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Are Horses Ok In The Snow

author
Bob Roberts
• Sunday, 22 November, 2020
• 8 min read

Answer: Horses are much better adapted to the cold weather than we give them credit for. They grow an excellent winter coat that insulates them and keeps them warm and dry down to the skin.

snow horse horses wet sad disasters keep safe during natural brown winter pretty hit
(Source: thehorseaholic.com)

Contents

Horses are healthier if given plenty of outdoor time which allows them to adjust to the temperatures and helps them breathe fresh air (read my article about fresh air). In the fall they put on extra weight, so they have fat reserves to burn to keep warm in the winter.

This is the reason our domestic horses (dogs, cats and humans, too) always seem to get fat in the fall. In winter the main food available is roughage, dead or dormant grasses and weeds.

In nature, horses stay warm by moving around, since they often have to travel to get unfrozen water, and we all know how much exercise keeps us warm--just clean your barn and sweep your aisle to find out. Most have plenty of hay to keep them warm on a cold day and most have shelter from the wind and rain (either in the woods, shed or barn).

It is good to give them more hay on a cold night, or at least the choice to eat more. But if your horse is in and the barn is closed up and it's 40 degrees inside, he does not need extra hay.

His body heat is not escaping; if his fur did not work the snow would melt immediately. The blanketed horse has the same amount of unrelated snow on his back as the blanketed one.

horses snow winter harrah ok
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

Eventually since the horse is warmer than the frozen ground the snow will melt on both of them. The problem we humans have when we pat our horses in the winter is that they feel cold to touch, but this is because their fur has insulted them and is keeping all the warmth next to the skin.

Horses can have icicles hanging off their fur and be perfectly warm underneath. In nature those old horses would have been eaten by a mountain lion, so they would not need a blanket.

Horses who have been sick, are too thin, have been rescued or have any other health problems may need blankets. You can stick your hand under the blanket and if it is toasty and warm, it is heavy enough for the weather.

Please do not get a great fitting outer blanket and add an old-fashioned design sheet underneath. The sheet does not add much warmth, and it usually rubs the shoulders and causes a lot of pain.

If you choose to blanket and start early in the season you will need to keep it up, since the horse will adapt to wearing it, and his temperature regulation will be accustomed to it. A vet friend of mine visiting early one December from Vermont remarked that the horses she saw in Virginia had many more layers of blankets on in December than her clients' horses had on in Vermont in January.

horses some snow deviantart
(Source: www.deviantart.com)

Vermont's owners are accustomed to the cold, so they expect their horses to be adapted as they are. Horses who are cold tend to huddle up in a sheltered place and may not be willing to go out into the pasture area even to eat hay to keep warm.

Horses really appreciate some sort of shelter on those wet days, so they can dry off a bit and get warm. Sweat adds moisture from the skin out, which means the dry fluffy fur cannot work.

Heavy winter coats do not dry easily, since the fur is very dense and is designed to not let water penetrate (so that the horse can stay warm when it is raining). Since many of our high quality blankets do breathe and allow water vapor to pass through them, it is possible to put a blanket on a horse who is well cooled out but still a bit damp and let him dry underneath it.

Some horses, especially those with a partial clip, will sweat anyway under a blanket if not totally cool and dry. There is no perfect answer, but unclipped horses can end up with rain rot and skin infections when they sweat for hours and do not properly dry out.

There are some weather conditions in the far north where the freezing makes it very uncomfortable for man or beast to go out, but mostly that is because our pastures do not have enough space for natural wind breaks of deep gullies and forest, which would be present out on a 10,000 acre range. This website uses cookies to improve your experience.

snow horses winter draft animals animal easy brown farm caris roane paleo tigernut granola aip ginger lemon end nature standing
(Source: www.backcountrypaleo.com)

Answer: Horses are much better adapted to the cold weather than we give them credit for. They grow an excellent winter coat that insulates them and keeps them warm and dry down to the skin.

In the fall they put on extra weight, so they have fat reserves to burn to keep warm in the winter. This is the reason our domestic horses (dogs, cats and humans, too) always seem to get fat in the fall.

In winter the main food available is roughage, dead or dormant grasses and weeds. Roughage, and that includes hay, actually helps warm the horses because it releases heat as it is digested.

(Unfortunately, we have fed our domestic horses well during the winter, so they do not need all that spring grass because they can founder or at least get obese.) In nature, horses stay warm by moving around, since they often have to travel to get unfrozen water, and we all know how much exercise keeps us warm--just clean your barn and sweep your aisle to find out.

Most have plenty of hay to keep them warm on a cold day and most have shelter from the wind and rain (either in the woods, shed or barn). It is good to give them more hay on a cold night, or at least the choice to eat more.

snow horse horses care were covered blankets bitter bothered actually cold much sign
(Source: equineink.com)

But if your horse is in and the barn is closed up and it's 40 degrees inside, he does not need extra hay. His body heat is not escaping; if his fur did not work the snow would melt immediately.

The blanketed horse has the same amount of unrelated snow on his back as the blanketed one. Eventually since the horse is warmer than the frozen ground the snow will melt on both of them.

