Animal Care

Horse Needs

Before you bring your new equine companion home, you’ll want to learn about the basics of good horse care. Learn how to feed, house, and care for your horse or pony. Discover how pony care differs from horse care, what good health looks like, and when to call the vet.

At the very least a horse needs

  • Pasture free from hazards such as holes, rusty farm machinery and loose wire fences.
  • Safe fencing such as wooden, plastic, or vinyl rails, or mesh wire fencing.
  • Grass for grazing or equivalent amount of good quality hay.
  • Unlimited supply of fresh clean water, heated if necessary in sub-freezing temperatures.
  • Access to salt.
  • Shelter from wet or wintry weather and shade in summer.
  • A dry clean area to lie down.
  • Daily monitoring for injury or illness.
  • Companionship, either with another horse, donkey, mule or pony or another animal such as a sheep or goat.

Learn to groom, care for your stable, and care for your horse or pony safely.

The Essentials of Horse Care

When you bring home your first horse, there are a few essential things you’ll need to know in order to care for it properly right away. Learn the basics of feeding, tying, and basic care for your first horse.

Horse care takes time, and you should have a routine of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly tasks to properly care for your horse. The best way to keep track of what must be done and scheduled is to keep a calendar. You will find that you will develop your own.

For example, not all horses must be trimmed every six weeks. You may need trimming every five weeks, or every two weeks. Some horses need their teeth checked more than once a year, and some vaccinations may have to be given more than once. 

Daily Care

A visual check at a very minimum once a day, and more often is essential. You’ll want to check for any sign of injury, illness and check fences and other structures in your horse’s home for damage that could cause problems. Access to plenty of food and water is not to be neglected. 

  • Provide your horse with fresh clean water. Clean, readily available water is essential for good horse care.
  • Provide your horse with adequate fodder and concentrates. If feeding hay, your horse will eat approximately two to three percent of its body weight every day.
  • Provide adequate shelter and blanketing according to the weather. The design of your shelter, whether run-in shed or stable is very important for proper care. Horses need a place to get out of the wind and wet.
  • Do a visual check for scrapes, cuts, bruises and puncture wounds on your horse’s legs, head, and body. Treat any injuries promptly. You should have a horse first aid kit on hand.
  • Do a visual check for signs of illness such as runny eyes or noses, or sounds of coughing or wheezing.
  • Clean your horse’s hooves and check for bruising or cracks, or loose shoes.
  • Muck out the stall if your horse is stabled. Ammonia from urine and manure is harmful to horses’ lungs and hooves and can cause problems like thrush.

Weekly Care

There are a few things you should check weekly. Having adequate supplies on hand is important, as is looking after the small chores before they become big ones that no one wants to tackle. 

  • Check the amount of concentrate, fodder, and bedding on hand. Try to have at least two weeks supply on hand, so if there is an emergency you don’t run short.
  • If you care for your horse on a small acreage, clean manure from paddocks. This cuts down on flies, keeps the grounds clean for the same reason you’d clean a stall, and makes a nice environment for you and your horse.
  • Check fences for broken rails, loose wire, protruding nails, loose gates, and more that could cause injury.
  • Scrub out water trough and feed buckets. Built-up concentrates on the inside of feed buckets can spoil, and troughs can get soiled with chaff, dirt, and algae.

Monthly Care

If you board your horse at a stable, make sure your board bill is paid on time.

Have your farrier in to trim hooves or reset horseshoes. Leaving hooves to grow too long is hard on your horse’s legs, and unhealthy for their hooves.

Every 2 to 3 Months

There’s a lot of variance in deworming schedules. Some people feed a daily dose of medication, some have a six-week or nine-week schedule. After the first hard frost, or once the fly season is over, you may also want to deworm for botfly larvae.

Administer deworming medication. It’s important to have a deworming schedule to keep your horse healthy.

Once a Year Care

The types and frequency of vaccinations you’ll give your horse will depend on the diseases prevalent in your area. Your veterinarian is the best resource to help you decide on a schedule.

  • Have teeth checked and floated by an equine dentist or veterinarian. Some horses may need checking and floating every six months.
  • Have immunizations administered by a veterinarian.

Tie Safely

Probably the important thing you’ll need to do when you get your first horse is tied it in a stable or trailer. Here is how to tie your horse safely.

Whenever you are grooming or saddling, you will need to tie your horse. Horses and ponies can be tied with a lead rope, trailer ties, or cross ties. No matter what is used, tying must be done in a manner that is safest for handler and horse.

