Preparing the Aging Horse for Winter

Winter will soon be upon us, and that means it is time to start making sure your horses, and especially your older horses are prepped and ready to take on the cold. Ideally your horse should be between a five and six on the body condition scoring scale. This way they will have plenty of fleshy coverage to help insulate them against the cold. A horse that is below a score of a five will have a harder time staying warm because they will need to burn more calories to maintain their base body temperature. You should also be sure to record the weights of your horses so that you have an objective measurement to compare to later in the winter or spring to make sure they have been maintaining their weight.

Be certain that your senior horse’s teeth are free of any sharp points so that they are able to properly chew their hay and swallow it. If you see any balls or clumps of hay on the ground then your horse is having troubles chewing and it is best to get your vet out to have their teeth floated.

The next step is to make sure that you have plenty of quality hay that is ready for winter because horses will eat nearly two percent of their body weight in hay when it is cold out. This can be upwards of twenty pounds of hay per day. Another option to substitute for hay is alfalfa pellets or cubes. Cubes are soft and easy to chew making them perfect for senior horses. We currently have many types available and in stock.

Another option for horses having trouble eating hay is to feed a complete feed. A complete senior feed is a great option because all of the roughage they need is already included into the feed its self. A senior feed will also be easier for the horses to chew, as the texture is softer and even more importantly digest. Aging horses benefit so greatly from senior feeds because the feeds are further processed to compensate for the less effective hind gut that older horses are plagued by, thus ensuring that they are able to absorb all of the nutrients in the feed. As always make sure that your horse has adequate shelter, plenty of fresh water and access to free choice salt/minerals.

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