“Horses are extremely adaptable animals and can manage well in just about any climate—that’s one reason why they’ve managed to adapt to civilization and thrive even after they were no longer needed as beast of burden. However, stall-kept horses, that may be blanketed to inhibit the growth of a winter coat, do not have all of mother nature’s defenses. Here in the Colorado mountains, we have two primary factors that may keep us from turning horses out: temperature and footing. When the temperature approaches zero, the air is so cold that it can “scorch” their lungs if they start breathing heavily. If the ground is hard frozen or icy, the risk of injury greatly increases from sprains and strains and from slip-and-falls, which can be deadly.
“We try not to keep horses in more than one day. Prolonged periods without turnout can be detrimental to horses mentally and physically, since when they do go out, they may be too exuberant and get in a wreck. If your horses are inside for an extended period, try to enhance their day by getting them out for grooming and hand walking or longeing (if footing is safe for horses and humans). Feeding grass hay throughout the day will give them a distraction and consider breaking up their concentrates into several small meals throughout the day. For some horses, stall toys are a good distraction and tying them up near another horse so that they can socialize will help with their mental health.”