Horse Class Logo Image
Horseclass Image

As the temperatures drop, you may notice your horse’s weight dropping as well. It is important to be extra watchful of your horse’s body condition in the winter months because most of the natural forage is gone, and he is burning extra calories to stay warm in the winter weather. Take a close look at your horses body condition now, then make a point to check him every week, feeling for his ribs and other bony structures, as just doing a visual check can be very deceiving if he has a thick winter coat. If he wears a blanket, pull it off to do the body condition check. When evaluating body condition, the most important areas to examine are the ribs, flanks, back, and along the tail head. The equine body condition scoring system can be found here:

There are some general feeding practices to follow to keep your horse in peak condition all winter. First, you want to feed a majority of slow burning feeds, you horse will be better able to stay warm if he is constantly digesting. Forage– hay, is the slowest burning feedstuff, it is digested with fermentation in the hindgut. Your horse should have constant access to grass hay. When feeding grain, fat is digested more slowly than starches, so choose a grain with a higher fat content or add a fat supplement, such as rice bran. High starch feeds like corn or molasses are digested rapidly so they generate a quick burst of heat in the digestive system, but only for a short time. Beet pulp is another high fiber but higher calorie feed that is a good choice in the winter because anything with high fiber content is going to be slower digesting.

If your horse does lose weight in the winter, first increase his fiber intake with more hay or addition of a feed like beet pulp to his diet. Next, you can increase his grain, but also increase the fat content, with either a different feed or top dressing a fat supplement. If possible, keep him warmer by bringing him into the barn overnight or keeping a blanket on him so that less of his calories go to keeping warm. If you still cannot get the weight back on, contact an equine nutritionist. Most feed stores have one on staff that will give free consultations as an added service.

And one final rule, always be sure that your horse has access to fresh, unfrozen water. Colic rates go up in the winter simply because horses are eating more hay and not drinking enough water.

Photo credit of


Daily exercises for an immovable seat, steady hands, and a happier horse

Your information is safe with us, learn how we use and process data in our Privacy Policy.

Better riding in 7 days (FREE Mini Course)

Daily exercises for an immovable seat, steady hands, and a happier horse

Your information is safe with us, learn how we use and process data in our Privacy Policy.

Related Courses

Next Open Oct 2024
Instructed by: Wendy Murdoch
Find solutions to your riding challenges and bring ease to your riding through understanding the mechanics of movement.
Next Open July 2024
Instructed by: Andrea Wady
Learn to create a friendship with your horse. Get to truly know your horse and develop relationship through these unique liberty exercises.
Instructed by: Callie King
Make a real difference in your riding over the next 30 Days with Simple Daily Lessons for a secure seat, a balanced posture, and a happier horse!
Join the 30 Day Better Riding Quest for a fun journey through the most important lessons for any type of rider.

Related Posts

Lip Blisters and Lesions

This past week, I had three clients notice that their horses were becoming difficult to bridle, and on closer inspection found that the horses lips were raw and irritated, the

Read More
Handling Hooves

I have received quite a few questions lately regarding difficulties with picking up and cleaning out horses hooves. In my experience teaching new riders, this is an unnerving chore for

Read More



One Response

  1. Dear Callie,

    My name is Ryan. I have loved losses science I was 5 , and taken lessons sense I was 6. I am getting a horse , and just wanted to know your opinion about what a good breed would be for me. I like to ride a lazy horse so it is a challenge to pick up.a trot or canter. Thank you-

    Ryan Richard

    Ps when I get my horses I want to be just like you because the way you treat your horses makes me happy to see that my favorite animals have such an amazing g owner that treats them very well

    Pops you are my idle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Our HorseClass Social Community

Coming Soon!