How to Keep Your Horse Warm & Happy This Winter

Winter has well and truly arrived and with temperatures plummeting it’s important to ensure your horse stays warm and healthy through the season.

There are a number of things you need to consider to keep your horse in good health, and to offer a helping hand, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to keeping your horse warm this winter.


Deciding whether to clip your horse will depend on whether you are going to be competing through the winter, or exercising often.

If you are going to be unable to exercise your horse indoors during the winter months and are only taking him out on walks you may not need to clip, however this is only the case unless you are likely to work him into a sweat.

If you plan to actively ride in an indoor ring throughout the winter, clipping is strongly suggested. This can not only make grooming easier but a clipped horse will dry much quicker after exercise. Different kinds of full or partial clips may be considered, including a hunter clip, trace clip, or full body clip.

If you are opting to clip, you will need to blanket your horse to make up for the loss of his thick winter coat. Always make sure your horse is clean and dry before you put on his blanket, and don’t let him become sweaty underneath it.

Ensure the blanket fits correctly, and isn’t too tight or rubbing. Always take into account the fact that horses do have different body shapes, and you ought to measure and check the fit carefully.

Use appropriate blankets for the temperature and weather conditions, and keep spare blankets for use in the event that one becomes ripped or damaged. For more detailed information on making the right choices, take a look at this guide to winter blankets from

Winter Coats

A horse with a natural winter coat who is in good health and receiving the correct nutrition will be unlikely to require blanketing, so long as he has adequate shelter from the elements.

Over blanketing a horse can cause dehydration, overheating, and health problems, and it’s important to remember that horses are relatively hardy in the colder months, but do consider bringing your horse inside or providing a blanket in extreme weather such as ice and snow.

If you are concerned about your horse’s comfort during the winter, you should discuss the matter with your vet at the earliest possible opportunity.

An unclipped horse will need grooming regularly, as a winter coat will fluff up to retain heat, and retain significant amounts of mud and dirt.

You will also need to ensure you take extra time to cool and dry a horse with a winter coat after exercise. The long winter hair will hold in heat and moisture, and lead to your horse feeling uncomfortably cold.

It can be nice to spend this extra quality time with your horse, but you should take this into account when deciding whether or not to clip.

Food & Water

It is important to increase the amount of feed you give to your horse during the winter, as he will be burning more calories than in the summer months to stay warm.

Hay is higher in fibre than grain, and produces more energy as your horse digests it. As such, feeding your horse on a hay based diet during the winter can be beneficial and comes recommended.

Be sure to introduce changes to your horse’s diet slowly, to avoid upsetting his digestive system, and speak to your veterinarian before making any drastic dietary changes.

Your horse needs water to stay healthy in the cold weather as much as it does during the warmer seasons. Make sure your horse’s water does not freeze over, due to the risks of impaction colic if he is unable to drink. Also ensure that the temperature of the water does not put your horse off drinking; perhaps add just enough hot water at feeding time to make the water a comfortable temperature (do take care, however).


Keep your horse warm by providing adequate shelter to block wind and rain in his paddock. Ensure it has a roof, is situated on higher ground and faces the appropriate direction to block cold winds.

So long as your horse can access shelter whenever needed and can be brought inside in extreme conditions, keeping him outside in the winter should not be a problem.

If you do stable your horse, however, it is not necessary to heat the barn. Your horse will have to adjust to the conflicting temperatures of the barn and the outdoors, and this can be challenging. Heating barns also increases the risk of barn fires, something which kill many horses each year.

Your barn should provide adequate shelter, and allow fresh air to circulate to avoid ammonia build up, which is bad for your horse’s respiratory system.

It’s important to carefully consider the steps you take to keep your horse both happy and warm this winter and by following a few simple pieces of advice, you’ll quickly find that there’s a number of approaches depending upon the level of exercise which your horse will undertake during the colder months.

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