Basic Horse Care
How to find the horse that's right for you.
If you are inexperienced in dealing with horses, finding the right horse for you can be either a wonderful or a very discouraging experience.First of all, you need to ask yourself why do I want a horse and what am I looking for in a horse.Are you looking for a trail horse or a horse that you can show in competition.Prices will vary, starting around $800-$1000 for a pleasure (trail) horse to many, many thousands for a well trained show horse.
The first mistake I see over and over is people want to buy for how the horse looks.You can find the most beautiful horse until you get on his back and that beauty can turn real ugly fast.For some reason, this is the hardest thing to get new horse buyers to grasp,however after they have bought and taken their new horse home,they quickly understand what I meant.In my opinion, the horse's looks, (color,etc), should be one of the last things that you consider.
Find a horse that fits you in size and in the horse's training and ability for what you want the horse to be able to do.While observing the horse,make a mental note of the horse's ground manners.While standing, does he stand still or does he/she try to walk away, crowd your space,do they spook with your slightest hand movements.Will the horse load onto a trailer?A scared or nervous horse can seriously hurt if not kill you.In time, after alot of care and love a horse WILL begin to trust you.You can almost recognize the moment that they start to trust youWith all that said, after you have chosen the horse that you want, do NOT ever purchase the horse on your first visit, unless you have personal pryor knowledge of the horse's personality.I am sorry to say that alot of horse owners are only in it for the money and they will "dope" the animal.So often, the horse you buy is not the same horse the next day.Make several UNANNOUNCED trips back to see the horse before you put up your money.If after several trips back and the horse's behaviour is consistent,then you can pretty well judge the horse's true personality.
After you have purchased your horse, take careful note to the environment from which you are taking him from and compare it to where you are going to relocate the animal.For example if you take him from a pasture that the grass is thin and relocate the animal to a thick, lush and green pasture,be sure to limit his time in the pasture.Each day you can increase the amount of time the horse stays in the pasture.Alot of times if you just put a horse into a pasture that has alot more grass than they are used to, the horse may "founder" or "collick".Both illnesses can be fatal.
If you place the horse on your own private property make sure he has plenty of clean water.Always check to make sure the horse is still eating and drinking water.Horse's are "creatures of habit" and moving them can be very traumatic for some.If the horse was really attached to a herd before you moved him,they may go through "separation anxiety".As with any living creature, there is safety in numbers and when you take the horse from that, they feel extremely vulnerable.
If you decide to change the horse's feed , do so very gradually.They are strong animals with a poor digestive system.Just remember that any change to a horse's diet MUST be done slowly. If your horse is to be kept in a stall at times, be sure that it is "mucked" (cleaned) daily.If not, the horse is more apt to catch a bacterial infection.
Have your horse's hooves trimmed every 6 weeks and if you plan to ride them in a hard or rocky area,have shoes put on their front hooves.This gives the animal more ground clearance and helps to prevent stone bruises that can turn into an abcess.One of the saddest things you'll ever see is a horse with bad legs or feet.They have to support alot of weight for long periods of time.
In closing, if I could offer you any helpful advice at all it would be to remain calm around your horse.Speak in a calm voice, don't swing your arms suddenly around their head.Just remember to spend as much time on the ground as you do on their back.If everytime you got your horse from the pasture was to ride them, soon they'll not let you get your hands on them.Take time to let them graze on the "greener" grass on the other side of the fence.Spend plenty of time grooming the horse.This is what builds trust and once you have their trust, this is when you will really enjoy your new horse.It can be so rewarding.
I have been lucky enough to spend my days with 32 horses on a 80 acre ranch.I have grown to love and respect every single one of them.Iam the caretaker at Meadowchase Farm in Myrtle Beach,SC.
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