Winter weather can be as hard on the horses as it is for the humans caring for them. Whether wintry weather is cold and snowy or just overcast in your area, there are some horse-care myths that have been around for ages. Can you separate fact from fiction?
- Myth No. 1: Horses drink more if the water is warm
True. Horses will increase water consumption by up to 40 percent if their water is warmed to just above freezing; ideal temps are between 45 and 65 degrees F.
- Myth No. 2: Blanketing makes your horse colder.
False. Many times blanketing comes down to personal preference, but a general rule of thumb is that if the equine is acclimated to colder temperatures, is able to grow a sufficient winter coat, is healthy and is at a moderate weight, he will be fine as long as he is able to get out of the rain; his coat will be able to trap enough air to keep him warm. If any of these needs are not met, or if he is not able to get out of the rain, a blanket may be necessary to keep him comfortable and healthy.
Just because a blanket eliminates the ability for air pockets to form does not mean that it makes the horse colder; the insulation in the blanket will keep the horse as warm as his natural hair coat will, and it will not be affected if it gets wet (assuming the blanket is waterproof).
- Myth 3: You should close all windows and door in the barn to prevent horses from getting chilled.
False. There is ammonia in horse urine that stalled horses inhale; its imperative that barns have air flow to prevent damage to the respiratory system. Additionally, barns are innately dusty, so air flow prevents the coughing and nasal discharge that comes with the inhalation of dust particles. While humans may want to batten down the hatches to prevent winter winds from howling, it's not in the best interest of the horse.
- Myth No. 4: Horses get all the water they need from snow.
False. Most domestic horses will not consume enough snow to fulfill their water intake requirement. If snow is the only option horses have, the risk is exponentially higher for impaction colic and other dehydration-related issues.
Read more winter-related myths at Horse Channel.
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