Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mid-Fall Tips & Tricks!

Well, now that it's mid-Fall, I wanted to touch base and share with you the steps I take to prepare my horses for the colder (I say colder because, come on, it's California) months.

As we work our way though Fall, I take the following steps to ensure my horses' health and happiness:

1. When the temperature dips below 55 degrees F at night, I begin to blanket!
Be the envy of your barn...NO WINTER COAT!
Photo Credit: www.victorycanter.com

Since I do not have a threat of snow where I'm at, I just use a simple nylon cooler during Fall & Winter. It's easier for me to handle as far as taking it off, and putting it back on. Also, it's lightweight enough that I can usually leave it on them all day long, until I'm ready to get them out.

Cooler sheets are also great for us SoCal people, because they are on the cheaper end of the blanket range, and they warm horses just enough that their bodies are tricked not to grow a winter coat! HA! Take that Mother Nature.  That being said, though, make sure you are appropriately blanketing for whatever your climate is...Check around your barn to see how other people are blanketing, or ask your local tack store, barn manager, whoever has been around in your climate.

2. Just like us girls, hibernating in the Fall & Winter and all, it's OK to let your horse put on an extra few pounds during this time.

FYI, this is too much weight.
Photo Credit: www.minnesotafarriers.com

This overall keeps your horse happier and warmer. Think about it - the term "Fat & Happy" didn't just fall from the sky!  I tend to ride a bit less when it's cold out (read: I'm a wuss), therefore my horse is exercising a bit less day-to-day.  This added weight gain will help keep their body temperature up when they are simply sitting out in pasture, or in their stall, inactive.

OK - Disclaimer - This DOESN'T mean add an extra flake to their diet...it only means to be conscious of what they're eating, and add a BIT here and there. I don't need a bunch of angry people with fat cows on my hands saying "But you said!!!".  You're NOT doing your horse any favors by making them tote around you + a big belly full of food.

3. Make sure that your horse has adequate shelter from the elements.  

Perfect. This is exactly what I mean.
Photo Credit: www.texasliberal.wordpress.com
This one's pretty simple. If you pasture your horse, at least make sure they have a lean-to, or some other form of shelter, so that if they CHOOSE to, they can run and hide from any rain, winds, etc.  Easy, right?  If they're stalled, make sure that there are no leaks in their roof...blah blah blah.

4. Preserve their fan for next year!

My horses all live in indoor stalls.  It gets HOT in Spring & Summer, so each of them have their own hanging fan in the corner of their stalls...Each time it gets cold, I take those down, clean them, and store them until I need them again.  For SOME reason, if I leave them up all Fall & Winter, when I go to turn them on come Spring, I have about a 50/50 chance that it will turn on and function...WHYYY that is, I have no idea, but it's just a thing, so don't get lazy and just do it.  (Note to self, practice what you preach and do your fan, Brianne)

5. Check with your vet about supplementing your horse.

I am NOT a vet, so I don't want to advise anything here, other than to double check with your vet to make sure that you are properly feeding your horse for the colder months.  Every once in a while, I had a vet tell me to feed this grain or that supplement, especially when my horses were in Kentucky, where it's COOOOLLLDDD.

Also important, is to have them double-checked for worms if you don't rotate on a worming schedule already (They need their extra feed, it doesn't need to feed an internal worm right now...).  Blood work, fecal work, etc.

6. While you're at it...Make sure they have access to "working" water.

If you're gonna give your horse frozen anything, at least make it a margarita. Rule of thumb.
Photo Credit: free-extras.com
Now, I don't have to worry about this here in SoCal, but when I lived in Kentucky, I had to put a water heater contraption in the bottom of my water trough for the horses. If you live in a FREEZING place, make sure that your horses have access to melted water. Duh.

There are several ways to do this, whether you really feel like going out and stirring it, or replacing it every few hours, purchase an automated system (can be pricey!!), or pay someone else to do it, it's your responsibility. I don't think I even have to say that...

Grand Finale:  The most important thing to remember as we transition into the cooler seasons, is that no matter where you live, horses are naturally designed to survive through these months. With or without human interference.  "But my horse has never lived in the wild!!!" Well, obviously, but that doesn't take the NATURE out of a horse.  YOU know your horse better than I do, though, and some DO need that special attention. Typically it's older horses, or other horses who are generally known as NON easy keepers...You know if you have one of those...you just do.  For example, my two Quarter Horses are definitely easy keepers, and I didn't even OWN a blanket for either of them when they lived in the snow in Kentucky. They didn't even blink an eye.

Bottom line is, don't stress yourself, or your wallet, out when it comes to preparing for these new seasons, but be conscious of what your horse MAY need, as the new season arises!

Happy Fall, and get out there and enjoy the most beautiful trail scenery you will see all year!


  1. Oooh! Don't forget to measure your horse properly for a blanket.

  2. The reason the fan sometimes won't work after the winter months is that moisture gets into the motor and over time will corrode the contacts and the isulation created by the corrosion will keep the fan from operating. Cleaning and storing your fan in a dry place will help ensure proper operation when you need it again.

  3. Just an FYI, a blanket or sheet won't keep your horse from growing a winter coat. It's a common misconception because it will help smooth the hair down and appear that there is less of a winter coat going on. Coat growth is dictated by day length/light hitting the eye of the horse (which is why some people keep horses under lights to mimic longer days during winter). Although some horses will grow more coat then others, the winter growth starts around summer solstice, and summer growth at winter solstice.