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Top Tips for enjoying Christmas with your horse

Top Tips for enjoying Christmas with your horse

Many of us will enjoy a break from routine over the Christmas period and of course this means we can spend more time with our horses! We share a few of our Top Tips for enjoying the Christmas break with your horse - and your friends.

  • Treat your horse to a Christmas dinner of yummy veg such as carrots, parsnips and swedes. Just remember to cut up them lengthways to reduce the risk of choke.


carrots and parsnips


  • Use the holiday period to assess your horse’s diet. Contact an Equine Nutritionist to ensure you are feeding a balanced ration that is providing your horse with everything they need. This will make sure you are not over or under fortifying the diet, and can even save you money. You can contact a Feedmark Nutritionist by messaging us here >>


  • Remember that horses are creatures of habit and changes to their daily routine can led to stress. Try to keep to your normal routine over the Christmas period, or consider teaming up with someone else at the yard to share chores. To support optimal digestive health during periods of change consider using a supplement such as BioPro™. BioPro™ contains scientifically proven live yeast, Yea-Sacc®, which balances the population of microorganisms. This probiotic action optimises digestion rate and hindgut environment. Beneficial prebiotic, FOS, is also included to support healthy gut microbiota and intestinal activity. Find out more here >>


  • Grass quality and quantity declines over winter. Consider providing your horse with one or two additional grass forage options, such as chopped grass or grass nuts. Grass nuts can be put in a treat ball or sprinkled through hay to extend eating time and encourage natural browsing behaviours.


horse in summer with treat ball


  • Invest in a weigh tape and make it a new year’s resolution to weigh your horse on a fortnightly basis to keep track of any weight changes. Although several studies have shown that weight tapes are not 100% accurate (Ellis and Hollands, 1998; Wagner and Tyler, 2011; van der Meij, 2012), if you weigh your horse in the same place, with the same tape, each time it will give you a good guide to weight loss and gain. This means you can adjust your feeding ration quickly before weight gain or weight loss becomes an issue.



horse with weigh tape around stomach

  • If you hang tinsel or decorations around your stable make sure your horse can’t reach them or you may end up with a very expensive vet bill!


  • Dehydration is the main cause of impaction colic, especially in colder winter months, and no one wants a large vet bill over Christmas! To help ensure optimal hydration during the winter months give your horse warm water after they have had their hard feed and try to ensure it is the only water source available (Lenz, 2022). Other things you can do to increase water intake is feed haylage, soaked hay, or soaked feeds such as sugarbeet. You can also add salt to your horse’s diet to increase their thirst response.


  • Keep an eye on your horse’s legs and watch out for early signs of mud fever. Feeding a fully balanced ration with good levels of antioxidants can help to reduce the risk of mud fever developing. If your horse is prone to mud fever consider adding Feedmark’s EquiDermis to the ration. EquiDermis works from the inside out, providing essential nutrients for strong, resilient skin and a glossy coat. Read more about EquiDermis here >>


horse with muddy legs standing in muddy field


  • Be prepared for fireworks. Christmas, and especially New Year, are time when fireworks displays are more likely. Fireworks elicit fear reactions in many animals, including horses, due to the unpredictable, intermittent and high-intensity sounds (Cracknell and Mills, 2008) combined with light flashes and burning smells (Riva et al. 2022) Ask your neighbours if they are planning on having any displays and prepare accordingly.


fireworks at night

  • Go for a Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or Boxing Day ride. Wear fancy dress and put some tinsel on your horse!




  • Ellis, J.M. and Hollands, T. (1998) ‘Accuracy of different methods of estimating the weight of horses.’, Veterinary Record, 143(12), pages 335-336
  • Wagner, E.L. and Tyler, P.J. (2011) ‘A comparison of weight estimation methods in adult horses.’, Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 31(12), pages 706-710.
  • van der Meij, B.R. (2012) ‘Weight estimation in horses and ponies using a commercial Horse weight tape’ (Master's thesis).
  • Lenz, T. (2022) ‘Winter Water Consumption’, Available,had%20only%20warm%20water%20available [Accessed 3rd December 2023)
  • Cracknell, N. and Mills, D. (2008). ‘A double-blind placebo-controlled study into the efficacy of a homeopathic remedy for fear of firework noises in dog (Canis Familiaris)’, The Veterinary Journal, 177, pages 80 – 88
  • Riva, M.G., Dai, F., Huhtinen, M., Minero, M., Barbieri, S. and Dalla Costa, E. (2022) ‘The Impact of Noise Anxiety on Behavior and Welfare of Horses from UK and US Owner’s Perspective’, Animals, 12 (10), page 1319