When I was 10 years old, I was forced to ride a horse for the first time. While having no experience, I was put at the back of the line, and instructed that if the horse got too far, I was to hit it with a metal coat hanger. As the trip took the group up and down mountains, I lagged behind. Following my instructions, I struck the horse, which sent him into a furious rage down the mountain. I was terrified that I would die.
Years after this traumatic experience, I have grown to understand the reaction of the horse, and I have grown to understand the magnificent creatures for what they truly are. Now, the owner of several horses, I have taken it as my mission to educate on proper horse handling and care and this post contains some of the horse welfare tips I’d like to share with you. In my area, winter can be dreadfully cold and quite damaging to the horse. In order to protect them, I have adopted some methods of horse maintenance.
Proper blanketing, with a blanket thick and warm enough to keep horse hair down, is a great way to ensure that the elements do not harm the horse. After the blanket is removed, a brush should be used to keep the horse hair fine and even. With winter also comes extra feeding. It’s very important to ensure that the hay is not mouldy or too dusty, either of which can damage the horse’s digestive system. As the horse eats, the extra weight will provide some insulation against the cold temperatures.
Finally, one should be extra cautious while riding in the winter as ice can be damaging and painful to a horse. Always try to keep a slow, steady, walking pace unless the ground has some cushion on it such as snow, and there is no danger of ice underneath it. With proper winter care, your horse will be happy and healthy for the spring months. With spring, it is time to ease back into a riding regimen. First, it is advised to help the horse shed their winter coats by use of a shearing blade. With the extra weight, the horse will be ready for conditioning. It’s advised to schedule a veterinarian visit as soon as possible to check for any issues.
Once this check-up is complete, horse shoes is the next step if your horse uses them. Usage of horse shoes varies from owner to owner, but considering the damage that the hooves can go through, it can be a necessary thing toward helping your horses health. Finally, before riding full-out, a horse must be slowly conditioned if they have not been ridden during winter months.
This conditioning will allow a horse to have a more enjoyable spring, free from injury. Horses are wonderful animals, who with a little work, patience, and perseverance, can offer lots of fun and excitement in return. As with all animals, they require special care and attention, but the dedicated horse owner will find this care just as rewarding as riding.
The above post was contributed by a reader.