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Posted on 03-01-2018

As winter finally decides to show up in Lake County, it’s important to think about care for your equine friends in the colder weather.  The most important thing to remember is that horses, mules and donkeys are generally very hearty and if they are growing a good winter coat, in a good weight and otherwise in good healthy, their needs in the cold weather are fairly minimal.  It’s important to provide them with a shelter that protects them from wind, rain and snow, although several horses will chose to stand in the elements.  It’s also important to make sure they are provided with adequate nutrition as staying warm takes energy.  

The horses of the greatest concern in the colder weather or very young, or very old horses.  The geriatric horse may not keep weight on as easily.  It may be more difficult for your old horse to navigate a muddy, slippery pasture and they may suffer suppression of their immune systems while combating the cold.  

To keep your elderly equine companion healthy during the winter, make sure his teeth have a current exam (every 6-12 months) so he can eat and use his nutrients appropriately.  A blanket during the colder weather can reduce the amount of energy you horse has to expend to stay warm.  Please carefully monitor your blanketed horse to make sure he isn’t sweating underneath or developing bacterial infections or sores.  Keeping your horse current on de-worming (every 2-3 months) is helpful as well.  With the cold potentially suppressing the immune system and all the parasites looking for a cozy new home, winter weather can increase your horses parasite burden.  Manage the pasture to make sure footing is good and keep feet trimmed and monitored to prevent bacterial disease from the wet ground (thrush) and sub solar foot abscesses. 

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