Originally Posted by Snapple122
She is about 26 years old now, and I know the cold weather is going to get to her. I live in Canada, and on extremely cold days in the middle of winter, we can get down to -45 degrees celsius. She is a shetland pony (well, shetland cross) and she gets an extremely heavy coat, so she doesn't have a problem keeping warm..
Sounds like she will do well if she is getting ready now! I'm in Northern Ontario and I know about those brrrr really cold days and nights, but don't let her fool you. She is probably plenty warm. With that fuzzy shetland in her she's already designed for the cold. That's what Shetlands came from -- the Isles -- cold, wet and more cold and wet.
the barn is no warmer then outside, but it gets her out of the snow when it blizzards.
I would NOT heat the barn. The change in temperature from a barn even at -10 degrees to going outside to -25 is harder than adjusting to the cold. And that barn IS warmer than outside. Don't forget that your thermometer is only measuring the static temperature. It is not taking into consideration the wind chill and humidity levels.
Even a blanket can upset the natural thermo-characteristics of the horse. Esp. A pony that is built for the cold. The hair follicles actually move in different temperatures to help the horse adjust to different temperatures. If you've never blanketed her before, I wouldn't start now. If really need be come those cold, cold weeks at the end of January and February, you have that option, but I definitely wouldn't use a blanket before then. You could actually cause her to get too warm, sweat and then chill.
As long as you see she is developing and keeping her good winter coat and her wieght as she has previously, you're set. You can provide straw, yes, straw for her to EAT as it is provides more warmth than hay. Given a choice, your pony will choose what she needs I'm sure.
You can also provide a black wall on the south side of her shelter that will absorb the heat and give her a place to stand if she feels she needs a bit of help. Pieces of conveyor belting **FIRMLY** attached to the shelter are perfect for this. For a shetland, you'd only need one length about 4' x 4' and it'd make a difference.
Oh, of course, if she has any buddies, they will help keep each other warm.
As for her joints -- is she showing stiffness? You can provide supplements for that which will help more than heat will. Heat is a temporary measure, while supplements will help all day, all night, all winter. Start them now if you are seeing stiffness.