How to Care for a Horse
The Basic Horse Care Routine
Owning a horse comes with a lot of responsibility! Your horse will be relying on you to provide his daily needs whether you do it yourself or pay others to do the daily horse care chores.
One of the pleasures of owning a horse is to be involved with the day to day horse care. It helps deepen the bond between you and your companion. Your daily routine will depend on your time constraints, your experience and the horse care requirements of your horse.
The Basics of How to Care For a Horse
• Check your horse for any unusual lumps, bumps or heat
• Muck out your horses stall or stable
• Feed your horse good quality hay or haylage (feed grain or hard feed if needed, “little and often”)
• Ensure he has a clean and fresh water supply
• Groom your horse including picking out his feet
• Make sure your horse gets some exercise or turnout
Owning a horse will mean having a set routine for horse care. In a normal routine you should expect to visit your horse at least twice a day, morning and evening. If you are unable to visit your horse make arrangements for someone to provide the basic horse care for you.
Other Regular Routines
Worming your horse to remove any internal parasites is essential horse care. Many yards have a set worming calendar so that all horses are wormed on the same day. You can expect to worm your horse every 3-6 months depending on your geographical location and the type of parasites the wormer is intended for. Different wormers kill different worms!
The old saying “no hoof, no horse” is very true. Have your horses feet checked regularly. If your horse wears shoes then this will be around every 6 weeks to replace his shoes. Unshod horses may be slightly longer intervals.
Your vet will need to visit once per year to update your horses immunisations.
Owning a Horse is a Pleasure
Checking for Horse Health Problems.
As in any other living creature, owning a horse can be stressful when the horse has health problems. To minimise his suffering and your stress (and finances!) your daily horse care routine should include checks for any early signs of horse health problems.
7 Signs of Good Health
• Your horse is alert, his head is up and he’s looking interested in you
• Your horses eyes are bright and alert, the mucous membrane of the eye should be salmon pink in colour
• His coat is bright and skin is supple.
• Your horses dropping should be normal for him; they should be regular and break when hitting the ground. The colour will vary depending on what he is fed.
• Your horses temperature will be between 100o to 101oF (37o-38oC)
• His pulse should be between 36-42 beats per minute
• His breathing respiration between 8 and 15 breaths per minute
Owning a horse will mean you get to know what signs are normal for him. Part of your horse care routine should be checking for any horse health problems, that doesn't mean you have to take his temperature every day! But you should know what his norm temperature is so you have something to compare it against if he has any health problems in the future.
How to Take a Horses Pulse
Normally a horses pulse is taken on the facial artery just underneath his jaw on either side. Locate the artery and press your first two fingers firmly on the artery and count the beats per minute.
An alternative place to take your horses pulse is at the median artery which can be found the depression at the centre of the inside surface of his foreleg level with the elbow.
Your horses pulse should be 36 to 42 beats per minute at rest. After exercise or during stressful periods it may increase significantly. Your horses pulse should return to normal within 15 minutes of resting depending on his overall fitness.
How to Take Your Horses Temperature
Use a thermometer that is made for taking horses temperature. Do not use glass based thermometers. Your horses’ temperature is taken in the rectum. Grease the thermometer with Vaseline. Stand to one side of your horse so that you don’t get kicked! Lift his tail and insert the thermometer with a gentle rotating action. Leave the thermometer in place for the states amount of time for that particular brand.
Your horses’ temperature should be between 100o to 101oF (37o-38oC). Temperatures above 102oF is abnormal and anything above 104o F (40 oC) indicates severe horse health problems and needs urgent vet attention.
Now you know the basics of how to care for a horse and how to check for signs of good health, they should become part of your daily horse care routine.