HILL'S HORSEKEEPING NEWSLETTER
© 2000 Cherry Hill
newsletter is a personal letter from me to you, a fellow horse owner and enthusiast.
My goal is to send you interesting stories and helpful seasonal
tips for your horse care, training, and riding.
March is a very special month for the "Klim-Team". Richard
and I met 28 years ago and were married 25 years ago. Since we still are
a couple of kids we can't believe we are celebrating our Silver Wedding Anniversary
this month! Time flies when you are taking care of horses and having fun.
It's a great life, don't you agree?
really missed the boat this year with my winter information since I kept waiting
for winter before I posted it but we never got winter.....so now, because I promised
and because I have been getting many, many questions on blanketing and winter
care, I am including the winter information in this newsletter. If you live in
the south or are already into spring, you can file this away for next fall. Better
late than never. AND, much of the information will be useful to you year
round, so be sure to read before you "file".
IN THIS NEWSLETTER:
Hoof Power Special
New Postings on the Roundup Page
Our Recent Magazine Articles
Can You Help
Cherry Hill doesn't do endorsements!
© 2006 Cherry Hill
can present threats to your horse and inconveniences for you. Proper year-round
care will help your horse be in the best condition to face the stresses of winter
and will minimize the number of health scares for you during the winter months.
be dewormed every 60 days no matter what the season. Vaccinations for influenza
and rhinopneumonitis should be given well before the cold, wet weather of the
fall and repeated every 90 days for horses constantly exposed to situations associated
with these respiratory infections.
stresses include but are not limited to wind, wet, cold, lack of exercise, and
can withstand temperatures well below freezing as long as it is sunny and the
air is still. The winter coat traps body heat next to the horse's skin. During
cold temperatures, pilo erector muscles make the hair stand up which increases
the coat's insulating potential. Wind separates the hairs, thereby breaking the
heat seal which results in a great loss of body warmth.
showers, sleet, and the freeze-and-thaw typical of some geographical areas are
particularly hard on horses. A wet horse loses body heat many times faster than
a dry horse. In addition, wet hair tends to become plastered close to the horse's
body, allowing no air insulation to exist.
horses are often turned out less frequently in the winter which results in over-exuberant
bursts of energy when they are let out. This, coupled with the slippery footing
characteristic of winter, results in an increase in the number of slipping-type
injuries, such as pulled muscles and tendons.
in many situations, winter management can stand some improvement. Understandably,
cold and stormy weather can make a horse owner want to roll over in the morning
looking for that extra hour of sleep rather than to brave the storm to feed the
animals. However, when it is the least inviting to venture out is when the horses
need the most care.
actuality, a horse's tolerance to the stresses of winter begin to build up well
before the first snow. In August and September, horses living in temperate climates
should be allowed an increase in body weight of about 5%, but not more than 10%.
A 1200 pound adult should gain 60-120 pounds in the late summer or early fall.
This extra flesh and fat will provide added insulation and an energy and heat
reserve when weather is particularly bad.
pastured horse must be offered adequate shelter in the winter. This can be provided
by a cluster of trees, a ravine, hill, canyon, or creek bottom as well as man-made
structures. A simple three-sided shed can be situated with the back wall facing
the prevailing winds and the opening facing the sun.
attention to winter nutrition can prevent colic, laminitis, and a loss of condition.
Feed high quality feeds on a regular schedule and ensure adequate water intake
by checking a horse's water source twice daily. Horses can only last for three
days without water. Horses drink between eight and twelve gallons of water a day.
Although during the winter months, intake will be at the low end of the range,
the effects of dehydration can easily go unnoticed during winter months. Forcing
horses to produce moisture by eating snow is counter-productive. In addition to
the fact that six times as much snow must be eaten to provide an equivalent amount
of water, horses must use precious body heat to melt the snow. This requires them
to use up calories that could be used for warmth just to satisfy their thirst.
horses warm water late in the morning (during the "heat of the day")
after they have eaten roughage, usually assures they will drink. Breaking the
ice on a trough or creek at 6 AM or 8 PM often only benefits the wielder of the
ax by providing a bit of exercise. Not too many horses will drink during the coldest
times of the day. Automatic waterers are convenient but the owner must check them
daily to be sure they are functioning. There should be a back-up watering system
in the event of a power failure. When using automatic waterers, it is nearly impossible
for an owner to tell if and how much a horse is drinking.
a horse's flank appears "drawn up" it may not be getting adequate water.
Being familiar with a horse's normal fecal consistency and checking it routinely
during the winter will give additional indication of the state of the horse's
dehydration. Performing the pinch test on the neck gives an even better assessment
of body fluid level. Grasp a fold of skin between the thumb and forefinger. Raise
it above the muscle for one second and then let go. It should return to its flattened
position on the neck within a second or two. A "standing tent" of a
longer duration indicates dehydration.
