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Protecting Horses in Extreme Weather
Provide warm water.
Provide warm water at least twice a day or use a water-heating unit if the horses drink from a common water source in a field. Make sure the heating units are working properly and no stray voltage is leaking into the water. If horses must drink cold water, they may not drink enough, which could contribute to impaction colic and dehydration.
Horses are generally well protected from the cold through the insulating hair coat and other aspects of their physiology. However, they need protection in extreme winter conditions of cold, blizzard, or wind. The insulating hair coat becomes significantly less effective when wet through, and horses should be sheltered from the cold when freezing rain is combined with cold weather.
Protect horses not acclimated to the cold.
While horses are generally well-equipped for cold, horses that have been competing and/or recently retired may not have the kind of coat they need. It may take a couple of winters for them to adapt and grow a good winter coat. Keep these horses in a barn during extreme cold weather. These horses may need to wear insulating winter blankets.
Source: Dr. Pamela Wilkins, University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
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