Beginner’s Guide for Horse Care

Beginner's Guide for Horse Care

Bringing a horse into the family has physical, mental and emotional benefits. However, the Equestrian lifestyle has responsibilities as well. For starters, your horse needs company, good nutrition and shelter to thrive. This article is for novice horseback riders and those who would like to own an equine companion.

Balanced Nutrition

All horses need essential nutrients including hay, grains, roughage and fresh and clean water. With the right nutrition, your horse will be happy and healthy.

Paddock and pastures:

The stomach structure of horses can only allow them to have small amounts of feed frequently. Their stomachs cannot stay empty due to the threat of ulcers from the acidic digestive secretions while they may suffer blockage of intestinal tissues as a result of overfeeding.

Hydration

Typically, a horse needs between 5 to 10 gallons of water daily. This water should be clean and fresh and should be given depending on the horse’s activities and body weight. Ensure the water remains at a constant temperature during the winter. 

Grains

Horses’ digestive systems mainly depend on hay for bulk-satisfaction. Ensure you add a reasonable amount of grain to their feed to fulfil the caloric need. However, it would be best if you were careful not to overfeed them on grain because it can result in unmanageable hoof problems and musculoskeletal diseases. 

Supplementation

During exercises, horses burn lots of stored energy supplies, lose water and electrolytes via sweat, and damage muscle tissues. Therefore, they need amino acid and salt supplements to aid in recovery. This study reveals why horses need to be given supplements after a workout. 

Shelter and Comfort

Stables

Whilenot all horses may need a stable, they need a home. There are horses with a thick coating that may live outdoors for most of the year, so long as they can get shelter when the expected change in the climate happens. You should have a three-sided shelter or stable for your horse. Ideally, the stable should measure 12×14 and a comfortable height to avoid head injuries and provide proper ventilation for the horse.

Cleaning

Ensure that you regularly clean the stable, set good bedding for your horse and remove any wet patches in the stable. Well-maintained and suitable cleaning pieces of equipment always make your job easy. This process is essential because it makes your horse comfortable and can be used as a bonding activity to help you connect with your horse. 

Boarding

Unfortunately, sometimes as a horse owner, you are unable to spare enough time for your equine friend. If this is the case, do not neglect your horse. Instead, take your horse to a horse stable or ranch that provides commercial boarding facilities. Here, you will be able to choose a boarding plan that will help feed and care for your horse while you are away. 

Physical Exercise

Horses require a lot of exercises daily because they are practically grazing athletes that travel miles in the wild. Exercising your horse is a significant part of caring for them. The movement has an impact in your horse’s distal limbs and hooves, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and respiratory systems. Besides, it helps with their behavior.

Exercising your horse will improve flexibility, digestion, circulation, bone and muscle development, and improve their health and happiness. It is also rewarding for you and your horse as it is recreational and can impact on the endurance, behavior and temperament of your horse. 

Companionship

Horses are herd animals since they feel safer living with their kind. Deep in the wild, they live in bands or small herds. The behaviour or how you relate with your horse depends on the socialization, love and attention they are given. Proper training and companionship make a horse friendly. 

Love and Attention

Your horse needs regular care and grooming. You can engage in a variety of activities including hydration and feeding, barn activities and horseback riding as a display of love, companionship and affection for your horse. 

Socialization

Interestingly, horses are social animals and interact freely with other animals, including sheep, mules and goats. Socialization makes it easier to train and communicate with your horses.  When you have a younger horse, this method of learning activates and develops functions of the brain. Horses may be highly adaptive to their environment. However, beginners are advised to avoid stallions as they can be challenging to control and aggressive. Instead, they can try gelded horses. 

Horse Health

Regular healthcare program will keep your horse free from diseases, giving it a chance to lead a prolonged life and happier. It is essential to deal with all aspects of horse care that may challenge the health and wellbeing of your horse. There are fundamental health problems you can spot based on the physical appearance of your horse, such as lethargy, loss of appetite and seclusion and sometimes injuries. Knowing about the basic health requirements can help keep the health of your horse intact.

Illness and injuries

While grooming, feeding or cleaning your horse, it is vital to be on the lookout for any injuries the horse might have contracted without your knowledge. It is essential to take effective action (contact the vet for treatment) in case there is any case of injury. Any delays could lead to serious health problems such as maggot production and tetanus.

Deworming

There are different types of horse worms, and all affect the horse’s health differently. Horses are exposed to worm infestations because of their environment, and these worms may invade the body orally and develop in their intestinal tracts while using the horses’ nutritional components. The effects may range from minor loss of weight to loss of blood, irritation, dull hair coats and lethargy. If such complications are not taken care of, they might eventually lead to death. Ensure that your horse is regularly dewormed according to the vet’s instructions and that their fecal egg count is checked.

Vaccination

Vaccination plays a significant role in protecting any animal from disease. Horse vaccines are designed to protect them from debilitating and potentially life-threatening diseases such as tetanus, West Nile virus, eastern equine, western equine, rabies and influenza. It is essential to have your horse vaccinated to be sure it is in excellent health.

Equine colic

Colic is any abdominal pain that a horse feels. The causes of colic are diverse but often related to the anatomy of the horse’s gastrointestinal tract and unbalanced feed. Other common causes include tainted feed, parasite infestation, high grain-based diets or low forage diets, a sudden change in feed, stress, and indigestion, lack of enough water that eventually leads to impaction colic and long term use of NSAIDs. Unfortunately, some of the effects of equine colic are fatal and include abnormal behavior and eventually, death. When they experience colic, horses tend to hit their abdominal area with their hind legs, sweat, roll on the ground and lose appetite. If your horse is colic, transfer your horse to an open area and contact your vet. To avoid colic, establish a clear feeding routine that consists of a balanced diet and plenty of water. 

No Hoof, No Horse

Horse hoof care is a crucial aspect of horse care that all horse owners should consider. Your horse may be able to sustain any form of injury in different parts of its body. However, it may not be the same case when the hoof is injured because the hoof carries weight, and an injury added will significantly add on to the burden the hooves carry. It is healthy to maintain your horse’s hooves for a prolonged healthy life.

As the horse walks on rough surfaces for extended periods, their horses are exposed to wear and tear and eventually, the sensitive parts of the hoof such as the frog may be affected, leaving your equine friend lame. You can trim, shoe and clean the hooves of your horse as part of hoof care. Ensure you check your horse’s hooves regularly and take farrier advice.

By observing your horse keenly and learning from experienced professionals such as vets, you can quickly learn more on matters entailing horse care. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a veterinarian for guidance in case of any health condition your horse experiences. Above all, ensure you develop a healthy bond with your equine friend and shower him with attention and love.

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