I don’t know about you, but this never-ending winter is getting to me. Have you ever wondered how seasons can affect your animals? I did a little reading on how the year’s changes can bring about certain transformations in horses. Here are some tidbits of what I learned:
Spring expedites the growth of grass. Again, you’ll see spikes in potassium and nitrates. The warmer temperatures and damp conditions are prime for fungus producing myco-toxins. Watch out for Rye Grass staggers. With the increased grass, your horse can gain weight. Too much weight gain can put your horse at risk for type 2 diabetes. If you fear your horse is eating too much, a grazing muzzle may be your solution.
Summer climates allow grass growth to continue. Again, spikes in potassium and nitrates should be on your mind. Horses tend to be more relaxed during dry summers. Always have drinking water readily available. Just like humans, horses need more water on hotter days.
Autumn brings a big change in grass, often with lower sodium content and higher potassium and nitrate levels. Fungus can thrive during this season too, possibly producing myco-toxins. Take head if your horse is ill or starts to stagger. They may need to be moved to a safer spot with better conditions. When the soil is wet for a long period of time, your horse can feel tender footed after rain.
Winter slows the growth of grass, which will help lower levels of potassium and nitrates. In some cases, grass will even become dormant. Horses burn more magnesium during colder months. Make sure you are still providing the vitamins and minerals found in hard feed (especially calcium and magnesium). Keep your horse warm and dry. Horse safe hay is great for this.
All in all, keep an eye on your horse for any changes in behavior. If you can make them more comfortable, do so. Make sure to seasonally adjust their diets so that they receive the nutrition they may lack at certain times of the year. Here’s to hoping spring comes swiftly, but for now you should bundle up.