So you’ve taken the plunge, parted with your hard earned cash and purchased a horse – but what now? Well, before you’re let loose at the saddle, it’s worthwhile brushing up on your basic horse care skills. For example, what does it eat and how often? Where does it sleep? What does an unhealthy horse look like? What’s the best way to groom your horse? How do you keep your stable in peak condition? Read on and learn from the experts with these top 5 tips for horse care:
Your horse needs to eat and drink, that much is obvious. As such, you’ll require a feed tub large enough to accommodate its meals. In addition, a water trough or some large buckets are essential to prevent your equine companion from going thirsty. Just remember, though, if you live in areas where the temperature is likely to drop, it’s worthwhile investing in a water heater to prevent the contents of the trough freezing over.
What to feed your horse
Traditionally, a horse is happy to chow down on a field full of grass – but this may not always be available. In these cases, it’s advisable to have a steady supply of alternative feeds for your horse. Hay is perfect as it gives your horse an important source of nutrition. Importantly, the hay should always smell fresh, and be green in colour. Additionally, make sure there’s no dust or mould as a horse exposed to spores can develop lung problems.
Shelter for your horse
As a horse will spend a fair amount of time inside, a well-designed shelter is crucial in maintaining its health and happiness. Obviously, it needs to be clean, dry and protected from the elements – and then you need to decide between a run-in shed and a stable. Whichever you decide on, make sure you place it in an area that’s unlikely to flood and the back wall is placed into the wind. Additionally, keep the shelter away from gates or fences as it makes cleaning easier and allows for plenty of space for the horse to come and go.
Recognise the signs of poor health
When looking at horses for sale, it pays to take an expert with you. Horses, like humans, are susceptible to illness and injury – that’s why it’s important to identify common health problems in your horse and get them seen to as quickly as possible. Keep an eye on the amount of food they’re consuming. If a normally avaricious horse suddenly slows down, you may have a problem. It’s also crucial to check daily for any abnormal lumps, scrapes, bruises or a runny nose. Additionally, check their hooves regularly for any sign of infection or cracks.
Good grooming is essential
Again, like humans, good grooming is important if you want to look your best. Ideally, your horse should be groomed before taking it out for a ride – and it’s also a great way to check its skin and hooves. Your horse will enjoy being groomed so try to make it a daily occurrence. Start from the side of the horse and cover the whole body. Additionally, it’s worthwhile gritting beneath the saddle to avoid saddle sores.
Joyce Pearson has been lucky enough to spend most of her life around horses. She has two horses of her own and enjoys riding, grooming and writing about them in her blog. Joyce has contributed this article on behalf of Horse Deals, the UK’s primary equestrian website.