Each year, many people relocate to Wellington for the winter show season. This allows escape from the brutal winters in the northern US, Canada, and Europe. However, cold-fronts do periodically pass through South Florida. Horses who have acclimated to the warm temperatures of Wellington and the surrounding areas are at risk when the cold weather arrives.
Most horses are very resilient, but when there are rapid changes in temperature, they can be susceptible. Any change of 20 degrees or more from typical should prompt consideration of ways to minimize risk.
- Blanketing horses when there is a 20+ degree temperature change over a period of 24 hours or less will keep them more comfortable and likely to maintain normal water intake
- Take care when using heaters to ensure air quality remains clear, and that no dust or hay chaff will be burnt in unused heaters. Ensure adequate ventilation – carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless!
Many horses will refuse to drink cold water. This can lead to firmer fecal material and impactions which cause signs of colic, or abdominal discomfort.
There are several different methods owners may use to encourage their horses to drink water when the temperature drops:
- Keeping access to hot water in the barn and topping off the water buckets with hot water to help keep the water at a warmer temperature
- Adding a second water bucket with salt, electrolyte, or Gatorade added can help horses feel thirsty which in turn increases water intake
- Soak hay with warm water and feed a sloppy, warm mash
As always, call your veterinarian to discuss management strategies to minimize risk for your horses. The vets and staff at Palm Beach Equine are here to help any time.