We often dream of a beautiful white winter. But the reality is that winter here is mostly wet, cold and dark. For horses, winter means lots of changes. They go from grass to hay, from pasture to stable. They often get less exercise and go through coat changes. Winter ailments lurk. In this blog, we share our tips for preventing (or quickly solving) the most common winter equine complaints.
Winter complaint #1: thrush
Horses’ environments are more likely to be muddy in winter, and moisture and urine can cause hoof problems. Such conditions encourage the growth of bacteria in the hoof as they need little oxygen to survive. We all recognise the symptoms. Thrush, foul-smelling hooves and even swelling can make the horse walk with a sensitive gait.
Our tip: treat hoofs – preventively as well – with Cavalor Dry Feet! Thrush will disappear in no time. Fighting bad bacteria with good bacteria is the idea behind Dry Feet. Poor hooves are often given aggressive treatments. At Cavalor, we believe in the power of self-healing. With a little help, many problems can often be cured or prevented. Cavalor Dry Feet contains pre- and probiotics. Probiotics survive in wet conditions and are already present on a healthy hoof. Probiotics do not kill anything off -– they suppress pathogens. Prebiotics help probiotics do their work. Cavalor Dry Feet allows good bacteria to flourish, resulting in healthy hooves.
Winter complaint #2: Mud fever, an unwelcome guest
Hooves are not all that suffer from wet winter conditions. Another common complaint is mud fever. This is an irritation of the horse’s skin. The skin dries out, causing cracks that can be quite painful. It can also cause swelling which eventually leads to lameness. Mud fever is sometimes so chronic that it seems impossible to get rid of. A boost to the immune system can help to prevent and cure extreme cases.
Our tip for a comprehensive approach: strengthen the body’s natural resistance! That is why we begin with a 45-day cure of Resist + Vit C. Resist + Vit C is a supplement that supports the immune system through a combination of antioxidants, herbs, and essential oils. It helps your horse’s body be less prone to infections and more able to fight off pathogens. We also recommend feeding Max FiberForce for six weeks. This high-fibre mix with long fibre lengths promotes healthy stomach and bowel function. A properly functioning bowel is the foundation of a strong immune system. Adding OilMega to the feed ration supplies a balanced mix of fatty acids, ensuring healthy gut flora and providing extra support for the immune system. This strengthens your animal’s natural defences.
Winter complaint #3: thick winter coats
A sport horse that trains through the winter can have problems with its winter coat. One solution to make life easier for horse and rider is clipping. Keep in mind that a horse without its winter coat will have a higher thermoneutral zone. Extra rugs are definitely needed! A clipped coat also makes the cooling down more efficient as the horse cools down faster. But don’t rug your horse immediately after riding! As long as your horse is sweating after work, he doesn’t need a wool rug. What about after intense training? You should cool the legs well, whether or not the horse has been clipped.
Our tip: after clipping, wash your horse with Derma Wash for perfect skin regeneration
Horses have sensitive skin. To prevent skin irritations, do the following:
- Use pH-neutral products
- Restore natural protection
- Brush to help keep the coat clean and supple
Natural protection is easier said than done. But you can help. Treating wounds or irritated areas with Derma Spray helps the skin to recover. As with Dry Feet, Derma Spray uses pro- and prebiotics: micro-mechanisms that help horses recover naturally.
Winter complaint #4: Coughing and wheezing
Irritations don’t affect just the legs and hooves in winter. The horse’s respiratory system is also taxed. Let’s be honest, we’d all rather be indoors than outdoors on bad-weather days. You ride more in an indoor school and you also spend more time in the barn than in summer. This, of course, also affects the horses. Doors and windows are closed much more often than in the summer months, resulting in less fresh air in the barn. And dust can cause sensitivity in the airways.
Fortunately, you can prevent airway irritation with the following tips:
- Open the doors and windows when mucking out the stables
- Wet the floor before sweeping to give dust less of a chance
- Keep your horse’s roughage free from dust and mould. Steaming the feed can help
- There are several herbs that are good for the respiratory system. You can find these herbs in Bronchix Liq and Bronchix Pure
Want to read more about the effects of oxygen on the horse’s body? Take a look at this article.