Winter often means that horses are confined to their stables for longer than usual, and in periods of bad weather, some horses may have to be stabled for days on end. While some horses don’t seem to mind living in, for other horses it can be very hard to adjust to 24 hour stabling, and they can become very stressed- which in turn can lead to health and behavioural problems. To help to reduce your horse’s stress levels, make sure they always have hay or haylage available, as this keeps this reduces the risk of gastric disturbance, the internal fermentation of forage helps to keeps them warm, and eating keeps them occupied. If your horse is a very good doer, use doubled up net small holed haynets to reduce intake, or feed little and often if that is possible. Try to keep your horse exercised as much as possible, and if your horse is not being ridden as much as usual reduce the amount of concentrate feed they receive, so they are not consuming quick release energy that they can’t utilise. Continue with high fibre and high oil feeds, as these will help with gut fill and satisfaction. Feedmark's Nutritionist Olivia shares:
"When the weather means that my horses must stay in, I soak a Feedmark Fibre Block in 5 litres of warm water for them- the warm water helps it to smell lovely, and it keeps me happy knowing that it is helping them to stay hydrated- especially as my older mare doesn't always drink much during cold snaps. My other horse is a stressy type, so she gets Steady-Up Advance over the winter, which really helps to keep her ridden work more focused."
It can help some horses if they can see a friend nearby, and stable mirrors may also help where this is not possible. If your horse enjoys spending time with you, extra grooming time may be enjoyable for them, and if they use a horse ball or a similar stable toy, let them play with it to help ease boredom. If your horse is of a nervy disposition, is having to live in, or their behaviour gets worse over the winter we recommend adding our fantastic calmative Steady-Up Advance to their daily feed to help keep them calm and settled.