Cold Nights, Hot Meals

Cold nights, hot meals

Tonight was wintry and cold, with about four more inches of fresh, powdery snow. When I fed dinner, around six, it was so dark that only Zelda’s white blaze shown out in the night. On cold nights, you might think of horses tucked into stalls, but ours live outside 24/7. They have a shed but rarely use it. They do wear blankets, especially when it’s wet, but they’d probably be fine without them.

Zelda waiting for dinner
Zelda is always at the fence waiting for dinner, even though sometimes the only thing you can see is her blaze.

Instead of tucking them in, they get plenty of hay and a hot meal. I’m not a fan of special bran mashes. Although I fed them for many years on “special occasions” I’ve come to believe that changing a horse’s feed should be done gradually, over time, and not just on Sundays or after a show. Instead, they get a hot, soaked meal every day.

I’ve fed soaked beet pulp or soaked hay cubes to horses on and off for years, but Curly is the one who made soaking grain a daily event. Because she is prone to choke, soaking her grain helps prevent it. Since Zelda and Curly are fed together, Zelda’s grain also needs to be soaked, although the chances of Zelda letting Curly eat any of her food is somewhere between slim and none. Freedom used to get alfalfa/timothy cubes with his grain, as he is somewhat picky about forage, but since I’ve started feeding him some alfalfa hay, now I do it just to help hydrate him.

Soaking grain (or in Zelda’s case, beet pulp), is a great way of getting more water into your horse. In cold weather, you need to encourage your horse to keep drinking as insufficient water is the number one cause of colic. But it also makes me feel good to see them all settle down to a hot meal on a cold night.

Do you soak your horse’s grain? And do you still feed mashes?

4 thoughts on “Cold Nights, Hot Meals

  1. Love the picture of your lit up barn on a snowy night. I feed a few alfalfa cubes soaked in warm water on top of the grain so it is a wet slurry. I have one horse who sometimes chokes and once is just too often. It also encourages them to drink more water.

  2. Here in N. Georgia cold & snow is not much of an issue.
    Mine are on a strictly forage diet (free-feed fescue hay + “Barn Bag” supplements by LifeData created for this situation).
    However, the hay is served in slow-feed nets & soaked in order to reduce calories and chances of laminitis — also to help keep these easy-keepers weight down (pain in the tushie but the boys like it and no problems yet).

  3. I don’t believe in feeding mash once a week. Not sure why anyone thinks its a good idea to totally swap out their food once a week for something with little nutrition. I do add a small amount of warm water to make powder stick to his grain but he prefers its not soupy so its barely wet…

  4. I think the idea of a hot bran mash on a cold night like the one you’ve portrayed is more…well, is an idea that ultimately is more comforting for us humans than for the horse! In the, in WA state, our winters are mostly rain (although they’re calling for a LOT of snow this weekend). My Arab, Jordan, was always blanketed for the winter, and he, like your horses, had 24/7 outdoor access with a shed. I’d say him standing in the shed, his blanketed body out of the rain and snow, and his head and neck out in the weather…I made a bran mash for Jordan and his reaction was ‘meh’.

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