Wind chill can significantly impact horses, particularly when they're exposed to cool and windy weather conditions. The wind chill is measured by how cold it feels outside when the temperature and wind speed are combined. It can cause a horse's body temperature to drop quickly, leading to potential health issues.
Horses have a natural ability to keep themselves warm in cold weather. But when the wind is blowing, it can disrupt this function. This is because wind removes the layer of warm air surrounding their body and can cause heat to be lost much more rapidly. When this happens, they may experience hypothermia. Signs include shivering, lethargy, and a decrease in appetite. Seek veterinary care immediately if your horse displays any of these signs.
It is essential that you prevent wind chill from affecting your horse by providing adequate shelters, such as a barn or a windbreak. Giving them plenty of hay to eat also helps as digestion helps to generate heat within the body.
Covering your horse with a well-fitted cover can help to provide them with an extra layer of insulation, which can help to retain their body heat and protect them from the wind. Choose a cover appropriate for the temperature and weather conditions, as using the wrong type can be uncomfortable or even dangerous. Additionally, check that it fits well and isn’t rubbing or causing discomfort.
As with every aspect of horse care, the best practice is to monitor the situation and adjust your regime to suit.