It is cold…and getting colder, are you and your horses ready?

My mom posted on Facebook about a recent heatwave in Maine….when she woke up it was -23.8 but in only a few hours had warmed up to -21.6! Brrr….Mini's in the snow, horses in the cold

It is said that horses are well developed to handle the cold. When I look at my mini’s…I completely agree.

With the other horses at my place I have noticed they tend to be individuals even when it comes to hair growth.  Same feed, same stalls or pasture…but still they don’t all grow the same hair coats. Some are thick (none as thick as the mini’s) and some make me wonder how they would survive!

Horses with naturally short hair coats can seem easier but when it gets cold I step in to help. For example it is predicted to be colder in the next two days than I have seen in the last 14 years I have lived here. If that comes true then several of my horses will be sporting blankets or extra blankets.

It is important to remember also that when horses digest roughage (hay) they produce heat. Extra hay anyone?

But my real pet peeve is water. Summer, winter, I don’t care…water, water, water is important. And in the winter when it freezes so fast water is more work and I fear is neglected. The heated water troughs are popular with my horses. Have you ever noticed that if you dump a water bucket that is starting to freeze and refill it with fresh water that they horses often drink. Coming out of the ground it is warm enough to steam and they appreciate it.

If it is going to get cold where you are get prepared….and prepare for your horses. How do you prepare?

cold weather and horses


  1. Karen Kania-Forehand on February 25, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    We are in south central Illinois. I do not blanket my horses in the winter unless they are ill or injured. 3 of my horses are in a large dry lot with a 3 sided lean to facing south, the other has access to a 12×12 barn stall with a 30 x 68 run outside. We have a round bale feeder for the 3 with a 150 gal water tank and heater. Buttons(in the barn) gets square baled hay and has a 30 gal water barrel with a heater. All 4 are fed Nutrena SafeChoice. They all seem content. The 3 in the dry lot rarely go in the lean to except to eat or when the weather is really nasty. Buttons on the other hand likes it better in the stall, which of course makes more work for me when it comes to cleaning. Lol

  2. hslikkers on February 25, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    With our michigan temperature getting to -23 thes past few weeks my outdoor water pump froze. I now have a hose adapter in the laundry room. When it is time to water I pull the hose to the garage where I have an ice fishing sled loaded with 6, 5 gallon buckets. After filling I attach the sled to the quad and drive down the 1500 foot driveway to the water trough. It’s all fun and games til the water line freezes!

  3. Ariane Aubert Bonn on February 25, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I live in Canada and our winters are cold and endless… My horses have a shelter to block the wind that they can use if needed. They have heated water tanks and plenty of hay. I change the water every day to make sure it is clean and to check if the heater works well. I give them vitamins supplements, but they don’t need grain and they do not wear blankets. They are happy (even a little bit too fat) and they seem comfortable.

  4. Carolyn E Williams on February 25, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    One year, I brought my show mare , out of P-king 234, to the townhouse, and she stayed in the heated garage about 4 days, “husband” at the time was not happy; told him he could get over it, or I WOULD help him “pack”; he got better after that conversation <3 GOD first, then my horses, then you; that is just the way it is.

  5. Carolyn E Williams on February 25, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Number one problem’ NOT drinking enough water during winter months; make sure all horses have access to fresh clean water, preferably in a “heated” bucket, and they at least have a “wind” break to get into if they wish; would not feed corn ever. Plenty of good horse grade of hay and salt blocks always available. Coastal hay, overhead elec. heaters. Feed 3 times daily. Horses are warmer, and eat better than we do. LOL true, I AM HORSE RICH <3

  6. Dawn on February 25, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Be careful with tank heaters on a rubbermaid type tank. Ours got low enough once it tipped up a little from the cord length and caught the tub, fence, and part of the barn on fire. I personally would buy the Richie Waterers that do not freeze if we had cold conditions. I just moved to Pheonix, AZ instead 🙂

