Although many horses and ponies love life indoors during the colder winter months, many like to enjoy the grass too. Giving them the freedom to roam, graze and interact with other horses at their leisure is priceless, however, providing them with shelter from the Great British climate is essential.
Anyone that owns horses knows that most of the time, they know exactly what they want, whether that’s being with their friends, grazing or cantering around a field or arena. A horse’s habitat and situational environment plays a huge part on the physical and mental health of an animal. As such, careful consideration should be paid to ensure that wherever you keep your horses or ponies, the individual needs of the horse are met.
Although this is not possible for many, depending on the requirement of the horse, the majority of field-kept horses and ponies are at their happiest. For many owners a combination of stable and field care works best… in spite of the extra grooming time required in the muddier months!
Rugs are something to consider all year round. Many animals are capable of braving the weather without a rug throughout the year, as long as they have a good natural coat and access to shelter. However, the addition of a rug is a requirement for horses that have been clipped or are perhaps not as hardened to the weather as others. There are a wide selection of rug weights, styles and features available and should be researched according to the needs of your horse. Lightweight rugs or those that provide protection from irritating flies should also be considered throughout the summer.
Other things to think about when letting your horse out to pasture, is strong and secure fencing to prevent straying (hedging alone doesn’t guarantee to keep them where they are supposed to be!). Metal gates are lighter to handle and easier to maintain and should also be located away from water and shelters to keep the ground in the area in good condition for safe access.
Finally, it is still very important to keep an eye on your animals, ensuring that they are checked at least twice a day. A constant water supply and additional food, such as hay, should be provided, droppings should be regularly removed and good pasture management is vital to ensure they have ground to graze on.