Are Horses Okay In The Rain

James Smith
• Wednesday, 04 November, 2020
• 11 min read

Some horses are more susceptible to the health problems that rain can cause, while others might be comfortable in it and prefer staying out as opposed to being placed in a stall. In severe weather conditions when hail and flying debris are present, horses should be provided with adequate shelter.

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Although, it does take some time for a horse’s coat to fill back in, in the affected areas. Because of this, it’s smart to exercise caution when caring for a horse that you’re not entirely familiar with to see how they fair with moderately wet weather conditions.

One of the best preventative methods is to simply keep their coat clean by brushing them regularly. The next method is to avoid wetness and moisture altogether, however, this can prove difficult depending upon the region you’re in.

Thrush is a common hoof infection that can occur in a horse’s frog when their hooves are wet for extended periods of time. At times, thrush can expose the sensitive tissue of a horse’s hooves, making it painful for them to walk.

The best way to avoid thrush is to have your horse’s hooves inspected regularly and ensure that their feet stay dry more than they’re wet. When this is the case, horses become more susceptible to injury from not being able to balance correctly and might suffer joint issues.

When it’s the rainy season, check your horse’s hooves regularly to make certain that they’re not overdue for a trim. When tornados, hail, or high winds are in the forecast, it’s important that horses have some type of shelter that can sufficiently protect them from flying debris.

rain horses harmony
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While not the best option available, thick woods can provide a decent level of shelter for horses in a variety of situations. The drawbacks of woods are that in windy weather conditions, falling limbs and other flying debris can cause injury to horses.

While they don’t provide quite as much shelter as a full-enclosure, they’re perfect for keeping horses out of the wind, rain, and sun. If the wind in a particular area consistently blows the strongest from the east, then the opening to the shelter would be on the opposite side in order to offer as much protection as possible.

If you’re looking for a good boarding stable for your horse, you can check out my tips in the article I wrote here. But for the most part, the average horse really doesn’t mind a little wind and rain.

They’d just as soon be left out to enjoy their pasture time during a storm as during a bright sunny day. Of course, horses can pick up all sorts of ailments from wet weather, too: skin fungus, hoof infections, even injury from blowing debris or hail.

Barns flattened by tornadoes are an unfortunate byproduct of severe weather outbreaks, while horses left turned out often seem to have an uncanny ability to avoid injury. Deciding whether to keep your horse in or out during rain or severe weather is often an intensely personal decision.

rain horse beauty mtodd
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As the spring storm season approaches, take a look at your horses, your equine facility, and your area weather patterns, and start making those decisions now. Riding in a thunder or hail storm isn’t a good idea.

People and horses do get hit by lightning, so if the thunder rumbles, head indoors and wait for clearer skies. If you get caught away from home in a thunderstorm, even if the thunder seems distant, avoid high areas, such as hilltops.

Although finding a low-lying area is safest to avoid lightning, do not seek refuge in dry creek beds as there may be a chance of flash flooding. Stay away from lone, or small clusters of tall trees, wire fences, or other metal structures.

Move away from your horse, and squat with your feet tightly together, arms around your knees, and your body curled down. Take shelter in a sturdy building or behind immovable landforms, such as large rocks or boulders.

Dismount and pull your horse into a shelter, even if it’s just scrubby bushes that will break the fall of the hailstones. Heavy sudden rain can make pathways slick and expose roots or rocks that might not have been there before.

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A partially fallen tree might be a hazard to ride underneath. If you are at an event when a storm blows in, put your horse on the trailer, close the doors, especially if there is a ramp, and make sure all rump chains, towing safety chains, and anything else that could conduct a circuit from the ground to the truck or trailer are clear of the ground.

Without any pathway to the ground, your truck and trailer tires provide some insulation from a lightning strike. If hail or high winds blow in, at least you and your horse have some protection overhead.

The noise of heavy rain on a metal roof, and of course, thunder can make some horses come unsettled. Thunderstorms forecast for next week have highlighted the ongoing dilemma about whether it is safer to keep your horse in or leave him out during thunder and lightning.

While cases of horses being hit by lightning are, thankfully, relatively rare, when storms are forecast it is understandably a cause for concern for owners. Horses natural herding instinct during a thunderstorm can also increase the risk of injury or death from a lightning strike.

“We generally don’t bring them in as I’ve actually never really seen any of our horses that bothered about thunder; they almost seem to know it’s part of nature and isn’t going to physically hurt them. If the thunder was being accompanied by serious lightning, howling winds and driving rain, however, we would bring them in because of the detrimental effects of those elements on them,” says Julia.

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(Source: www.pinterest.com)

The grounding system in a building can provide an easy route for electricity to run to earth in the event of a lightning strike or power surge. Site shelters on lower ground rather than in exposed, isolated areas (which can make them a target for a lightning strike).

