Do you notice a change in your horses temperament during winter? Considering what your horse is going through, and making adjustments to suit his or her needs can make for a much calmer and rewarding partnership this winter. Here are our top tips:
- Turnout – Not having any free time to let off steam can cause spooky and over excitable behaviour while riding. If your horse is becoming difficult to manage increasing turnout should be your number one priority.
- Forage and fibre should form the major part of your horse’s diet, and up to 100% of the diet if he is only in light work. Many horses don’t need large quantities of commercial horse feed, but make sure you are using a multi-vitamin like Think Complete to make sure he is getting everything he needs.
- Feed little and often. It is better for the gut and keeps them occupied. Dividing his hay ration so he has some when he comes in, and a final net later at night can be a great help.
- Routine – Horses like a routine and keep a very accurate body clock. Bringing in from the field and feeding at roughly the same time everyday makes for a relaxed and happy horse.
- Were you riding 6 days a week, and now the clocks have changed this has been cut to weekends only? Consider your horse’s fitness, you can’t blame him for being full of energy if he has suddenly had his work load cut.
- Hormones – Mares stop cycling during the winter months due to less daylight hours. Just like the spring when their hormones get going again, the autumn is a time for transition and it can take several weeks for their temperament and hormones to settle.
- Diet change – If your yard cancels all grass turnout overnight, consider the sudden change to your horse’s diet, which goes against one of the most important feed rules (make all changes to the diet gradually) What may have been a grass based diet, could suddenly become a hay or haylage based diet. The haylage may be richer than the autumn grass so you may need to cut his hard feed to compensate.
- Boredom – Some horses find it hard being stabled for long lengths of time. Try to keep him occupied by providing stable toys, different sources of forage, Licks, like HerbiLIX and using haynets with small holes.
- Feed a calmer – for a stressed or over excitable horse the worst thing you can do is reduce his exercise even more because you are nervous to ride him. Feed Think Calm, to help take the edge off and allow him to settle into his new routine.