Winter can be one of the hardest times of the year, especially for your horse.

It’s a bad sign when your horse is underweight in the winter. Losing weight during these colder months can be problematic for your horse. They won’t be able to fend off the cold as easily. The first step in correcting this issue is finding out why the pounds are dropping. Check out these seven reasons!

Failure to increase calories in the winter: Your horse needs more calories in the form of forage, such as hay, during colder months. They burn through calories much quicker as their bodies try to stay warm. Digestion can create heat! A horse with constant access to hay will be much happier.

Poor quality hay: Remember, not all hay is equal. Have a professional hay analysis performed if you can’t determine the quality.

Incorrect grain usage: Feeding more grain isn’t always the answer. Processed food can be harder for your horse to digest, especially in large quantities.

Dehydration: Your horse is less likely to drink icy water when temperatures drop. Many horse owners fail to provide their horse clean, warm water. Water is an essential part of the digestion process, and failure to stay hydrated can cause gut issues.

Dental problems: This can cause weight loss year-round. Horses need to be able to chew their food correctly. The chewing process even helps to buffer stomach acids.

Old age: The horse has a difficult time absorbing nutrients as they grow older. Over time, the horse’s teeth and liver begin to function less.

Parasite overload: Stay up-to-date with fecal exams. A good deworming schedule is necessary.

Start with this list if your horse is losing too much weight during the winter months. A vet can also help you identify the root issue.