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Birdstone

Horse Shivering... Sometimes?

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My newest horse, Act Nice, has really given me something to mull over.

He is fresh from the track, and I've had him since late October. The farm he lives at currently is a nice little cozy barn that's set up so the horses can go in and out of their stalls as they please. He eats well, has free choice of good grass hay, good water, etc. He's in great weight and shape, and has a wonderful fuzzy-wuzzy winter coat.

However, he was shivering yesterday.

Now, last year when he was hurt, we turned him out for 9 months on my (former) boss's dad's farm, which has no shelter whatsoever. When the weather turned cold, they put a blanket on him only to see him rip it off an throw it in the middle of the field a few hours later. After that, they no longer tried to put a blanket on him.

I bought him one just in case, thinking I wouldn't ever need it but it was nice to have. This is the second time I've seen him shivering - the first time was not long after I brought him home, and the temperature wasn't that terribly cold - mid to upper 40s maybe. Since then, there have been days where it's been at least that cold, or colder, and I haven't seen him bat an eye at it - no shivers at all.

Then yesterday, he is shivering like crazy. I put his blanket on, and he has left it on (thank goodness), but I'm confused! Is there some reason he would shiver from what I assume is cold sometimes, but not others... even when condition are the same or worse? Sorry this was long, but I wanted to make sure I covered all my bases with his eating/weight/history/etc. Anyone else had this issue ever? I have no problem blanketing him if he's cold and will keep the thing on, I just thought it was strange...

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As long as he's got his winter coat on, he should be fine without a blanket.

The blanket is going to smash down his hairs.

Blankets smash down the hair and don't allow them to heat themselves up as they should.

Horses will fluff up their winter coat and it traps in the heat.

If they're shivering here and there, it is where their nerves are working on creating the energy and warmth inside their bodies.

Just make sure you keep him brushed and don't allow mud to cake on.

I know in the Dec issue of Equis there is a big article about horses and winter time.

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There is an article in the latest Equus magazine, and it mentions shivering. It says, in essence,

When the temp. drops rapidly, the horse may start shivering. It's his way of warming up, but it uses up a lot of his energy stores. If you discover your horse shivering on a particular day, it may not be cause for alarm. But, if he seems to be having trouble handling the cold over several days, shivering, he may be using up too much stored energy.

In this case, he needs a blanket or a better shelter, and more hay. The hay is important. Digesting hay produces heat.

Rosie shivers only very occasionally. I don't worry about it. But, if she gets caught in a freezing rain, I put her in till she dries off. Then she's usually fine to go out again.

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Yes, I have only seen him shivering twice. On the occassions where we've had cold rain, he hasn't shown any sign of being uncomfortable - he just spends a little more time in his stall. I can't give him a better shelter than he has. It's a cozy little barn with 2 stalls, and the back of each stall is dutch doors that you can open into the pasture. I leave it open 24/7 so he can come and go as he pleases.

I've been leaving his blanket off, because I don't want to blanket him unless the temperature turns wicked, because of his tendency to remove his blanket by himself, heh.

I provide him free-choice grass hay in his stall, fresh water, good grain 2x/day, and I keep him as clean as he'll allow. Sometimes I brush him off good only to come back in the evening to see him covered in something... little pigpen.

So, I guess I won't worry too much since he's only done this a few times, and seems perfectly content 98% of the time. Thanks for the information everyone!

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Hmm, next time he shivers, take his temp. Maybe he is running a fever.

Ditto, They don't shiver for nothing.

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