As winter approaches we are faced with a whole new set of challenges. Your horse will probably be stabled more and as well as maintaining their condition, they need to be entertained as well. Providing plenty of forage will encourage the horse’s natural feeding behaviour and keep it entertained. Your horse’s workload will probably change radically too. You might only have time to ride at the weekend, or this might be the season when they are in full work.
It’s important to go into winter with your horse in good condition as it is very easy for them to lose condition when the weather turns cold. For every degree the temperature falls below 0°C your horse will need an additional 1% of energy in their diet. It is the microbial fermentation of forages that produces the heat that will keep your horse warm through the cold snaps. That means feeding plenty of fibre.
Since in the winter the natural nutrients in pasture are depleted the protein, trace minerals and vitamins that the horse needs must be supplied, usually in the form of fortified concentrates. It is essential to feed the correct amount for your horse. If you feed less than the recommended amount your horse will be getting less nutrients than they need.
With the horse being on much drier feed through the winter, a plentiful supply of water is needed to compensate, but did you realise that if the water is too cold the horse will be reluctant to drink it and may become dehydrated which will increase the risk of impaction colic.