The average equestrian finds winter tough – its muddy, cold, wet and when most sensible human beings are sat in front of a warm fire, we still have a list of jobs that we are trying to work through whilst desperately hanging on to the thought that Spring is getting closer! However, Winter is a really important time for our equine friends – it is a time during which all their systems have an opportunity to slow down, withdraw, restore and renourish. You will find that animals sleep more, aiding that restoration process. Things like the growth of hoof wall decreases but mucous and congestion increases as this prevents external contaminants from gaining entry. The rates of digestion and respiration slow down but urination increases as blood is being pulled from all extremities to protect the vital organs from getting cold. This in turn increases blood volume which then results in more urine being produced which helps to flush any inflammation and toxins from the body. It is therefore important for us to make sure horses have a constant supply of clean water otherwise they can develop dehydration and increased inflammation and put unnecessary strain on the circulatory and urinary systems.