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Winter Horse Care

With winter approaching fast, take this time to equipped to care for your horse during the winter months. Winter horse care can be challenging, especially if you are not ready to properly care for your horse. 

Horse’s require a bit of extra attention when it is cold out, and if you are prepared, your horse will be more comfortable. Read this article to find out a little bit more about how you can be better equipped and to find out about our winter horse care practices at Riverside Farm. 

Caring for your horse during the cold months isn’t harder than other times, but there are a few things to watch out for. Factors like ice, snow, and freezing temperatures are not uncommon during the winter so let’s find out how to be more prepared for when they come. 

Phase One of Winter Horse Care: How to Prepare for Cold Temperatures

Preparation is essential in everything, and that is no different here. Begin preparing now so that you won’t be caught off guard.

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Horse Blankets: If you need to purchase a horse blanket, make sure you buy the right one depending upon certain conditions.

  • If you plan on having your horse stabled most of the winter months, then a stable blanket will be the right decision.
  • If your horse is going to be outside some of the time, choose the right blanket carefully. If it is frigid, choose a heavy, waterproof blanket. If the winter temperatures are not too cold, a lightweight blanket will work. 
  • If your horse is in and out in the winter weather, then purchase a waterproof blanket. A stable blanket will not help and may even make conditions worse if it gets wet.

Remove the blanket and groom your horse regularly during the snowy winter months. Keep the lush coat of winter hair in tip-top shape, and when spring comes, your horse will be in good health!

Feed: Your horse will eat more during the winter months, so make sure you provide extra food throughout the winter. Typically, a horse will consume 2% of its weight in food daily—an average 1,000 pound horse will consume 20 pounds of hay, but that rate could increase to 3% (30 lbs.) each day during the winter. 

Phase Two of Winter Horse Care: When Winter Comes

It’s not cold right now, but if you follow this article you’ll be ready when it does start to get cold and snowy.

Start the winter season off right with these six practices every day:

  1. Provide your horse with warm water. (45˚ to 65˚ F.)
  2. Feed additional hay during extreme cold.
  3. Make sure there is access to shelter.
  4. Perform regular hoof care.
  5. Assess your horse’s body condition regularly.
  6. Evaluate your stable’s stability and ventilation. 
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Water

As you begin the cold season, provide your horse with warm water every day. The water should be between 45˚ and 65˚ F. Check your water supply throughout the day to make sure it hasn’t iced over or become too cold. 

Clean the ice out of the water trough regularly to ensure that your horse has all the drinking water it needs. 

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Food

As we mentioned earlier, a horse will eat more food during the winter months. The cause isn’t boredom as a horse will eat to stay warm, so make sure your horse has enough hay or grass to provide for its appetite and warmth. 

To recap what we said earlier (so that you don’t need to look back), a horse eats typically 2% of its weight in food. If a horse weighs 1,000 lbs, then it will consume 20 lbs. of food a day during the warmer period of the year. However, during the winter, the rate of food needed can increase to 3% for most horses (25-30 lbs.).

Blankets

In addition to a shelter or stable helping to keep your horse warm, blankets will also be a big help. Choosing the right blanket is essential; read more about that here.

Choose the right blanket for the situation. Winter horse care is all about making sure your horse has the right atmosphere to provide for its needs and continue to thrive in its environment. If your horse is outdoors, choose a waterproof horse blanket because a stable blanket (which isn’t waterproof) when wet is worse than not having a blanket.

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If you decide to blanket your horse, indoors or outdoors, take proper care of the lush coat of winter hair your horse develops. Remove the blanket and groom your horse regularly. Take the blanket off when you can; if it is a warmer, sunny day, remove the blanket and allow your horse to enjoy the sunshine.

Only blanket a horse that is clean and dry. Problems can develop when a horse is wet and covered. Bacteria can begin to grow, and that isn’t good. 

Hoof Care

Provide regular hoof care to your horse. If your horse is out in the pasture all day, check its hooves several times a day to make sure no ice or snow clumps are building up. Lumps can cause significant pain and damage to a horse’s hoof. 

