Share on :
Seasonal changes strongly impact the physiology of pastured horses, especially in winter. Grass quality will deteriorate and quantities decrease. The drop in temperature (especially below 0°) will also impact the horse’s thermoregulation encouraging its metabolism to burn more energy (10% more on average) to maintain its body temperature. This loss needs to be compensated by adding more energy to your horse’s diet. It is therefore necessary to compensate for this loss with a higher energy intake in your horse’s meadow feed, S-250: Complementary feed for flaked mix fodder and S-200: Complementary feed for pelleted fodder, are the most suitable products.
Make sure your horse always has water available. When the temperature drops below 0°, water can freeze and therefore prevent it from having access to it. A pastured horse will not drink water that is too cold, so it may become dehydrated in winter. In addition, drinking water that is too cold can cause colic. The ideal would be to heat up the water during very cold winter spells.
In winter, your pastured horse will need good quality fodder (meadow hay, alfalfa hay, wrapping) as grass becomes more scarce. A horse weighing 500 kg requires about 10 kg per day. If your horse is not given a concentrated feed the rest of the year, you can gradually introduce it to keep it in condition. If you already give it concentrated feed, you can increase the amount slightly or switch to a feed with a higher fat content. If you only come to see your horse once a day, its meal should not exceed 4 or 5 litres, as a horse’s stomach has difficulty digesting large quantities. The ideal is to divide the ration into several meals. You can also give your horse mineral blocks enriched with vitamins to compensate for the deficiencies in the grass and fodder.
However, if your horse works less during the winter, it may not be necessary to change its ration as its energy expenditure will be less.
To compensate for the energy burned by your horse, you can help by rugging it as the winter coat is not always sufficient to keep warm. Depending on the weather, you can use different rug weights. If your horse continues to work during the winter, it may need to be clipped. It will sweat a lot at work with its winter coat in, and it could catch cold if you turn it out after it has sweated. Clipping is the best option if your horse works during the winter; however, you will need to use a riding rug during exercise and a winter turnout rug for the field to keep it warm. How do you clip a horse? The most common clip is the horse’s body leaving only the head and limbs unclipped. To avoid having to systematically use a riding rug, you can also leave the entire length of the back unclipped as a natural riding rug.