  7. Ellen on February 25, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Our herd of 18 horses get treated based on their individual blanketing needs but in this last cold snap (-35 -40 in PEI) I had two round bales of haylage put into the arena and closed the doors to keep the wind out. All 18 lived together as a herd loose in the barn munching on free choice feed. Our water system when it is that cold is to call the horses for water – this way we can be sure that every individual drinks their fill 3 times a day. We have found this to be more effective than heated waterers as not only can we ensure everyone drinks but we also bring buckets of hot water (house is attached to barn) down to warm it to the optimal temperature. For our old guys or hard keepers warm mash of alfalfa cubes (because we have access to hot water) and fat and fibre pellets are fed to supplement. So far everyone is fat and happy, just the way I like my horses.

  8. Bill on February 16, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    I have a 7 y/ old mini that is alone in the barn. I feed him hay n feed n corn when it gets cold. Would a small heater nearby help or hurt him. It is going to be sub 0 fo the next few days.

    • Stacy on February 16, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      Hay is the best thing for creating heat. I personally wouldn’t feed the corn. The digestive process of hay creates more heat and mini’s are prone to founder, etc. Mini’s also generally grow tons of hair. If he shivers you could do a mini-blanket. Heaters are too much of a fire hazard.

  9. Jenn Lindstrom on January 7, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    I live in Edmonton, AB, Canada. I have to keep my boy 30-45 mins away at my girlfriends place. In the city it hit -43 C with the windchill last week for 3 days. Out where my horse is, it hit -48 with the wind. With him being a Clydesdale, it’s very hard to find tack never mind a blanket for him, so I have to get most things custom made (he stands 17.3hh at 5 yrs old and just a tad under 1300 lbs) and didn’t want to get him a winter blanket until he was done growing, so I doubled up a fleece cooler sheet and a TB winter blanket. The fleece is long enough to cover his legs and belly while the TB blanket protects his back, neck, ribs and rump.
    I wish there were “winter toques” for horses that would cover their poor ears when it’s this cold!

  10. Reb on January 7, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I have the 16 gallon heated buckets! And I have the 5 gallon heated buckets too. Horses love them. With the last couple of days being below zero for the high with wind chills at -50 degrees and the barn doors frozen shut with 4 four drifts next to them, the horses have been inside enjoying the extra hay. They look forward to warmer weather tomorrow at 12 degrees above zero. Just hope I can get the doors unfrozen and the hugh drifts moved out of the way. Before I had my new barn with electricity the horses had a barn with no doors, no water source and no electricity so I bought a propane heater that worked well as long as I kept it out of the wind(the wind would blow out the pilot light). I am so thankful for my new barn and doors and electricity AND water! Best of luck to all of you who don’t have the luxuries that I now have. Keep those babies warm!

  11. A New Path on January 6, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Minis are little yaks! Mine can have frost on the tips of their coats and be toasty warm under all that hair.

  12. Kara Faith on January 6, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    We have a tank heater for the indoor stock tank, and that thing is a lifesaver. Misourri winters suck. Not as bad as further up north, but they’re no fun! I think one of the horses will need a blanket in the future… the older one is fine with the low temps.

  13. cynthiacdorr on January 6, 2014 at 11:29 am

    This is the first year I used tank de-icers. I’m so glad I did, because this is the coldest temps I’ve seen since I moved from Mt/Id to Wisconsin. The windchill is up to 50 below zero. It was probably that this morning with the howling winds.

  14. Lori on January 6, 2014 at 9:01 am

    I live in Washington state, pretty temperate climate here but we do get a NE wind coming out of the fasier river valley in canada, when we get that I do blanket as the wind chill gets below zero. Right now we are in the 20’s with no wind so no blankets needed. Tank heaters a must! Although my Alley Kat does like to pull them out so I have to make sure the wires are not readily available to her or she will pull them out! Need to check into the submersibles!