Ask your veterinarian if you should keep your horse shod during the cold weather. 

Grooming

Groom your horse regularly throughout the winter. There are four reasons why you should do this.

  1. Better circulation: Grooming your horse daily can help to improve its circulation; think of getting a massage. 
  2. Removal of mud, ice, snow, and dirt: When mud and snow are given the change, they can latch onto a horse’s coat and “clump” up. These pieces can get hard and irritate the skin and possibly lead to infections. Be very diligent about removing these pieces, especially when it is snowy. 
  3. Warming up your horse: Again, think about a massage. By giving your horse a vigorous grooming session, you can help warm him or her up by getting the circulation going correctly. 
  4. Daily contact with your horse: Grooming your horse every day helps to strengthen the relationship between you and your horse.
winter-horse-care-grooming-horse-riverside-farm

Phase 3: Springtime

Springtime is a while away as we are only beginning the colder months of the year. However, proper winter preparation can make the cold months better and a make for a healthier horse in the spring. 

Horse Teeth Floating The In's and Out's of Horse Teeth Floating

What is horse teeth floating and why is it so important? Horse owners should understand the impact a horse’s dental health has on the horse’s well-being. Beginning quite early in a horse’s life, dental health is crucial to its condition.

Horse teeth floating is a dental process to remove the sharp points that form on horse’s teeth. It also makes an even grinding pattern for the horse’s chewing which aids in digestion.

Horse Teeth Anatomy

A horse is born without teeth, but within one year a young horse will have 24 teeth. In an adult horse or year 5 of a horse’s life, they will now have 36-40 teeth. Usually, an adult horse will have 12 incisor teeth at the very front which cut the grass or hay while grazing. There is a gap, or what is referred to as an interdental space and lastly, there are 12 premolars and 12 molars in the back.

What does it mean to float a horse’s teeth?

As we stated at the very beginning, teeth floating is the process of removing the sharp points from horse’s teeth making an even grinding pattern for chewing.

As a horse develops those points on the teeth, the points can poke into the gums causing pain. The pain can be the point that a horse will lose their appetite and/or drop food from their mouth. We should go over a few signs that could mean a horse is ready for teeth floating.

All of these could indicate that a horse is ready for teeth floating. Don’t overlook these signs as your horse could be experiencing the pain that goes along with teeth that need attention. Razor-like edges can form and cut the inside of the mouth or cause gum irritation.

What should you do for floating horse teeth?

It all starts early in a horse’s life. In the first few years of your horse’s life, get a dental checkup every 6 months. This should help you catch anything that could be problematic later in life. Your veterinarian will probably check your horse’s teeth at their annual check-up in their adult years, however, when your horse is getting older it may require more dental care. Aged teeth = frequent care.

horse-teeth

Can I float my horse’s teeth?

No, you should not attempt to float your own horse’s teeth. Your veterinarian has taken a lot of training for this and they know what to do. They need to be careful not to file/float too much enamel off or there won’t be enough roughened area to tear food apart.

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Horse teeth floating cost explained.

How much does it cost to float my horse’s teeth?  The average horse teeth floating costs between $80-$200. The cost will vary based on your location and the type of veterinarian you hire. Most vets will charge a first-time float fee and travel fees. If your horse requires extractions it could add $20-$80 and sedation fees are usually $10-$30.

What is the process of floating horse teeth?

You are probably reading this article to find out how the whole process goes so we’ll give you a basic summary. If your horse needs any sedation, we’ll take care of that first, then your vet will use an instrument called a speculum that holds the horse’s mouth open. Then the vet will take out their float, or rasp, and file the sharp points on the teeth.

As we stated earlier, this process isn’t painful for the horse at all if done properly. We’ll warn you now, floating horse teeth smells terrible!

At Riverside Horse Farm…

At Riverside Horse Farm we provide this service to all our horses annually. We realize that a retiring horse needs extra care, so we make sure our horse’s teeth are filed to smoothen and straighten the chewing surfaces. We take care of all our horses and treat them as our own. Contact us today to learn more about retiring your horse at Riverside Horse Farm and don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you may have!

