THE exceptionally cold weather means keeping a watchful eyes on horses and ponies that live out, as well as those that are stabled.
In both these cases it is important to check that water is available and that supplies have not iced up.
Once that is done, for horses and ponies living out, make sure they have a good supply of hay or haylage. Digesting the fibre and the fermentation process warms them up from the inside out.
Only provide a traditional hard feed if your horse is used to receiving one. Suddenly introducing this could cause colic. Similarly, do not suddenly introduce cereals to a horse's feed. This could also risk digestive upset.
Native ponies and others living out without rugs are best left to use their coats as nature intended, just make sure they have ample hay or haylage. If you are already using rugs then check that they are not damaged or leaking.
Stabled horses and ponies should not be turned out unless it is safe to do so – for instance in a sand school or indoor school.
They, too, need plenty of hay/haylage to counteract boredom and replace the nutrients they might have gained from grazing.
As your horse is unlikely to be in normal work, you need to cut out his hard feed until he can return to work.
Horses and ponies that are prone to laminitis should not be turned out on cold, frosted grass. Limit turnout on cold, bright days even when the frost has gone.
For both horses living out and those that are stabled, you might want to consider feeding either a suitable feed balancer or supplement mixed with damp chop, to provide essential micro nutrients.
The helpline run by TopSpec is offering advice on feeding during freezing conditions: 01845 565030.
TICKETS for next year's Chatsworth International Horse Trials have just gone on sale.
The event will run from May 13 to 15 when Chatsworth has also been invited to host the UK round of the FEI Eventing World Cup.
As well as attracting some of the country's leading event riders, Chatsworth will also host other attractions, including displays by Jean Francois Pignon and his famous grey horses, Pony Club mounted games and an inter-hunt relay.
For the first time next year, a membership scheme will also be available.
This will include priority parking and access to a new, ringside members' area. Membership costs between 10 and 15 per day in addition to the entry charge.
For more information and to book tickets, go to www.chatsworth.org.
NICOLA and Philip Tyler from the Springwater Stud at Pickhill, near Thirsk collected several awards at the Dartmoor Pony Society's annual meeting and points awards in Exeter.
The stud took the Mare of the Year with the five-year-old brood mare Springwater Country Love by Moortown Countryman. Countryman, owned by Diane and John Jordan from Devon, took the Stallion of the Year in Hand.
The mare was Top of the North Champion, overall female and reserve supreme at the Northern Dartmoor show at Osbaldeston.
The stud also filled the top three places in the Youngster of the Year and took the Peter Upton Trophy and best filly with the two-year-old Springwater Bridget, which was champion at Devon County and NPS Area 5. Springwater Anna, their yearling, was runner-up while Nijnsky was third and best colt.
Springwater ponies were all placed in the gelding wards – D'Artagnan (Sally Dean), Dauntless (Jane Patterson) and their own Maverick.
The stud's resident stallion, Intermezzo, was runner-up in the Sire of the Year.
Sue Hide, from the Huttons Ambo Stud, near Malton, was presented with the Glenda Spooner Award for her hard work and long association with the Society.
Sue also had a second and a third overall in the Part Bred Dartmoor Points with her home bred Huttons Ambo Conundrum. Daphne Marshall, from Barwick in Elmet, claimed third in the Mare of the Year and Jane Moore and Gayle Vasey, from Leyburn, with Oaktree Starstorm were fourth in the Stallion of the Year, which took supreme at Northern Dartmoor earlier this year.