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TNT

Cold Weather Care

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Hi,

 

We are new miniature horse owners. Do you have any advice about cold/snowy weather care?

 

Thanks!

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That's a pretty general question. Is there anything in particular you want to know?

The only thing I can think of off the top of my head: make sure they are drinking (some don't drink enough when the water is too cold); when the temps drop increase hay to help them stay warm (the digestion of hay/fiber creates heat and helps warm them); be sure to feel them (topline and ribs) to make sure they are holding their weight (winter woolies make it difficult to see weight loss or even gain, they tend to look chubby in winter due to all the hair); guess that's all I can think of at the moment.

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I always provide warm water. They don't like cold water in the winter and they need to keep drinking to keep from colicing so warm water here is a key factor in winter care. I also offer soaked beet pulp in warm water daily also in addition to their two feedings a day. Good quality grass hay is a must and last but not least, shelter, shelter, shelter, out of the winds and to keep them dry.

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Since feed and water have been discussed already, I'll provide my opinion about being outside in the cold,,, As long as they're healthy and have a good thick furry haircoat, they can certainly be outside in cold weather. Don't blanket them unless they're old and/or have a poor haircoat or are clipped. A three sided shed or other windbreak is a benefit (really, a necessity) to provide some respite where they can get out of the rain or wind. Since coyotes are a problem in our area, we put our horses in the barn overnight and back outside during the day.

 

Because I work and he's retired, my hubby often feeds our horses for me and - bless his heart - he leaves them in their stalls during the day if the weather is bad (blowing snow, cold rain, wind chill in the teens). I'd put them out, at least for a few hours, but since he often cleans stalls, too, I'm certainly not going to complain!

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I live at 9000 ft in the mountains with 8 minis. Everyone so far has great information. Mine do great in the cold but I due lock them up at night only to keep them out of reach of lions, bears and coyotes. If it wasn’t for the extra predators around my house then I would just let them have access to a barn/windbreak. I don’t think any of us could stress enough to make sure you feel your minis because they may look fat with their winter coats but this can be deceiving.

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Can definetly attest to the fact of FEELING your mini's reguraly. I just got in a rescue who appears to be of healthy weight - until you touch her. Spine, Hips, Shoulders, Sternum are ALL easily felt and pronounced. Her winter woolies though give her a nice rounded, "plump" look... If you didnt touch her, you'd think she was on the plus side.

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Lots of great information here already, especially on the blog, but one thing I didn't see mentioned was ICE! We often get ice where we are, and it is difficult for people and minis to walk on. We put down used bedding (with the poop removed), which for us is broken down pellets/sawdust, to cover any ice. Used kitty litter or fireplace ashes might also work, but we know the bedding is safe. We start stockpiling it about now, either in piles or containers. We let the minis make their own paths through the snow, which they do quite well with the snow depths we usually have around here.

 

Most of our minis have heated buckets in their stalls or heated tubs in their runs but for those we don't trust with electrical cords, we make insulated buckets by putting different sized buckets, one inside the other, with insulation in between. If needed, we use a regular carabiner to hang it. We also will add very warm water to top off buckets at bedtime. This gives them warm water to drink and keeps the insulated buckets from freezing.

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Thanks for all the helpful answers. We keep them in a small barn at night and they have heated water buckets and plenty of hay. They seemed to love the last snow fall.

 

Have a Merry Christmas!

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