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Tips for Keeping Trail Horses Happy and Healthy

Tips for Keeping Trail Horses Happy and Healthy

As the busy riding season comes to a close and the cold winter season begins, you may find yourself looking for the best ways to keep your trailblazing equine companions happy. Wyoming and Idaho have some of the best riding trails in the West, and you’ll need to keep your horses healthy for next year. These tips for keeping trail horses happy and healthy will keep your ranch working like clockwork whether it’s offseason or during the typical riding season.

Regular Exercise

If conditions on the trail are too dangerous for riding, you’ll still need to exercise your horses daily. Keep them close to the barn and don’t try to scale any dangerous terrain. Icy trails can make a standard trek turn into a hazardous one. Always be on the lookout for ice buildup in your horses’ hooves, as leaving ice and rocks caked inside can lead to permanent hoof damage and injury. Remember to keep your horse as dry as possible after exercise, as excess sweat or moisture can cause them to get sick in the cold. Your horses naturally grow a winter coat, but during extreme cold, a blanket might be necessary.

Watch Their Weight

You can’t keep your horse on the same diet all year round. It can be difficult finding the perfect balance of food, water, and exercise, especially during the winter where they may not be exercising as much. They still need the calories, however, to stay healthy and warm. Your horse may gain weight or lose weight during the harder winter months. Equine obesity can lead to health issues like laminitis. As soon as you notice an overweight horse, consider changing their diet in a way that won’t stress them out.

For an underweight horse, make sure to watch them eat and monitor their water consumption. Water is an essential part of their digestive system, and a dehydrated horse can develop impaction colic easily. If you notice your horse is avoiding icy water, consider getting a heated water container for them.

Give Your Horse a Care Check-Up

While it’s the offseason, one of the most important tips for keeping trail horses happy and healthy is to get your horses checked by a veterinarian. Horses, like any animal, need check-ups from a veterinarian yearly. Even if you don’t see anything wrong on the outside, the vet can check for seemingly invisible ailments that you would otherwise miss. Getting a check-up ensures that nothing will go wrong on the trail and that preventable equine health concerns can be treated as soon as possible.