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  2009 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

Winter Issue

This newsletter is a personal letter from me to you,
a fellow horse owner and enthusiast.
My goal is to answer some of your questions and send you interesting stories and helpful tips for your
horse care, training, and riding.


Horse Information Newsletter from Cherry Hill Winter Exercise

Horse Information Newsletter from Cherry Hill Winter Feed and Water

Horse Information Newsletter from Cherry Hill Pigeon Fever Update

Horse Information Newsletter from Cherry Hill Christmas Book Sets


Winter Exercise

Dear Cherry,
     How much exercise should I give my horse during the winter months, taking into account I'm at work all day and it'll soon be dark when I get home. My horse is a Danish warmblood. Five years old. Am at the moment schooling and hacking out on the forest. I ride him just about every day for no more than an hour. I'm aiming to do dressage and a little eventing.
Many thanks, Suzy.

Dear Cherry,
     Do you have specific tips for the horse to stay fit during the winter months?

Dear Suzy and Amy,

     Bravo to you both for aiming to continue your horse's training and exercise program through the winter. Actually in many ways, winter is my favorite time to ride - no bugs, invigorating for both me and my horse, and is a great break from the longer hours I tend to be indoors during the winter.

     But winter riding can pose its problems - like Suzy points out, it gets dark pretty early, so if you don't have a lighted indoor arena to ride in after work, that can be limiting. Also, I hesitate to saddle up much after 3 PM (we're at 7000 feet in the Colorado Rockies) unless I am just going for a moseying kind of walk because the temperature really plummets about 4 PM and makes cooling out properly more difficult.

     If you are going to keep your horses in active work, consider a combination of body clipping and blanketing. Clipping will reduce sweating during a vigorous work out and will allow you to cool your horses out more quickly and safely. Be sure to use a cooler on your horse as soon as you return after a work session.

     Consider using a quarter sheet when you ride.

Read about Quarter Sheets.

Horse For Sale by Cherry HillAlso winter riding might require specialized shoes for your horse. Read about winter shoe options.

Read more about Winter Exercise.

Maybe I'll see you on the trail this winter!

Cherry Hill Horsekeeping Newsletter


Winter Feed and Water

Dear Cherry,
     I recently read your article on feeding in the winter. I keep my horse at a boarding facility and I do not agree with their feeding schedule at all. My horse is a 16 h, 3yr old warmblood and right now, his ribs are showing really bad. He receives approx 9 flakes of hay a day (only at 8am and 6pm) When he is outside between these hours he gets NO hay and NO water. The owners of the barn feel that this is appropriate feeding habits. I asked to increase the hay amount and they said, "no, to gain weight on a horse, you have to increase grain". Could you please do me the favour of e-mailing them your article or just a brief message on how horses should be fed. If you can do this, I would much appreciate it, since it seems impossible for me to get through to them, maybe they will listen to a professional. Thank you very much for your time.

Hi Liz,

     Is your horse on a regular deworming program? In a boarding facility, this would mean deworming the horse every 2 months or keeping him on a daily dewormer. Read my article on deworming at and confer with your veterinarian to determine the best plan for your horse. If you and your vet agree that your horse has been on an appropriate deworming program, then perhaps you should have a fecal test done (you would collect a fecal sample for your vet to examine under a microscope) on your horse to see if the deworming program is being effective or not. Your horse could have tapeworms.

     Once you are satisfied that all is well with parasite prevention, let's talk about hay. You don't mention how much the "9 flakes of hay per day" weigh. Nor do you mention the quality and type of hay being fed. Here at my place, 9 flakes of the grass/alfalfa hay I feed would weigh 36 pounds and if I fed my 16 hand horses that much hay every day, they would be butterballs in no time!

     However, if the 9 flakes per day are light, wispy, poor quality grass flakes weighing 18 pounds, then your horse is not being fed enough.

As a thumbrule, I feed about 2 pounds of hay per day for every 100 pounds of a horse's body weight. You don't say how much your horse weighs, but a 1000# horse would get 20 pounds split into two 10 pound feedings. That's why I always recommend feeding hay by weight not flakes.

     Two flakes of dense alfalfa hay could weigh as much as 14 pounds while two flakes of fluffy, loose grass might only weigh 4 pounds!

Speaking of alfalfa, although there is a minor amount (10-15%) of alfalfa in the grass/alfalfa mix hay that I feed, if I wanted to put weight on a horse, I'd increase the amount of alfalfa hay in his ration GRADUALLY, paying attention to that particular horse's ability to tolerate alfalfa without him developing excess gas or his manure becoming sloppy.

     Make all changes to the new hay gradual. In this case, feed 90% old hay and 10% new hay for several days; then 80% old hay and 20% new hay for a few more days; then 70% old hay and 30% new hay for a few more days and so on until you find the grass to alfalfa ratio that works best for your horse.

     Now, during the winter, for every ten degrees Fahrenheit below freezing, the hay ration should be increased 10%. So, 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.

     Horses will gain weight on grain, but I always make sure all of the above is being taken care of before I would consider adding grain to a horse's ration. Grain increases a horse's energy level so I generally only increase grain during the months when I am working the horse hard. (I'm talking about a mature horse here, not a growing horse or a broodmare, both of which would have different grain requirements.)

     In closing, I'd like to say that in a perfect world, your horse should be fed his hay ration individually according to his weight in the morning, then he should be turned out for the day with access to water and trace mineral salt and, if possible, a little bit of "busy hay" such as grass. When he comes in for the night, he should again be fed his hay ration individually according to his weight.

     If you show this information to your boarding farm manager, please show them my complete reply.

Best of luck, Cherry Hill

For more information on winter feed and water, read the article here:


Pigeon Fever Update

There has been an unusual rise in cases of pigeon fever in Colorado and Wyoming. To read more about this disease (also called Dryland Distemper) go to the updated Pigeon Fever page.


Christmas Book Sets

Books make a great Christmas gift for members of your family, your many horse friends (or friends that are considering getting a horse) or for yourself ! We've put together four Christmas book sets to save you some money. Scroll through the book list page and look for the orange boxes which highlight the book sets.

The Longeing Book Set includes
Longeing and Long Lining the English and Western Horse, The Total Program - hard bound text
101 Longeing and Long Lining Exercises, English and Western - spiral bound exercise book

The Making Not Breaking Set includes
Making Not Breaking, the First Year Under Saddle - hard bound text
Making Not Breaking - 90 minute audio tape

Western Pocket Guide Set includes
Beginning Western Exercises
Intermediate Western Exercises
Advanced Western Exercises

English Pocket Guide Set includes
Beginning English Exercises
Intermediate English Exercises
Advanced English Exercises


That's it for this month. Happy Holidays to each of you and to all of your families and friends. Don't forget, when you take a ride, keep your mind in the middle and a leg on each side.       Cherry Hill


Horse Information Newsletter from Cherry Hill Before you copy, forward or post anything from this newsletter or Cherry Hill's Horse Information Roundup, be sure you read this article!

Horse Information Newsletter from Cherry Hill Don't forget to regularly check the Horse Information Roundup at to find information on training, horse care, grooming, health care, hoof care, facilities and more.

Horse Information Newsletter from Cherry Hill Take the time to browse the complete Cherry Hill Horse Book Library at

  2006 Cherry Hill 

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