Thehorse.com - Full Article
December 21, 2021
Posted by Heather Smith Thomas
From growing a thick winter coat to producing heat as they digest forage, here’s how horses are inherently designed to cope with cold weather.
How horses are inherently designed to cope with cold weather.
After a ride across the mountain to check my horses on winter pasture, the sun had set and the temperature was dropping toward zero. I didn’t want to leave my mare wet and chilling; she needed her coat dry and fluffy for it to be effective insulation. My fingers were stiff with cold, but I had to rub her sweaty long hair dry with towels and turn her out in her pen before I could go indoors and soak up the welcome heat of a wood stove.
Our horses handle winter much better than we do, and my ranch horses in Idaho have managed nicely outdoors, even at 40 below zero. They have several unique ways to stay comfortable in severe weather and do well if allowed to adapt to colder temperatures gradually.
Winter Hair Coat
As days get shorter and nights become cooler, horses grow a new, longer hair coat. These winter hairs stand up, trapping tiny air pockets between them. The effect is like that of a thick, down-filled comforter, with tremendous insulating quality...
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