Equine Senior Feed

Senior horse feed is a complete feed designed to replace some or all long-stemmed forage for horses that have trouble chewing or digesting hay. Equine senior feed contains fiber sources and to help your senior horse that is struggling with poor dentition to maintain it’s physical condition.

Is your horse ready for equine senior feed?

equine senior feed

There are several signs that could show that your horse is ready for senior feed. These signs could include weight loss, poor top-line condition, hoof & hair coat quality, dropping feed while eating, quidding (dropping partially chewed hay), and loose stools. Not all of these signs mean that your horse is read for senior feed, since it could be something like a physical or dental issue. Check with your veterinarian if your horse is showing these signs.

Senior horse feed is made for horses who are experiencing problems chewing or digesting their regular feed.

Some of these chewing issues may be a result of needed dental work or a physical issue. For example, a senior horse that is struggling to maintain its physical condition may be experiencing hock pain or dental problems. If there are no underlying issues with your horse and you are considering senior horse feed, check with your veterinarian or nutritionist before switching your senior horse’s diet.

Although we know a little, there has been a limited amount of information available about micro-nutrient requirements of senior horses.

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Senior horses have decreased digestibility when compare to younger horses. Senior equines require highly digestible fiber in their diet. Crude fiber should be greater than 10%. Water intake is highly critical in senior horses to reduce the constipation and impaction problems that can be common in older horses.

Equine senior feeds are designed specifically for older horses. These senior horse feeds are easy to chew and are also highly digestible. Pelleted or extruded feeds are best for senior horse food because they are easier to chew and more digestible. Senior horses face an increased risk of choking, therefore soft pellets are safest. In geriatric horses, pelleted or extruded feed mixes are shown to be most effective in maintaining body weight and condition. Senior horses may also have trouble with chewing, and as a result they may not be able to chew regular feed. Pelleted and extruded feeds can be soaked and made into mash. Typically, senior horse feed mashes are made by adding ½ gallon of water per pound of senior horse feed.

How much senior horse feed is right for your horse?

feed

There is no single standard. Typically, a horse should be on a foundation of forages and long-stem hay. Horses, including senior horses, should be fed a minimum of 1.5% their bodyweight in forage per day (15 lbs. forage for a 1,000 lb. horse).

For senior horses, feeding forages as their whole diet could be complicated by poor dentition and a reduced ability to be able to chew their forage. There are alternative fiber solutions available for senior horses that are experiencing problems chewing or digesting roughage- a vital part of their diet. Grass, for example, is easily chewed and digested. Hay is another alternative but be careful about feeding only hay to your senior horse. It could be a problem as their teeth may not be in condition to properly grind their forage.

What does equine senior feed contain?

Senior horse feed should contain low levels of soluble carbohydrates such as sugar and starch, and higher fiber contents.

Equine senior feeds are usually made of highly digestible fiber sources such as beet pulp, soybean hulls, and alfalfa meal. These senior horse feeds usually include moderate calories. High quality protein to help with muscle building, higher fiber content to counter dental issues, increased phosphorous to aid against the possible decline in an older horse’s ability to digest, and increased vitamins for immune support (such as Vitamin E and Vitamin C).

equine senior feed oats in bucket

Equine senior feeds generally replace a portion of forage in the horse’s diet and should contain pelleted grains with a fiber percentage higher than 12%. Senior horse feed used as a partial replacement of forage should also include a protein percentage between 12 to 16% from a high-quality source such as soybean meal. Added fat (4-6%) helps build the energy value of senior horse feed.

Senior horse feed can be fed without other forage, but it is not ideal. Some equine horse feeds are not meant to be a standalone source of nutrition (make sure your read feeding instructions). Check with your veterinarian or nutritionist before switching a horse’s whole diet. A reason why a wholly senior horse feed diet may be recommended might include a horse not being able to chew other food.

Equine senior feeds should be fed in smaller portions several times a day (3 – 4 times daily). This is simply to guard against gastrointestinal issues.

