People combat cold weather by putting on additional clothing; horses fight the elements by using more energy to maintain body temperature.

But while most people can address their own needs, horses are dependent upon their owners to provide proper nutrition and protection from the weather, says Dave Freeman, Oklahoma State University (OSU) Extension equine specialist.

“The temperature below which a particular horse starts to expend additional energy for maintaining body warmth (critical temperature) will vary because of fat cover, hair thickness, acclimatization of the horse to cold, hair-coat wetness and wind chill,” he says.

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