Wisconsin’s four seasons provide very different environmental conditions that can affect hoof health and ultimately the soundness of your horse. Factors that need to be considered over the winter months are snow, ice and excessively wet conditions. Many horses have their shoes removed in late fall due to decreased work load over the winter months and to prevent an increased chance of injuries on slick ground. This may not be an option if your horse requires corrective farrier work to remain sound or remains in training year round; for these horses snow pads may be effective, or various traction devices can be applied to certain types of horse shoes. Horses feet should be picked daily to avoid excessive accumulation of ice and snow forming an uneven ball for your horse to stand on. For barefoot horses, applying non stick cooking spray to the bottom of the sole may aid in prevention of this buildup. Regardless of how you intend to use your horse over the winter it is crucial to keep them up to date on routine farrier work.
My horse does not drink well during the winter. Are there methods for increasing his/her water intake?
During the winter, it is not uncommon for them to decrease their water intake. Even mild dehydration can be a dangerous condition for horses and has the potential to lead to colic. For this reason, monitoring the water intake and ensuring your horse does not become dehydrated is very important. There are several options to encourage water consumption. One option is offering a bucket of electrolyte water and/or a bucket of molasses water with their bucket of plain water. Always make sure you offer a bucket of plain water whenever offering buckets of water with additives. Also, there are electrolyte powders that can be added to the feed that may encourage your horse to drink more water. Another option is to add 1-2 tablespoons (for a 1000lb horse) of non-iodized table salt to the feed once a day. Owners can also offer occasional mashes of equine senior (or other complete feed) with extra water. Last but not least, the traditional mineral block may be helpful and is quite easy to make available at all times of the day and in all weather conditions.