Whether it’s meant for the racetrack or the farm, a horse will need your full attention so it won’t fall ill or get injured. It takes a lot of hard work and resources but making sure your horse gets the best care will make everything worth your while.
If you are new to owning a horse, you might be wondering what’s the best way to keep your equine companion in the best possible condition. Horse care takes time and practice, but eventually, you will be able to learn new skills and develop a closer bond with your horse.Here are eight of the best tips for giving the basic level of care your horse deserves.
1. Learn about your horse’s breed
Whether you bought it from an auction or inherited it from someone else, your horse’s breed should give you an idea of how best to take care of it. Not all horses are the same and some are more difficult to tame than others. By learning about horse breeds and the unique needs of each one, you can spare yourself the guesswork and avoid doing things you think apply to all horses.
For instance, Arabian horses are known for being intelligent and sometimes moody. They have an uncanny ability to sense wrong handling, so you might want to get an experienced rider or breeder to help out. Mustangs are even more difficult since they are free-roaming breeds. However, it will be easier if you have one that has already been tamed.
Research goes a long way in making sure your horse gets what it needs. So, look for articles or videos online, buy books about horses, or ask a local equestrian for advice.
2. Prepare a good living space
It’s important to provide your horse with more than adequate shelter. With the right living space, you will be able to protect your horse from the elements and keep it in the best possible condition. There are many housing options to choose from, but your choice should be based on your horse’s most immediate needs.
In most cases, you should opt to renovate an existing barn by adding stalls and other facilities such as a tack room and a wash bay. This would be more cost-effective compared to building a shelter from scratch. You just need to make sure your barn is properly elevated to prevent flooding during heavy rain. If you have room in your budget, consider building a single-stall stable. Make sure it has an efficient ventilation system and enough windows to provide ample amounts of natural light.
In case you are planning to get more horses in the future, you might as well include additional stalls. That way, you won’t have to reconstruct the shelter as your needs change. You can use these for storing food and equipment such as saddles and cleaning tools in the meantime. The stalls should also provide enough space for horses to move around and sleep.
3. Consider what to feed your horse
Nutrition is crucial for horses bred for racing, farm work, or other situations that require high amounts of stamina. You should give your horse the right food based on its age, breed, and special dietary needs. Although horses are grazing animals and should be fed constantly, it’s still important to consider the unique feeding habits of your equine companion.
If your horse is a stallion, hay should be enough to satisfy its nutritional needs, especially during the winter. Younger horses require a diet that has twice the amount of protein as adult horses, so consider giving them good quality grass mixed with alfalfa. You may also supplement this diet by giving them feed with high levels of calcium and zinc. This will help support bone growth and enhance the quality of the coating.
When it comes to a pregnant mare, let it graze on quality forage along with a balancer feed pellet that provides the nutrients it needs as the pregnancy advances. Still, you should follow the advice of your veterinarian to make sure you are giving it the right type of food.
It’s important not to overfeed your horse as it can lead to excessive weight gain which can trigger laminitis and other conditions. A good rule is to feed your horse frequently but in smaller amounts. You should also pick the right time for grazing. Early morning is often the best time because this is when plants have lower sugar levels. That way, your horse will get all the natural nutrients it needs without packing in unnecessary weight.
4. Make sure to keep it well-groomed
As the owner, regular grooming should be on your checklist. This will keep the coating healthy and prevent diseases that are often caused by lice infestations and other conditions. A lack of regular grooming can cause discomfort and shorten the lifespan of your horse. It requires patience, but making sure your horse is well-groomed can help prevent more serious problems in the future.
Make it a daily habit to brush away debris from the coating using a dandy brush and a curry comb. Make sure to brush the mane and tail as well. Most horses do not require frequent bathing, so hosing them down with warm water should suffice. For the head and the sensitive parts, use a soft sponge soaked in a shampoo formulated for horses.
Apart from that, you should also shoe your horse once each month or depending on how long you have taken it for a ride. You should also look for signs of hoof disorders like abscesses, thrush, and bruises. It’s important to take your horse to a professional farrier. If the problem is too severe, get a veterinarian to check on your horse and recommend a proper treatment plan.
Taking good care of a horse can be challenging for a beginner like yourself. It can also be rewarding if you take the time to learn about your horse’s needs and use the right approaches to securing the health and overall well-being of your equine companion.