How to Keep Horses Safe in Winter

October 21, 2021

Winter weather is nearly here! As the season welcomes wintry landscapes and cozy nights in—it also brings not-so-welcome bone-chilling temperatures, freezing rain and snow, and some potentially icy conditions for you and your horse to navigate.

While our four-legged friends are built to endure the elements and are more nimble than we, slipping risks still go up in winter. Freeze-thaw weather patterns especially create dangerous conditions for horses trying to pick their way across icy stalls, north sides of buildings, and frozen spillover around watering troughs. So how do we keep horses surefooted?

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horses in winter

4 Winter Horse Care Tips

You want to keep your horse safe from missteps and serious injury, and we want to help you. Here are four ideas to keep stalls and other areas from reaching skating-rink status and to help your horse find solid footing as he traverses icy ground.

1.  Practice Prevention

First, let’s give our equine friends a little credit. Horses are savvy and will limit activity and avoid icy terrain where they can. It’s up to horse owners, however, to prevent and be on the lookout for icy conditions that horses can’t avoid—like in stalls, trailers, or around feeding and drinking areas. So what’s a horse owner to do?

  • First, repair leaky rain gutters on barns or buildings that will drip and form freezing water on concrete.
  • Remove snow from high-use pathways and paddocks. This will decrease the amount of water buildup and frozen puddles that appear once things start to thaw.
  • Also avoid water spillage when filling troughs. And fix that leaky spigot if it's dripping!
  • Finally, make sure to build up sunken ground where water collects and pools around troughs.

2.  Roll out the Rugs

Have some old rugs on hand? Turn them into a safe winter walkway. Rugs make for a quick and easy coverlet when you need to lead your horse over an icy patch or out of the stall for turnout time. Keep rugs stashed in the barn for ready access and roll them out when required. Stall mats can also help keep horses safe.

3.  Mind the Hoof

Generally, a bare hoof is safer than an ironclad one. Yes, going barefoot during winter—a notion we humans shiver at—actually gives your horse more traction in snow and ice than going shod. Plus it gives your horse’s feet a chance to rest for a few months. Trimming hooves will also reduce snowpack into soles and lower the chance of sliding.

If you decide to keep your horse shod through the winter months, that’s okay too. Just make sure your horse is properly fitted, and consider adding studs to the bottom of shoes. This will help with grip and keep your horse surefooted and safe.

4.  Spread the Traction

Stalls and hauling trailers can also get icy and create dangerous situations for horses. To minimize risk, scatter on the pet-friendly salt or grit.  Traction can be added by applying sand, wood shavings, straw—or Redmond’s Nature’s Blend Ice Slicer—to trailer floors or concrete. Slightly wetting icy surfaces before applying material will improve sticking power and help your horse find a firm foothold.

Redmond Pet-Safe Ice Melt

Did you know Redmond has an all-natural deicer? Meet Ice Slicer Nature's Blendan ice-melting gift from Mother Nature! Our miners bring the natural blend of minerals, micro-nutrients, and complex chlorides to you from 450 feet below Earth’s surface, just like your horse's Redmond salt. Want to know a little secret?  It is the same Redmond salt you feed your horse ever daynothing added or removed. 

Nature's Blend is safe for vegetation, gentler on surfaces, melts faster and longerand best of all, is completely safe for kids and pets. Pick up your bag or bucket of natural ice melt today and help keep your friends, family and animals safer this winter.

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