Colder days have filled our calendars and your horses are feeling the drop in temperatures. Are you ready to take care of their winter coat maintenance needs?
Are there giant fuzzballs running in your pastures and blowing through your barn? Winter has arrived! Now is the time to learn more on how to manage your horse’s unruly winter coat with simple methods and refresh your ideas on grooming in general so the winter season will be enjoyed by all. `
After surviving the blazing heat of summer, it is refreshing to ride in the cool fall and winter temperatures. While in the saddle we are thankful for the cooler season, but grooming our horses before and after can be one hairy experience that no lint roller would dare clean up. Our horses naturally grow fuzzy winter coats to keep them warm during the cold season. Many problems present themselves with the extra fur, such as sweat and dirt becoming easily packed in the thick winter coats of our horses. If this occurs, trapped bacteria invades our horses’ skin leading to conditions such as fungi, bacteria and mites. No horse owner wants this to happen, so here are the best methods to maintain your horse’s winter coat.
- Clip Your Horse
When you clip your horse, you trim off all its excess fur to make for easier grooming. Remember that winter coats are your horse’s natural response to the cold temperature so if you choose to clip, increase their hay and fiber intake to help him generate more natural heat.
Clipping your horse has its pros and cons. The pros would be that you have less hair to deal with so there’s an easier release of the dirt and sweat that is trapped in their coats. A con would be that blanketing becomes a must to provide more warmth for your horse. Not every horse will need to be clipped. Usually those that do not have an extensive, regular workout have coats that are maintained with simple grooming steps.
If you decide not to clip your horse, then befriend your curry comb. Using your curry comb will help loosen whatever dirt could be trapped in the thick winter coat. While you are combing through your horse’s coat, take time to search for any possible scabs that could be hidden by the tangles of fur. Also, using silicone spray will help make the knotty hair easier to brush through. Manes and tails tend to get tangled as well during the chilly season. To prevent hairballs from forming on your horse’s locks use a wide toothed comb to rake through the knots, then braid or bag the hair.
- Bathtime Musts
The cold makes grooming with water a challenge. In general, most horse owner want to avoid baths because the dense winter coats that horses develop will lock in more moisture and take forever to dry. After a hard-working day, however, your horse may need to be curried off or lightly rinsed off to relieve its skin of the surplus sweat. Instead of using a hose to complete this step, try rubbing down your horse with a damp cloth to minimize the amount of water their coats retain. This will not only clean the horse, but also cool it off after a tough ride. Towel dry the damp fur afterward to soak up any remaining moisture.
Keep in mind that spot cleanings are often sufficient for winter coat maintenance. You know your horse best so take their activity and cleanliness level into account when you make these decisions.
- Indoor Grooming
The techniques mentioned above will make the winter days much more manageable, but one of the best choices you can make is to build a grooming station in your barn. The benefits surrounding this type of stall are vast. In a smaller barn, it will double and provide plenty of extra storage and organization all through the year. For the cooler seasons when being outdoors feels unbearable, having a grooming station will keep your horse and you out of the elements. A major pro of owning a grooming stall during winter is that you can control the water temperature despite the season. Winter coats can be kept clean by a thorough washdown with warm water. And your tack and brushes will need to be cleaned too. Grooming stalls can have large tubs where cleansing tack and supplies is tidy. Grooming becomes an ease with these stalls because they offer ample space and controlled environment for working with your horse. They are also completely customizable if you prefer more storage, extra room, or accommodations for veterinarians in the same space.Winter causes us to crave warm food and cozy memories. Your horse has natural responses to winter as well. Keep their comfort and welfare in mind when you make wintertime adjustments to feeding, grooming and such.
- Hoof Health Cold weather hoof health is not part of winter coat maintenance but it’s worth a mention as it’s so important to the well being of your horse. According to Horse & Rider, we need to realize that mud/manure-packed hooves provide the ideal environment for thrush. They recommend you clean your horse’s feet daily. And once or twice a week, apply a commercial thrush product, such as Thrushbuster or Kopertox, as a preventive measure.
Winter causes us to crave warm food and cozy memories. Your horse has natural responses to winter as well. Keep their comfort and welfare in mind when you make wintertime adjustments to feeding, grooming and such. Clipping is a great idea but does involve some extra steps such as blanketing to upkeep it. A curry comb will help detangle and free loose dirt or fur from a horse’s thick coat. The best place to give your horse the grooming experience it deserves is a grooming stall that helps organize and clean up supplies while staying out of the cold.
The development of a bushy winter coat should be watched with a smile and an appreciation of Mother Nature working her magic. With our advice, you don’t need to fret over the sudden surge of fur that covers both you and your horse. So enjoy your holiday season with your horse without any worries about keeping a crazy winter coat under control!
What extra measures do you practice for winter coat maintenance? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!