FIELD KEPT HORSES IN WINTER - Winter check list and rules

If you're keeping your horse out during winter there are a few on going checks youl need to make now - and a few rules you'll have to observe throughout the winter season.  

Horse kept Field kept horse in winter
Winter Checks
  1. Ensure your fencing is secure. If you're lucky you'll have thick, tall hedges, which provide shelter as well as a secure environment. Whatever type of fencing you have, check all round and make sure any dodgy areas, which could succumb to equine escapes, are repaired and strengthened.

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  2. Your horses should have some form of shelter - this could be provided by the natural lie of the land - but if you live, for example, in flat fenland, some form of field shelter is needed.

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  3. As the weather gets colder your water supply could freeze. Ensure you lag all visible pipes as much as possible - and ensure you have alternative means of transporting adequate supplies of water if you have a major problem.

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  4. If your horses aren't already freezemarked and/or microchipped then consider getting this done as an extra security measure.
  5. Think about general security for your field. Do you vary the times of your visits a little? Is the gate locked? Are the occupants of any neighbouring houses aware of your emergency contact numbers? If you were going to steal your horse, how would you do it? Think about this and then consider how you could guard against theft.
  6. If there were a problem with your horse would the neighbours or a local farmer know who to contact? Make sure they have your numbers or those of a reliable friend if you are away for any reason.
  7. Have you got somewhere in the field to safely store hay and feed supplies? If the weather turns against you, you may need ample supplies nearby in case you have to ask someone closer to the field to visit the horses for you.
  8. Is your gateway liable to become a horrible mess? Stoning the area as soon as possible should help prevent problems.
  9. If your horses wear rugs ensure you have enough so that if soaking rugs need to be replaced you are able to do so.

During Winter

  1. Ensure you know your horse's weight at the start of the season. Weigh check him regularly so that you can adjust his feed if he starts to lose or gain too much weight.
  2. You must ensure your horses are properly checked morning and evening - once a day is not enough. Ask local people to keep an eye on them for you as well and to contact you if they have any worries. If you can organize someone to do a midday check as well that would be really helpful.
  3. Check your horse's water supply is working every time you visit.
  4. Make sure you remove rugs regularly to check for rubs or possible injury sites that are hidden by rugs.
  5. Remember that there is no feed value to grass in winter so your horse will need ample, regular supplies of hay each day
  6. Make it a habit to check your fencing daily.
  7. Always pick out and check your horse's feet daily.
  8. Run your hands over your horse's body to check for any injuries, any signs of heat or pain.
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