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Winter Horse Care – Cold Weather Feeding and Joint Care!

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Wednesday, 02 August 2017

Winter Horse Care – Cold Weather Feeding and Joint Care!

It is cold outside and just like us, horses need some special care and consideration to help them stay warm, happy and in good health, during the winter months!

Feeding, rugging, and regular physical checks being sure to pay special attention to the horse’s legs, hooves and skin, are part of the extra care that is needed in the cold weather equine management.  This effort is well worthwhile and gives you the opportunity to keep riding, training and enjoying some of the special seasonal highlights that come with the colder months.

Keeping horses comfortable and free of winter ailments is an achievable goal when you incorporate some preventative strategies into your daily management routines.

Here are some easy and effective modifications to your winter weather routine:    

Feeding - Feed to Stay Warm.  Many horse owners believe that horses need additional energy-rich feed during winter.  This may be a consideration for horses that are in full work; however, most pleasure horses have a reduced winter workload or are turned out for the months of reduced daylight, unpredictable weather and limited riding opportunities. 

It is not always understood that the horse’s digestive system plays a major role in keeping horses warm!  When roughage is digested in the hindgut, heat is generated, warming the horse from the inside!

In the winter months, it is important to give horses almost constant access to low nutrient pasture hay, so that they can “chomp” their way to staying warm and happy! The horse’s stomach is very small and it should be kept full and constantly working, to avoid the risk of colic, stomach ulcers and other stress related digestive responses.

Feeding - Access to Grass.  Horses are herbivores, and in the wild they move from place to place, seeking out the wide variety of herbs, minerals and trace elements that are needed to maintain good health.  In some cases the horse’s “green pick” has been chosen for its medicinal properties and the relief it promises to combat illness or help to control pain.  This phenomenon is a miracle of nature, and we humans marvel that animals instinctively know what they need to eat in order to stay well!

Domesticated horses have had this option taken away by fences and stables. Fortunately, equine nutritionists have identified the varieties of herbs, which can help horses and ponies maintain good health, by addressing the dietary deficiencies, which increase the risk of disease caused by nutritional deficiencies.

Feeding - Joint Care.  Just like us, winter chills can lead to joint stiffness, pain, and discomfort, with a negative impact on quality of life, mobility, and strength.  Working, racing and competition horses can benefit greatly from the inclusion of a respected joint supplement in their feed and owners speak highly of the improved freedom and range of movement that these additives have afforded. 

Many of today's successful performance horses are known to experience arthritic changes in their joints at quite an early age.  As the responsible carers of these loyal partners, we are entrusted to emulate nature and provide the nutrients and trace elements that horse’s needs to grow, build muscle and repair/replace damaged body cells. 

The most respected and popular joint supplements are formulated to feed and protect the horse’s joints, repair existing degradation and slow the progression of future deterioration.  Horses that receive a balanced diet and appropriate nutritional additives are more comfortable and able to continue training and participation in competitions.  This exercise is an important step to recovery and extending the horse’s working life.   This has very significant sentimental and financial benefits – a great outcome for the individuals concerned and a great victory for Australian equestrian sport!

Top Tip - Do your research and understand the grasses and soil conditions, that are on the property where your horse lives, taking into consideration the pasture management practices that are employed by the landowner, as these factors will influence the quality and quantity of natural available feed. 

If you suspect that your horse is deficient in any vital nutrients, you should have the vet take a blood sample for analysis, so as to identify the deficiencies and go on to suggest remedies.  Alternatively, ask for advice from one of the Mustad Saddleworld expert support team.  They will be able to give you valuable general advice and product information. 

The Walkenny Park range of equine herbs is a great place to start, as each of the plant herbs in the range, will work in a unique and specific way.   Herbal blends are prepared to help with the management of equine health problems such as pain, inflammation, nervousness, digestion, urinary tract and vascular health and to promote a general state of wellbeing. 

Mustad Saddleworld stocks a comprehensive range of specialist herbs, joint supplements and nutritional additives, which are effective preventatives, and to help in established cases of compromised health.  Many additives can repair damage and slow progression and deserve a place in your feed room.

For joint care information click here > HORSE JOINT CARE

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