Horses and freezing weather?
DH and I have decided we are definitely moving from Southern California to Wisconsin. I know it's going to be a big culture shock for me having lived in So Cal my whole life. DH grew up in WI and only came to CA when he joined the Marines, so he knows more about life there and can help me through that part.
We are taking our two horses with us, and I really could use some helpful suggestions for what to do with them when the weather turns cold and freezing in the frigid north! The master plan is to rent a house in town and board the horses for the first year, and then buy a house on some land (with hopefully a barn and some horse setup already there, but the area we are moving to isn't a horsey area so that might be hard to find). So I will have the security of a boarding barn to help me figure things out that first winter (and hopefully an indoor arena to ride in...something I probably won't have again for quite a while!). We are planning to move in June, so that gives me a few months to prepare.
What would you tell someone who has never lived in a cold climate about how to take care of horses in real winter conditions? My horses are older, early 20's, but both are still spry and in good condition, easy keepers, no health issues. My mare is a sensitive Thoroughbred type so I bet I will have to get her some heavy duty blankets. DH's gelding is a tough Standardbred who resembles a yak even in our 80-degree winter months so I think after the first winter he will probably adjust fine.
I think I know theoretically what to do (giving extra hay for warmth, making sure buckets are not frozen, etc.) I think I am more worried about how to know when it is safe or not safe to turnout, how to tell if the horse is cold and needs extra hay/blankets, and anything that I am completely and totally not thinking about that might be important to know.
Thanks for the help! I am excited about the move because my horses will be able to graze on green pastures for the first time in their lives. I think they deserve that kind of retirement. :)