Top tips to help all horse owners from horse owners to cope in the cold weather
Brrr, the cold weather has well and truly hit us all in the recent weeks, and we’ll be honest looking after horses in this weather is no fun!
The cold weather and even snow in some areas bring plenty of challenges to life in general, and that’s before you’ve even managed to get to the yard.
As full-time horse owners who work and fit playing ponies around the 9-5, the dreaded pressure to keep on top of it all can get too much.
That’s why our team of Horse Insurance experts have put pen to paper with our top tips to help with your horse routine this winter.
We’ve also included some top tips from fellow horse owners from the Facebook group ‘Horsey Life Hax’. Thank you to everyone who has contributed.
Preparation is key
Check the weather apps and then check some more. This is our first rule, check the weather apps to see what the weather will be like the next day and try to pre-empt weather conditions.
- Plan out what rugs your horse may be wearing for the next day and have them at the ready to save time rushing around in the morning.
- Make up as many haynets as possible during the weekend.
- Make sure you have thoroughly gritted the yard in the evening.
Nothing adds time to an already frantic morning than encountering a frozen yard tap. If you know it is likely to freeze overnight, then make sure you lag the pipe to the yard tap as well as you can. Old travelling boots Velcro-ed around the pipe can work a treat and then wrap the tap itself in padding to help insulate it and keep running come the morning.
If lagging your water pipe still isn’t working, make sure to fill up as many water canisters as possible. If you don’t have any spare canisters, try to fill up any spare buckets you have with water, so if the tap does freeze you have some water available in the morning. One top tip is to add a kettle of boiling water to your water containers to slow down the freezing rate.
If you have electricity at your yard, try filling up your kettle or filling a tea urn the night before so all you need to do is switch it on for hot water to add to water buckets.
Wellies or yard boots – Make sure your wellies or yard boots are brought inside into the warm in the evening. Toes get cold super-fast when boots are cold and damp from being left outside or in the car overnight.
Be versatile - If your horse is stabled overnight and you are worried he might get chilly, instead of going out to buy more rugs, try using his outdoor/New-Zealand rug over his stable rugs. Likewise, if it is really cold and you are turning him out in the morning, leaving an extra layer on under his outdoor rug will help keep him nice and warm.
Break the ice – Ensure you break the ice on any frozen water troughs at least twice a day so your horse stays hydrated. If you have access to water to top the trough up then remove the broken ice from the trough too as it will then take longer for the water to re-freeze.
Drinking less in the cold – Research has found that horses often drink less water when the weather is cold. To help keep hydration levels topped up try feeding soaked high-fibre feeds that turn into a mash, offering more liquid intake for your horse.
Arrange a rota – It can be challenging at the best of times trying to turn out horses, or get them back in, in the dark. Add in slippery, frozen conditions underfoot and it can become downright dangerous. If possible, see if you can buddy-up with other people at the yard and get horses brought in, or out, before dark sets in in the evening. As an added bonus, the ground is less likely to be frozen earlier in the afternoon before it gets dark.
Order in – Make sure you have plenty of hay in ahead of a big freeze. Not only can frozen weather make it difficult to receive a hay delivery, but horses and ponies are likely to need extra hay if there is frost, or snow on the ground. If you need to soak hay then adding a handful of salt to the water can slow down the speed at which it will freeze. Be careful to keep walkways dry though to help minimise equines and humans slipping on icy surfaces.
Five Top tips from horsey owners themselves (courtesy of Facebook group ‘Horsey Life Hax’).
- Leave a colander to clear out the ice you have broken from frozen water buckets / troughs. Credit - Caroline Bowers
- If your taps still freeze after lagging, one member suggests half-filling up a water bottle from home and wrapping it over the frozen tap. This should defrost in 5 – 10 minutes. Credit - Sally Chaplin
- Keep water containers near the muck heap as heat from the manure will help to stop freezing. Credit – Lucy Wilson
- Old rugs over soaked haynets to stop freezing. Credit – Georgi Jee
- Aqua roller to help transport water to fields or from home to the yard. Credit – Lisa Miffy
Thank you to everyone for your amazing top tips!
SEIB have been arranging insurance for horses for 60 years. This experience allows us to tailor policies to suit your circumstances and ensure that you and your horses are covered should the worst happen