Finding the best senior horse feed

Before shopping for the best equine senior feed, it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian or nutritionist for their recommendations. Make sure the feed you select is highly digestible, has excellent protein quality (notice quality, protein quality is more important than quantity), high fiber, higher fat, and enhanced vitamin. Serving equine senior feed as mash can make it highly palatable and your horse may enjoy it more.

When should you start feeding equine senior feed to your horse?

There are numerous thoughts about when a horse is considered senior. There are three common methods used to determine when a horse is senior: chronologic (the number of years of life from birth), physiologic (relating to the decline of physiologic function), and demographic (relating to the survival of a sub-population relative to the entire population).

Age is not a fully sufficient method of labeling a horse as a senior. Horses are not classed as seniors by a simple age calculation (although a common thought is that a horse is senior at 15-20 years.) Just like humans, some horses wear out physically faster and begin to exhibit geriatric signs earlier. To properly calculate a horse’s seniority, take into account its chronological age, physiological status, and any physical signs of aging.

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Signs your horse will give when its time to start feeding senior horse feed.

As we stated earlier there are numerous signs that could mean your horse is ready for equine senior feed. Keep in mind some of these may be a sign of another problem at play. For example, dropping feed while eating might be a sign of aging, or it could simply be a dental problem.

There are natural changes that occur with aging. Your veterinarian will be able to help you decide what to do when your horse is showing these signs. These signs could include loss of weight and decrease in body condition, loss of muscle mass, sway back, hollow grooves above the back, graying hair coat, dental diseases, Equine Metabolic Syndrome, Equine Cushing’s Disease, and kidney or liver dysfunction.

Senior horse feeds might not be just for senior horses. Equine senior feeds contain a number of ingredients that are helpful for horses that need lower levels of soluble carbohydrates. They are also great for horses that are prone to muscle conditions, horses that are nervous, have digestive issues, or are hard keepers or need to gain weight.

Checking into equine senior feed for your retiring horse?

equineseniorfeed

If you are looking into retiring your senior horse, do some research on the best senior horse feed for your horse. Ask the retirement farm you choose what they use. If you veterinarian has been involved with your horse, they will be able to give great recommendations based on the physical condition of your horse.

There are many different brands of equine senior feed available. Some brands may be a complete diet, others may simply be a supplement to add to your horse’s diet.

Your Takeaway

The basic ingredients of a feeding program for your senior horse should include high quality forage, a commercial concentrate (aka equine senior feed), fresh clean water, and salt. If you are looking into a retirement horse farm for your senior horse, ask them what their feeding program is, or ask your nutritionist for their recommendations.

What does Horse Retirement Cost? A detailed list of horse retirement costs.

What is involved when determining the best place to retire your beloved horse? Is there a set fee or does it vary? Can I get special care for my retired horse?

While price is not the only (or even primary) concern when determining where to retire your horse, it’s certainly a significant part of the equation for many folks.

Horse retirement costs can range anywhere from $100 to $2000 per month. However, the median price is usually between $300-$600 per month. Horse retirement farms in this range will usually offer a basic set of services, such as individual stalling, pastures, fresh water, hay & grain, baths & grooming, and additional services to make the horse’s retirement years the best possible.

Table of Contents

What is horse retirement?

Horses retire for a variety of reasons. Some horses are retired because of soundness issues, injury, illness, or because the owners felt the horse worked hard and now deserves the chance to just be a horse.

What is involved in horse retirement costs?

That is a good question since horse retirement costs vary greatly from farm to farm.

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Let’s break down horse retirement costs

As you can see with Farm A, it is The Basics. The basic plan for Farm A is Pasture Retirement for $300 per month. Horses on this plan will get all their nutrition from the pasture and grain and baled hay supplements in the winter months. This plan does not offer individualized attention per horse. They are checked on once a day and groomed and bathed as needed.

