Brace yourselves, folks. Old Man Winter’s on his way again, and that means horsekeeping is about to get a good deal less pleasant. Between the snow, the ice, the mud, and the howling winds, you and your horse are going to have a lot to contend with.

 

Winter pasture
ANNE M. EBERHARDT

Many farmers place round bales of hay outside in paddocks for their horses’ use in winter, but there are some risks involved.

The good news is that horses are naturally well-equipped to weather practically everything that winter can dish out. They are far more tolerant of cold conditions than we poor hairless humans are; in fact, horses tend to be far more stressed by heat than by cold. Left to their own devices, almost all equines, even those originally from desert climes, will successfully acclimate to chilly weather, growing winter coats that are astonishingly efficient at helping them retain heat and shut out the damp. The density of this hair coat, and the direction in which the hair grows, provide a weather shield so complete that horses can stand in the middle of a storm until ice forms on their backs, without the skin ever becoming chilled.

The equine winter coat has a "pile" that traps an insula