Autumn Horse Care Essentials to Know
Autumn is just around the corner, so now is the perfect time to begin thinking about important steps to keep your horse healthy and happy as the seasons begin to change in Central Kentucky.
Shelter your horse from the elements
Your horse has an amazing ability to adapt to colder autumn and winter temperatures.
As the days and nights here in the Bluegrass gradually cool down, a horse’s coat will naturally grow longer. The new hair in his coat stands up, creating tiny air pockets that insulate against the cold.
However, although your horse may sport a lush coat, its insulating capacity is eliminated if it becomes wet from rain or snow.
So, fall is the time to ensure your horse has adequate shelter from the elements. During the summer months, repairs on your barn and stalls may have been neglected in favor of enjoying warm, sunny days riding him.
Before the weather gets too cool here in Central Kentucky, tackle those repairs. Secure or replace loose boards, painting if needed. Repair frayed electrical wiring. Ensure feeding troughs and waterers are in good shape with no leaks.
Falling snow and 20-degree temperatures are not the best conditions to face these kinds of repairs on your horse’s shelter.
Consider if your horse needs a blanket for the chilly weather ahead. If so, select a good-quality one that’s waterproof. Be sure to remove it regularly to check his coat and skin.
Consider your horse’s nutritional needs
Nutrition is another important part of autumn horse care. In colder temperatures, your horse will require more available food to maintain his proper body weight.
In an interview given to The Horse, Karen E. Davison, PhD says, “Horses do better, winter and summer, on a high-quality, balanced diet of good-quality hay and a high-quality, fortified commercial feed.” We recommend Barley Blend 16 feed for the winter months.
However, if you’re planning to rely on winter pasture or lower quality grass hay for a primary feeding source, consider adding another protein source to your horse’s diet. Alfalfa or another grain will generally do the trick to provide him the additional protein he needs. We recommend Hardboot Select to provide additional calories during the winter months.
In addition, to ensure proper nutrition, a good-quality mineral supplement may also be required when relying on lower-quality forage. You can pick some Red Cell or Muscle-UP at our store or order online.
As always, ensure your horse has an adequate supply of clean water. An adult horse normally requires between five and ten gallons of water each day, depending on his diet. Bear in mind, the more hay he consumes, they more water he’ll require.
Vaccinations are vital to your horse’s good health
Your horse’s health depends on receiving vaccinations on a routine schedule.
Speaking with your veterinarian is a key first step to ensuring you keep him up to date on necessary vaccinations year around. So-called “core” horse vaccinations such as rabies and tetanus are particularly important.
Beyond these core vaccinations, you and your veterinarian should work together to development a vaccination schedule based on your horse’s age, his lifestyle, and his intended use.
Beginning In autumn you want to take steps to protect your horse’s respiratory system against viruses prevalent in cooler months. Influenza and rhinopneumonitis are two important vaccinations to administer to him.
Fall is also a good time to give boosters against West Nile virus and equine encephalomyelitis, two other core vaccinations.
Protect your horse against parasites
External horse parasites such as flies, mosquitoes, ticks, and lice can be a nuisance to your horse. However, internal parasites can wreak havoc on his health. They can cause gastrointestinal discomfort at the least, and internal ruptures and possibly death in worst case scenarios.
To protect your horse from parasites, administer a dewormer after the first heavy frost. Because of the potential to build up a resistance to dewormers, be sure to rotate deworming agents. Check out our dewormer rotation guide here, and order your supplies here.
Since parasites are often transferred through manure, keeping the barn and pasture clean will also go a long way toward eliminating them.
To sum it up
Putting in a little planning and effort to ensure proper autumn horse care will pay big dividends in keeping your horse happy and healthy.