Horses are deeply attuned to the natural world around them. Their behaviour, just like any other living creature, is influenced by the changing seasons. From the scorching heat of summer to the frosty chill of winter, horses respond to environmental shifts in ways that reflect their innate instincts and adaptations. Here we take a look at how each season affects our horses.

With summer not too far off, let’s start there. As much as horses enjoy the warmth and sun on their backs, sweltering heat leaves horses seeking relief in a sheltered spot either in the field shelter or beneath the trees. Their grazing patterns change as they opt to graze during the cooler hours in the mornings and evenings. It is well worth adapting your exercise regime where possible to ensure horses are exercised during the cooler hours of the day. Extreme heat can leave many horses feeling irritable and stressed. Remember horses with light coloured skin are more sensitive to the sun so it is well worth having some sun screen to hand to dab on those pink noses.

We can highly recommend either the Lavender Sunblock or Equine Sunblock Powder. The soothing Lavender Sunblock helps to protect delicate and sensitive skin from the sun’s harmful rays, once applied the cooling effects are instant and usually last all day.

The Equine Sunblock Powder protects your horse against sunburn and damage caused by UVA and UVB rays. This sunblock is non-sticky, fragrance free and made from 100% Zinc Oxide.

Equine Sunblock Powder

Dehydration and heat exhaustion become real threats particularly for horses out competing through the warmer months and for horses who are more vulnerable due to age or illness. Horse owners need to be vigilant and take extra precautions to ensure horses have a cool space to escape from the heat.

It is also essential to monitor how much horses are drinking; this is easier done with water buckets than automatic troughs. Why not offer a water buffet if you feel you could be doing more to encourage your horse to drink? These drinking stations are becoming increasingly more popular. By offering horses a range of options, horses will naturally be inclined to drink more, and you can ensure they are benefitting from a wide range of herbs and minerals.

Whilst fresh, clean, drinking water must always remain available, allowing the horse a free choice to different waters can not only improve their health, but also be mentally stimulating.

Here are some suggestions to get your water buffet started:

Apple Cider Vinegar – Not only is Apple Cider Vinegar a blood cleanser that fights infection, it also aids circulation and joint condition. Apple Cider Vinegar is a great source of potassium. Apple Cider Vinegar is brilliant for digestion and contains vitamin B1. Our Apple Cider Vinegar comes in 2 sizes, 2.5 litres or 5 litres.

Turmeric – Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can also be beneficial in alleviating the symptoms associated with skin irritation or digestive health.

Mint – Mint has properties which are beneficial to digestion with the added bonus that it tastes and smells great making it ideal for encouraging the reluctant drinker. Our spearmint is irresistible and supports digestion.

Magnesium Oxide – Magnesium Oxide is considered one of nature’s calmers. It is also an essential mineral necessary for healthy hooves, bone growth and metabolic function.

Nettles – Fresh nettles can be added to your horse’s water or perhaps try our dried nettles which can be left to infuse. Nettles contain plenty of vitamins and minerals and they have properties which are beneficial to both the digestive and urinary systems.

As always, remember these supplements are to be offered as ‘optional extras’ in addition to your horse’s usual plain drinking water.

how seasons affect out horses - horse drinking water in the summer
The ‘average’ horse can drink between 22 and 45 litres of water per day. It is well worth getting to know what is ‘normal’ for your horse. Reluctance to drink could be the first sign that something is not right, so it is well worth knowing roughly how much your horse drinks each day and we should extra vigilant during the warmer months of the year.

Here are some common signs of dehydration worth keeping an eye out for:

Lethargy: Reluctance to move and complete activities as they usually would.

Skin: When pulled upwards, the horse’s skin should return to normal within a second, the longer the skin takes to return to its original state the more likely it is that the horse is suffering from dehydration. If it takes more than 4 seconds to return to normal, it is likely a sign that your horse is severely dehydrated.

Urine: Your horse’s urine should be pale in colour. Dark, more concentrated, urine is often suggestive of dehydration.

how autumn season can affect horses
As summer fades into autumn, the crisp air and falling leaves signal the onset of cooler weather. Although horses are good at adapting to the changes in the seasons, there are still factors to keep in mind. It is the time of year when days shorten, and the weather becomes colder. Naturally our routines will adapt to accommodate these factors; Therefore, it is important to be mindful of how these alterations to our own routines impact upon our horses as we make the transition to reduced turnout and increased time spent in stables.

It is worth thinking about gradually altering routines and feed in accordance with the alterations to turnout and exercise regimes. Considering these factors and avoiding sudden changes will help to alleviate stress for your horse.

Autumn is also a good time to think about maintenance before the harsher weather sets in too. Are your field shelters up to the job and have you considered protecting your water pipes from the plummeting temperatures?

