Winters Coming… Top 10 Tips for your Horse.
1.Weigh check before going into winter, this will help you keep an eye on a hard keeper or older horse.
2.Forage forage and more forage, your horse should have access to continuous forage 24/7. If this seems like too much trouble, try using slow feeders. These can be purchased or homemade a web search will give you some innovative ideas. Remember horses burn calories to stay warm hay/forage helps support an increase in body temperature far greater than grain. 1-2% of horse’s body weight should be feed in forage.
3.Don’t shock the digestive with feed changes, introduce a probiotic for all feed changes- grass to hay, hay to grass.
4.Winter pasture and dried hay will be lacking in essential fatty acids and vitamin E so adding these to your winter feeding programme should be a must. Some wholefood sources of EFA include chia seeds 1-2oz daily per horse, EFA are vital for the immune system to function correctly. Wholefoods sources of vitamin E are wheatgrass fodder, whole soaked/sprouted oats, whole soaked almonds.
5.During the winter months most horses have a decrease of antioxidants and live enzymes in their diet, by incorporating sprouted seeds you can cheaply & easily keep antioxidants and enzymes toped up. For more information on sprouting for your horse go to my blog at www.equineherbalist.ie.
6.Free choice salt can be left in a dry area for horses to consume what they need not what you think they need. This will help stimulate a drinking response and keep your horse hydrated over the winter. Personally I like to use celery which I chop & add to the daily feed, or free choice Himalayan salt or sea salt do your own research on the salt you use. On the topic of hydration heated water buckets can be purchased and simple steps like insulating water trough may help.
7.Before you reach for the oil as a fat source remember most oils including soya, canola, and corn are cheap GMO sludge -extracted with hexane (neurotoxin) and high in inflammatory factors so quality matters. Good sources of fat include grass, seeds, soaked nuts, coconut meal and cold pressed oils like hemp.
8.Try to maintain exercise over the winter which is good for circulation & joints. If exercise is limited you can add wholefoods and herbs for circulation, warming food include ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, turmeric, yeasts, soaked almonds and spirulina. For joint health over the winter use chia seeds, turmeric, msm, nettle powder or tea, rosehips, plenty of options for herbal pain relief if needed.
9.Blanket or not to blanket- that’s up to you. (Inspect hooves and body on a regular basis).
10.Now is the time to stock up on things that you’ll need over the winter months check your first aid box and replenish stock. why not make a winter tonic now. Recipe- raw apple cider vinegar, large glass jar with lid to this you can add herbs of your choice but try to include at least two herbs from my list into your mix - elderberry, rosehip, thyme, garlic, fenugreek seed, ginger, peppermint, honeysuckle flowers. This needs to steep for 6-8 weeks then strain the herbs from the liquid, bottle the liquid & label it use 10 ml at onset of symptoms.