Horses are majestic, wonderful creatures, but as any good equestrian will tell you, every single horse is different. From huge Shire horses to tiny Shetland ponies, each one is an individual with their own personalities, strengths and foibles.
We’re fortunate enough to have some real equine experts on our team here at Animal Friends, and we’ve picked their brains to bring you handy horse advice.
Breed, age, how active your horse is and underlying health issues will all affect how you should care for your horse. Here, we provide some useful horse tips to ensure yours lives a long and healthy life.
Nutrition is key
The most critical thing to consider for your horse’s health, is what they eat and drink.
Horses need 12 gallons of fresh, clean water per day – that’s a lot more than our eight glasses a day!
Horses are herbivores so their digestive systems are designed to use the nutrition found in roughage, so always ensure they have 24-hour access to plenty of good-quality grass and hay.
They also enjoy munching grains such as oats and bran – known as concentrates, not to mention the occasional treat, such as a carrot or apple.
Some horses do acquire a taste for meat but be careful not to suddenly change a horse’s diet as it can result in illness.
The amount of exercise required varies from horse to horse – there’s no one-fits-all plan! But all horses should be sufficiently active to keep them healthy. When riding, the amount of exercise is governed by the fitness of the horse.
Top 5 reasons for a horse workout:
- Increases stamina and endurance
- Improves functioning of heart and lungs
- Tones muscles
- Aids digestion
- Improves immunity
Before embarking upon an exercise schedule for your horse, it’s important for a vet to check their general fitness, including co-ordination, balance, strength and obedience.
Grooming your horse
Grooming is very important and allows a handler to check on the general health and well-being of a horse: If you make grooming a daily task you can expect to benefit from the following:
- It helps to maintain a healthy skin and coat as you can quickly spot any problems before they develop.
- Decrease the chance of conditions such as thrush
- Ensure the horse is clean
- Create a bond with your horse
Adult horses sleep for about three hours in every 24-hour period. The length and type of sleep is affected by their diet, temperature, workload, gestation and gender. The period of each sleep phase is very brief, lasting only a few minutes at a time.
Foals tend to spend half of their day asleep until they are about three months old. Senior horses may snooze more frequently.
Horses are unpredictable creatures and can easily rack up big vet bills for a major injury or illness.
There are many infections that can easily spread or become more severe if they go untreated:
- Ringworm – contagious fungal infection that spreads by direct and indirect contact, which means horses should be isolated where possible. The lesions usually occur around the head, neck and girth regions.
- Cracked heels – associated with muddy conditions, skin on the legs and stomach can become scaly and inflamed and can cause scabs to form over the infection.
- Common cold – horses are susceptible if they stay in unventilated stables for a length of time. Colds are indicated by discharge from the nose, high glands and swollen throat. These symptoms may also be accompanied by a cough.
- Rain scald – when a horse constantly gets wet with moisture or sweat it can develop this skin condition. Ensure a horse always has shelter and that rugs are maintained correctly.
If you suspect that your horse is suffering, it’s important to consult your vet to get the appropriate treatment. We have multiple options for horse insurance to protect your pet from any health issues they may face.
Essential tools for looking after horses
Here is an essential shopping list of items you will need to care for your horse properly:
- Feed tub
- Water trough or large buckets
- Water heater
- Manure Fork
- Insect spray
Handling and Grooming
- Hoof Pick
- Body Brush
- Mane Comb
- Fly repellent
- Horseriding hat
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