Winter Weight Loss

Horses instinctively know when they need extra calories to increase body temperature and maintain weight. Journal photo Horses instinctively know when they need extra calories to increase body temperature and maintain weight. Journal photo

February 22, 2018

Winter Weight Loss

Keep your horse at a healthy weight during the cold months.
By Dr. Thomas R. Lenz

Temperatures between 15 and 60 degrees F are considered energy neutral for horses. This means that within that temperature range, horses don’t require extra energy or calories to stay warm or cool. However, this assumes that the wind is not blowing and the horse’s hair coat is not wet, because both conditions increase the horse’s caloric needs.
Is your horse's health important to you? AQHA's "Your Horse's Health" DVD gives trusted and practical advice on how to keep your horse at his best.
Winter Goals 

When it’s cold, focus on providing plenty of long-stemmed hay, preferably free choice. Unlike grains, additional hay can quickly be added to a horse’s diet without risk of colic or founder.
Winter isn't the only time of year your horse needs to be fed carefully. Learn more about your horse's dietary needs and other important facts about your horse's health from AQHA's "Your Horse's Health" DVD.
An idle horse in comfortable weather will consume roughly 3 percent of his body weight in feed every day, and at least half of that should be forage.

Toward winter’s end, give your horses a thorough going-over to make sure that the cold winter months have not taken a toll on body condition. Pay particular attention to very old or young horses.

To read more about keeping your horse at a healthy weight, go to AQHA Daily.