If you live in a climate where the water is prone to freeze, check the water supply often and consider investing in a heated water device. Because a lack of hydration is a leading cause of colic in the winter and taking these simple measures could be a life saver.
Shelter is essential and if it is a run-in type rather than a stall, it must be of appropriate size for the number of horses that will be using it and take extra precautions for horses that have body clip and older horses to ensure they are protected from the elements. But before you run out to add additional layers on your healthy horse, consider this: horses develop body warmth through several processes, one being the act of digestion. Yep, horses are grazing animals and the simple process of digesting fiber will go a long way in generating the heat necessary for those long winter nights. So make sure to increase access to roughage by giving additional hay, especially in extreme weather, to help them stay warm naturally.
Exercise, there are two aspects to supporting the horse with exercise through the winter. The first being under-exercise. Lack of motion will inhibit the ability of the body to keep the tendons, ligaments and muscles healthy. Daily turnout and daily exercise when it’s safe to do so is a good idea to help keep these tissues pliable and ward off future injuries. This brings us to the second point, and that is over-exercise. Being inconsistent and/or riding an out of shape horse hard will do more damage than good. Try setting a goal of five minutes daily of just trotting on a lunge line because short, slow workouts at regular intervals will be better than one long hard work to maintain body condition.
Continue to groom regularly. Even once a week rather than just turning them out. You will be in a better position to monitor the body condition and will also be able to spot injuries or other issues sooner. Finally, you don’t want to create a situation that you are going to have to correct in the spring, so make sure to continue with regular hoof care!
That’s it. If you are consistent with these simple winter care essentials, you will have a much better chance of getting through the cold winter months with a happy and healthy horse that is ready for you in the spring.