There is some debate about whether horses should or shouldn’t be tied “solid.” Tying solid means to tie so that it’s almost impossible for the horse to break free. For the horse’s or pony’s sake, it is probably best if handlers don’t tie solid. If a horse is badly startled while tied it could panic, struggle, and injure its neck and back. The goal should be to teach your horse not to be tied but to stand. A horse that is taught to stand won’t challenge the ropes it is tied with. 

Sometimes, you have to balance horse safety against people’s safety. There may be situations where it is safer to tie solid than have a badly frightened horse break away and bolt into a crowd of people or busy highway. When we are working with our horses in a paddock or the stable, it’s safer for the horse to be tied so the rope or tie will break free if it panics.

Ideally, the rope should be attached to chest height or higher. The rope should be tied so it doesn’t dangle low enough to be stepped over but not be so high or so tight that the horse’s head is restricted.

Never tie to a bridle, with the reins, or to the bit in any way. If the horse struggles, it could severely injure its mouth.

Always tie to a post, wall, or partition that is firmly anchored and will not come loose if the horse pulls on it. The object is to have the tie rope break rather than the structure you are tying to or the horse’s neck. Don’t tie your horse or pony to anything that moves. If you are at a horse show or trail ride, be cautious when tying to fences. Old posts can be weak at the bottom and maybe ripped up by your horse.

Don’t tie to

  • logs on the ground
  • loose or thin boards
  • fence rails
  • lawn chairs
  • truck tailgates
  • anything else that isn’t securely anchored.

Cross Ties

In a barn with roomy workspaces or aisles, cross ties secure your horse and make it easy to work all the way around when grooming, or tacking up. Crossties should be long enough for the horse to lower its head comfortably, but not so long that it would be possible for the horse to become entangled or even step over the rope.

Crossties can be made to break free easily by attaching the ends through loops of bailer twine or strong string. A half-inch garment elastic can be used if you like the idea of a tie that flexes when the horse pulls on it a bit, but will still break if the horse struggles. Chains are not a great idea for cross ties. If a panicking horse breaks free with chains attached, the chains can swing and cause injury to both horse and handler.

Trailer Ties

Trailer ties work well if you are tying in or to a trailer/post. Make sure your trailer ties are long enough so that your horse’s head is not too restricted. Some ties are made 18” long, and not long enough for use while you are working with your horse; your horse won’t be able to move his head naturally. Longer, adjustable trailer ties (about 3 feet long) with quick-release snaps are ideal. Make sure the snaps aren’t stiff with rust or winter ice so in an emergency they work the way they are supposed to.

Lead Ropes

A cotton rope 1-1.5 inches in diameter is ideal for lead ropes. Flat lead shanks of leather or webbing aren’t ideal for tying with. Again, loops of bailer twine, string, or garment elastic make safe breakaway ties around a fence post. Tie high enough that the horse cannot step over the rope, but not so high or tight as to restrict the movement of the horse’s head. Check your ropes often for wear if you need to tie solid, such as out on the trail or at a horse show. Use a quick-release knot so that if your horse is struggling, you can easily pull on the end of the rope and free the horse.

Shelter Your Horse

Most horses spend some of their time indoors in a stall. For good horse care and safety, barns, sheds, and stalls need to be properly designed.

  • Designing a Run-in Shelter: If you don’t have a barn, or even if you do, a run-in gives your horse a place to get out of the wind and wet.
  • Stable Design: It’s exciting building or modifying a building for horses. Find out the ideal size for stalls, flooring options and ceiling height.

Horse Health Essentials

It’s an unfortunate fact that horses can get sick and injured. The key to good horse care is being able to identify basic pulse rates, health problems and treat them promptly.

Grooming

Grooming is an important part of horse care. At a minimum, your horse should be groomed before riding or driving. A quick grooming every day is a good way to check the condition of your horse’s skin and hooves.

Boarding Your Horse

Not everyone can care for their horses on their own property. Boarding is the next best thing to providing your own horse care. You’ll want to find the best stable where you and your horse are happy. Here’s what to look for, how much it may cost, and how to be the type of border stable owners are glad to have in their barns.

Providing The Best Environment for Your Horse

Good horse care means providing the best possible environment, that is as safe and natural as possible for your horse. That includes providing companionship, understanding the needs of older horses, and keeping their surroundings clean and well maintained.

President

The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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