Gateway Gazette

Horse Health Care: Does a Dirty Horse Stay Warmer During the Winter?

 

By Dr. Madalyn Ward, DVM

horse rolling in mudActually yes, under most conditions. For horses living in fairly natural conditions, such as those in living in pasture and exposed to the weather, being dirty actually helps them stay warm.

Ugly as it is, dirt forms a layer of insulation in your horse’s coat, keeping him warmer than if his coat was brushed totally clean. This is one of the reasons, among many, that horses in the wild take frequent “dirt baths.” So despite appearances, when it comes to horse health care in the winter, a dirty horse is a warm horse.

Of course, if your horse is living in a sheltered stall in a heated barn and wearing a blanket, feel free to brush his coat to a shiny gloss! With artificial sources of heat, your horse will feel plenty comfortable.

With winter storms hitting various parts of the country, keeping your horse warm is important. Other ways to keep him warm include but are not limited to:

– feeding hot mashes to raise his internal temperature
– adding more fiber (hay or beet pulp) to his feed
– ensuring he is getting enough calories for the temperature and his level of work

– check your horse for ulcers or other digestive issues
– making sure his teeth are regularly floated so he gets the most out of every bite

Of all the suggestions above, I find that adding more fiber to the diet is what most horse owners overlook when it comes to keeping their horses warm. It’s also one of the simplest solutions (since making hot bran mashes is impractical in many situations). The reason fiber is so warming is because it is digested in the horse’s large intestine, or hindgut, which generates a great deal of heat. In contrast, adding more grain to your horse’s diet might increase his calorie intake, but won’t necessarily go as far as hay or beet pulp in keeping him warm. This is because grain is digested in your horse’s small intestine, a process which isn’t as warming as digestion in the large intestine.

To learn more about horse health care in winter (and how to keep your horse toasty warm and happy), read the full article by clicking the link below. Plus, access these other articles relevant to horse health care in the winter:

For more holistic horsekeeping tips, tricks, and techniques, and to do some one-stop holistic horse supply shopping, click the links below, and enjoy!

Source: Holistic Horsekeeping

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  • Paulina , October 4, 2016 @ 7:06 am

    My ponies will splash water out of their water tub, make mud, and roll in it; but they only do this on really warm spring days when they still have a lot of their winter hair coat .

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