~Simply Beginning Horsemanship~

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Did you know...during cold weather it is a myth to add corn or increase a horse's grain intake to keep a horse warmer? The best way to ensure your horse stays comfortable during cold winter months is to provide plenty of clean hay, protection from the elements, and clean water.

FYI:

Did you know: Horses' teeth erupt their whole lives. That's why it's important to consult with your veterinarian or equine dentist to ensure they are properly balanced. Without proper balance, not only can eating be painful, but the horse will not be able to absorb all the nutrients their bodies need. Chewing, or mastication, is painful because of the sharp points that can develop in the mouth due to improper balance of the teeth. It would be comparable to eating with needles in your mouth! OUCH! Symptoms of imbalance can be bolting feed, losing or dribbling feed, head tossing, refusing the bit or chomping on the bit, and even foul odor. If your horse is showing any of these signs, contact your equine veterinarian or dentist and schedule an evaluation as soon as possible. Your horse will thank you.

How much should you feed your horse? Well, that depends on what you're feeding. Horses are designed to eat forage roughly about 18 hours a day.  Forage can be in the form of  pasture, hay, hay cubes, or hay pellets. To maintain a healthy digestive system, for a 1000 pound horse, 1.5%-2% of body weight should be adequate forage. (About 15-20 pounds per day).  Supplementation, either with grains, pellets, or concentrates, is provided when forage does not provide enough nutrition to meet the horse's needs, or when extra calories are needed. Be sure to feed your supplement by weight, NOT volume.  A 4lb. coffee can DOES NOT equal 4 pounds of feed.  If you do not have a feed scale, stand on your bathroom scale and do the math. Then mark your feeding scoop appropriately. Feeding your horse forage first, then supplementing him based on body condition and activity level, will help ensure your horse stays healthy.

Wonderful Fall weather has finally arrived! But, are you prepared for the cold winter months ahead? Do you have enough hay storage for each horse? To help stay warm, a horse will need to consume at least 2% of his bodyweight a day. That's 20+ pounds for a 1000 pound horse. Also, do you use a water trough deicer or heater? If you do, or are thinking of getting one, be sure to acclimate your horse to the foreign object in his trough before freezing temperatures arrive. The consumption of water increases during cold winter months, due to the increase in dry matter intake. You'll need to be sure he is drinking at least 15 gallons a day to help avoid impaction colic. Also, if you keep any medications or first-aid supplies in your barn, be sure to check the label and find out what is the safe temperature range for storage. Some will lose efficacy if they are allowed to get too hot, cold, or if they freeze.

Hoof health is important year round, not just during riding season. Be sure to keep your farrier on a schedule, even during the off months. Even though hooves grow more slowly when the daylight hours become shorter, they are still growing. Keeping them on a regular trim cycle will not only keep your farrier happy, it will also keep your horse's hooves balanced, which may help prevent soreness and hoof issues such as thrush and whiteline disease.  This will ensure your horse will be ready to ride when warmer weather arrives.Type your paragraph here.

With cooler temperatures right around the corner now's the time to get things in order for the cold winter months ahead.  Be sure water tank de-icers and heaters are in optimum working condition. Acclimate your horse to tank de-icers BEFORE freezing temps hit your area. Some horses are sensitive to the electrical current produced and may not want to drink, which can lead to colic. Unpack your winter blankets and be sure any snags or tears are repaired and any missing leg straps are replaced. Evaluate your horse's body condition and age and if their teeth have not been balanced yet this year, be sure to make that appointment ASAP! Be sure you have an adequate hay supply and your horse is on a good nutritional program.  Use the last warm days to clean and disinfect tack and saddle blankets/pads. Go through your medicine cabinet and bring in any medicines or topical solutions that may be harmed by freezing weather. By using these few tips, you and your horse can enjoy the winter months.

Did you know: Horses need to drink between 5-10 gallons of water per day to maintain health. Why are automatic waterers not a good idea? Because you have no way to know if your horse is getting enough water.  Knowing how much water your horse is drinking is a great indicator of how he/she is feeling.

"Where you release is what you teach." What does that mean for your horse? It means YOU are a horse trainer! Every time you are around your horse you're either teaching him what you want him to do or your teaching him how trainable you are!  Horses learn from the release of pressure, so let's say you approach your horse's head with your hand to pet him and he startles and pulls away. On instinct, you pull your hand away. You've just opened the door to teaching your horse to be head shy. "Bad" habits can be formed very quickly and quite often are taught indirectly by our own mistakes. Be aware of your horse all the time and be prepared to help him through issues no matter where they happen. It's your responsibility as a horse owner to be a kind, confident, and fair leader: ALL OF THE TIME.