Horse Health in Winter: Shelter

How to make sure your pastured horse has adequate shelter during winter weather.

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Shelter
Protection from the elements is a basic tenet of animal care, and owning a horse is no exception. But what constitutes proper housing during the winter months? In many cases, adult horses in good health can tolerate winter weather with as little as a run-in shed in a pasture for protection against wind and wetness.

If your horse is pasture-kept during the winter, make sure the run-in has enough room to accommodate all horses in the field. Social dynamics within a herd can sometimes result in the lowest members on the social ladder being kicked out in the cold. When considering if your run-in is large enough to accommodate all the horses you plan to turn out, a general guideline is to have at least 50 square feet per horse.

Keeping your horse stabled during the winter has many advantages, such as less mud and slush, but remember that horses tolerate the cold much better than humans do. If your horse is barn-bound during the winter months, be sure there is enough air circulation indoors. This may mean leaving windows or aisle doors open. Dust from hay and bedding and ammonia fumes from urine can quickly turn a “cozy” barn into a respiratory hazard for your horse in the winter. If you don’t want the doors open at night, at least make sure there is abundant air circulation when you’re at the barn cleaning stalls and grooming.

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This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Horse Illustrated. Click here to subscribe!

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