01/09/2017 3:20PM

Precautions taken for cold weather at sales

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With the first significant snowfall of the season last week in Lexington, Ky., and temperatures in the single digits on the first full day of showing for horses at the Keeneland January sale of horses of all ages, consignors were taking extra precautions in horse care.

“It makes it more challenging,” Mark Taylor said at his family’s Taylor Made Farm consignment. “[But] most of them adapt and get through it fine.”

It’s always vital to make sure horses are consuming enough water, to make sure their delicate digestive systems are functioning properly and to avoid problems such as impaction colic. That takes on extra significance in winter, as water can freeze and some horses become finicky about drinking cold water.

“Making sure these horses don’t colic, you’ve got to keep them drinking and just keep a closer eye on them that way,” Taylor said.

Horses in their natural state, allowed to grow a heavy hair coat, generally deal with even frigid weather well, as long as they have a way to get out of wind and precipitation. But racing or broodmare prospects who have shipped in for the sale from training in warmer climates generally have been clipped.

“Some of these fillies that come off the track don’t have much hair on them,” Taylor said. “They’ve been clipped or under blankets. You’ve got to try to get them in and out of the stall [to show] and get them back in there quickly and get a blanket on them as much as you can.”

Consignors also must instruct showpeople to take extra care walking horses on frozen ground and must monitor horses for signs of footsoreness.

“The rings are frozen,” Taylor said. “It’s really tough on their feet, and you get a lot more footsore horses. That stuff is like walking on sandpaper. So, when they turn, you’ve got to turn them wide. And we’ve been painting their feet at night with Venice turpentine, trying to toughen them up.”