Winter Care for your Senior Horse

woman petting brown horse representing Winter Care for your Senior Horse

As those who live in true winter geographies know, the cold weather can be brutal for any horse, let alone our aging companions. That is why it’s incredibly important to consider the special needs of your senior horse, as the temperatures drop.  

Blanketing: Protecting Senior Horses from Extreme Cold

Depending on the extremeness of your temperatures, blanketing your senior horse can be an important consideration of winter care. Try to remember to spread out and look over your blankets before the weather turns bitter cold, to ensure they are in good condition. 

Body Condition Score (BCS): Monitoring and Managing Weight Loss in Winter

It’s important to understand and evaluate your senior horse’s Body Condition Score before the winter months hit. But if you find yourself in the thick of winter with a senior horse that is rapidly losing weight, then speak to your veterinarian about the best options to add on pounds during the frigid months. 

Hydration is Key: Ensuring Adequate Water Intake for Senior Horses

The role water plays in the health of your horse is just as important during the cold of winter, as it is the heat of summer. Make sure there is adequate access to fresh water for your senior horse throughout the day. Not only can dehydration lead to impaction colic, but it can decrease feed intake, which is vital for your senior horse during the winter months.  

Stay Well-Supplied: Essential Items to Prepare for Winter Storms

Make sure you are prepared for the conditions, which includes sufficient amounts of feed and hay, medications, anti-ice materials, flashlights, light bulbs and other items you may need if a storm hits.  

Winter isn’t an easy season to endure with senior horses, but with planning and preparedness, you and your aging friend will weather the storm.  

Ready to ensure your horse is getting the optimum nutrition at feeding time, every time? Find the perfect feed formulated specifically for horse’s needs with our Feed Selector Tool.

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65 Replies to “Winter Care for your Senior Horse”

  1. Thank you for all the winter care tips for your horse. I really want to make sure that my horse stays well, but I don’t know what to do. That is good to know that I should blanket my horse if it gets too cold.

  2. Living in the notheast I am always concerned this time of year with water and fiber intake. So I add mineral salt to feed if not keeping a block out, and also add frozen 100% apple juice to water buckets. I keep a round bale in front of them and encourage them to walk around, providing shelter vs. being shut in a stall. I blanket my old guys anytime the temperature drops (or windchill) below 25 degrees. I find all of this really reduces/eliminates the chance for colic.

  3. Thanks for the advise. I try to make sure my horses have proper nutrition, water and shelter. I blanket on in wet / cold weather.

  4. My guys are both 28 and need blankets now if it’s wet windy and cold. They rarely did in the past. One gets cold easier than the other. My girls are 13 and 21. They show the good sense to go in their shelter in bad weather. The 13 year old is a draft 15’1 hh 1400 lbPercheron/QH who never seems to be bothered by the weather, or anything else.

  5. Caring for my senior horse is a commitment I gladly take. Nutrena makes it easier. He has given me 24 years. I will give him the best I can.

  6. The care tips are great. I have 4 seniors and these tips are extremely important especially blanketing.

  7. One other tip; make sure tolook under the blanket periodically during the winter to make sure body condition is looking good. I learned this lesson the hard way when my geldiong dropped considerable amount of weight one winter. I now pull blankets every couple days to check on how they are looking.

  8. Very helpful information! My first horse lived to be 35 years of age at 7000 ft , I hope my 15 year old is around for a very long time as well. So providing this information will help me plan for George and Buttercup’s future. I respond to the present conditions of my horses 🐎 to provide the best results in their condition at any given time. Safe care is a great way to personalize the needs of my horses.

  9. Very helpful information! My first horse lived to be 35 years of age at 7000 ft , I hope my 15 year old is around for a very long time as well. So providing this information will help me plan for George and Buttercup’s future. I respond to the present conditions of my horses 🐎 to provide the best results for their present condition at any given time. Safe care is a great way to personalize the needs of my horses.

  10. Thank you for all this information! My main goal is to always make sure my horses are in good health and well taken care of and this info really helped

  11. My oldest horse is 28 yrs and is still going strong. I blanket him when the low is <35. I find the information very informative since senior horses metabolisms are so different. Thank you

  12. My sr horse isn’t a big water drinker in cold weather, a mash of Safe Choice with extra water keeps him hydrated.

  13. Thanks for the winter care tips! We have several senior horses and feed Triumph Senior.

  14. Great information. My question always is: how cold does it have to be to blanket your horse? I blanket mine at 35 degrees.

  15. Thank you for the article. Could we have an article on additional vitamins needed during transition seasons too.

  16. It is great that you point out the importance of hydration. One of our mares had a minor colic due to constipation related to decreased drinking last winter. We make certain to keep water heated water buckets and stock tank heaters monitored at all times now. One pop of the GFI outlet and the water supply will quickly freeze!

  17. Thank you for the winter care tips!!! I Lao like use a water heater so that my horses have warm water to drink they the cold months! Mine seem to drink more if it’s warn.

  18. In South Texas we rarely blanket the horses in winter. I try to stick to “blanket if below 20degrees, actual temp or wind chill”. We always use waterproof blankets. Here in Texas, we have to look at tomorrow’s temp, which could easily be in the 60’s, and get theses blankets off before it’s too hot!

  19. I blanket only a few times a year but Nutrena always has great information on animal care and answers any feed questions I ask.

  20. Horses are naturally prepared for colder months by growing a thick healthy coat. However, they do need a shelter from those fridged winds that blow and bite! If they don’t have these shelters then it is wise to give them a light winter blanket depending on the temp I blanket my horses with a heavy weight blanket when the temps drop into the low teens to single digits but make sure those blankets come off when the temps rise up with the sun. Horses (at least one of ours will tell you. He gets grumpy if he’s too warm). Really paying attention to your horses needs and health is very important. In addition to keeping your horses healthy and happy in the winter they need to have water. If they don’t drink and it is very very cold they are susceptible to getting sick (colic). This is also true when temps are warm and then drop suddenly. In the late fall and early winter these are the times I worry most about the horses. I use 30 gallon barrels for water and only fill 1/2 to 3/4 full because of icing. Every feed time I check them for water levels and ice which I break up and scoop out with a small bucket so my horses aren’t drinking slushies😊. It seems a lot to do for my horses but they are my responsibility and I want them to have the best care I can give them. I would love to have a large barn and I have had the opportunity to board on many occasions which was wonderful. But nothing for me can compare to having my horses at my own home. It is the best for my soul and I believe for theirs. Interacting with them every day I get to know what they need.

  21. I blanket my girls when the temps drop down to 40 degrees and keeping dropping after that. I will also give them a little bit extra of their hay ration at night to help keep the internal heat close to normal on especially cold nights. I will also sprinkle a little salt on their hay to help them drink more water. I try to add hot water to their cold tank water daily to warm it up after a frigid night.
    I appreciate the tips you have listed as I can always use a “refresher” just in case I hadn’t thought of something useful to help my horses stay as healthy as possible through the winter months.

  22. The best thing that I ever did for my 3 senior horses was to switch to Pro Force Senior. I feed the same amount but within 2 weeks we could tell the difference in condition. Within a month their top-lines were improving. It is well worth a little extra over the other good forms of Senior Feed.

  23. I don’t have any horses, but my good friends do. I will be sure to show them the article on horse care, as I’m sure that it has tips that they are unaware of.

  24. Thank you for all the great suggestions. Winter water consumption has always been a concern. Having installed heated stock tanks has increased winter water consumption, which has increased hay consumption.

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