Winter care advice for horses

Horse wearing a rug in a snowy field © Andrew Forsyth / RSPCA Photolibrary

The winter months are a challenge for horses and their owners. Horses and ponies must cope with everything the weather can throw at them, and owners must rise to the challenges of the extra care and attention needed by their four-legged friends. In winter, the days are short and the nights are long. 

  • Does your field have adequate shelter?
  • Does your horse have company?
  • Have you got a good supply of extra feed?
  • Are you registered with an equine veterinary practice?
  • Do you know what your horse's normal behaviour is like?

Plan ahead

A good working routine is all important. Work out how you will manage to care for your horse in winter and make sure you can fit your horse's care package into your day.

Three Arabian horses standing in a snowy field © Damion Diplock / RSPCA Photolibrary

If you are unable to devote more time to your horse's care during the winter, consider keeping your horse at full livery, where there is adequate winter turnout and a high standard of daily care.

Avoid problems where you can

Short days add to the complication of winter care. Make your first visit to your horse each day as early in the morning as you can. If there is a problem, you can call for assistance in daylight.

If you plan to ride your horse in winter, beware of getting your horse sweated up in the afternoon. Horses can easily catch a chill.

Arrange backup

Make arrangements with an experienced person to take care of your horse in the event of an emergency, for example if you are ill, delayed or cut off by bad weather.

Network amongst local horse owners; you may be able to share horse care with a like-minded friend.

Above all, remember that your horse needs you.

Your horse has been your friend through the lovely summer months of riding, competitions and carefree days.

Be your horse's friend when the weather's cold and your horse needs your help. 

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