Thursday, February 4, 2010

What We Owe Horses – Basic Needs of a Horse

I see a lot of backyard horse owners, visiting some a time or two at their request or being sent there from someone’s complaint that the horse was neglected. I hear myself repeating the same mantra over and over in regards to the basic requirements that the horse needs. It bears repeating since so many horse owners, and undoubtedly potential horse owners are still unaware of the basic requirements for a horse:

  • A safe place to keep the horse, free of sharp objects and other dangers.

  • A large enough stall for the horse to move around in. I have seen too many horses in a 10 foot by 10 foot stalls to ever want to see another. If a horse was keep in a small stall for some of the day but turned out to exercise or interact with other horses than that’s another story.

  • Overhead cover would be a good idea so the horse can get out of the rain, hail or snow and give him a dry place to lay down.

  • The stall or corral needs to be relatively clean. Manure not picked up can spread worms and bacteria.

  • The horse needs adequate feed. A starting point would be 2% of his body weight per day in hay (1,000 lb horse equals 20 lbs of good quality hay) if that horse is in decent body condition to begin with.

  • Clean water. The horse needs free access to clean water. If the water is really dirty, a horse may neglect drinking and become dehydrated which will lead to other problems, such as colic.

  • Free access to a salt or mineral block is another item I would consider a requirement.

  • Regular vaccinations, appropriately given by a Veterinarian, or someone who is skilled.

  • Regular worming. I worm four times a year as my horses are corralled or turnout with other horses who I don’t know the worming history on.

  • Regular hoof care. This means cleaning the feet (hooves) daily or near daily basis and having a skilled farrier (horsehoer) trim or shoe the horse on a routine basis. My horses are trimmed or shoed every six weeks; eight weeks in the winter time as the hooves tend not to grow so fast.

The last requirement is as important as the rest;……...the horse needs an owner who sincerely wants to give the horse a fair life. If we keep horses we owe it to them to keep educating ourselves to ensure we are competent in taking care of them.

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