Post # 1
Let me start by saying it’s minus 19 degrees celcius here!!! That’s not even factoring in the wind chill.
So this morning I was driving into work at 7:40am, when I passed a feild of about 4 or 5 horses, huddled together and looking cold and miserable.
Well I just drove by again…it was almost 1pm, and the poor things were still out there!!!! It didn’t look as though they had moved. My heart broke for them! They don’t have any protection from this wicked cold weather. So I reported it to the local SPCA just now.
Am I wrong? I don’t know much about horses, they are big animals but it seems to me that this weather is even too cold for them. I guess the SPCA will determine whether or not it needs to be investigated, but at least I’ve done my part.
Is it normal to leave horses out in this kind of weather for that long?
Post # 3
- Wedding: September 2014 - Turf Valley
I often see the horses around here with these types of “jackets” on. But I thought it was required that they have some type of shelter, too.
Post # 4
@Songbird29: Hm, did they have anything to eat that you could see? If it’s that cold, I’m assuming that the grass is dead. Did you say hay? That’s the number one thing to me, in the cold. Horses keep warm by digesting, they are made to be eating/grazing almost 24/7. If they don’t have ruffage, I’d be quite concerned. They should also have shelter, whether it is manmade or a group of trees. Your area likely has laws on that, though I’m not sure what they are.
That said, horses do fine living outside with the proper care. If they don’t have shelter or hay then they’re not getting the proper care.
Post # 5
Are you sure there is no shelter? Our horses stay out most of the time but have access to shelter whenever they want it. They are happier out then in their stalls.
Horses are much more resilient than us and, if they are acclimated, can do just fine in colder weather.
Also, the jackets are called blankets. Not everyone blankets their horses and because of the way a horse’s bottom layer of hair puffs up to keep them warm, sometimes a blanket can actually impede the horse’s natural ability to stay warm.
Post # 6
- Wedding: June 2014 - Cedar Lake Cellars
Horses actually do a lot better in the cold than we do. Their gut is like a large fermentation vat, always burning hay and creating heat. Their skin is thicker, with better blood flow, and they have a winter hair coat
It a good idea to provide them a shed, so that they can get out of the wind but, we don’t tend to worry about the cold as much. In fact, there are more problems caused when people blanket their horses and make them overheat than the opposite.
I’m sure the SPCA will fairly assess the situation but the horses are probably fine, honestly.
Post # 7
In this case, I think it is better to be safe than sorry. Like you said, the SPCA will check the facilities and avise the owners if they need to change things. Horses keep warm by growing a thick winter coat, and they generate body heat by constant grazing. Still, when the weather is so severly cold, they do need some sort of shelter from the wind, if they are even turned out at all. Our boarding stable has been leaving the horses in most of the time now because it’s about the same temperature here. They also recommend blanketing horses, (sort of like a coat for a horse) if possible, (some horses will do anything in their power to remove said blanket).
Post # 8
If you don’t blanket them they will grow a very thick and wooly coat and they can live outside year round. Some sort of shelter is recommended but depending how dense a patch of trees or similar is its not absolutely vital.
If you do blanket them they never fully grow a winter coat and require blanketing even on days not as cold as this one. And on days like today they should be blanketed even inside (if there is no heater).
Generally people blanket their horses because it can be tough to ride in the winter with that thick coat because they get very sweaty when you are working them and you need to make sure they are completely dry before putting them away (which can take hours).
I only blanketed my guys when we were training hard or showing throughout the winter, otherwise they lived outside year round with no blanket and just grew really wooly coats.
Post # 9
Horses can live outside year round. If they have been outside (to acclimate) and given a chance to develop a winter coat then they shouldn’t have any problems. Obivously I think this would be a bigger problem if they lived in a warm barn and they didn’t have their coat and you threw them out into the cold. I don’t know anyone that does that! They either are mostly in a barn year-round or outside year-round.
I probably wouldn’t worry about horses or cows unless there is a blizzard coming or there are some extremely low-record temps. I don’t own a horse FWIW but have friends that do it for a living and also family with farms.
Post # 10
@Songbird29: Our horses live outside all year round. They have a barn, but they never use it. They choose to stay outside. As long as they have access to hay and water, they should be fine. Horses can have icicles hanging off their manes and be perfectly fine!
Post # 11
Thank you everyone for putting my mind at ease! To be honest I know nothing about horses, all I know is I saw them out there and thought HOLY COW!! I don’t think I saw any trees or shelter but then I wasn’t specifically looking for it. I never heard back from the SPCA (I left a message with the investigator) so I’m guessing they know much more about horses than I do…I kinda feel like a jerk for calling now, but I felt so disturbed I had to!
Post # 12
@Songbird29: I know I’d be a little peeved if someone who doesn’t know anything about horses reported me for suspected animal abuse.
Post # 13
@mignonette: +1 Our horses only go into their stalls for feeding. Their stalls do stay open all the time though, and they never go in them. They generally stand and graze at their hay hut most of the time.
Post # 14
I have had horses for 20 odd years and I would be far more concerned to see horses heavily rugged in hot weather than naked in the cold, provided they have adequate roughage (hay) to digest and keep warm. Granted, in Australia (Tasmania) we get bloody cold in winter but rarey get snow but I only rug my horwhen in the dead of winter, they are naked the rest of the year unless I’m showing them.
Post # 15
@Kir32: I don’t know…I think if they were my animals and I was taking care of them properly I’d just be happy that someone was concerned enough to take the extra effort to make sure they were alright!
Post # 16
LIke others have said, horses keep warm by eating hay which creates heat naturally during fermentation. Colorado State University has also done studies and their base level temperature (when they aren’t using energy to heat up or cool down) was something around 30 degrees. So they are much bettter in the cold than we are.
We have shelters for all our horses, and where are they standing when its cold and freezing rain? Outside, soaking wet. Even when given the choice, I would say a majority of them still stand outside in the elements. Some areas do have laws about providing a certain number of shelters per pen but I’m not sure what it is in your area.
We’ve had people come up and tell us we’ve got dead babies in our field when they were just taking a nap in the sun! And had one person tell us it was cruel to blanket them in 95 degree weather, when it was just a fly sheet!! It’s quite common for non horse people to not understand how they work and be concerned.