Christopher C. Babcock, MD, DMD, is a dental practitioner in Louisville, Kentucky, with experience handling a range of surgical procedures. Residing in a rural area, Dr. Christopher C. “Chris” Babcock lives on a horse farm.
Horse owners must ensure that the animals remain comfortable and healthy during the cold winter months. A major consideration is water, with needs increasing as horses transition from a relatively moisture-laden outdoor diet to dry food, such as hay and grain. Adult horses in the 1,000-pound range should have access to at least 10 gallons of water each day. In sub-freezing temperatures, owners should limit horses’ access to ice-cold water and provide them unlimited access to ice-free water at least once a day.
Even during the coldest winter, most horses do not require stabling in a barn. As long as there is some level of protection from the elements, such as a shed or dense forest cover, the horses should be fine. Those kept outside will grow thicker coats of hair, which can impact their ability to cool quickly after exercise. If horses are outside in wet or windy conditions, owners should watch for shivering, even if the horses are blanketed, and move them inside.