Ponies love going out in the field – they’re free to move around and hang out with their pals and, just because winter’s here, it doesn’t necessarily mean your fave pony needs to be stabled. Here’s how living out can still be an option during the colder months.
If you want to change your pony’s routine so he lives out, make sure you do it gradually so he stays out a little longer each day. It can be easier for him to adjust if you do this at a time of year when the weather’s mild.
In or out?
Most ponies would prefer to be outside, but whether or not it’s practical depends on your yard’s rules and if the paddocks are weather-proof. It’s not fair to keep him out full-time in a field that’s always wet and muddy, as it’s important he has somewhere dry to stand. Standing in the wet puts him at risk of conditions such as mud fever, thrush and foot abscesses.
To rug or not to rug?
Most ponies grow a thick, woolly coat to protect them from the cold in winter, so your fave pony might not need a rug if he’s healthy, in good condition and hasn’t been clipped. If he’s overweight, leaving him unrugged can be a great way to help him lose weight naturally, as he’ll burn calories to keep warm. On the other hand, poor doers and veteran ponies will appreciate a rug to keep them cosy, and it’ll help to prevent them from losing weight.
Cold, wet weather can be challenging for ponies, so it might be a good idea to put your pony in a light rainsheet in those conditions.
Did you know?
When it’s cold, your pony’s coat hair stands on end to trap warm air against his skin and provide an insulating layer to keep him cosy.
For more top advice on how to care for a pony who lives out, pick up a copy of February PONY, on sale 19 December.