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
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
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!