Saturday, March 18, 2023

Horse Winter Care -- The Winter Blues

For most of us who find ourselves snowed-in or having our travel restricted, we can get what some call "Cabin Fever" from staying inside too long. What some folks call "Cabin Fever" is defined as "irritability, listlessness, and similar symptoms resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors during the winter." 

Well, believe it or not, being cooped up in a pen in a stable or a stall in a barn all day can have similar effects on horses. Some find the boredom and isolation the perfect time to fall into bad habits like wood chewing, stall circling, stall weaving, and other such things to show their frustration with being confined. 

Turning them out and getting them as much pasture time as possible will help reduce the chance of your horses starting such behavior. And while some say stall toys like plastic apples help out to break up their boredom, I found that my horse just ignored them when I tried hanging them in their stalls. 

As most of us know, horses like interaction with people and other animals. To me, the best thing that I can do to help my horses is to set them up with companion horses "that they get along with." 

That's the key phrase, "that they get along with." The last thing I want to do is for them to be next to a biter or a kicker. Especially one that I know they just don't get along with. I had that happen once back years ago when the folks who ran the place where I was boarding my horse actually put a biter in the next stall.

That mean son of a buck tried to bite the hide right off of my horse from over the rails. It would have if I hadn't had my horse blanketed. Instead of biting into my horse, it ripped a chunk out of my horse's blanket. 
So, with us knowing that that can happen, it's essential to address their need to be social by providing them with company "that they get along with." And by the way, that may mean using something other than another horse as a companion. As crazy as it might sound, I had a horse that couldn't get along with any of my other horses -- but it did like a huge goat that decided to make my place its home for a while. 

It was so big that it made my neighbor asked me if I was going to "strap a saddle" to it. And yes, I have to admit that it was a chunky goat. That goat served the purpose that winter. Sadly, I found out later that it was a runaway from a neighbor's herd. And though that goat wasn't around here for more than a single winter, that goat was around long enough to help that ornery horse settle down and not act so irritable about being inside instead of out.  

So, if you can't turn your horses out because of the weather, and you're looking for an alternative to getting them more pasture time, I've found that companionship works when it comes to helping your horses knock off some of the ill effects of being confined. So yes, just like us, good companionship with folks that we get along with works wonders when fighting the winter blues that come with being cooped inside so much. 

Tom Correa

1 comment:

  1. You'll have to excuse my pony. It's now spring and he's feeling a little horse. Haha.


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