Horse owners affected by snowstorm in Midwest and East Coast
Just curious with the excess amounts of snow, ice, etc. and some of you without power perhaps? What do you do about your horses? Are they in (box stalls, run-ins) or out, all blanketed, feeding schedules, watering, etc.?
Special things that you have to be aware of in this type of weather?
We have our own farm with 8 horses and have recently had some cold & funky (for us in Cal. at least) weather and my horses are brought inside (have barn with box stalls and mare motel that is partially covered) during inclement weather (no shelters in pastures), blanketed and get daily beet pulp (sometimes with each feeding during xtreme cold (20s - 30s). I apologize for my ignorance in advance, but I've never lived in an area that regulary gets snow and especially what you all are getting now. Any info. is appreciated.
My girl lives outside 24/7 and has a nice lean-to off the barn for shelter. The auto-waterer is heated so it hopefully doesn't freeze shut but is checked regularly by the barn staff and they throw extra "busy" hay to keep everyone eating and warm all night. Because the mare is delicate little flower (cough, cough) she has on a poofy stable blanket under a heavyweight Weathabeeta with a high neck. This seems to be seeing her through the -15 nights sufficiently. When I went to see her Saturday it was +18 but snowing pretty good. She had an inch piled up on her back -- good thing the blanket is waterproof! I'm hoping it doesn't last too much longer...
Winters here are long and cold and snowy but only occasional what I'd call brutal.
Yesterday was BRUTAL. High winds, below-zero wind chills and huge amounts of snow. It was a white-out all day--you couldn't even see the barn that's 600 feet away.
My horses are out 24/7 with a big shed roof over one long side of my barn, and they also have a patch of very thick brush near the pasture fence that is an ideal windbreak. Usually I lock the stall doors during the day, keeping them outside, and open the stalls at night so they can go in and out as they please. They get lots of hay during this weather and the old mare wears a medium-heavy winter blanket while the pony is naked. My young horse is away at the trainer's (3 whole miles) and they have round bales and she has a heavy blanket and is inside at night.
Yesterday I left the stalls open all day because it was SO bad, and even fed hay inside (for like the 3rd time EVER since I've lived here) because they were so unhappy about the howling wind. All's "normal" today--16 degrees, deep snow, normal wind. Back outside they went, perfectly happy to do so as long as the hay pile was large.
I have an automatic waterer that's heated and this year I cranked up the heat to "six" instead of "four". That thing is AWESOME. Only a tiny rim of ice on one edge of the water this morning in spite of yesterday's hellish conditions.
20s and 30s might be extreme for you, and for horses that are unaccustomed to harsh weather, but Nature has made horses perfectly adaptable, and they are by design cold-weather critters. Plenty of forage and water and shelter from the worst of it is all they require, with blanketing if they need it. Mine love the snow and only object to the violent wind and wet.
... during inclement weather (no shelters in pastures), blanketed and get daily beet pulp (sometimes with each feeding during xtreme cold (20s - 30s).
Oh how funny. You think of 20s and 30s as inclement weather. That's a heat wave baby!! It's -4 here today with wind chills of -35. It's just loffly.
I'm a huge fan of warm mashes in this weather. Keeps the plumbing going and makes the horses think they are "special". I know a lot of people are not big on "round bales" but they are a must in the cold winters. It keeps the ponies munching and gives them extra forage for keeping warm. My pasture critter gets a home-grown grass/alfalfa round bale to keep him happy. Heated tanks are a must right now.
I usually just curse a lot and it gets me through winter.
Windward Farm, Washougal, WA- our work in progress, our money pit, our home!
It's all relative. What seems balmy and wonderful to some, is, honestly, brutal weather for others. What we have here in the SW WA/PDX area is very harsh for us. My guys are locked in for the 3rd day, due to blowing snow, 15 degree temps, and deep drifts, combined with ice--not risking their legs for a bit of turn out.
I have heated buckets--no more hauling water from the house, as long as the power stays on. I feed extra grass hay, to keep the "internal stove" going for them. Blankets on, and extra soupy beet pulp on very cold nights.
