View Full Version : Out in snow and frost
8th Jan 2002, 11:35 AM
I've been told that it can be harmful to put a horse out in a snowy field, IF it isn't used to being out in such conditions - apparently eating snowy or icy grass can upset a horse's digestive system. This doesn't apply to horses that live out all year round (they will be acclimatised to icy conditions), but to horses that are stabled at night and out for only part of the day.
I'm new to this looking after horses business, so I don't know if this is true - has anyone else ever heard of this?
8th Jan 2002, 11:58 AM
I've heard some people say it can cause colic but have never seen any evidence to back it up. My mare lived out year round last year but is stabled at night this winter. She went out every day when it had snowed and never had any problems, neither did any of the other 40+ horses on the yard. I suppose it might cause more problems for horses that go out very rarely.
The worst thing we had from the snow was bored horses playing too hard and knocking fences down!
8th Jan 2002, 12:36 PM
I have heard the same, but again like Amanda have never experienced a problem. Last year my two were in at night - out during the day for about 6 weeks during the very coldest/ wettest weather and I had no problems at all.
8th Jan 2002, 08:45 PM
Where I used to work we had a couple of horses who were prone to frequent attacks of mild colic and our vet advised against turning out on frosty grass as this could trigger a cloic attack. My mare is stabled at night and out all day and I turn her out at 7.30 am and she seems to be fine with frosty grass, however i always put hay out in the field when it is frosty, so she probably doesn't eat the grass while it's still frosty.
I think if your horse is used to it then it is ok.
8th Jan 2002, 08:57 PM
Yes I've heard it can cause colic. At our yard the horses were turned out until midday but we did put hay out for them.
We did put vaseline or butter on their feet to stop the snow packing up in their hooves:D
8th Jan 2002, 08:58 PM
Like Pixie, I always put a little hay out for ours if there's been a hard frost overnight. I don't like to think of horses going out to frosty grass on an empty stomach, but I agree that if they're grazing out 24/7 it shouldn't be a problem at all.
8th Jan 2002, 09:28 PM
yes it can cause colic. A new icelandic horse arrived at the icey farm just before winter and she got colic from munching too much snow..but she is ok now and not so stupid (she came frm an area of minmal snow to an area where you can barely walk because of the excessive amounts of snow)
8th Jan 2002, 09:33 PM
I don't understand the logic of this - how will a horse that is turned out daily be any less acclimatised to a sudden frost than one who is out full time? Anyway, by this time of year, they are lucky to find any grass!
You only have to watch horses in the snow to see how much fun they have - of course there is always the likelyhood of injury, and you have to be aware of the conditions underfoot when leading them out, but to keep them standing in for days just because of a bit of cold weather, I feel would be much more detrimental.
9th Jan 2002, 08:25 AM
One thing we do with ours at this time of year is make sure they go out with something in their stomachs, all get breakfast (bucket feeds) even if it's just mollichop or sugar beet and we try to make sure they all have at least a flake of hay in them before they go out. This probably helps stop them gorging which could help in frosty conditions.
9th Jan 2002, 10:08 AM
Yes, frosted grass can cause colic and also laminitis. Most horses that live out are fed hay when the weather is bad and therefore will eat that and not the grass. As Bebe says, it is wise to feed them before they go out. I think what is most likely to cause problems is when a horse has been standing for hours at night with nothing to eat, going out and stuffing it's face full of frozen grass. If they have plenty of hay overnight, they aren't going to be as anxious to eat.
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