Tips for Preparing Your Older Horse for Winter

With the cold weather almost upon us, we must take into account several important considerations for preparing and maintaining older horses throughout winter.
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Tips for Preparing Your Older Horse for Winter
Fall is here, which means it's time to prepare your aging equine (15 years or older) for the winter ahead. | Photo: Amanda A. Adams

Fall is here, which means it’s time to prepare your aging equine (15 years or older) for the winter ahead. Horses, like people, are typically faced with more challenges handling the cold weather as they age. Thus, preparing them ahead of time and providing proper care throughout winter is important.

With the cold weather almost upon us, we must take into account several important considerations for preparing and maintaining older horses throughout the cold season. Some of the most important points to consider include body condition and nutrition, vaccination status, parasite control, dental and hoof care, housing, exercise, and health monitoring.

Body Condition and Nutrition

Start by assessing your horse’s body condition score (BCS). Is he too thin, too fat, or just right? You must make the call now and feed appropriately to prepare for the winter months ahead. If you don’t feel comfortable in making this call, involve your veterinarian or nutritionist in body scoring your horse. Be sure to get your hands on him or her as well, because a growing winter coat can hide a lot. Horses at a BCS of 5 or greater will have some extra fat stores that can provide insulation during the winter months; but your horse should not be overweight for the breed, as insulin resistance (IR) could become a problem. If you are worried about IR, have your veterinarian perform an oral sugar test to determine if your horse is IR or simply check basal insulin levels for an indication of hyperinsulinemia

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