Care for your horse in winter

Care for Your Horse During Winter

Do you know how to care for your horse during winter? As we head further into the long, cold Minnesota winter, you should have a plan to perform body condition scoring and weighing of your horse, so you can handle any potential issues early on.

Consider These Tips to Care for Your Horse During Winter: 

  1. Your horse needs more water 
    • Summer pastures contain 60-80% moisture and contribute to your horse’s water requirement
    • Hay contains less than 15% moisture; therefore, horses must drink more water to meet requirements
    • To encourage your horse to drink water, keep it around 45-55 degrees Fahrenheit and free of ice
  1. Adjust your horses feed in the winter
    • Increasing hay is a good way to increase caloric intake and help horses stay warm and happy
    • Digestion of fiber releases internal heat to warm the horse
    • Adjust grain rations to prevent weight loss due to the colder temps
  1. To blanket or not to blanket?
    • Horses develop natural winter coats that insulate their bodies by trapping warm air
    • Wet or muddy conditions can reduce the coats insulating value and increase hair loss
    • Horses should be blanketed if…
          • They fail to develop a natural, thick coat
          • No shelter is available during turnout
          • The temperature/windchill is below 5 degrees Fahrenheit
          • The horse is young or old
          • The horse is not acclimated to the cold
          • The horse is in a poor body condition score
  1. Exercise
    • Owners should keep their horse exercised
    • Confinement and limited exercise can lead to lower leg swelling (stocking-up)
    • Leaving a hot, sweaty horse in a cold barn can lead to illness
    • Trace clipping can help reduce the time necessary to cool down a horse during winter exercise

5. Hoof Care

    • Hooves tend to grow slower in the winter, but horse hoof trims should still take place every 6-12 weeks
    • Horses have better traction on snow and ice when left barefoot


Seasonal barn evaluations can be scheduled with Purina Specialist Leaha Lindsley. Please call her at (920) 615.6607 or email her at if you would like to set up a time to meet. Learn more about horse care at