Getting older is a fact of life. It’s a fact not just of human life, but of equine life too. The needs of an older horse are different than their younger counterparts in any season. But in winter especially, you’ll need to take extra care to ensure your senior horse remains in good health.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind for your older horse as we approach the cold and snowy months ahead:
Increase their calories.
A horse’s primary source of body heat is through their feed. As they expend energy to digest nutrients, they produce heat that keeps them warm and then store extra calories in a warming layer of fat over their body.
In many older horses, their digestion is already less efficient than when they were younger, so it’s especially important to ensure they have enough feed through winter. If they don’t, they may experience dangerous weight loss or severely low body temperature. Increase your horse’s rations in the winter months. Or, better yet, provide them access to hay 24/7.
Consider using a blanket.
Older horses tend to have trouble keeping weight on, leaving them with less muscle mass and fat for insulation. In the winter particularly, this causes them to get colder faster. Being consistently cold, in combination with their age, makes senior horses more susceptible to poor immune health and disease.
If your older horse is underweight or thin in general, you should consider blanketing them during the winter. It’s a good idea to have a few blankets on hand of varying weights to use in different conditions, so your horse doesn’t end up over or underheated.
Monitor their water intake.
Proper hydration is essential for body temperature regulation and digestive function in your horse. Ice in the water supply in winter can discourage a horse from drinking, even if it’s just the thinnest layer, and dehydrate them quickly.
To keep water flowing freely, you should use a heated water bucket in the winter months or a stock tank deicer. Providing your horse with a salt lick or supplement can also help promote their thirst drive.
Are you in need of an extra run-in shed or new barn to keep your horses warm this winter? Deer Creek Structures can help! Order one of our prefabricated portable sheds or barns for delivery right to your home. Or, get in touch with a member of our team to discuss a custom structure for your property.
Contact us today to find the safe and sturdy shelter you need for your animals!