Last updated on October 4, 2023
Are Weather Changes Negatively Affecting Your Horse? 7 Signs to Watch For
Growing up, my Grandpa had an old ranch horse named Dunny. He happened to be “fancy broke” with all kinds of buttons that my kid self didn’t know how to fully appreciate. He wasn’t what anyone would have called a kid horse, but I’d been around and ridden enough that he was okay for me. Looking back, he taught me a great lesson on paying attention to your horse.
On top of doing flying lead changes and spinning on a dime, Ol Dunny was WAY too prone to colic. As a kid, I can remember helping care for him on more than one occasion during a colic. The poor ol’ guy would colic almost every single time there were any significant weather changes. And since we were on the Colorado front range, there were A LOT. Despite getting lots of experience handling colic even as a kid, I now know that so many issues could have been prevented.
As the summer starts slipping into autumn, weather changes can affect your horse’s behavior and health. We compiled a few things to keep an eye on as the temperatures drop and the days get shorter. This will ensure your horse stays healthy and comfortable throughout the upcoming colder months, and help reduce the risk of colic.
7 Signs the Seasonal Weather Changes are Affecting Your Horse
1. Their water consumption has decreased significantly
We typically expect to see water consumption decrease some with colder weather due to either lack of sweating, less activity, or a combination of both. Try to even loosely track the water consumption of each horse so that you’ll notice a sharp decline right away. Dehydration can be a problem even when it’s not hot outside.
Read this blog for more ways to keep your horse properly hydrated
2. Your horse isn’t pooping as much
As much as we all complain about cleaning stalls, daily stall cleaning can be an excellent way to monitor your horse’s poop quantity, consistency, and color. Sudden changes in their feces can indicate digestive problems that need to be addressed immediately and can be the first horse colic sign.
3. Their legs are stocked up
Although not always an immediate sign of weather change intolerance, stocking up can be symptomatic of several problems. In simple terms, “stocking up” is the retention of fluid in the lower part of the limbs. It can mean not only the apparent issues of kicking and lameness, but also dehydration, improper salt consumption rates, and sluggish digestion.
4. Their gut (back by their flank) feels abnormally firm
Much like bloating and a “hard” feeling in the stomach is uncomfortable for humans, it is for horses as well. In horses, it can be indicative of a severe digestive problem.
You can use an old horseman trick by “listening in” to your horse’s gut to make sure their bowels are still active. If you hear rumbling in the hind portion of the gut, their bowels are digesting as they should. A quiet gut can be another horse colic sign.
If your horse has access to free choice hay or pasture, then their gut should have some foodstuff to work on almost constantly. This is ideal for a healthy horse gut and ulcer prevention.
To read more about healthy digestive systems in horses, read this blog.
5. Their gums are abnormally white
An easy way to check this is to press on their gums firmly with your thumb and count how long it takes the color to fully return. If it’s over 2 seconds they might be experiencing anemia or dehydration (or other serious health complications). Check out this YouTube video from the British Equine Veterinary Association, showing how to check your horse’s gums. If they are abnormally colored or don’t turn pink fast enough, contact your veterinarian immediately.
6. Their eyes look dim
If you’ve spent much time with your horse (and we know you have) then YOU know what their kind eye is supposed to look like. Are their eyes dim? Do they LOOK like they are in pain or uncomfortable? As their caretaker and friend, you will notice changes in your horse’s health first and be able to troubleshoot quickly. Trust your gut. If something seems off in your horse, it probably is.
7. They are trying to roll excessively
If you notice this, please call your vet immediately. It is imperative that you work with a veterinarian who is experienced in handling colic. Excessive rolling can be a sign of colic and will look different than rolling for pleasure or back scratchies.
Keep an Eye Out for These Health Changes in Your Horse as the Weather Changes
For some people, colder weather and fewer hours of sunlight can make us feel achy, sluggish, and grumpy (or is that just me?). A horse’s health is equally susceptible to the effects of seasons shifting. Because of this, keeping an eye on some common changes in behaviors and health is important. Noticing drastic changes in water intake, feces production, gut health, and mood will be some ways to prevent serious health issues from arising. And remember, the best way to keep your horses in optimal health throughout the year is to feed Foundation Daily Detox and NuTrack Digestive Support! Together, these two supplements create a healthy gut biome that keeps the digestive system flowing how it’s supposed to, and the immune system strong. Order your power duo today!
Content is for informational purposes only. Proudly written for Animal Element by the team at FaithHanan.com