  15. Lucy Marie on January 6, 2014 at 12:25 am

    The schools are closed tomorrow in MN and the wind chill is supposed to be -50 to -60 tonight with -35 temps. Horses are in the barn, but it’s not totally closed up, They get all the hay they want and do have shelter outside, but usually stand in the trees or the sun. I simply sleep better with them in the barn at night. For the winter, I have a 30 gallon plastic bin inside the stock tank. It has insulation around it, and I’ve always gotten away with a small floating heater through the back where they can’t get the wire or heater. My sisters Ritchie has frozen up 4 times this Winter and they built an insulated box around it this Fall. For salt they have a white block, mineral block (softer) and loose mineral salt. When it gets this cold, they can’t eat enough out of the slow feed nets so I feed it loose.

  16. Jennifer on January 5, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    The barn my horses are at (until the end of this month) didn’t get shelters into the pastures until the night before the cold streak of not getting over 10 degs and most nights into the negs plus windchill. Even when they put the shelters up, they didn’t have roofs on them (still don’t…) So both of my horses got blanketed for that. One of them has a thick coat and stays warm through almost eeverything, but with no real shelter, I didn’t like to leave her. My other one barely grows any coat. He’ll stay warm only by burning calories and losing weight.

    I’ve found that both of them, but especially my thin coated Arab, do best on free feeding. If I free feed a good quality hay and add alfalfa when it gets really cold, my Arab does awesome, stays warm and looks great. One of the reasons I’m moving my horses is so I can get back to free feeding.

    I’ve never understood why many barns look at all horses as the same. They get fed the same and treated like there are no separate needs. I was even at one barn that fed one flake of alfalfa per horse twice a day. I didn’t last there!

    In terms of water, I add a tsp or so of salt to their grain along with their flax and they always go straight to get a drink afterwards. Water is so important and I’m always keeping an eye on them to make sure they’re drinking enough!

  17. Fiona Anderson on January 5, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    We live up in the Rocky Mountains where we get some pretty cold winters . I have not needed to use winter blanklets for years.
    My husband gets up at 3:30 for work and he throws them extra hay. We have a heated water supply for them and they have lots of options for shelter ( depending on the wind direction). I use slow feeders so they basically get to nibble most of the day.

  18. Tamara on January 5, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    It is around -40 with the windchill here in Northern Alberta and has been for a few weeks. My horses have a barn and a lean-to they can freely go in and out of, but they prefer to stay outside. They have pretty thick coats (the paint more so than the thoroughbred) but I still feel sorry for them with ice on their eyelashes and snow on their backs. They have free access to all the hay they want and my de-icer keeps their water from freezing. The thoroughbred, who is not as fat as the paint, also gets sweet feed every day.

  19. Kate on January 5, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Its -21C (-6F) here with a windchill -32C (-26F). Im in northern BC and none of my four horses wear blankets. They have as much good alfalfa mix hay as they can eat, and my colt and pregnant mare get grain. We’ve got six months of winter up here and all of my horses have got thick winter coats. I guess God knew what He was doing when he made them!

  20. Lori Nicholson on January 5, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Some extra grain & all the hay they can eat & fresh water always. I will blanket my older horse but they should all be fine. Had horses during the blizzard of ’78 & that was a challenge but everybody made it through!!

  21. Madeline C. on January 5, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    I tried to keep my horse blanketed for the first time this winter because rumor has it “if you blanket your horse early, he won’t grow as thick a coat and will be easier to cool down”. You can’t tell my Montana boy to keep it short and there’s no way in hell I’m clipping just for our indoor rides. I would rather let them get a thick coat as they can without losing weight before I start blanketing. I just love my fuzzy ponies! And they just seem happier… Plus it’s less work. Ponies have heated outside waters where I am, but inside we can’t have the heated water. They usually drink more outside than they do inside anyway so I don’t get too worried. Good luck this week!

