HAY for WARMTH by Ruthann Smith


 Horses’ natural furnace is their digestive system.  Designed to forage day and night, keeping hay in front of them is one way to keep horses toasty, healthy… and happy.  


TYPE   The idea is to keep their system churning to generate heat, among other health benefits.  If they normally eat rich hay, such as alfalfa, don’t increase that.  Add in less nutrient-dense hay.  The goal is not to tax, but simply to keep the digestive system rolling.  



Hay under water promotes dunking, thereby increasing water intake.  That’s key for preventing colic.  So, make a habit of placing hay under water.  Clean that area daily, so spilled water and hay do not grow things.

If the horse has a hay rack or net in the back of the stall, hang a bucket of water there to encourage drinking.

You always want to have water on the wall facing the aisle as well.  Horse typically hang out looking onto the aisle, so you always want water handy there.



Shaking out hay helps you assess if it is moldy, dusty or even hides dead animals from the hay fields.  A bite of bad hay can cause colic.  So look at your hay.   If it feels extra heavy, it’s probably moldy.  Pay mind to keep horses safe and sound.


If weight management is an issue for your horse, more food hay seem counter intuitive.  There are sound options.  Soaking hay lowers carbs as well as increasing water intake, which is always a plus.  Soak hay long enough to expand/absorb water.   Emptying excess water rises away carbs.  Frozen hay is not inviting.   If that’s an issue, perhaps use warm water and hay throughout day.   Or, a Grazing Muzzle can keep equines eating, albeit slowly.  



You want them to keep drinking to as well as munching.  Two buckets of water in stalls is recommended.  Top them off at least a few times a day.  If hay is under the water, they usually use one for dunking and the other stays cleaner.   

Heavy or not, emptying buckets daily is pivotal to your horse’s comfort and health.  Wipe and dump them every day, so water stays fresh and enticing.  Once a week, scrub buckets with a brush and soap.  



Keeping hay in front of horses helps keep them warm.  May your beastie be comfy all winter long!

MORE #WinterGrooming TIPS: Dressing For Bed and Blanket Rules.

Special thanks to Martha Briseno for the photos.  I can always count on her having well manged horses handy, as well as taking the time to share #soundhorsemanship!

#horsecare #wintergrooming #healthyhorses #staywarm

Ruthann Smith
Ruthann Smith


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