horse’s use their winter coats to stay warm and thus maintain a healthy body weight.
Their coat helps keep warm air in. Unfortunately, snow and mud don’t bode well for a horse’s coat, as moisture can mat the hair down and make a horse cold.
We recommend keeping a dedicated set of grooming tools on hand in case your horse’s coat becomes wet or muddy — or worse yet if your horse develop sores or blisters from the cold.
If your horse experiences skin or coat problems, we offer a variety of skin and coat supplements that can help ensure the shine, luster, and health of your horse’s skin and coat.
Fortunately, working horses will continue to develop their winter coat until late December, but they’ll begin to lose their coat as the days become longer.
That’s when blanketing comes in handy.
Blanketing your horse (except nursing mares) can help horses who are either young or old, not used to the cold, or who just recently had their winter coats sheared.
Keeping your horse’s mane free of moisture will ensure it stays warm and healthy throughout the most blistering winds and icy cold days.
Keep the exercise going for your horse
In addition to adhering to a consistent feeding schedule of frequent, small meals rich in vitamins and minerals, it’s important your equine friend keeps exercising during the winter.
Especially for young horses who are still growing, confining a horse to its stable and limiting exercise to pasture space can lead to reduced muscle development, or worse yet, injuries to tendons and tissues.
Our Laminae Support for Horses is perfect for the winter, as this herbal blend helps maintain the natural temperature in the feet and legs. It’s especially helpful for horses with sore feet and for supporting the soft tissues in feet.
At the same time, if your horse is exercising outdoors, you want to make sure that your horse’s paddock is free from ice and snow to avoid injuries. Using sand or salt can help remove ice and make your horse’s exercise area more habitable and safe.
Keep your horse exercising, but make sure to feed them small amounts of concentrated herbal supplements to help ensure they stay injury-free.
Winter hoof care is a must
You’ve given your horse hay, access to plenty of pasture grass, frequent meals, and grains like bran following stressful work and long trips on the road. Well done! You’re providing nearly everything you need for your horse’s internal organs and digestive system to thrive.
But did you remember to check your horse’s hooves as well?
The hooves are usually some of the last body parts on our mind when we think of nutrition. But caring for your horse’s hooves is a must during the winter.
Added balls of packed ice and snow can make walking challenging, which can cause a horse to place stress on their tendons, joints, feet, and bones.
Especially since our horses will start legging up for the jackpots during wintertime, we want to make sure they’re in the best shape possible.
In addition to picking your horse’s hooves daily — and trimming their hooves every six to 12 weeks — you can help make it easier for young and adult horses to avoid stress and injury by giving them the right foods.
Our Feet and Bone Support helps young horses receive the nutrition they need during winter’s toughest conditions. This natural herbal supplement contains over 10 different herbs and spices, which work wonders for supporting the natural growth of hooves for young and old horses alike.
We like to give Total Body Support for Horses during feeding time as well. You can think of Total Body Support as the glue to a horse’s well-being.
Total Body Support’s herbal blend includes 14 different herbs (that’s triple the variety of food most horses receive in their diets). It’s jam-packed with herbs that nourish all the major organs of a horse’s body, so that your horse will be ready for anything.
Best of all, all 14 of these herbs are packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, The blend includes health-nourishing herbs such as slippery elm for the digestive system, uva ursi for the kidneys, oregon grape for the blood, flax, catnip, psyllium, and more.
When it comes to wintertime, don’t leave your horse’s health to chance. Better hoof care and better nutrition go a long way.
Keep your horse’s hooves clean to help ensure your horse lives comfortably and well this winter season.
Complete horse care for every season and condition
We have a saying here at Silver Lining Herbs: “If you aren’t giving it, they aren’t getting it.” Horses can't tell what foods are most healthy for them. It's up to us to provide them with the right food, or else they’re less likely to thrive.
If a horse isn’t receiving proper nutrition, and if ailments go untreated, winter can cause serious damage and wreak havoc on horses’ organs, tendons, tissues, bones, and more.
It’s really up to us to make sure our horse is eating nutritious, quality foods this season. Otherwise, our horses won’t get it in their diet (Get it?).
At Silver Lining Herbs, we’ve been providing better care for horses for more than 15 years. And we’re just getting warmed up.
We’re on a mission to keep you and your horses in peak shape, no matter what the cold brings through the door.
To learn more about how herbal supplements can benefit you and your horses, don’t hesitate to contact us any time. Until then, stay safe, stay warm, eat something delicious, and we’ll see you on the road.