Horses are well suited to dealing with winter weather conditions.
Within the confines of domestication, however, horses become wholly dependent upon their owners to supply them with important necessities.
Horses require a safe shelter from severe weather. With winter’s shorter days and potentially nasty climatic conditions, your horse will be spending proportionately more time inside. Now is the time to do a thorough barn cleaning and to inspect and make any necessary repairs to your horse’s living environment.
Horses can handle extreme cold or wind or precipitation quite effectively. It is when these forces hit in any combination that your animal will need access to shelter. This shelter must offer protection from the prevailing winter winds and precipitation.
Great care must be taken in converting your horse from a summer diet of primarily green grass to his winter fare of dried hay and grain. Fresh grass is laxative, but grass hay tends to have the opposite effect. Horses can experience fatal colics in the aftermath of an abrupt dietary change.
Some horses refuse to drink sufficient water if the water is frigidly cold. Offering warmed water will encourage horses to drink more generously.
Regardless of the reduced activity, or perhaps inactivity, of the season, horses’ hooves continue to grow and require proper trimming or shoeing at six to eight week intervals throughout the winter.
Caring for your horse during the coldest winter months may indeed challenge your commitment to horse ownership. *Information obtained from www.lfrazer.com
Anyone who owns a horse needs to be prepared for the eventuality of wound and injury care.
Horses often get hurt or injured in the normal course of the day; they run into things, step on sharp objects or get stuck. If there are deep cuts, puncture wounds, open sore injuries or things requiring antibiotics, you are going to need to call the vet, but it is important to be able to provide your horse with first aid until the vet arrives.
You can keep your horse safe from tetanus by making sure he is vaccinated twice a year. As well as building a good first aid kit, preventive measures like a tetanus shot can make the difference between a horse that recovers from even a simple-looking wound and one that dies from a bacterial infection.
The best thing to use in cleaning all sorts of cuts, tears or abrasions is sterile saline solution. You should always have some saline in your first aid kit, and plenty of it, since it is the best way to clean wounds. If you have run out or are in a place where there is no saline solution, flush the wounds out anyway with water from a hose.
Some puncture wounds are more serious than others, either because of their depth, size, origin or location on the horse’s body. A puncture wound in dense muscle is less worrisome than it would be on the chest, belly or lower leg, where it could compromise your horse’s internal organs or running. Anytime the wound is on the abdomen or chest, get in touch with the vet.
If the wound is bleeding but not very deep and has nothing left inside, slow or stop the bleeding by pressing on the spot with sterile gauze pads or a clean towel. If the bleeding has already stopped, clean the wound by flushing it out with plenty of sterile saline.
In some cases, the object that causes the puncture may have pulled out leaving some ragged skin or torn tissue that protrudes into the wound. In this case, do not try to remove anything; just flush it with sterile saline and wrap it in dampened bandages.
Abrasions usually occur when a horse falls and skids, skinning her hip, leg or shoulder. If the wound is a simple abrasion, you can probably take care of it yourself, but check to make sure there are no punctures, lacerations, broken bones or other more serious damage before treating the skin damage.
Assuming there is no other problem; clean the abrasions by flushing with saline to remove the dirt, grass or other particles. Apply a disinfectant, like dilute Betadine solution, which will kill bacteria left on the wound. Be gentle with the skinned area, do not scrub it. Your horse will be sore for days and it may be a few weeks before large abrasions are sufficiently healed to get your horse back to the regular schedule.