Horses are generally very good at adapting to the different seasons – growing a thicker coat or shedding it to adapt to different temperatures for example – but that doesn’t mean that the onset of autumn and winter is without its challenges.
As the night draw in and temperatures begin to fall, autumn is the time to start planning for the long, dark winter ahead to make it as painless as possible, for you and your equine friends.
One of the biggest changes at this time of year is most likely to be in routines. Shorter days and inclement weather will probably affect the amount of turnout time your horse receives, for example – not to mention how much time you have to do all the yard chores as well as enjoy your horse’s company.
Here’s some top tips to get ahead on your autumn horse care.
Change routines gradually
To avoid stressing your horse, attempt to introduce any reduction in turnout time slowly and as they spend more time in the stable, consider introducing some enrichment activities, such as toys and licks, to ease the boredom.
Check for adequate shelter
If the weather does turn nasty while your horse is out, is there enough trees or other places your horse can take shelter. If shelter is in short supply, you may need to consider how you are going to protect them from the elements by rugging them.
Check your paddocks
It’s a year-round job ensuring paddocks are secure, but at this time of year high winds and rain can wreak havoc on your fences. And as bonfire night looms, it’s doubly important to ensure your horse can’t escape or hurt itself on fencing if it receives a fright from a firework.
As your luscious paddock turns into something resembling a mud bath, natural forage may become hard to come by and have less nutritional value, so you may need to consider supplementing your horse’s diet with hay or haylage.
There are also numerous food supplements on the market to ensure your horse stays in tip-top health throughout the winter.
Winter brings a number of health challenges, but prevention is better than cure.
Avoid colic by not turning your horse out on frosty grass and beware laminitis in autumn as cool nights and warm days can lead to an increased accumulation of sugars in grass.
You may also need to manage the risk of mud fever. There are preventatives available if your horse tends to suffer an it’s best to start them early, bu you could also consider adding hardcore to gateways and other areas where your horses spend a lot of their time standing.
Continuing on the healthcare theme, ensuring your horse is free of worms through the winter months is also important. Speak to your local animal health advisor about a regime suitable for your horse.
Autumn is the time when the trees start losing their leaves – and the time you need to be on your guard against falling acorns and sycamore seeds, as these pose a serious risk to your horse’s health if ingested. If you can, fence off any areas around trees where these are likely to fall so your horse can’t access them.
Finally, don’t forget to ensure you and your horse stay safe and are seen by wearing hi-vis when enjoying an autumn or winter hack as visibility is often seriously reduced in bad weather.
Better Tack is here to help
Our staff are “horsey people” too and are here to help you take care of your equine friends.
We stock a range of feed, supplements, bedding, treats, tack, safety equipment, clothing and yard accessories from some of the biggest names in the equestrian world.