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Messages from the Mystic

WINTER HORSE KEEPING

This winter at the Mystic, we have middle aged to older retired horses and with the older ones especially in the cold weather it is important to do some simple things to keep your horse’s life force strong so they stay healthy in the winter.

 

1) Water & Salt
Keep plenty of fresh water available to them. This is extremely important. Just like people, horses do not drink as much water when it is cold so monitor their water consumption. A simple test for skin turgor is to pinch the skin on the horse’s neck. If the horse is well hydrated it will flatten back out against the muscles underneath within 10-20 seconds. If it stays pinched your horse may be getting dehydrated….. the next thing to check is their mucous membranes. They should be pink and moist and when you press on them they’ll turn white for a moment but turn pink again within 2-3 seconds. This is called capillary refill time.


We have water heaters in the metal tanks in the barnyard and of course fresh water running in the creek which all the horses have access to. It is interesting to observe the horses taking a long slow drink usually about 2 hours after sunrise and again just before sunset.
Also make sure they have continual access to salt. We offer both salt/mineral blocks in the pastures as well as free choice Redmond salt and Rush Creek minerals in all of the shelters from www.abc-plus.com. Horse’s tongues are not as roughly textured as cows and they can get sore from licking a block, this is why we offer the free choice in a loose granulated form as well.

 

2) Night Feeding
Before you turn in for the night, throw them another couple flakes of hay. We do not recommend straight alfalfa but we do give one grass and one alfalfa at night to add heat to their digestive systems. It takes a lot of energy to keep warm so 3-4 feedings a day is the best policy. It keeps them busy and they require the extra energy to stay warm. We give our seniors soaked beet pulp, flax seeds, and equine sr and even soaked hay pellets to the ones with compromised teeth.

 

3) Grooming & Exercise To Increase Circulation
If you have the space, take the hay out to different parts of the pasture so they need to move around more. We put them in the sunshine in the morning if there is sun or under the trees if it’s snowing. Our horses are used to the sound of the 4 wheeler and will trot along and follow for feed.


Winter grooming is not about getting them clean and shiny, it’s about invigorating the hair follicles, encouraging natural oils and keeping the hair fluffy which gives them extra insulation. I use various curry type grooming tools and curry along the neck and back and also vigorously down the insides and outsides of the legs. This moves the life force or “chi” along the acupuncture meridians. Be sure to focus your attention to the knees, hocks, ankles, and coronet bands as there are powerful acupressure points there to stimulate whole body wellness. You can use a stiff brush on the legs and body after the currying. It is best to do this at a time when they are not eating so they are really soaking up the healing, rest and repair mode you are likely to induce.


I make up a blend of cypress, basil, marjoram, and sometimes nutmeg in mixing oil and massage this on the coronet bands a few times a week also to increase circulation down the legs to the hooves.

 

 

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