Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Keeping Horses Warm During Winter Months – Part I, Shelters

Keeping Horses Warm During Winter Months – Part I, Shelters

In the chilly time of year it can be difficult to know if your horse is warm enough. Sometimes we like to bring them inside, blanket them up, and even put them in a heated barn.

Horses are actually pretty hardy and adaptable animals. Generally if a horse has good shelter they will be able to keep warm. Horses enjoy being outside – they only sleep about 4hrs a day! That means they want to spend most of their day walking around or playing outside.

Some tips for shelters:
 Make them spacious: each horse needs about 10ft by 10ft of space. Sometimes horses can share shelters with less than ideal space, but only if they really get a long and aren’t bullied to the outside.
 Make multiple shelters: usually there is a herd boss that will hog the shelter and leave at least a couple horses out in the cold. If you have a couple shelters in the field than the herd boss can’t hog them all. Even if you have one shelter, you can put a divider wall in the middle to force the herd boss to one side or the other.
 Block north winds: the coldest winds come from the north, shelters should always have a solid wall that will block the north winds.
 Inviting: the shelter needs to looking inviting for a horse to use it – spacious, bright, and with a wide opening.
 Watch the herd: after you have a shelter built, watch the herd during bad weather. Can they all fit in the shelter? Do you need more space, or do you need to move a horse out of the field that is blocking the others?
 Safe: make sure the shelter is safe with no nails or screws poking out. It is a good idea to have kick boards inside shelters too.

Your horse can be warm and happy outside – so take comfort in knowing that although you might be frozen and dreading the winter blues, your horse will cope just great with the right shelter.

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