As the fall is approaching and we enjoy our first days of autumnal temperatures, our eyes turn to the predicted colder-than-usual temperatures this winter. As ranchers we have two main concerns: our cattle and our horses. The latter will be the focus today.
Tradition says to stall up your horses in order to provide a wind break. The different bodies heat up the interior of the barn making the stalls warmer than the outside temperatures. For years we have followed this tradition as well as feeding grain and hay. On really cold nights, we blanket the horses, especially the older ones. We have one horse in particular, who can be seen shivering in the cold.
Well, tradition is not always best or right. We looked beyond the “traditional” ranching practices of raising beef when we began raising grass fed beef. We looked further back to how they were created. I read an intriguing article that takes the same approach for the care of horses. The author considers, “How was the horse created to withstand natural climate change?”
Her findings appear scientific and logical, but go against mainstream American horse care. If you have horses, please take the time to read this article. It is a long excerpt from Holistic Horse and Hoof Care by Natalija Aleksandrova posted on “The Soul of a Horse” website.
The summation of the article is that horses need 24/7 access to free-choice hay. Horses in cold, rainy, or snowy weather need a windbreak in the form of trees, shelter, etc. that they can leave when they so desire. She believes that they do not need to be stalled based on the fact that it restricts their movement as well as separates them from sharing body heat with other horse companions. Horses also do not need to be blanketed. This actually hurts them the worst.
By and by the article is very interesting. I found her findings intriguing and compelling. Now to decide how we are going to care for our horses this year: the “traditional” way or the really traditional way?