Avoid using fields with streams running through them and be aware that lightning can travel along wire fencing, water courses and even ‘jump’ from a tree to your horse. It may be worth fencing off large single trees in exposed locations to stop horses sheltering beneath them.

Of course, this decision has to be balanced against the benefits of using these trees to offering shelter for horses from flies and the heat. Have a plan in place to keep your horse’s water from freezing and routinely check it.

Freezing can limit your horse’s access to water, which can lead to health issues. Snow and ice are not adequate water sources for horses A few studies show that horses acclimated to winter weather can meet their water requirements from snow.

Length of adjustment period as horses learn to ingest snow. Individual factors that can affect a horse’s lower critical temperature include hair length and body size.

wet horses horse weather rain keeping safe muddy away
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A horse with short hair exposed to cold, wet weather will have a higher lower critical temperature than that of a cold-weather-acclimated horse with a thick hair coat and fat stores. A weaning may reach their lower critical temperature before a mature horse.

Cold weather can slow growth because calories go from weight gain to temperature maintenance. To lessen a growth slump during cold weather, you should feed additional calories to young horses.

For every degree below 18° F the horse requires an additional one percent energy in their diet. The best source of additional dietary energy during the cold winter months is forage.

But digestion, absorption, and utilization of grain doesn’t produce as much heat as the microbial fermentation of forage. We recommend regular body condition scoring to gauge weight and assess horse health.

If your horse starts to lose body condition, increase its feed. If a horse starts gaining excessive body condition, reduce the feed.

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Most data suggests that other nutrient requirement don’t change during cold weather. Horses need access to shelter and should be fed additional hay during adverse winter weather.

Free access to a stable or an open-sided shed works well, as do trees if a building is not available. In the absence of wind and moisture, horses tolerate temperatures at or slightly below 0° F.

Researchers examined daytime shelter-seeking behavior in domestic horses housed outdoors. They studied the relationship of temperature, precipitation, and wind speed with shelter-seeking behavior.

Don’t blanket before December 22 or you will decrease your horse's natural winter coat. The hair coat insulates the horse by trapping and warming air.

Wet or muddy hair can reduce its insulating value and increase heat loss. As little as 0.1 inch of rain can cause cold stress by matting the hair and reducing its insulating value.

rain horses animals
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No shelter is available during turnout periods and the temperatures or wind chill drop below 5° F. There is a chance the horse will become wet (e.g. rain, ice, and/or freezing rain -- usually not a problem with snow). Poorly fitted blankets can cause sores and rub marks along the straps.

Confinement and limited exercise can lead to lower leg swelling (stocking up). Take caution when riding in deep, heavy or wet snow to prevent tendon injuries.

Leaving a hot, wet horse standing in a cold barn can lead to illness. Clipped hair won’t grow back rapidly in the winter.

If you clip your horse, use appropriate shelter and blankets throughout the winter and into the early spring months. Routine care Horse hooves generally grow slower in the winter.

These balls of packed ice or snow make it hard for the horse to walk, increases the chance of slipping and falling, and may put stress tendons or joints. Don’t feed horses near spread sand as the may accidentally eat it.

rain horse manip deviantart take
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Straight salt can speed the melting of the ice if temperatures aren’t too cold. Spreading a thin layer of wood ash or fresh manure can help.

Other options like shavings, hay, and straw tend to slide over ice and provide little traction. Small rocks can provide traction, but can become lodged in the hooves or accidentally eaten.

Snow with manure, bedding, and soil can pollute streams and wetlands. Moving snow is expensive, so keep distances and travel time to a minimum.

Removing snow helps the paddock drain and dry faster in the spring. Facility upkeep Barns and shelters should have truss certificates of at least 30 pounds per square foot of snow load.

If concerns arise about a barn structure under a snow load, examine the trusses and joints to see if there is movement, cracking, or dry rot. In enclosed barns, snow blowing into attics and wall spaces can melt and cause wet conditions suitable for mold and rotting.

rain horses horse beauty
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Wood will generally give warning sounds before complete failure. Ventilation helps control temperature and humidity levels and improve air quality.

Marcia Hathaway, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; Krishna Martin son, Extension equine specialist; Chuck Clinton, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; and Carey Williams, Rutgers University The goal should always be to maximize the amount your horse drinks to help prevent dehydration and colic.

During the summer months, lush pastures contain 60 to 80 percent moisture and can contribute to your horse’s water requirement. In contrast, dried winter feed stuffs such as grain and hay contain less than 15 percent moisture.

If your horse doesn’t drink enough water during cold weather they may eat less and be more prone to impaction colic. Even if you offer quality feed, horses will consume less if not drinking enough water.

Water intake maintains a horse’s fecal moisture level. If fecal material becomes too dry, intestinal blockage or impaction may occur.

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