A Balanced Ration
winter, as well as other times of the year, a horse's ration should be formulated
to satisfy the requirements for age (stage of growth), phase of pregnancy (or
lactation), and level of work. In addition, the ration will need to be adjusted
to compensate for weather stresses. For every ten degrees Fahrenheit below freezing,
the ration should be increased 10%. When it is twelve degrees above zero Fahrenheit
(twenty degrees below freezing), the grass-alfalfa hay ration of a 1200 pound
horse may be increased from 24 pounds per day (the usual recommendation of about
2% of the body weight) to 28.8 pounds per day (a 20% increase). Horses fed less
than is necessary to combat cold and wind will burn fat and muscle tissue by shivering
to keep warm and will lose weight.
to popular belief, feeding grain will NOT appreciably increase a horse's body
warmth, but feeding increased roughage will. The heat of digestion (in terms of
calories) is greater and lasts longer from hay than from concentrates. It is most
beneficial to feed a horse several hours in advance of a storm rather than during
it. Immediately after a large meal, blood is concentrated around and in the digestive
tract rather than in the muscles where it is needed for warmth.
of winter's snows and sunny thaws, feeds can spoil easily. Damp hay, pellets,
or grain can become fermented or moldy in a matter of a few hours in the sun.
Check feed over carefully during daylight hours, then offer an amount that will
be cleaned up in one feeding, and remove what is left.
© 2006 Cherry Hill
horses begin shedding their summer hair in August and start growing thicker winter
coats. In order to produce a dense, healthy coat, a horse’s diet should provide
an adequate quantity and quality of protein. A normal winter coat has as much
insulating capacity as most top-of-the-line blankets. The downward growth of the
hair coupled with the stepped-up production of body oils makes the winter coat
shed water and keeps moisture away from the skin. A dry horse has a much better
chance of remaining a healthy horse.
fuzzy winter coat can be deceiving if a visual inspection alone is used to assess
condition. The round teddy-bear look can fool one into thinking a horse is in
proper flesh. Feel the rib area for its flesh covering at least once every 30
days throughout the winter to monitor a horse’s condition.
horses may require the use of a blanket throughout the winter: the show horse,
the clipped horse, the southern horse that moves north during the winter, the
old horse, and the horse in severe weather with no shelter. Blanketing is a more
expensive and labor-intensive alternative to winter care than the au natural approach
but affords some benefits as well.
quality blankets are costly and often several must be purchased for each horse.
Generally a quilted nylon type is used in the barn. The waterproof canvas-type
with wool lining is one of the traditional turnout rugs as it is weatherproof
and durable, but is very heavy. There are many tough turnout blanket available
today that are lighter weight and easy care.
must be cleaned at least twice during the winter by washing in cold water with
a mild soap. Dry cleaning solvents will destroy waterproofing and can shrink the
bindings. Blanketed horses must be meticulously groomed on a regular basis to
minimize rubbing and rolling. Horses are notorious for inflicting damages to their
blankets. Some exterior shells are not tough enough to withstand rubbing, rolling
and roughhousing from herdmates. Blanket repair is just a fact of ownership.
blanket fit is paramount. Blankets that are too small can cause rub marks and
sore spots on the withers, shoulder, chest, and hips. Extra large blankets have
the reputation of slipping and twisting, possibly upside down which can cause
the horse to become dangerously tangled. Blanket linings must be of a smooth material
to prevent damage to hair, especially the mane near the withers and the shoulder
Overheating can be a real problem
with blanketed horses. Often horses are turned out to exercise in the same blanket
which they wore all night. What is appropriate for low night-time temperatures
in a barn is not necessarily desirable for a sunny paddock, even though there
still may be snow on the ground. An unblanketed dark horse has the capacity to
absorb much of the suns energy.
blankets do not allow for heat escape from normal body respiration unless they
are also breathable. Too many layers can cause the horse to sweat, then chill
which lowers the horses resistance by sapping the horses energy. This
is an open invitation for respiratory infections. Check for over-heating by slipping
a hand under the blanket at the heart girth area. To allow perspiration to evaporate,
choose a breathable blanket for your horse. If he lives outdoors, make sure it
is waterproof and breathable.
Horses that have been
body-clipped or trace-clipped must be blanketed. Clipping allows a horse to be
more easily worked, cooled out, and groomed in the winter months. The first clip
may occur in October and may need to be repeated five to six times throughout
the winter and early spring. This will depend on the horses work, blanketing,
If a horse is not clipped and/or blanketed,
but is allowed to grow a natural winter coat, a different set of rules comes into
play. Grooming a long coat often consists of a minimal dusting of
the hair ends, or no grooming at all. Vigorously currying a winter coat can disrupt
the natural protective layer of oils which is essential for protection from moisture.
After riding, rub the coat dry with a cloth or gunny sack or allow the horse to
roll in sand or dry snow.
Winter presents unique problems
for the horse. Paying attention to the horses needs will result in a healthier
horse in the spring.
Postings on the Roundup Page
In Hand Work - with photos
Personal Space II - with photos
Turn on the Forehand - with photos
Your Heels Down
I Use Side Reins?
- Winter Watering Tips - with photos and drawings!
was a 5 book year for Cherry Hill
Recent Articles and Books
Here's a roundup of the most
recent magazine articles and books by Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh, the "Klim-Team":
2000 Horse & Rider
That Tail" p. 41
2000 Horse & Rider
to Use a Chain Shank" p.32
2000 Horse & Rider
Your Barn" p. 42
2000 Horse & Rider
a Hay Net"
Jan 2000 Storey
2000 Storey Books
Cherry Hill doesn't do endorsements!
I don't accept payment
to recommend or endorse any horse products in my articles, books or this newsletter.
I do, however, mention names of products that I am currently using and find satisfactory.
I do this to give you a starting point or help narrow the field. Sometimes finding
the right product or piece of tack is the beginning of the answer to a training
or horsekeeping problem.
The Senior Horse
More Training, Riding, and Horse Care Tips
That's it for this
Keep your mind in the middle and a leg on each side.
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