Holiday Horse-Care Tips

November 18, 2016

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, activities such as shopping, wrapping gifts and planning forward to the various celebrations, consume most of your time. There are too many things to take into consideration, such as what guests to invite, what drinks to serve, what clothes to wear, etc. Having so many things going on in your mind at the same time eventually affects your regular daily routines and you find yourself distracted, not being able to give your complete attention to other important issues. As you prepare for the festivities to come ask yourself, are you making sure that your horse is getting proper care and enough attention? Coming up are various horse care tips to follow for this holiday season in order for you to successfully look out for your horse in the busiest time of the year.

Find Time to Spend with Your Horse

The holiday season is all about being with the ones we love, so be sure to spend as much time with your horse as possible. Even if you just stop by the barn between errands, no visit will go unappreciated. Bring him a treat or take him outside to hand graze, or hop on for a quick bareback ride. If it gets very cold outside, bring your horse a blanket whenever you stop by, especially if he has partially or fully clipped hair. Young and old horses tend to need the extra warmth during the winter season. Make sure you place the blanket correctly on his back to prevent any sores, and check for infections daily by removing it. Their natural winter coats are designed to provide them with warmth, but some horses need the extra care. 

Keep Up the Exercise

Exercise is beneficial all year round. In this particular season, your horse will be spending much more time in his stall due to the harsh winter conditions, however his need for exercise might increase. For this reason you must try to continue riding your horse daily or be sure that he gets out to stretch his legs on a regular basis, and if you have access to an indoor arena use it to help keep him fit. Short lunging sessions and light rides at the walk and trot will be the perfect relief after spending too much time in a stall each day. If your pastures are safe, then try to maximize his turnout time as well. It is easy to assume that your horse prefers to be in a warm, cozy barn during the entire day, but this assumption is far from the truth. Keep your horse sheltered from the wind and rain, but also let them walk in and out of their stall as they please throughout the day. By providing this open shelter lifestyle, your horse’s health will increase since he gets shelter, plus exercise, plus fresh air, which is ideal for his respiratory system.

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Water Heating

Horses drink between 5 to 10 gallons of water a day. In the winter season, when water quickly becomes ice, supplying this quantitative amount becomes tricky. Although snow and ice are water, they are not considered good substitutes. For this reason it is crucial to invest in a water heater that will prevent your horse’s water from freezing and you won’t have to worry weather or not he is consuming less than what he needs in order to survive.

Find Help

If you simply cannot dedicate the amount of time that your horse needs during the holiday season, then find someone to step in to take your place for a few weeks. A rider without a horse of their own might be the perfect solution to keeping your horse exercised and well cared for. You can create a schedule that determines when and who will be taking care of your horse if more than one person is needed for the job. With a schedule you can alternate caring shifts and it is easy to keep track of the time you are dedicating to your horse. College students, for example, are a great option for help. They return home on winter break in the middle of December and perhaps you can find a college student in need of some riding time to give your horse some exercise.

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Plan for When You’re Away

Most people travel during the Holidays, if this is your case, plan ahead and make sure that your horse is well cared for. If your horse is not on full board, then find a horse sitter now – it can be difficult to find pet care over the holidays as many people get booked up early, and you want to be sure that your horse’s care is in the hands of someone who is reputable and trustworthy.

Before you leave, write down a list of all the little things like farrier appointments and other health maintenance that your horse will need. Be sure to have his appointments scheduled and pass this information on to your horse sitter, as well as to your vet or farrier for them to know when to stop by while you are away. Stock up on all of your horse’s supplies, feeds and supplements so that he is prepared for when you are gone during the holidays.

Continue with Hoof Care

Riding your horse less during the winter is no excuse to postpone regular hoof care. In fact, daily hoof picking is definitely something to keep in mind, as snow and ice will make it harder for your horse to walk. Continue to trim your horse’s hoofs every 6 to 12 weeks.

Being busy with holiday preparations happens to everyone. However, your horse’s needs can’t go overlooked. It is a time when your horse needs you more than ever. The trick is to plan ahead, take all these tips into consideration, and then put your plan into action. If you act now you can later sit back and enjoy yourself when the holidays arrive.

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