Winter Management For The Outdoor Horse

Originally Published in the February 2017 Issue of The Rider.

By Susan Raymond, Equine Guelph “The stable environment invari-

ably presents challenges of dust, mould and proper ventilation,” says Susan Raymond,

instructor of Equine

Guelph’s Management of the Equine Environment online course. “Most horses are well equipped for living out- doors and thrive, provided certain pro- visions are met.” Dr. Raymond completed her PhD in investigating the effects of exposure of horses to myco- toxins. She has also been involved in air quality research which provided practical recommendations to the horse industry on stable design and manage- ment.

The ideal environment for most

horses is to live outside with herd mates 24/7. This satisfies their need for loco- motion and provides their digestive system with the optimal conditions to function as nature intended. Here are just a few tips for managing the horse’s environment through the winter season: 1. Provide a heated water source. Horses need to consume large volumes of water to keep forage traveling through the gut. Reduce your risk of colic by ensuring water sources do not freeze. 2. Provide the best quality hay and be cognizant that horses will need more forage in the winter to meet their en- ergy needs for thermoregulation. Avoid round bales which can become havens for dust and mould, increasing the risk of respiratory ailments. 3. Shelter provides a windbreak and can be natural or manmade. Location is very important. Constructed shelter considerations include, sturdy con- struction with rounded edges (pressure treated 4x4 or thicker), built on a sight


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