Items

Forums
Horses and Extreme Cold
 By Saferaphus   •   15th Jan 2018   •   489 views   •   0 comments


Extreme cold has hit many parts of North America. From Canada, south to Florida many of us have been experiencing very cold, and often time blizzard-like conditions. This morning, the thermometer read -13F or -25C outside my window. Add a little breeze and the wind chills drop radically. For those of us with horses, this means weíre making some quick adjustments to our care routine and our riding schedule.

In this type of cold, you can almost depend on something breaking down. A truck wonít start, an automatic waterer freezes up, or a hydrant that is normally dependable in sub-freezing temperature suddenly isnít. Hoses that are normally drained of water so they donít freeze between uses become useless rigid circles like oversized Slinky toys. Metal things crack more easily. Plastic things, like buckets, shatter. And, if there is snow, something is going to get lost in it, or stuck in it. Lead rope snaps and door latches freeze shut if the least amount of moisture gets on them.

Feeding horses can become harder as you try to plow through the snow to take out bales. And you might want to feed your horses pelleted feed because youíll quickly learn that sweet feed or any other supplement with molasses in it freezes into solid blocks. Youíll spend more time chipping than scooping. If you feed beet pulp, there is a chance the bottom of the bucket will freeze before the horse gets a chance to finish it all. Anything liquid will now be solid.

If you bed with shavings, you might find out how much moisture there really is in the wood chips. Bags of shavings, which tend to come out in blocks anyways, now come out in giant woody ice cubes. If you have a pile of shavings, it may take some mining to get down to a layer you can easily shovel. Although, youíll probably be tempted to skip it since the horseís stalls are filled with icy bedding and horse buns. Itís a slippery slope to the manure pile, and the first thing you may need to do is shovel a path just to get out the door and then struggle to get the door open. Keep the shovel handy because you may need to dig out gates, or the approach to the feeder.

These are all things that this extreme cold affects just on our own yards. Slippery roads make just getting to the stable tricky. Road salt doesnít work very well when the temperatures dive below 14F or -10C. Power outages are always a possibility. Systems donít work as well in extreme temperatures and ice build up or falling branches can take out lines. Just getting dressed and moving can be a challenge. And of course, as soon as you put your coveralls or snow pants on you have to pee. Apparently, there is a scientific reason for that. As blood flow is redirected to your internal organs to keep them from freezing, your blood pressure goes up making your kidneys get busier.

So everything is harder and takes longer. But your reward is that youíll eventually be able to ride once all the labor is done. Or not. If you have an indoor arena, youíll probably find the footing is like concrete. Muscles, both yours and your horse take longer to warm up as your bodies have to cope with both the exercise and the temperature. The saying Ďcold makes you dumbí applies to us, as our bodies pull blood away from non-essential parts to keep our cores warm. So our reaction times might be slower - something that could spell trouble on a horse that hasnít had much exercise.

And does the extreme cold affect working horses? If youíve kept up a regular riding schedule into the winter months, a sudden stop isnít recommended. But in the really severe cold, anything but a light workout might not be a good idea either. Dr. Yates of Yates Veterinary Services looked at existing studies to answer the question on whether we should work our horses in extreme cold. There isnít a lot of research done on this subject. But, with the little information she found suggested that working in really cold weather could open the door to viral infections and lower airways disease.

Her conclusion was that she would not include cantering or jumping when the temperature was below 20F (-6C). This surprised me as I wonít hesitate to do those things at that temperature. Basically, that means no cantering or jumping all winter for me. She cautions, however, that her conclusion is based only on three studies that didnít deal directly with winter temperatures and acknowledges that working horses like Amish driving horses and other working horses are routinely subject to extreme cold. Further studies are needed.

So is the extreme cold affecting you and your horse? If you live in Australia, youíll being enjoying summer of course and possibly a different set of problems. In either case, we just have to hold on, because better weather is coming.
Horse News More In This Category:  Care and Grooming      Horse News More From This Author:  Saferaphus
 More News by Saferaphus
What is in Your Horse Feed
15th Aug 2018   |   Care and Grooming   |   Saferaphus
When you buy a bag of textured or pelleted horse feed, none of the ingredients are easily recognizable. A bag of oats contains oats - and thatís easy to see. But often even the label on a bag of feed doesnít list the exact ingredi ...
Buy or Adopt A Horse
10th Aug 2018   |   Care and Grooming   |   Saferaphus
A popular slogan amongst pet rescue groups is adopt, donít shop. As someone who has adopted several dogs, and is currently working to rehabilitate a badly abused puppy mill survivor, Iím inclined to agree with the sentiment. But w ...
What To Do With A Donkey
7th Aug 2018   |   Care and Grooming   |   Saferaphus
The BLM is rounding up about sixty burros in the Bullhead City of Arizona area and shortly, these burros, or donkeys as many of us call them, will be up for adoption. But, who would want a donkey? Turns out, donkeys are not only c ...
Horse Photo Contest
3rd Aug 2018   |   Care and Grooming   |   Saferaphus
Did you just take the perfect picture of your horse? While youíre probably inclined to share it on Instagram, or on your Facebook feed, you might consider entering it in a contest instead. There are many horse photo contests onlin ...
Equine Sedation
2nd Aug 2018   |   Care and Grooming   |   Saferaphus
One aspect of the pregnancy check I watched a vet perform recently that really bothers me is the sedation. I hate seeing horses sedated. There is some internal fear that creeps in on me when I see a horse standing with its head dr ...
Is One Helmet Really Better Than Another
31st Jul 2018   |   Care and Grooming   |   Saferaphus
Chances are, if you are out shopping for a helmet, you may assume that the more money you spend, the more protection you will be getting. But, according to an independent test done by a Swedish insurance company, that might not be ...
How Much Will Your Horse Cost You in 2018
30th Jul 2018   |   Care and Grooming   |   Saferaphus
About four years ago, I wrote an article about how much it costs to keep a horse. Prices rarely drop, so what can we expect to pay to keep a horse over the next year. Hereís a look at some basic costs. ...
How to Lead a Horse
27th Jul 2018   |   Care and Grooming   |   Saferaphus
Leading isnít walking ahead of your horse while pulling on the lead rope. It isnít tagging along as your horse drags you along. Rather, your horse should be trained to walk beside you with no tension on the rope at all. You may mo ...
  View All News by Saferaphus
 
©2002 - 2018   PonyBox LLC Create Account Terms & Conditions Privacy Contact Us
405 Members Online 240,094 Registered Members 2,463 News Articles 10,175,342 Unique News Article Views 222,395,316 Website Views