When someone mentions ‘majestic creatures,’ horses would always come to mind. Horses are lovely animals and owning one can be one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling experiences in someone’s life. However, having an equine friend also comes with responsibilities. Owning a horse means time and effort, and financial commitment. Whether you are keeping your horse for competitions, riding, or as a pet, it is important to provide them with basic needs to ensure their health and happiness. With that said, make sure to always keep the vet, barn manager, trainer, farrier, and other equine professionals on speed dial.
Over the years, horses have evolved and have adapted to a certain eating habit. Horses are known to be ‘trickle feeders,’ which means they are geared for constant food intake throughout the day. It is important for them to have access to a sufficient amount of good quality feed. The foundation of a horse’s diet must be forage. A horse has to eat 1 to 2 per cent of its body weight every single day.
If your horse has dietary restrictions, wherein its pasture intake is limited, providing it high-quality hay is enough to maintain its forage requirements. However, if your horse cannot maintain a good body condition and adequate energy level on forage alone, you can opt for additional multivitamin supplement in order to sustain its health. If your horse needs additional calories, consider providing it with fortified grain.
Not all horses need supplements. Some horses might be fine with the roughage they are getting; however, some may need additional nutrients. In this case, a horse that is being worked regularly may need supplements. But to be sure, it is best to always check with the vet in order to find out if the supplements are suitable for your horse.
Supplements ensure that your horse acquires the right vitamins and minerals it needs. Additionally, supplements can also help the horse have a proper digestion, shiny coat, resilient joints, and healthy hooves.
Good access to clean water is essential for a horse. Hydration is necessary for a horse’s overall well-being. An average horse may drink 25 to 45 litres of water per day. Checking your horse’s water source several times daily is recommended. The use of buckets as a horse’s main source of water is highly discouraged since it can be tipped over easily.
Horses are very resilient; they can regulate their body temperature in order to cope with both hot and cold climates. Despite that, horses still need a place where they can get away from extreme heat or cold. A maximised area would be best for horses because they love to roam. A small shelter may limit their necessity to move. Additionally, the shelter you will provide for your horse is going to be their shade from the harsh summer sun and their protection against the freezing rain or the winter wind.
As mentioned above, horses love to move around. They were built to walk and run. When owning a horse, you must provide them with enough space or area to be able to roam around freely. Tethering of horses is acceptable; however, it must be kept only for a short time.
The size of a paddock or a small enclosure varies greatly depending on several factors. In general, the size would depend on the number of horses, the amount of land available, maintenance cost, and the age and temperament of the horse. Owners should also determine how much regular exercise the horse needs to receive. Most enclosures are built large enough for a horse to run around. To prevent your horse from getting injured, the fences of your paddock must be well maintained.
Horses are not only good companions for people but they are also great with their own kind. Being herd animals, horses find comfort when being surrounded by other horses. Horses will be much happier when they are a part of a herd and able to socialise.
A horse should never be deprived of any form of professional care. It is always best to get your horse a regular maintenance schedule with its farrier and vet. Your horse’s vet can help schedule a vaccination, deworming, and dental care suitable for your horse. In terms of your horse’s hoof health, its farrier should be able to set a maintenance schedule for it. These two experts will be your partners in keeping your horse healthy.
A horse dentist has to check your horse’s teeth at least once every year. Your horse’s teeth may become sharp and may cause mouth injuries and pain if not treated. Additionally, five-year-old horses or those that are fed with grain must have a dental check-up once every three to six months.
A farrier must trim your horse’s hooves every six to eight weeks to prevent them from becoming too long or chipped that may cause discomfort to your horse. Shoes for your horse are only optional; it can be worn when needed, particularly when your horse has to be ridden on a rocky or hard ground.
Horses should be vaccinated to prevent diseases such as tetanus, strangles, and viral respiratory diseases. The vet will be able to provide you with information regarding horse vaccination and how often it should be administered.
It is important to deworm your horse to stop worms from growing inside its stomach and intestines. A lot of deworming pastes require usage every six to eight weeks. It is important to follow instructions on the frequency of the dosage for it may vary. Cleaning after the manure in your horse’s paddock is advisable to reduce worm infection of pastures.
As rewarding as it is to own a horse, it comes with its own set of challenges. Learning the basics of horse healthcare and understanding the needs of the horses can make the job easier and more enjoyable.
Now that you are equipped to take care of your horse, try checking out some of our healthcare articles for your other beloved pets!
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