3 ways to prevent winter weight loss

Here are three simple things to do to help your horse maintain his condition even during the coldest weather.

In colder climates, horses burn more calories to stay warm during winter, which can make it difficult for some to maintain their weight. Here are three things you can do to help to keep your horse in good condition:

The process of digesting hay releases metabolic heat, preventing a horse from having to burn excess calories to stay warm.

1. Provide free-choice hay. Roughage like hay is a “slow-burn” feed, meaning it releases a metabolic heat over a long time, helping keep your horse warm. This can keep him from having to burn excessive calories to ward off the cold.

2. Blanket wisely. If you ever find your horse shivering, he is cold and needs more protection as soon as possible. If he’s not blanketed, put one on him. If he is blanketed, find a heavier one or add another layer. Over-blanketing can be just as problematic, so check him again in a few hours to make sure he’s not sweating underneath his new gear.

3. Provide more feed. While this may seem like the very first step to take, do it once you’ve taken care of the other measures. Increased calories from more feed will help a horse maintain or gain weight, but only when he’s properly protected from the elements and otherwise healthy. Then, talk to your veterinarian about making any significant increase in grain ration to avoid a carbohydrate overload that could trigger laminitis. 

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