Horse Care for Beginners
Horses are beautiful and rewarding animals to own but with great reward comes huge responsibility and it’s important to know some basic horse care before you take on such a challenge. I’ve put together some basic horse care tips perfect for beginners.
Feeding & Food
Your horse will require a specific diet made up mostly of forage such as grass, hay or haylage. It’s important that your horse is fed the right amount for their height and current condition and the food is of good quality. Depending on your horse and the amount of exercise it will receive you may need to supplement some of the diet with hard feed like pony nuts or mix. If you don’t know the amount or type of food your horse requires speak to a feed expert or your local vet for advice.
Horses need regular access to clean drinking water. Check the level of water throughout the day and top up as necessary. Make sure that buckets and troughs are cleaned out and changed at least once a day even if they are still full. Some horses like to kick over buckets so consider using an anti-spill bucket or trough to prevent this.
Keeping your horse clean can be a challenge especially during those winter months. Try and remove as much dirt and dust as possible from the coat every day to prevent irritation and damage to the skin. Make sure you pick out your horse’s feet regularly to prevent lodged stones causing issues with their feet. In winter horses that are exercised regularly may need to have their coats ‘clipped’ to keep them cool. If your horse has clipped fur make sure that you counter that with the use of rugs to keep them warm when they are not being exercised.
Examine and Check Health
Regularly examine your horse for cuts, bites and bruises. If you see any open wounds make sure they are cleaned and treated to avoid infection. Your horse will require certain health vaccinations so keep these up to date. Make sure you look out for signs of illness the Spillers Guide to Horse Colic has some detailed information on what to look for if you are unsure. If your horse is limping or lame make sure you examine the legs for swelling or heat and avoid exercise. If in doubt or you are concerned always seek advice from a vet.
Some horses require shoes which need replacing around every 6 weeks. Horses that don’t wear shoes still require their feet to be trimmed regularly and this should only be done by a professional. Farriers are often busy and their schedules fill quite quickly so make sure you contact them in advance to book your horse in if needed.
It’s important that your horse is exercised regularly. Make sure that any exercise is appropriate to their fitness ability levels. If your horse has an injury avoid exercise that will aggravate this. Stabled horses require time out of the stable each day. Turning them out into a field or school is ideal but if the weather and ground does not permit this consider hand walking them to stretch their legs.
Following these basic horse care tips will be a great foundation for owning and caring for your own horse. Do you have any horse care tips?
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