  22. Nikki B on January 5, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    I’m in South Australia and the lowest temp we get here in winter is around 5 degrees celsius overnight. I’m feeling very fortunate right now – never any snow or ice in my neck of the woods. I do however rug my thoroughbred through winter as he feels the cold. What you guys describe I cannot even imagine, hope all is well and your horses are warm.

  23. Salli Lamborn Mayfield on January 5, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Thank you for reminding people of these important precautions!

  24. Fay on January 5, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Western NY here. No blankets. Access to a run in. Lots and lots of hay, and I moved the heated water bucket to the inside corner of the run in. In its previous location, the snow load would slide off the barn roof and sometimes make access to it difficult, not to mention it was a pain to fill, bucket by bucket. Now I can just turn on the barn hose and fill it from there. The faucet for the barn hose is about 6 ft above the floor, and in winter a 5 ft hose is connected to it: self draining. The only issue is, sometimes the faucet itself freezes, so I keep a hairdryer nearby

  25. Karen on January 5, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    We’re looking at negative temps and negative 31 degree wind-chills in the Midwest tonight. My horses have plenty of water, all the hay they can eat, and even blankets because one doesn’t grow much of a coat and I can’t stand doing nothing! They hate being locked inside and it’s so cold in the barn that I think they are truly better off being able to go out and move around to warm up when they want. I still won’t get any sleep tonight. I can’t stand seeing icicles on their whiskers and I just want to put them in the house for the night. I’m trying to resist! If they were Mini’s they would be in my kitchen right now.

  26. bobbie dawson on January 5, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    We have a bad storm headed our way, expected to drop a few inches of snow over night, but starting tomorrow afternoon our wind chill is supposed to be up to -45F and that is something I have not seen in my entire life here.. so we are planning on feeding all of the horses hay around the clock, blankets on those with less of a winter coat…maybe a little extra grain.. I dont have water run to my barm but normally through winter I add hot water to their buckets every 6 hours or so, with this coming storm, I will be adding around the clock as keeps them it warm water to drink which they really seem to appreciate and I get a little peace of mind knowing that they are drinking what they need/want..

  27. Wendy Russ on January 5, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    I’m in western Montana and while its cold here we are not getting the frigid cold of the east. We do get in the – didgets from time to time and I’m priding myself on my horses natural comfort. I feed in the barn which they can go in and out at any time and walk 60 feet to where the “priceless”. BABARA fresh spring water is. ( delighted to see Teri using barbarA as well.) Ours has worked for years! I keep loose Redmond salt in the barn and yes I feed extra hay to the point that its free choice and increase whole oats as well. I open up the paddock to the large pasture everyday so my 3 equine natural survivors can keep blood flow circulating. Also helps in their mental well being as I don’t work them a lot in the winter. I keep my super winter storm blankets handy but only use them in the extreme condition that a horse would be wet or visibly chilled. It makes us shutter as humans to see icicles hanging from our horses faces but it is amazing how adaptable they are when allowed to be accustomed to natural. The worst part of winter can be the ice, causing poor footing, I throw out rock salt in the paddock to keep it from being to slick, and take care when I can’t resist riding in a fresh snow of where those ice slicks can be underfoot. Ride Well~ this life!

  28. qhorsenut on January 5, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    We have the tank heaters in the water tanks. The horses are drinking lots. Put out round bale yesterday so the can eat as much as they want and shed is available for shelter but they aren’t in it here in south central Illinois at the moment. Tomorrow’s high of -5 might change their minds!

  29. Johanne Thibodeau on January 5, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Here in quebec, we actually live 5 days of -25 f last week, it is very cold, our horses have a lot hays double then usual, fresh water with heater, they all have different coat but very dense hair. next week will be terrible, two days of frosting rain, and then came back in the -20…this winter is very hard not only for them but for us to manage, water that is not freezing and also looking at they do not have cough or any injure due to the icy ground…don’t gave up we will pass trough but with a lot of care.

