Horse care may seem difficult to a novice, but these basic horse care tips will help keep a horse healthy. Horses require careful monitoring of their health, regular horse hoof care, plenty of exercise, good food, and the right kind of winter horse care. Horses that receive basic horse care tend to be alert and active, have a sleek and shiny appearance, and show no signs of lameness.
Horse hoof care is essential for the well-being of the animal.
Hooves need to be in good condition so that undue stress isn’t placed on any of the joints and so the feet themselves don’t become painful. Horse hoof care involves having the hooves trimmed every 6-8 weeks by a competent farrier (a specialist in foot care for horses) and replacing shoes when needed. Maintenance horse hoof care must be done on a daily basis. Before and after each ride any debris must be picked out from the underside of the horse’s foot and the shoes checked, even if the horse isn’t being ridden. A farrier or veterinarian should be contacted immediately at the first sign of lameness, cracks in the hoof, or a foul smell or discharge coming from the feet which could indicate an infection.
Basic horse care also involves exercise. Horses are animals that naturally roam large areas of land in herds. For a horse to be content it needs the companionship of other horses and the freedom to move around and see far into the distance. Basic horse care should include time turned out to pasture for as long as possible every day. The horse should have access to plenty of fresh water and if the pasture doesn’t provide grass for grazing, the horse can be given hay instead. Riding should be done for at least an hour a day, preferably two. A horse should be given strenuous activity only after he or she has been carefully warmed up. The horse should be cooled down after vigorous exercise and never fed when he or she is hot. Lack of exercise can lead to behavior problems and result in ill health.
Top quality grain and hay that is free from mold and offered in clean buckets are essential for any horse’s health. Good horse care requires feeding the horse small amounts often to help replicate the way a horse would feed in the wild. Water is needed for optimum digestion and should always be available. Good nutrition is important in horse care and is needed for everything from healthy hooves to a good energy level. Important horse care tips include frequently testing for parasites and administering vaccines twice a year. A veterinarian should examine any horse at least once a year.
Proper horse care requires shelter for the horse in all types of weather. Horses should always have access to shelter that will provide protection from sun and flies in the summer. Winter horse care requires a three-sided shelter that faces south for horses that are being kept outside. The shelter should be wide instead of deep so that less dominant horses in the group aren’t afraid to enter. Straw should be used to cover the ground and provide extra warmth. Horses should be well fed so that they maintain a layer of fat, which protects them from the cold. Blankets can actually make a horse colder because they flatten the hair and prevent warm air from being trapped close to the body. If a horse has been kept outside, it should have a nice winter coat of fur and won’t need any extra covering. If the horse is usually kept in a barn then he or she may need a blanket when he or she is turned out, but make sure that it is very warm.
Horse care requires attention to detail. Horse care tips from horse care professionals can ensure that a horse is being treated properly by a first time owner. Exercise, food, and shelter are basics that every horse needs. Even an experienced owner enlists the help of veterinarians and farriers to maintain optimum health and keep a horse’s hooves in good condition. This is a lot of work, but the effort put into horse care is offset by the enjoyment of owning and riding a horse.
Dwelle, Jaqueline. Your First Horse: How to Buy and Care for Your First Horse. Southern Pines, North Carolina: Hoofbeat Publications, 1996.
Gredley, Elizabeth. “Looking After Horses.” Acreage Equines. 1999. animalINK. 10 June 2007. http://www.acreageequines.com/horsecare/horsecare1 .htm.
McBane, Susan. The Horse Owner’s Essential Survival Guide. Cincinnati, Ohio: F&W Publications, Inc., 2004.