Ok.. how do I keep my horses warm when it's -10 f outside?
Watch to see if your horses are shivering. Old or infirm horses, or those who don't have a good winter coat, are more prone to problems with the cold. Remember that your horse is almost literally a "hay burner" and keeps warm by eating plenty of good hay. Pay particular attention to water. My veterinarian says that he sees several colic cases around holidays such as Christmas and New Years. I imagine that what happens is people go away ("over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house") or even just stay at home but get too drunk to care for their horses and to check the water. Onkel Carl has made up his annual batch of glögg, and everyone is drinking plenty of it. The horses, meanwhile, have nothing but ice to drink. Colic time!!! The vet charges double for midnight holiday work, and the horse dies anyway. The festive horse owner should appoint one person, preferably a non-drinker, as "designated horse waterer."
spring would have been a good time to ask this...BEFORE it was -10 degrees outside and you are unprepared. It's the horse that suffers as you sit in your heated home. What do you have out there anyhow...just a horse in a field?
Make sure they have lots of hay and unfrozen water. If they are clipped, they need to be blanketed, If they are old or thin or shiver, they need to be blanketed. They need some sort of shelter so they can get out of the wind. If given a choice, most horses will stay outside and do just fine without being blanketed. We think because we're cold, they're cold which isn't necessarily true. It makes me feel better to feed a warm mash when it's that cold. Horses that have adequate coats and are used to the weather don't seem to mind it. If you blanket, make sure to check them often to make sure there are no rubs and that they aren't sweating under the blanket. That will chill them.
You need to read about this. Use a winter blanket, but not too many or too heavy. Horse hair stands out from the horse's body during cold weather to insulate. Too many blankets, will push the fur down and spoil the insulation properties. Read articles about this. Provide more hay than normal, because the horse needs more fuel to heat it's "furnace" during cold weather. The more hay, the warmer the horse will be. Provide a stall or shed. Horses need a break from the wind. They also need to be dry in cold weather. Horses also help one another stay warmer by standing together with their heads pointed toward the middle of the herd, butts out. If you have nothing else, give the horse good quality hay to eat all day, as much as he can eat, in a proper container so it is not stomped on. They also need water that IS NOT frozen. A horse cannot get enough moisture from either ice or snow. They NEED water at all times. An electric cable made for this works. Read articles.
Warm beet pulp, endless hay, a heavy weight blanket, heated water bucket, and lock them in their stalls so they don't have any wind coming at them.
If you hadn't stole that animal, I'd tell you to buy painters canvas and put up a temporary windbreak but I don't help thieves.
The best thing you can do for your horses, Michael, is provide plenty of hay and other fiber feed ( such as soaked beet pulp, like we use where I live) and plenty of unfrozen water, along with a sturdy shelter where your horses can get out of the wind and any snow that may be falling. Make sure that they don't have to walk across slippery or icy ground in order to get their food or water, either. Other than that, you need to keep an eye on them, but let them alone. Horses do far better in COLD weather than they do in hot weather, provided that they aren't clipped. We never clip our horses where I live, nor do we ever blanket anybody. Blankets only make sense if a horse has been clipped and is in heavy training or work during the winter months. Otherwise, people put blankets on horses to make THEMSELVES feel better, not to benefit the horse. Besides, it's RISKY and dangerous to turn a horse out with a blanket on. If the horse rolls, he or she can easily get a leg caught in the straps, which in turn can result in serious injuries. I personally have seen a couple cases in which horses broke their legs after being turned out with blankets on. Both horses were put down as a result. So unless you're willing to stand out next to your horse's pasture and watch him every minute while he's out there, blankets aren't worth it. Another issue with blankets has to do with horses rolling in the STALL, rather than out in the pasture or paddock. Blanketed horses need to wear body rollers when inside their stalls, and they need to be in stalls with "banked" walls. This is to prevent the horse from rolling too close to the wall and getting "cast"- that is, being trapped against the wall or the door of the stall and unable to get his or her legs underneath the body to stand. Being "cast" will cause most if not all horses to PANIC and start thrashing. Aside from the risk of serious physical injuries, the big risk with "casting" is COLIC, caused by the stress of being down and unable to rise. The risk of getting cast is less with a run in style shed, but it's NOT GONE. Horses can still get into trouble if they lie down or roll too close to the walls or side of the shed. That's why horses which have a history of this problem need to wear body rollers all the time, whether inside or outside. Body rollers are designed to stop horses from rolling all the way over, thus they help to prevent casting. Snezzy's rather humorous warning about the importance of unfrozen water is correct. Either use a stock tank heater like we do, or make a point of checking your horses' water source at least twice a day during cold weather. Horses that don't or can't drink enough water are at risk of colic, ulcers, and a whole host of other health problems, some of which are fatal. One more note: If you decide to feed beet pulp, NEVER, EVER, EVER feed it DRY !!! It must be soaked, for safety's sake. Dry beet pulp can cause choke, yes, but it also can cause a fatal COLIC.
make sure they have an endless supply of hay. Horses keep warm through digestion and their fur coat
Judy and the Beast
A run in shed (they can use any side as a windbreak depending which way the wind blows), free choice access to hay and open water. That's really all you need.