Improving Body Condition After Winter

Every spring, we are inundated with a single question from horse owners: “My horse lost some weight over the winter, but I didn’t notice until he shed out his winter coat and I saw his ribs. What do I do now?”

Winter conditions, particularly in locations further north in the country, can definitely take a toll on horses. Bitter cold temperatures, biting winds, combined with the dampness of snow, sleet, and rain, can all cause the horse to require more energy than normal to maintain condition.  Cover the body with a fluffy winter coat, and perhaps a warm blanket, and head out to the barn a little less often to ride, and it’s easy to miss the early signs that the cold is causing problems.

So now your horse is in tough shape – what do you do to bring him back to condition safely?  Follow a few simple steps, and you’ll have him ready to ride in no time.

Once the horse has returned to proper condition, check your feeding program again, and adjust as necessary. A program designed to gain weight and condition, may be too rich for long term maintenance, unless the activity level of the horse offsets the calorie intake.

Finally, get out on the trails or the show circuit, and enjoy the ride!

3 Replies to “Improving Body Condition After Winter”

  1. what is the best and quickest way way to put weight back on after winter. my 16.2 thoroubred lost a lot of weight over the winter and i noticed when he shed out

    1. Hello Stephanie, Please take a few moments to re-read the steps listed above. Then, in evaluating your current feeding program, look to ensure you are feeding enough – and weigh out how much you are getting, to be sure of the amounts. If you are feeding within directions and it’s not working, look for a feed that is higher in fat than the one you are using now – to provide more calories. Also, push as much hay as you can at your horse, as that makes up the bulk of the diet.
      Thanks ~ Gina T.

  2. I recommend adding a handful of white salt to your feed to induce water intake. As the author stated horses prefer water in 50-65 range, and they will back off when the water temps fall. Increased hay consumption requires increased water consumption. Rule of thumb: 1/2 gal of water per lb of total feed intake (hay+feed)

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