When Autumn begins the leaves change colour and mornings get colder. It’s important to remember that the change of seasons can also bring about some stress for animals. Here are some Autumn horse care tips.
Horses can be affected by the cooler temperatures and the decrease of daylight hours in Autumn, so it’s important to consider a few things to ensure they stay happy and healthy.
Autumn feeding tips for horses
During the summer months, horses are used to spending the majority of their day outdoors grazing on grass so make sure they still get access to graze on fresh pasture. You may need to consider some additional hay or even supplementary feed during the autumn months for your horse to maintain a healthy weight and condition. Horses also need plenty of water year round so make sure there is always access to fresh supply for them.
Horses need a balanced diet with all of their nutritional needs being met so make sure that you feed plenty of fibre and forage. If you need to organise hay, do this early. Condition score your horse regularly to avoid heading into winter with an underweight horse.
Heading into Autumn, you’ll also need to watch for possible risks from rain on short, dry pastures. Some horses may show signs of ryegrass staggers. Longer grass helps as the toxin is more prevalent at the base of the plant. Either remove them from the pasture and feed alternative fibre or forage (just make sure any hay wasn’t cut during a high risk period). Feeding a suitable toxin binder will also help. Autumn is a good time to prepare.
Autumn paddock care for horses
Throughout Autumn, and heading into winter, make sure your paddocks are in top condition, fencing is sorted and if possible get something put into gates (lime rock is a good option) to try to keep these high use areas in good working order.
Also make sure you have good drainage around your buildings and tie up areas so they don't get too muddy. Here's a blog about stable flooring with some great ideas and options for what to use.
Acorns can be toxic to horses!
During autumn, acorns can fall from trees and onto the ground which can be tempting for some horses. Make sure you keep a close eye on any trees that your horses can access and make sure they don’t consume any green acorns as they can be toxic, causing digestive problems as well as other minor health issues. Better still, fence the area off completely so your horses can’t reach them.
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Shelter from weather for horses
Providing shelter or large wooden shed for your horses to protect them from the changeable autumn temperatures is really important and there are many options. At this time of year, the temperature can drop considerably once the sun goes down so consider keeping them inside overnight and also whether they need a weatherproof cover. If so, you’ll need to remove it and regularly check the horse’s condition and coat.
Even during the day, they will need protection from the elements so try to avoid keeping them in paddocks which are too exposed. Outpost’s horse shelters are a great option as they are designed to be relocatable which means you can reposition your horses according to the wind direction during those cooler autumn and winter months.
Consider carefully the size of your shelter- how many horses do you need to house and how much space do you want for each of them? If they’re spending more time inside at this time of year then you’ll want to allow plenty of space for them to move around and a dry area to lie down.
Remember, you are going to be out there tending to your horses too so consider allowing enough room to keep yourself warm and dry and to safely move around in the stall with your horse.
Having everything in one place will make life easier for you so your shelter could also include a wide range of spaces designed for uses such as overnight stabling, storage for all of your gear and feed, areas to wash them down, space for parking your horse float, foaling stalls and grooming.
Be sure to keep your shelter clean and tidy to avoid illness and help promote general health and well being of your horses.