A horse is no small animal, so owning one comes with a lot of responsibility. Don’t get worried, though! With these horse care tips, you’re set.
The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that 893,152 households in America own an average of 2.1 horses. There’s a lot of work that goes into caring for a horse, but it’s worth it.
Horses are great for helping you stay physically fit, will help you build up your confidence, and make great therapy animals.
If you’re new to owning a horse, it can feel overwhelming. It takes a lot more effort and know-how to care for a horse than it does to care for a goldfish.
If you’re wondering about basic horse care 101, keep reading. We’re sharing with you 10 horse care tips for beginners.
Proper Horse Care Begins With Cleaning
One of the most important things on how to take care of a horse is to learn how to keep your horse clean. Invest in quality brushes and maintain them well so they last a long time.
Brush your horse every single day in the same direction as their hair grows. This will keep their coat nice and shiny by distributing sebum evenly.
Brush the Mane and Tail, Too
Don’t forget to brush the mane and tail. Start at the ends and work your way up. And do not stand behind your horse when brushing its tail or they may kick you in the stomach.
You’ll also need to wash your horse. While it doesn’t need to be every day, you should use a sponge and shampoo to ensure your horse gets as clean as possible.
How to Feed Your Horse Properly
Horses aren’t animals that eat one or two big meals a day. They are grazers and need access to food throughout the day.
The bulk of a horse’s diet must be forage. Your horse needs to eat between 1-2% of its own body weight every day. If your horse weighs 1,000 pounds, you’ll need to provide 10-20 pounds of hay or other roughage.
Supplements and Fortified Grains May Be Necessary
Fortified grains can also help add calories to help your horse maintain a healthy weight and body condition. You also need to add a salt lick or mineral block in their paddock.
Check with your vet to see if additional supplements are also necessary.
What Your Horse Shouldn’t Eat
In the spring and summer months, it’s easy for your horse to eat the wrong plants which can easily poison them. Here’s what plants and trees your horse shouldn’t have access to:
- Black walnut
- Oak, especially new-growth leaves
- Wilted red maple leaves
- Blister beetles
- White snakeroot
- White sanicle
- Jimmy weed
- Rayless goldenrod
- Burrow weed
- Yellow starthistle
- St. Barnaby’s thistle
- Russian knapweed
You should also watch out for the Taxus species such as yew, Japanese yew, American yew, English yew, western yew, oleander, and rose laurel. If you do suspect your horse has been poisoned, immediately call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.
Keeping Your Horse Well Hydrated
Like all animals, part of caring for a horse means making sure they have access to plenty of water at all times. Horses drink an average of 5-15 gallons of water every day.
And that water needs to be fresh and clean at all times. During hotter months, horses will drink more water. During winter months, you need to ensure the water doesn’t freeze.
If you have a horse that either sweats excessively or just doesn’t seem to drink enough water, you may need to add an electrolyte to their water on a daily basis.
Providing Your Horse With Proper Shelter
Part of basic horse care is providing them with shelter. While horses are a hardy species, meaning that they cope well with both heat and cold because they can regulate their own body temperature, that doesn’t mean they don’t need shelter.
A shelter should be a safe and sturdy place where your horse can escape weather such as the hot summer sun, cold wind, snow or freezing rain.
Don’t Let Them Spend Too Much Time Indoors
It’s not enough to provide your horse with a small stall. Think of how cooped up you’d feel in a small space for too long.
Horses need to roam and if they can’t do that inside, they may end up stressed. Also, the more time they spend in a stall, the higher the risk of colic becomes.
And standing upright in one place for too long can put stress on their joints. Make sure they don’t spend too much time in their stall and muck out their stall on a daily basis to keep it clean and disease-free.
Make Sure the Horse Gets Plenty of Exercises
Your horse needs space to run around to get exercise. Aim to provide your horse with between 1-1/2 to two acres of open well-managed land for your horse.
Two acres is best if you want to provide the horse with both adequate forage and a place to get enough exercise. However, you should always check with your state and county agricultural statutes since each state and county has different minimum land requirements for livestock.
Length and Time Differ Depending on a Few Factors
How much and what type of exercise your horse needs depends on the breed, the conditions where you keep your horse, and the work required from your horse. A minimum amount of exercise is daily walking between 15 and 20 minutes to ensure your horse stays healthy.
If you are looking to keep your horse in top condition, you’ll need to give them a workout that lasts up to two hours each day.
Keep Your Horse Calm
And one big part of horse care is making sure they are calm. In fact, in a 2018 AHP Equine Industry Survey, 51.5% of all respondents reported using a calming product for their horse.
Clearly, this is an important factor that horse owners know needs attention for their horse’s health.
One new and effective way to keep your horse calm without using pharmaceuticals is Innovet CBD oil for horses. It’s natural and can help address issues stemming from anxiety, behavior, and pain for your horses.
How to Care for Their Hooves
Caring for their hooves is also an important part of the job. And you’ll need to trim their hooves every six to eight weeks if your horse doesn’t have access to adequate natural wear.
While you’re trimming their hooves, be careful to stand by their side, not behind the horse to avoid being kicked. And while it’s a tradition for a horse to get fitted for shoes, they don’t need them if there’s the ability to strengthen their hooves naturally.
Also, there are potential problems that can come up if you do choose to shoe your horse. Ask your vet what they recommend before making a decision as to whether or not to shoe your horse.
How to Care for Their Teeth
Unlike human teeth, a horse’s teeth will continue to grow. If left unattended, your horse could end up with a mouth full of teeth that are uneven.
And uneven wear can lead to sharp edges and points that can cause your horse to be in pain. It also makes it more difficult for them to chew.
Have Your Vet Visit Once or Twice a Year for Cleanings
A veterinarian should check your horse’s teeth at least once or twice every year. The vet will them float the teeth which makes them smoother.
If you leave the painful points too long, their teeth may end up rotting. If you notice your horse is having difficulty chewing or is “quidding,” you’ll need to contact a vet or an equine dentist. Quidding is when food falls out of the mouth of the horse while they’re eating.
Signs of Dental Disease in Horses
Other signs of dental disease include:
- Undigested hay found in their stool
- Foul breath
- Discomfort from the bit or noseband
If you let the horse’s teeth rot for too long, they may choke, suffer from colic or begin to lose weight.
Training Your Horse
You’ll find you can bond with your horse better and can enjoy everything having a horse has to offer if you train your horse. Here are a few tips on how to train your horse:
- Be consistent in your communication with your horse
- Change up their exercise routine to prevent boredom
- Vary how you reward your horse for good behavior
- Avoid punishing your horse for doing things wrong when learning
- Find positive ways to help your horse begin to trust you
Remember, slow and steady always wins the race. Don’t expect your horse to pick up everything you teach him or her straight away.
Sometimes it takes a little patience before you begin to see results.
Schedule Regular Visits With the Vet
A horse needs to see a veterinarian at least every year for a wellness check. If the horse is a senior, you can get a wellness check every two years.
The vet should attend to vaccinations, deworming, and dental cleaning. Typical vaccinations for horses are:
- Viral respiratory disease
Your vet will let you know when and how often your horse needs vaccinations.
Deworm Your Horse
You should also be deworming your horse every six to eight weeks if you’re using a worming paste.
Make sure to read the directions carefully before administering the deworming paste as dosage amounts and frequency varies by brand.
Learn How to Care for Your Other Pets
When you know how to provide proper horse care, you may find you actually enjoy the various activities quite a bit. It’s also a good way to bond with your horse.
But you should also know how to properly take care of any other animals you may have around your property.
Keep reading our pet care section to learn how to provide the best care for your favorite pets!