Owning a pet for the first time can be both exciting and nerve-wracking.
Horses are wonderful creatures that require a lot of nurture and maintaining their health requires a great deal of work your part.
Read on to discover six essential things you must be aware of when taking care of a horse for the first time.
1. Keep them active
To keep your horse healthy, happy and in the right condition for riding, it’s essential to keep them active.
Exercise will not only improve your horse’s stamina and endurance, but they’ll further benefit from toned muscles, a healthier digestion tract and a better chance of fighting off illness.
Check with your vet before planning a routine for your horse. It’s important that their general fitness is observed prior to any exercise they undertake in new ownership.
2. Food & Drink
Another key element of maintaining your horse’s health is being aware of what they eat and drink.
They require plenty of clean water – 12 gallons a day in fact, which is an enormous increase on what the average person drinks in a day.
As horses are herbivores, they require plenty of nutrition. By making sure that they have round-the-clock access to plenty of high quality hay and grass, you know they’re going to be fulfilled.
They also need concentrates such as oats and bran, as well as fruits and vegetables.
Even though these animals have a taste for meat, suddenly changing their diet can result in a nasty illness.
3. Time for resting
Adult horses don’t require the same amount of sleep as we do, and only snooze for about three hours a day. Their sleep routine is carried out at various intervals during the day, only lasting for minutes at a time.
The type and length of sleep they get each day is largely dependent on factors including diet, workload, temperature, gender and development.
If you’re caring for a new-born foal, don’t be alarmed by the amount of time they sleep each day. The average foal will sleep for around 12 hours a day until they are about three months old. If your horse is in their later years, they too will sleep more frequently.
4. Regular grooming required
It’s important to never underestimate the importance of regularly grooming your horse, as it allows a handler to continuously monitor their general health and wellbeing.
There are many other benefits resulting from regular grooming, including the maintenance of a healthy skin and coat. By having a well-groomed coat, you’ll be able to quickly spot any problems before they develop further.
Their chances of suffering from conditions such as thrush decreases with regular grooming. Perhaps more importantly from an owner’s perspective, maintaining the cleanliness of your horse can only strengthen the bond between the two of you.
5. Susceptibility to illness
One thing you’re bound to notice as a new owner of a horse, is that they can become ill or injured in a flash and can rack up hefty vet bills as a result. Here are some of the most common and easily spread infections that your horse can fall victim too:
Cracked Heels – This condition usually arises from muddy conditions and can lead to the skin on your horse’s legs and stomach becoming scaly and inflamed. As the infection spreads it can cause scabs to form over the infected areas.
Ringworm – A highly contagious fungal infection that is spread through both direct and indirect contact, which should affectively lead to your horse being isolated where possible. The tissues that are usually infected are around the following regions:
Rain Scald – If your horse is living in particularly wet conditions then rain scald is one of the many conditions they are susceptible to. This illness is a skin condition which can be caused when your horse is constantly wet from either moisture or sweat.
To keep your pet safe from this, make sure there is always a shelter for them to stay in and that rugs are looked after correctly.
Common Cold – Just like us, horses are very susceptible to the common cold. This illness usually occurs when horses are kept in unventilated stables for a considerable length of time.
The symptoms of this illness are much like ours, which includes high glands, coughing, swollen throat and discharge from the nose.
Consult your vet whenever you suspect your horse is unwell so you can get the appropriate treatment immediately. It’s recommended that new owners should take out horse insurance to combat potentially large vet bills.
6. What you need!
If you’re to look after your horse properly, it’s in your best interests to invest in the following:
- Water trough or large buckets
- Feed tub
- Water heater
For grooming and handling:
- Mane Comb
- Body Brush
- Hoof Pick
- Fly repellent
For maintaining your stable or pasture:
- Insect spray
- Manure Fork
- Horse-riding hat
By taking these essentials on board you’re going to be well equipped to tackle some of the more difficult elements that come with owning a horse, so that you can both enjoy a special partnership together.