Weather

It is the extreme heat and cold we need to worry about more than rain. But even a lot of moisture can affect the hooves and skin, especially if there is mud or rocks.

So what is the best way to protect our horses from the weather? If you have been listening closely to the things I say on this website, you will answer with . . . NUTRITION! Yes, feeding horses to reduce inflammation and maintain protein will keep horses safe and comfortable in all weather conditions. For example, horses kept in high temperatures and humidity often stop sweating. But when fed correctly, they start to sweat again. I lived in upstate New York where the winter temperature fell below zero F (-18 C). If out of the wind, our horses stood comfortably in the snow and warm sunshine.

Well fed horses also built a thick and warm hair coat that resisted moisture and wind. They also shed this hair coat by the spring soltice (mid-March in the northern hemisphere).

Wind breaks and shade are the most effective way to protect horses from extreme weather. Blankets also work well but have their own problems, such as soaking, tearing, becoming caught, damaged by other horses, and being left on as temperatures rise with the day, or being left off into the cold evening and no one is there to help clothe them.

Water sources freezing can lead to dehydration. Warming the water helps to encourage horses to drink.

Frozen ground can become slippery causing ther horse to fall. While we all love to see our horses run after being turned out into the fresh, new fallen snow, many slip and fall, especially if they are shod. Adding borium to shoes helps to prevent this. Spraying the shod soles with WD-40 or installing snow pads prevents the accumulation of snow and ice. Avoiding turnout after an ice storm is encouraged.

Frozen ground after a warm day can create deep hoof prints that a horse can fall into while running on the frozen rough terrain. This can sprain joints and fracture bones. Caution must be used.

In extreme heat, shade is important as well as good ventilation. Fans and misting fans work well. Some horses will emerse in ponds to get cool. Water moccasin snakes are a danger as well as large alligators and other predatory animals. On a smaller scale, moisture encourges bacterial and fungal groth leading to skin conditions. Again, the best defense here is a great immune system provided by feeding horses correctly (no inflammatory ingredients plus plenty of high-quality protein).

Horses in the wild seem to do OK with weather, with the exception of flood, fire, and extreme wind (hurricane, tornado). Removing horses from these threats is the only effective action. But when this is impossible, add identification to the horse (microchip, clip your phone number into the hair coat) and pray.

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