Farm A offers a second plan for $350-$400 per month. These horses get more individualized attention and have a dedicated stable for nights and harsh weather. For this horse retirement boarding plan, horses are brought into the barn for regular feedings and feed supplements. Blanketing, fly masking, leg wrapping, and other various medical duties are covered. However, on this plan Farm A covers only the first $50 of feed per month and you will get billed with the extra.

horse retirement cost farm b

Farm B offers much of the same type of care as Farm A. With Farm B you get to choose your boarding style, Pasture Retirement or Stall Retirement. Pasture Retirement for your horse for $400 per month means your horse is in the pastures 24 hours a day with 4-10 other horses. Blanketing and fly masking are provided as needed. These horses get fed twice a day with customizable feeding options and hay in the winter. Worming up to 4x per year, annual dental (teeth floating) and annual vaccines as well as regular trimmings. Supplements and medications must be purchased by the horse owner, you, but are administered as part of the plan.

Stall retirement for $650 per month includes a lot of similarities to Pasture Retirement. Stall Retirement means your horse has a dedicated 12×12 stall, cleaned out daily. Your horse will be turned out to pasture to fit its needs.

Farm C offers much the same as these farms and would mostly be geared towards shows horses with incentives like on-site trainers and lessons in an indoor arena as well as going to shows. Stall and Pasture retirement plans offer similar horse care as Farm B, with a few farms offering much more individualized care.

What are some expenses not included in the basic horse retirement cost?

Horse Shoeing

Horses needing shod will incur extra expenses. Most horse retirement farms will encourage you to remove any shoes from the horse prior to beginning its stay at their farm. However, for special circumstances requiring your horse to be shod contact your horse retirement farm for costs related to horseshoes. Shoeing will usually cost about $100 per month to the cost of horse retirement.

Medical

Annual Horse Physicals are provided at most retirement farms. Medical attention required beyond may result in extra fees. Your horse retirement farm will consult you before making decisions regarding extra medical attention. Many farms include annual teeth floating in the basic horse retirement cost.

Minor cuts and abrasions are part of normal herd life. Will you cover these expenses for your horse and provide for its dental care? Most farms have veterinarians on call who care for your horse on an annual plan including physical checkups, worming (usually 4x per year), and other health related duties, as well as being available for any emergency that may arise. If your horse’s well being is of concern to you, a plan for more detailed or individualized horse care is your best option.

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Now that we know what Horse Retirement costs, why should you choose Farm A, Farm B, or Farm C.

If your primary focus was about cost, this would be an easy decision. But most of you love your horses and want to make sure it will be cared for and loved. Your horse may be getting worn out or you may just want to put it into retirement so it can enjoy its final years, just getting to be a horse. Either way, you want to make the best decision.

Decide what horse retirement plan fits what you expect

Horse retirement costs will vary depending what plan you select. Do you want the horse retirement farm to provide al the feed and nutrition to your horse? Will you want to visit your horse occasionally? Some horse retirement farms will send digital photographs of your horse as soon as it arrives on the farm for the first time, weekly photos while your horse is adjusting, and monthly photos after that. (Plus, most horse retirement farms post to their Facebook Page frequently, so you might see even more pictures of your horse enjoying its retirement.

What would you like to see in the horse retirement farm you choose?

A retiring horse may need attention and special care. Knowing that your horse is in the hands of a professional or at least experienced horseman will tell you they know what they are doing. Most, if not all, horse retirement farms are run by former or current horse owners.

Are you wanting to keep your horse nearby so you can visit frequently or are you okay with your horse being transported to another state? If the farm is nearby, most horse retirement farmers will encourage you to drive out to visit and look around before making your decisions as well as while your horse is staying there. Walking around the farm may help you feel more comfortable retiring your horse there. Additionally, being in person with the owners/operators gives you the opportunity to ask detailed questions about horse care and the attention that your horse will receive while retired on their farm.

Thoughts in addition to horse retirement costs

In addition to all we’ve discussed already, here are a few other things to think about.

As mentioned earlier there is more to choosing a boarding place for your horse than just the cost. There is peace of mind that comes from knowing your horse is taken care of. You have security knowing that in an emergency, the best possible solutions will be reached to take the upmost care of your horse.