If yours have good coats, no need to blanket more. Feel up under their blankets: if they are warm, they are fine. Cold? Shivery? more blankets are called for. If they are body clipped, like my show hunter at my trainer's barn, then he does get double blankets, but Sergio turns them out in all but the worst weather, for at least some of the day.
Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!
Any special care for horse's feet - especially the ones that live outside? For us, when we do actually get rain, I try to keep their feet cleaned out with mud, as winter and early spring generally brings more potential for abcesses.
Yes, 20's & 30's are cold for us, but keep in mind that just a few weeks ago we had 60's - 70's. Inclement weather for me is very low temps or very high temps (100's during summer), but mostly heavy rain (which I mostly bring them "inside" until pastures drain a bit, as I don't want anyone kicking up there heels too much and getting hurt - especially the younger ones.
My horses are all barefoot in the winter and I almost never need to pick out their feet or do anything to them. The only abscess I've ever had was the first year my old mare went barefoot for the winter--she did get an abscess when the ground froze, probably on top of a sole bruise. She's toughened up and has done fine ever since.
Any special care for horse's feet - especially the ones that live outside?
My guy is barefoot and I still do the regular check of his feet to look for cracks, clean them out and try to get them DRY enough to apply Keratex. It's an EXCELLENT way to keep the hooves from softening with all the wet and mud.
Mine have box stalls but are used to 8-9 hrs outside so I make sure they have lots of things to occupy them in their stalls since walking out to the fields is the walk of death. 2 are clipped so wear as many blankets as they need and the others are non-riding horses so are just wooly mammoths.
Most important IMO is making sure they are drinking and the water isn't frozen. Warm meals make them happy too!
When I have power I have heated buckets in the stalls and a sinking de-icer in the trough outside.
Horses are nekkid in all their Wooly Glory unless we get temps below zero, a lot of wet snow and/or sleet/icy rain - then they get waterproof turnouts until it dries up or temps get back to the teens.
They have free access to their stalls 24/7/365 and chose Out over In until the winds hit 30mph and it was -3 this last weekend.
Then they doubled up in one stall and glared at me like the weather was my fault.
I keep hay in front of them as much as possible (I work), tossing some flakes outside for them to "graze" and occasionally mix up a hot mash in a slowcooker that lives in the barn for their dinner.
When the power went out I had to buy bottled water and boil that on my gas stove so I could de-ice the buckets & trough.
Their feet take care of themsleves with regular trims (every 8 weeks in Winter). I just make sure snow isn't balling up in their hooves if it's wet "packing" snow.
Mostly I tell myself Winter will end just like it does every year and soon I will be complaining about horses shedding
*friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon: Steppin' Out 1988-2004 Hey Vern! 1982-2009 Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
Winter care can be a royal pain! I have a heated trough, which helps, but I still haul water fro stall buckets. Since my old girl's passing( Dec 4) things are a bit easier, to a point. The big girl has teh goats for company most of the time. I can leave her stall open at night now and feed hay for everyone in there. In bad weather I try to get the goats in the vacant stall and lock them in so the horse can see them from her stall next to it. She'd stand out in the rain/snow near their area rather than be sheltered, so she could watch them. She has a good, thick coat, but I do put a rain sheet on her if the weather is stormy. As others have said, they'd rather stand in the wet , than come in and it makes ME feel better. She's able to come and go as she pleases most nights. I wasn't able to do that before, because the big girl was a bully and the little old lady felt much happier in at night. Couldn't leave stalls open then. Big girl has pop outs and borium in front and is barefoot behind. She does very well. I keep throwing hay at them while the ground is snow covered and everyone seems content. Today is very windy, so the wind chill is way down there, but the air temp is in the 40s-- and most of the snow here went during the night!
Only thing I do different in winter is feed them round bales our horses are outside 24/7 year round even at -35 if the power should go out we drill a hole in the ice on stock ponds couple times a day so they can drink.