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Frigid temperatures cause problems for horses and owners

Frigid temperatures cause problems for horses and owners

Plummeting temperatures in the wintertime cause a plethora of problems for horses and their owners. Willie King, of King’s Ranch in Richmond, complains that breaking ice and refilling water troughs is his primary issue. Waterlines and spigots freeze so King is forced to connect 4-5 garden hoses together to get water to the horses. He must be sure to wind them back up and take them inside the garage so they don’t freeze as well.

Horse’s hooves do not grow very fast in the winter and coming into contact with frozen ground can cause bruised soles; which can escalate into an abscess. Farrier Jose Voctorino says this is a major problem this time of year. He has seen a drastic increase in the amount of abscess cases. When the muddy divots in the pasture freeze into high spots the horse steps on them and bruises the sole of the foot. The bruise can become an abscess in a short time because the blood in the foot is not flowing as well as it does in the warmer seasons. To prevent this from happening, he places leather or plastic pads on the foot and then shoes the horse, protecting the sole.

Veterinarian Molly Metz, DVM says “Impaction is the foremost problem among horses in the winter”. In the summer a 1,000 lb horse on average drinks 25 gallons of water. In the winter, the same size horse may only drink 10-15 gallons of water. Because they don’t get as much fluid, the manure is dryer and can cause the horse to become slightly constipated. Some signs of impaction are: lying around, pawing, looking at their sides, or kicking at their belly. If you think your horse could be impacted, contact your local vet.

Horses that are left out in the elements without any sort of shelter or blanket can be more susceptible to frostbite. Pay close attention to their ears, where most frostbite occurs. While it is not life threatening usually, the horse may lose the tips of their ears because of the cold temperatures.

Last but not least, what do you do with the frozen manure?