Are you confused and overwhelmed with all the information out there about all that goes into caring for your horse? It doesn’t have to be that way let me help!
Here are a few things to get you started on your journey:
Stabling/Shelter – If you have to board your horse try to get a stall with a run so that your horse can get in more movement plus it will help with him or her not getting too bored. If you can’t get a stall with a run then it’s going to be important that you make time to get your horse out of the stall for exercise on a regular basis.
Movement is so important for a horses well being it helps to keep the gut moving as horses were designed to move several miles a day. If you keep them stalled a lot they will tend to develop bad habits like weaving, pacing and more that I talk about in this blog post “Stable Vices In Horses.”
If you are able to keep your horse at your place make sure they have access to a shelter of some kind. They may not use it when the weather is bad but at least they have a choice. My horses have access to a shelter but sometimes they stand on the other side without the roof and are perfectly happy but when it’s raining they
usually, go under the shelter.
Nutrition – feeding your horse the proper nutrition is so important! What you feed them can affect their behavior, coat condition, hooves, teeth and more. Feeding your horse sweet feed would be the equivalent to giving your child doughnuts and expecting them to behave nicely all day. Grain is not that important unless you’re feeding a young horse, pregnant mare or a horse in heavy competition. Check out this blog post 5 Feeding Myths
In some cases, older horses need a little grain but with all that being said it’s important to get a good quality grain. Learn to read labels as some of the ingredients are fillers and do your horse no good while other ingredients can set your horse up for health challenges. If you’re feeding a Miniature Horse you’ll want to read this blog post Miniature Horse Care and Feeding.
Hay is the most important thing you will feed your horse so try to get the best you can. Hay helps keep the horse’s digestive system working properly and in the winter time, it helps keep them warm.
Grooming – most horses love to be groomed and grooming is great for their coat. Daily grooming removes dead skin cells, brings oils to the surface and improves circulation in the skin. You’ll need a brush and curry comb (has teeth for getting caked on mud off). Start out by gently currying them don’t apply a lot of pressure as some horses are very sensitive and won’t like it. After you finish with the curry comb follow it up with a soft dandy brush that will help to make them shine!
As you’re grooming them look out for any cut’s, roughed up hair, lumps, puncture wounds etc from head to hoof. Also be aware of any places they don’t like to be brushed this could be an indicator of something physical starting or it could mean they need training around accepting the brush in that area.
Hoof Care – most of the time a horse’s hooves need to be trimmed every 3 to 4 weeks (maximum 6 weeks) and some can go a little longer depending on the environment they are kept in. Horses that are wearing shoes usually need them replaced every 4 to 6 weeks.
It’s important to clean their hooves out on a regular basis as you sure don’t want a rock wedged in their hoof. In the summer when there is a lot of rain they can get thrush (click here to learn about thrush) and you’ll want to get on top of that quickly. In the winter snow can get packed in their hooves making it hard to walk.
Dental Care – having the proper dental care is also very important. Horses over time develop rough edges on their teeth which will cause sores inside the mouth making it hard for them to chew properly. If they don’t chew their food properly because of bad or misaligned teeth it can cause problems that lead to colic, weight
loss and even them not taking the correct lead when asked.
Yes, that can happen and it can also cause them to stop accepting the bit. Think about it when you have a tooth that is bothering you it’s all you can think about sometimes because of the pain. Horses should have their teet examined by a specialist (equine dentist) at least once a year and some horses need the exam done every six months. Some veterinarians are well trained to do dental work but most only do surface work.
First- Aid – learning how to administer basic first aid can save you time and money. In my workshop, I teach horse owners how to save time, money or they’ll know what to do before the veterinarian arrives. In this video First Aid Kit Products I talk about four things I keep in my horse’s first aid kit and why. You’ll definitely want to learn how to take and know your horse’s vital signs. This FREE course will teach you how.
Tack – make sure you get tack (halters, bridles, bits, saddles etc) that properly fits your horse. A tight halter is very uncomfortable for your horse and a loose fitting halter can get hung up on things causing a huge wreck and could be potentially lethal for your horse. Never leave a halter on your horse when they are out in the pasture!
There are a lot of bits out there to choose from and sometimes it takes going through a few to find the right one for your horse. Don’t let anyone talk you into getting a bigger more severe bit to control your horse that will get you into a lot of trouble!
Riding bitless is another option and there are a lot of people doing that. I love riding my horses bitless but I also get them used to a bit because if you decide to compete most competitions require the horse to be bitted up. I also want to teach my horse about the bit because I do it in a way that is not forceful.
A properly fitted saddle no matter the discipline (Western or English) is important if you get one that doesn’t fit it will pinch the horses back and could cause your horse to start bucking along with other problems. This blog post Tips For Buying A Western Saddle will give you some basic information.
For more tips get my FREE report… Horse Care and Tack Tips