I hear rumblings from some horse people that they think turning horses out on winter pasture is not good for the them. That they are cold and uncomfortable.
With a few protocols, of course.
They should be checked daily and frequently have their ribs and backbone felt, they should have fresh warm water, and they need shelter from the wind such as windboards, forest or sheds. They need to have some fat reserve heading into the winter and the pasture has to have adequate good quality grass. They need to have been exposed to the weather during the fall so they develop a good coat.
We like to let our horses run out on a half section of pasture and bush and swamp for the winter. We believe they are better off out on pasture for the winter.
They say this is expected to be a particularly harsh Canadian winter in this area. I thought I would try to write a few posts and share our experience. Last winter the adult horses didn’t require a single bale of hay. But last winter was one of the mildest ever in Alberta. A couple of years ago we were feeding the whole herd in mid October. Nobody can accurately predict weather in this part of Alberta.
Our herd consists of horses from babies to 25 years old including 3 pregnant mares and a boarder (Marco – see other posts). A weanling, a yearling, 2 2 year olds, a 3 year old, 2 old retirees from the broodmare band, and 2 saddle horses make up the rest. The weanling and yearling are living together in the paddocks here at home.
We don’t usually feed any supplements or grains. There are exceptions to this. We feed free choice mineral and salt.
Here’s hoping for another winter like the last one. It has been pretty darned nice so far.
What are your thoughts about winter horse husbandry? Anyone is welcome to comment. You don’t have to agree with me but you can’t bash. We are all interested in better ways to look after our horses.