Seasonal Care

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With today’s medical advances, research, and improved management, horses are living longer and longer lives. In the past, most horses were considered old when they reached their late teens. These days, it’s not uncommon for horses to live into their late 20s or even into their 30s, allowing us to spend plenty of quality time with our elder equine friends. Proper management is key to ensuring that the older horse is happy and comfortable throughout his golden years.

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For the horse owner, the onset of fall weather can signal the start of the search for storable forage before winter begins. Considerations such as forage type and storage form, nutritional content, palatability, and cost all become important.

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Horse owners have been wetting or soaking hay as a feed management practice for many years. Soaking hay for horses can be invaluable when feeding a hay that is a little dusty as a result of soil contamination or where it was stored in the barn. Horses that have allergies and are sensitive to the natural dust and particles in hay can benefit significantly from wetting or soaking hay.

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Is your farrier certified with the American Farrier’s Association (AFA)? Did he or she serve an extensive apprenticeship at the beginning of their career? Does your farrier pursue additional education?

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“The stable environment invariably presents challenges of dust, mould and proper ventilation,” says Susan Raymond, instructor of Equine Guelph’s Management of the Equine Environment online course. “Most horses are well equipped for living outdoors and thrive, provided certain provisions are met.” Dr. Raymond completed her PhD in investigating the effects of exposure of horses to mycotoxins. She has also been involved in air quality research, which provided practical recommendations to the horse industry on stable design and management.

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You’ve just returned from an invigorating winter’s ride, your horse enjoyed prancing through the powdery snow, and with the sun shining you didn’t notice the nip in the air. But now your sweaty horse is steaming and with the sun slipping behind the horizon, winter’s chill is fast returning….After a winter workout, a 10 to 15 minute walk will not only guard against muscle soreness, it is essential to allow the horse’s skin to dry. But one method does not fit all. Your winter cool-out regime will be different depending on a number of factors including whether your horse is clipped, blanketed or “au naturel”; whether he lives inside or outside; and the intensity of your workout.

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Winter can make the most mundane tasks challenging. This reality is clearly illustrated when it comes to watering animals. For as long as man has worked alongside horses and livestock, there have been different watering methods and their seasonal variations.

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