The problem we humans have when we pat our horses in the winter is that they feel cold to touch, but this is because their fur has insulted them and is keeping all the warmth next to the skin. Horses can have icicles hanging off their fur and be perfectly warm underneath.

In nature those old horses would have been eaten by a mountain lion, so they would not need a blanket. Horses who have been sick, are too thin, have been rescued or have any other health problems may need blankets.

You can stick your hand under the blanket and if it is toasty and warm, it is heavy enough for the weather. Please do not get a great fitting outer blanket and add an old-fashioned design sheet underneath.

galloping horses wild snow
(Source: www.youtube.com)

The sheet does not add much warmth, and it usually rubs the shoulders and causes a lot of pain. If you choose to blanket and start early in the season you will need to keep it up, since the horse will adapt to wearing it, and his temperature regulation will be accustomed to it.

A vet friend of mine visiting early one December from Vermont remarked that the horses she saw in Virginia had many more layers of blankets on in December than her clients' horses had on in Vermont in January. Vermont's owners are accustomed to the cold, so they expect their horses to be adapted as they are.

Horses who are cold tend to huddle up in a sheltered place and may not be willing to go out into the pasture area even to eat hay to keep warm. Horses really appreciate some sort of shelter on those wet days, so they can dry off a bit and get warm.

Sweat adds moisture from the skin out, which means the dry fluffy fur cannot work. Heavy winter coats do not dry easily, since the fur is very dense and is designed to not let water penetrate (so that the horse can stay warm when it is raining).

Some horses, especially those with a partial clip, will sweat anyway under a blanket if not totally cool and dry. There is no perfect answer, but unclipped horses can end up with rain rot and skin infections when they sweat for hours and do not properly dry out.

(Source: www.pinterest.com)

There are some weather conditions in the far north where the freezing makes it very uncomfortable for man or beast to go out, but mostly that is because our pastures do not have enough space for natural wind breaks of deep gullies and forest, which would be present out on a 10,000 acre range. Photo: Nor pine Fat Bike Classic, Grand Marie, Minnesota.

Not only is the grooming equipment expensive to buy (or fabricate) and maintain, the amount of time required to keep the snow single track (known as “fat track”) groomed and rideable is significant–especially in areas that receive regular snowfall. Some ski resorts (like Grand Tar ghee) are known to have an extensive and well-maintained fat bike network, and this is largely due to their ability to pay for the grooming labor.

Photo: CW OCC I’ll begin by considering groomed fat track with these fat bike etiquette tips, and then will move on to other types of trails. Photo: Nor pine Fat Bike Classic, Grand Marie, Minnesota. When riding on fat track, choose tires that are at least 3.8 wide.

The Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (Samba) notes that tire width correlates to the weight of the rider, saying “larger riders should run minimum 4.5-inch tires.” As a general rule, the softer the conditions, the lower the air pressure you need to run in your tires.

If you reach a hill that you can’t pedal up on your fat bike, make sure that you walk in the unpacked snow off to the side of the trail. However, in some places where the snowpack is very deep, you could easily sink in to your waist (or deeper) when you go off the packed trail.

snow horse horses winter cold weather hypothermia snowflake snowy healthy arabian turning season keeping extreme pretty most lake discuss making
(Source: vanhargis.wordpress.com)

To avoid leaving ruts in freeze/thaw conditions, ride early in the morning when the trails are still frozen and packed. While the temps may climb above freezing, that doesn’t mean the trail immediately starts to melt.

Even if the air is sliding over 32 degrees, the snow is still a bit colder and tends to hold its shape and structure fairly well.” However, expect variable conditions, and plan your route accordingly. “Areas with direct sunlight will soften and deteriorate more quickly, while forested or shadowed trail will stay firm for some time, even if it’s getting warm,” said NM MBA.

In this image you can see the classical Nordic tracks groomed on both the right and left sides of the trail. Photo: ashokboghani via Flickr Creative CommonsWhile all the above guidelines apply to riding on cross-country ski trails as well, a specific consideration for Nordic trails is to absolutely never ride across classical Nordic ski tracks.

The classical track is a parallel set of lines groomed into either side of the ski trail. Make sure that you fat bike on the wider area that’s groomed for skate skiing.

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Sources
1 en.wikipedia.org - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VMDK
2 www.winzip.com - https://www.winzip.com/win/en/vmdk-file.html
3 www.easytechtools.com - https://www.easytechtools.com/how-to-open-vmdk-files-in-windows-10/
4 whatis.techtarget.com - https://whatis.techtarget.com/fileformat/VMDK-Virtual-Machine-Disk-file-for-VMware-virtual-machines
5 file.org - https://file.org/extension/vmdk
6 www.vmware.com - https://www.vmware.com/support/ws55/doc/ws_learning_files_in_a_vm.html
7 www.techwalla.com - https://www.techwalla.com/articles/how-to-import-vmdk-files-into-vmware
8 www.datarepairtools.com - https://www.datarepairtools.com/blog/repair-corrupt-vmdk-files/