Not your everyday Viking angel (shadowvalkyrie) wrote in little_details,
Not your everyday Viking angel

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Horses in Winter

I've searched Google and Wikipedia for combinations of "horses", "winter", "snow" etc, but couldn't come up with much besides picturesque photoes of horses in snowy landscapes or advice on insulating stables.

My story is set in a medieval-style fantasy world, and the characters are currently riding through a snowy (at the average 10-20 cm high) landscape. I have had several horses myself, but it's rarely cold here and I have never been on long journeys with them, so I'd like to know:

1) Would the horses eat snow when they get thirsty? If they do, would it be problematic for them, as it is for humans?

2) I'm thinking there must be a difference in how horses of different weight and height (because the group members ride different horses) react to cold temperatures, but I'd like some details there. And would those differences be more or less important than the environment the individual horse has grown up in?

3) What temperatures (in °C, please, if possible) are long-term tolerable for horses and how can this tolerance be stretched? (Letting them drink warm water, wrapping them in furs/blankets, etc? Especially the legs would seem a sensitive point to me. How could they be wrapped without snow caking to them?)

4) I've heard about people in Siberia giving alcohol to horses. That didn't strike me as particularly clever, seeing as it causes more hypothermia in humans instead of warming them up, but would it work as an extreme measure or only make things worse?

Sharing of personal experience is strongly encouraged. ":-D

Sorry if any of these questions are stupid and thanks in advance for your help!
Tags: ~animals: horses
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