Seasonal Care

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In general, domestic horses are very well-adapted to keeping themselves warm in cold climates. If they are permitted to grow a natural winter hair coat, and provided with free access to shelter, forage, and fresh water, healthy adult horses are usually able to regulate their body temperature quite comfortably.

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Common Conditions, Challenges and Pain Recognition - Keeping a horse comfortable into their senior years requires an attentive caretaker backed by a knowledgeable team. It is important to seek the input from your veterinarian and farrier to help maintain the health of an elderly equine and to spot conditions that will need special treatment sooner rather than later. Recognizing changes and not just dismissing them as “old age setting in” is a large part of the responsibility assumed when caring for the senior horse.

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“The stable environment invariably presents challenges of dust, mould and proper ventilation,” says Susan Raymond, instructor of Equine Guelph’s Management of the Equine Environment online course. “Most horses are well equipped for living outdoors and thrive, provided certain provisions are met.” Dr. Raymond completed her PhD in investigating the effects of exposure of horses to mycotoxins. She has also been involved in air quality research, which provided practical recommendations to the horse industry on stable design and management.

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Winter can make the most mundane tasks challenging. This reality is clearly illustrated when it comes to watering animals. For as long as man has worked alongside horses and livestock, there have been different watering methods and their seasonal variations.

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By Mark Andrews - It's not just horseback riders that cough and wheeze at this time of year. Respiratory problems are common in horses as well. Loss of performance may be the first sign that something is wrong. Mildly affected animals may cough occasionally when eating or when starting work. As the condition gets worse they may cough almost continuously.

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When the days start getting shorter, horse owners know that winter is just around the corner and it’s time to start thinking about winter feeding regimes. Feeding horses in virtually all parts of Canada during the winter months involves a need for increased energy intake because of cold temperatures and inclement weather. The amount of additional energy required by your horse will be even greater in extremely cold climates.

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Horses are more likely to suffer from laminitis in the fall than at any other time of year. Two reasons are the high NSC (non-structural carbohydrates) from cooler nighttime temperatures and increased blood ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) secretion from the pituitary gland. Both of these lead to elevated insulin.

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