  30. piscesglass on January 5, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    I can identify with your I too, living Maine and just experienced some of the coldest record temps we’ve seen in many, many years. My three horses, while having developed wonderfully thick winter coats, are still blanketing during temps such as these. They all have heated water buckets (Yayy whomever developed that product.) and drink well during the cold snaps. I do find that you have to keep them scrupulously clean daily, it’s amazing how much hay they can manage to soak in those buckets. And my barn windows are all open (due to one horse with mold allergies?), and they all survived the cold snap like champs. I can tell you that horse
    keeping in the extreme cold is not one of my most favorite jobs, Keep warm everyone!

  31. Denise on January 5, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    I just experienced that deep freeze (as I too, live in Maine.) Although all three of my horses have a good hair coat, in temps that low I always blanket them with their medium weight winter blankets, they all have heated water buckets in their stalls (Big Thank God to the person that initiated that idea!), which they love. The water gets changed out every day..amazing how much hay they can soak in those buckets..and you do have to keep them very clean or the water takes on a truly bad smell..(cooking hay anyone?) Blecch. I can surprisingly say, that even though my barn windows are open (one horse has a mold allergy), they all survived the frigid temps extremely well. My guess is that if they have a windbreak, and are supplied with good and frequent forage they will survive quite nicely..and happily at that. Keep warm everyone!

  32. lisa on January 5, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    I`ve read so many articles about blankets I could scream. the average tells me no blankets for heavy coated horses because it flattens the part that insulates. I do put them in when windy or wet. But NO blankets.Lots of hay and water . I`m not sure if it`s right. The older I get the less I know 🙁

    • tanja on January 6, 2014 at 2:52 am

      Greetings from Finland 🙂 Blankets aren’t a boogieman, but shouldn’t use “just incase”. Sure, if it gets -20-40C for days, it’s not right for horses to stay inside all the time, so blankets will work fine during outdoors. Horses are individuals too… some seems to get cold and socome needs blankets and others don’t. Common sense works fine 😉

  33. Flo on January 5, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I have a Spring fed pond that spills out and that spot has never frozen in the 10 winters I’ve spent here. It’s great, summer and winter, all the clean fresh water they want.

  34. valerie on January 5, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    What kind of water trough heating system do you use? Anything like Nelson or Ritchie?
    Have you used floating and/or submersible de- icers?
    We are currently using a floating
    de- icer and hoping for the best during this cold snap. The horses don’t seem to mind drinking from the trough with it in place and running.

    • Stacy on January 5, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      I have the submersible heater (Popcorn removes floating ones, lol) and they work great.

  35. Terri Anderson on January 5, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    I just ran water lines this fall on my new horse/barn property. I cannot say enough about the bar bar a horse drinkers! They need no electricity to work and they DO NOT FREEZE!!!!! Windchill -12 and they are working great! No more thawing dragging hoses!

    • Stacy on January 5, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      Note to self: check those out when we build again! Sounds awesome!

      • Patti Crawford-Baxter on January 5, 2014 at 9:02 pm

        We are fortunate here in NB Canada, where the windchill hit -40 a couple days ago, to have a spring feed brook that never freezes. The horses won’t drink the water from the well LOL. Everyone gets extra hay, but blankets don’t seem to work as well as thick fuzzy coats due to the rapid temp changes (+10 tomorrow).

    • Nancy Stukenberg on February 25, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      I’m going to have to get one maybe two of these. It’ll keep the walnuts from flying into the water tanks. Messy job to clean it out all the time. I need to figure out how to kill those trees (city property). That’s where the pump is. Easier to connect hoses in winter. With this I might move it further away. Thanks!

  36. laura perez on January 5, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    outdoor horses and all have heavy winter natural coats-double their hay when bitter cold and they all get alfalfa to eat all the time anyway- everyone is nice and filled out and they have heated auto waterer and shelters to go in – so good to go- only ones blanketed are my 30 yrs old and my hard keeper

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