The BHS guidelines state “all horses and ponies kept at grass require the provision of an adequate effective field shelter”.
Over time, we have bred more refined horses to suit our preferred disciplines making them increasingly vulnerable to temperature changes. Thin-skinned breeds from warmer countries are particularly susceptible to the cold.
When animals live out they use a lot of their reserves to keep warm and tend to drop weight. A stabled horse/pony needs less food than one that is out-wintered.
If you are not blessed with well-drained fields, winter can quickly change smooth green pastures into rutted mud-baths ready to be colonized by weeds once spring arrives. Winter can be a very unpleasant time for the horse-owner.
Keeping your horse/pony in a shelter or stable for the winter months not only preserves your ground for the spring but it helps to keep your animal in good health. If a horse gets cold, its’ immunity will drop leaving it vulnerable to illness. It doesn’t take long for a vet’s bill to add up to the cost of field shelter!