For some horses the winter months can mean limited turnout which can result in an increase in stress. Naturally horses evolved to spend hours leisurely grazing, in the company of other horses in their herd.
As winter takes hold, inevitably there is very little, if any, grass available and as paddocks turn to mud baths many owners are faced with no choice but to stable their horses.
Not surprisingly the stress of being confined to a stable for long periods can have a negative impact on the horse’s delicate digestive system, which can be further complicated by enforced periods of starvation if forage is not offered on an ad-lib basis.
The health of the equine digestive system greatly impacts the horse’s overall health, so there are a number of ways to help reduce stress for stabled horses, which can then help negate the effects of stress on the digestive system.
- Provide adequate good quality forage. As well as supplying the digestive system with essential fibre, this also satisfies the horse’s natural desire to chew, helping to relieve boredom.
- Change your horse’s diet to reflect his workload. If conditions mean that your riding time is limited, cut his rations down accordingly. Most horses can manage perfectly well on a diet of fibre alone.
- Put the welfare of your horse ahead of pristine paddocks and turn your horse out, even if it is just for one hour during the day.
- If your yard doesn’t offer winter turn out, walk your horse out in-hand a couple of times a day, providing the ground conditions are safe to do so.
- Ensure your horses’ stable is big enough to allow him enough space to comfortably move around.
- Treat balls are a great way to take your horse’s mind off his solitary confinement. Grass nuggets or some high fibre cubes are ideal to use.
The Lifeforce Range of all-natural, daily digestive aid supplements from Alltech are designed to benefit horses of every stage of life, from breeding stock to pleasure and performance animals.
For further information please visit www.lifeforcehorse.co.uk or telephone 01780 764512.