Friday, February 01, 2008

Caring For Your Pony During The Winter

Horseback Riding

Caring For Your Pony During the Winter By J. Foley

Most horse owners have started out the same way... loving and caring for ponies. Former pony owners look back on their pony owning years and a distant far away expression comes over their faces. It is nearly impossible for a horse owner not to have a pony story, some good some not so good.

For the most parts ponies are tough. They seldom seem to be struck low by the illnesses and maladies that seem to strike their larger equine counterparts. Their toughness is one of the reasons that ponies are so often a good match for children.

Pony owners who live in northern climates that keep their ponies outside during the frosty winter months have to do a few things to make sure their ponies stay sound and healthy.

Snow can be dangerous. Each time a pony takes a step on the the snow they start to gather snow in the bottom of their hooves. Each time the pony takes a step the snow becomes harder pack until the pony is forced to walk on rounded balls of ice. Not only is walking treacherous on the ice balls, if the pony missteps or slips they can strain or twist their
legs, either on of the injuries could create a lameness that can plaque the pony for months. Smearing petroleum jelly on the bottoms of the ponies hooves every couple of days can prevent the snow from gathering on the ponies hooves.

Regular dental work is as important to ponies and horses as it is to their human caretakers. If you notice that your pony is suddenly loosing a great deal of weight have your veterinarian take a look at their teeth. If your veterinarian notices any sharp edges on your ponies teeth make sure the teeth are floated. Going into the winter months it is especially important to make sure that your ponies teeth are in good shape.

Make sure your pony has plenty of access to good fresh water. If you don't have water heater for your buckets plan on breaking the ice several times a day.

Ponies who are kept outside must have access to shelter. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, a simple three sided lean-to facing away from the wind is enough. The most dangerous condition is if the weather is both wet and cold.

Although many people tend to take the cold blustery winter months off, preferring to stay inside to riding. That doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with riding during the winter, riding through snowdrifts can be almost as good for conditioning as riding in a deep sand arena. If you choose to work your pony it is important to make sure its dry and free of sweat before you put it out in the field. A heavy dense winter coat can sometimes make this difficult. Some pony owners opt to body clip (remove all the long winter hair). Ponies that have been body clipped can not be turned loose in the elements without some form of protection. Pony owners who decide to keep a body clipped pony outside should use a warm turnout rug to protect the pony from the elements.

If you are a pony owner who uses a turnout blanket make sure the blanket is well fitted and clean. Check underneath the blanket for rubbing and chaffing on a daily basis.

Article Written By J. Foley

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