The wet weather makes it a challenge to take care of ponies, donkeys and horses especially during the winter. Winter weather involves snowing, hard frosts and rain.
This means that if your ponies or horses are kept outside, then it means that they will require some extra support. There are various ways that the ponies, donkeys and horses support themselves as well as could get supported by their owners such as;
Ponies have evolved to cope with the winter weather much like Huskies. This means that they have become tougher and can withstand the harsh climatic conditions. In areas like Britain the ponies are small.
This way, they were able to survive even when they were considered wild animals. In areas like Bartmoor, New Forest and Exmore, they are however still considered as wild animals. If the ponies were big, they could have been easily killed by the harshly cold conditions.
The horses that are big require shelter and also food o that they can retain their energy reserves. Horses that are used to work require even more food with them having to be well sheltered, so that they do not lose their fat which helps not lose more weight.
Different types of horses are built to withstand their own climate. For example the Arab and Thoroughbreds can withstand the hot weather but cannot survive in the British winter season.
This is because they do not have grown thick winter coat or even store fat since they efficiently use energy. In the winter they may need extra food or even rugs to cope with the cold.
Protection against the Weather
The horses in cold areas tend to grow a thick fur coat and store up a fat layer during the Autumn season. This helps the body to not to lose heat but keep it in.
The thick coat has waterproof oil which protects the horse from getting wet. The waterproof oil bars the rain from soaking the horse. The hair growth direction further helps drain the water off the horse’s body.
Grooming of horses could lead to the loss of the oil in the coat and it’s best to wear gloves for this. The loss of oil could make the horse not beat the cold and even fail to provide a channel for the water to drain. There should be minimal grooming of the horse.
This should be done across the bridle and the saddle areas. A proper demonstration of how the horse coat works can be seen during the winter when a horse is under the snow.
The amount and intensity of rugs is determined by the work done by the horse, the age of the horse, the shelter of the field and definitely the breed of the horse. A working horse may need rugs to compensate for the lack of stored fat.
Too much rugging can be a problem also. A pony that can easily cope in the winter season should not be rugged. This is because it may become uncomfortable.
Overheating is not good since horses have a tendency of retaining heat efficiently hence hard to easily cool down unlike human beings. Rugs should also be checked sp that they can be hanged outside to dry in case sweating occurred.
The biggest concern is often in summer where people ensure that horses have enough to drink. Unknown to them, horses also need the same amount of care shown during the winter. This is because water is often frozen and can lead to horses not having water over a period of time.
Horses can drink a lot of water since they are feeding on hay thus there is need to break the ice in water troughs and constantly keep checking the troughs.
This is a recommendation that comes strongly for the horses that are often kept outside according to National Stables. A field shelter provides safety even against strong winds.
Regular cleaning should be done since bedding that is cleans makes the place more comfortable. Shelter should be accompanied by rugs and extra food during winter.
Donkeys tend to require better care during the winter than horses. The old ponies and horses as well. This is because they reach a place in their lives where they need some extra feed or even rugs just to get by.
Animals with conditions like arthritis or tooth problems may also have trouble adjusting to the cold seasons hence may require special care such as putting them in a shelter or giving them extra support.
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