With the arrival of autumn and winter comes the windy weather and cold frosty mornings. Ensuring adequate shelter and access to water when temperatures hit freezing certainly makes life a lot easier when the conditions are against us. Simply lagging pipes or wrapping them in foam can help to prevent water from freezing.

Please remember to take care of your horses as you continue to venture out and about during autumn too. Although high visibility clothing is a sensible option when riding out all year round, it is particularly important in the autumn as the quality of light changes and the sun is often lower in the sky whilst we are out on the roads; visibility may be okay for us on horseback, but things can often look very different from behind the car windscreen.

Another consideration for horses during autumn is worming. These months are considered the right time for managing tapeworm and treating for encysted small redworm in order to avoid problems arising in the spring. It is often advised to have worm egg counts done so you can make conscious and well-informed decisions when considering which wormers to administer.

relaxed horses

The arrival of winter presents unique challenges for horses and their owners. Freezing temperatures, snowfall, and icy conditions necessitate careful management to ensure the well-being of our horses. In response to the cold, horses grow thicker winter coats to provide insulation against the elements. They may also want to increase their food intake to fuel their bodies and generate heat.

As the seasons change and the darker nights arrive, think carefully about your routines and making incremental alterations ahead of the changing of the clocks. It may be sensible to increase forage rations and think about whether your hard feed ration matches the winter workload. Sometimes continuing to offer more hard feed than necessary will create behavioural changes where horses have unexpended energy after spending more time confined in stables or on yards.

On the contrary, during winter months some horses may exhibit more subdued behaviour, preferring instead to conserve energy and stay warm. Owners often observe horses huddling together for warmth or seeking shelter from harsh weather conditions. It is crucial to provide adequate shelter, rugs, and additional feed to support horses through the coldest months of the year.

The colder, damp weather can often affect joints and muscles, requiring extra care during exercise. Take additional time to warm your horse up prior to exercise and cool down thoroughly before returning your horse to the stables or pasture. Grass will provide less nutritional value at this time of year and reduced hours of sunlight can also have an impact on your horse’s ability to absorb nutrients.

For older horses, youngsters, or those with metabolic conditions it may be worth considering adding supplements to their feed to ensure all their nutritional needs are met. Perhaps you could try adding Veteran Mix, the perfect combination of natural ingredients, including Marigold flowers, Clivers, Seaweed and burdock root. Veteran Mix will help to maintain joint comfort, circulation, digestive health and general condition.

horses in spring

As winter fades away and the promise of new beginnings fills the air, horses eagerly anticipate the arrival of spring. The longer days and milder temperatures herald a season of renewal and growth. Horses may become more energetic and spirited as they revel in the lush greenery of spring pastures; However, spring also brings about fluctuations in weather, including sudden rain showers and rapidly changing temperatures. These shifts can influence horse’s behaviour, sometimes causing restlessness or anxiety.

Consistent turnout and a gradual transition to spring grazing can help horses adapt to the seasonal changes more smoothly. Now might be the right time to consider adding a supplement, such as Lami- Ease which contains a unique combination of natural herbs, such as nettles, burdock root, cinnamon powder, and dandelion leaf.

Lami- Ease is a specifically tailored dry herbal blend to support the laminae. As we know grazing becomes nutrient rich at this time of year and the increased sugar levels in grass can cause all manner of problems. Limiting grazing for horses and ponies prone to laminitis is a sensible pathway as prevention is certainly better that cure. Keep a close eye on behaviour and know the early warning indicators of the onset of laminitis.

Look out for any of the following behavioural changes:

Reluctance to walk too far; discomfort and subtle shifting of body weight from one foot to another; heat in the hoof wall or coronet band or elevated digital pulses at the back of the pastern or fetlock. For higher risk horses it is advisable to strip graze pastures or consider setting up a track system so you have full control over the amount of grass your horse is eating, though this may mean feeding additional forage through the spring season it is far more beneficial for horses at risk of laminitis.

Stress can also be alleviated at this time of year by being prepared for the surge in allergic reactions; the influx of flies, and the irritation caused by midges (such as sweet itch). Sensitive horses tend to be far more reactive to bites and stings and many horses find the flies frustrating. Having products, such as antihistamines and fly sprays to hand when you need them most is well worth your while. We can recommend Equi Allergy, a specially formulated mix of ingredients including Huang Qin, Nettle and Eyebright.

As with all things, some horses will adapt more readily to the shifts and changes in the seasons and others will need us to take a more observant, tentative, and proactive approach to the shifting environments. Thankfully with a little preparation, there are many things we can do to make these transitions stress-free and manageable.