How to Care for Horses

Emir Abd-el-Kader once said “By reason of his elegance, he resembles an image painted in a palace, though he is as majestic as the palace itself.” Horses are an important part of the world today. Their

elegance, style beauty and grace make them one of the most favorable animals in the world and caring for them can be for pleasure or career. There are many factors in caring for the horses such as housing, nutrition, medical attention, exercise and blacksmith visits.

To own a horse you must have the proper housing. Nowadays horses are mainly kept in a stable for most of their lives. This could be for convenience or so they are kept neat and tidy for shows. The horse must be provided ample room so they do not get cast (horse lies down too close to a wall and cannot get up). The standard measurement for a stall would be 12 feet by 12 feet. (Val Equine net 2006). Although it is not a necessity many horses do better when they are allowed pasture to graze upon. If there are multiple horses outside together it is essential to have 2 acres of land per horse.

Horses also need proper nutrition. They should be provided water free choice(unlimited supply) and they should drink about 12 to 20 gallons per day. If you plan on keeping your horse in a stall you will need to refill the water bucket multiple times throughout the day, unless you have an automated water system or as needed. There are many different types of feed that are available but personally I would choose Nutrena Safe Choice Horse Feed because of it has high levels of protein and carbohydrates. You will also need hay. Orchard grass is usually the cheapest but you might want to use an alfalfa depending on the age and condition of the horse. Horses that are outside and being maintained as a show animal will need their pasture regulated (how much grass they consume) so they do not gain too much weight.

Horses must have their vaccinations just as people would. There are many different types of vaccinations such as botulism, encephalomyelitis, influenza, Potomac horse fever; rabies and strangles just to name a few (Prinz 2005). Your horse will receive its first shots a few days after it is born and then will continue to need the vaccinations throughout his/her life. They also need to be dewormed every three to six weeks. You should always plan your whole year’s worming routine and mark each tube and the date to be given. This will help you to not miss any critical dates that might change the cycle.(Hayes 1999)

Exercise is a vital part of the horse’s daily routine. There are lots of reasons for exercising horses kept in stalls besides keeping them mentally and physically healthy. Researchers from the University of Flordia have found improved leg bone and joint development in foals that were stalled but given regular exercise. Foals that were stalled without exercise rebounded in bone development when they were turned out to pasture. Weanlings stalled without exercise had less bone mass than those left on pasture. In older horses you must exercise to prevent illnesses such as colic. Ways of exercise include riding, lunging walking, and turnout(putting a horse outside for self exercise).

Another thing that horses need is hoof care. A horses hooves should be routinely cared for every four to six weeks (Johnson 2003). There are many factors that should take into account while deciding when the time is right such as health of hooves, potential anticipated use, defects in gait and/or conformation and the injuries of the horse. If your horse is conformationally correct then the hooves should just be trimmed. However if there is a conformation fault or the horse is being used a lot(showing every weekend, etc.) you will need corrective shoeing which either fixes the conformation faults or lets the horse experience less shock onto the hooves.

Although costly owning a horse can provide joy into your life. Everyday caring for the horse will give you satisfaction. It may seem like a lot of work in the beginning but eventually you will get into a routine. Yet you can never stop learning. Your horse should live in a clean, healthy environment cared for as if he/she were a king.