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Emergencies involving your horse

We encourage you to talk to the retirement farm you are considering. They will have detailed information on how they handle these types of situations.

How do I adjust my horse for retirement life?

Most farms will offer programs to enroll your horse into their farm. For example: what if your horse has been stabled rather than pasture fed, yet you are considering a pasture retirement. Your retirement farm will have methods of handling this. They might approach it like this: having the horse slowly tapered off hay/grain and allowing them to slowly adapt to pasture life in their own time. By having access to hay or grain at the same time as pasture they will learn on their own. Most horse retirement farms will allow each horse to acclimate at its own speed.

In the end the decision is yours. Which program you choose to enroll your retiring horse in is your call. Ask the horse retirement farmer any questions you may have. Write your questions out on paper a few days prior to meeting with the horse retirement farm. They will be able to answer all your questions and walk you through the process of retiring your horse at their farm. Choosing the right farm can be a hard decision, but by the time you select a farm you will have peace of mind knowing its the right call.

Retirement Horse Farm

Imagine a place where horses can live out the rest of their life with a caring staff to ensure that not only are all their needs met, but where they can make new friends and live peacefully. We are talking about a retirement horse farm.

If you are considering a retirement farm for horses, then you care about your horse and are likely seeking a place where your horse will find happiness. You want peace of mind knowing you made the right decision for your horse.

retirement horse farm friends

A retirement horse farm purpose is to provide a guilt-free solution that is financially sustainable, and where your horse will be well taken care of by experienced people. You want your horse to find enjoyment in his new home. You don’t want him ever to feel abandoned or neglected.

Your horse will develop new friends that are in a similar phase of life. He will have plenty of space to graze and run on our 30+ acre farm. He will have his own stall and be covered in the cold winter and bathed weekly in the summer. He will be groomed weekly by loving hands.

Riverside Farm’s History

Our facility is newly built with individual stalls for each horse. Elam Miller envisioned an equine retirement facility where horses could happily live the rest of their life. Elam’s Amish background has given him over 20 years of experience working directly with horses.

He understands that this is not always an easy decision for owners, so he encourages visitors to tour the facilities and see the farm before making their decision. He wants you to have peace of mind in knowing that your horse is well taken care of by professionals and will have a happy life at Riverside Farm.

horse retirement cost farm b
land horse retirement farm

You should look for thoughtful things such as does the facility provide fly masks? Fly masks will protect horses from annoying and potentially dangerous insects. Or, do they provide hoof trimming? Horses shouldn’t develop unnecessary pain due to something preventable with a little hoof trimming. Does the retirement horse farm provide salt blocks? This will help horses get enough daily sodium and chloride in their diet. Things like these indicate that the retirement horse farm is looking out for the horses under their care.

Horse Dentist on Retirement Horse Farm

It is important that horses are receiving all the hygienic and health care checkups. This is why at Riverside Farm we offer annual sheath cleaning for male horses. This may help prevent pain, discomfort, or infection if dirt or other grime gets into the area.

Annual teeth floating is another service that you will want to look for. Retired horses must never struggle to chew their food. Their teeth are filed to smoothen and straighten. This helps ensure they can continue to chew.

Horses should have checkups just like people. This is why we provide annual physical by Veterinarians, and you can request additional examinations if you feel your horse needs it.

When Visiting a Horse Farm

You should always feel comfortable asking questions when touring a retirement horse farm. Your horse is depending on you to make the best decision for him. You are your horse advocate.

Get to know the people that will be caring for your horse. What are their names, and will they be working with your horse? Do you have any special requests? It never hurt to ask. It is important to establish expectations, so it is clear what you are looking for and what is agreed upon. If you plan on making occasional visits, you should discuss this beforehand, so everyone is clear on the policies.

Have you ever left a meeting and remember you forgot to ask a question? A way to avoid this is to write a list of questions over a few days leading up to your visit, then you will be prepared to have all your questions answered. And don’t leave your list of questions at home.

caring for retired horse