You will need to learn the basics of horse care before bringing home and taking care of your equine friend, said Katherine Blocksdorf of The Spruce Pets, a pet website. A horse needs pasture free from holes, loose wire fences, and other hazards, safe fencing (ex: mesh wire fencing), grass for grazing or equivalent amount of high quality hay.
An ample supply of fresh clean water should be provided at all times, which should be heated during cold weather. You will also need to bring home another horse, mule, pony, donkey, sheep, or goat to keep your horse company.
Bear in mind that horse ownership entails a lot of responsibility on your side, said the American Association of Equine Practitioners, which was founded in 1954 by a group of 11 charter members who saw that you could steer the focus of equine veterinary medicine. Your horse’s health and welfare is at the palm of your hand.
An Online Survey Involving Horse Owners In Great Britain (2013)
Only 4,417 surveys were included in the analyses, with 2.6% reported owning or being responsible for at least one horse without a passport, according to Lisa A. Boden and colleagues of BMC Veterinary Research, an open access, peer-reviewed journal. Participants were typically horse owners who ride (98.2%) or were linked with the equestrian industry, namely riding instructors/coaches (8.7%), breeders/stud owners (7.9%), livery yard proprietors (3.1%) or Thoroughbred industry personnel (0.7%).
Donkey owners (1.2%) and members of the traveling industry (0.1%) also participated in the survey. Majority of the respondents said their horses were housed within 10 miles of their own home (92.9%), whereas some respondents kept them between 11 and 50 miles away from their home (6.1%) and more than 50 miles away (1%). The respondents said their horses were kept in riding schools (95.3%), on arable land (94.4%), rented pasture (90.8%), livestock farms (87.5%), private yards (78.8%), on their own premises (68.1%), and in livery yards (32.2%).
27% of respondents said they owned one horse but stated multiple premises type. Most owners said they had vaccinated their horses against influenza (90.5%), tetanus (95.3%), and herpes (90.6%). 65.4% said they used their own vehicles to transport their own horses, while others shared their vehicles (14.8%) or others’ vehicles (31.9%) to transport them from the same or different premises.
A year prior to the date of response to the survey, 58.6% of participants had traveled and returned home with their horse within a day. Of those that had traveled with their horses for over a day, 71% of the 1,482 respondents answered one day (71%). Others spent one to seven days away (71%), eight to 30 days away (24%), between 31 to 60 days (3%), and more than 60 days (2%) away from the home premises.
Only 6.3% had traveled with their horses internationally and/or imported horses from Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Spain and Poland. The findings provided a unique data set that associated owners and horse location to the characteristics of horse movements within or outside of Great Britain.
Choosing Your Dream Horse
Federation Equestre Internationale, an organization and governing body, recommended that you need to know what you want in a horse, as this will help narrow down your search and save yourself from heartache or financial strain when choosing the wrong horse. Andreas Helgstrand, an Olympic and WEG medalist stated, “I always ask people first of all, what are you looking for? What are your ambitions? What is your budget? And all of their answers have to fit together.”
It is also advisable to bring an expert who knows how you ride and what you expect in a horse. The expert should be someone you trust and has ample experience in purchasing quality horses. Observe your equine companion’s behaviors and its reactions to its environment. Moreover, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with your horse’s history not only to gauge its performance for ridden work but also to help you manage it in your barn.
Horse Care 101: Learning The Basics
1. Food and Water
The digestive system of horses are made to digest frequent, small amounts of roughage throughout the day, stated ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), a non-profit organization. A horse’s diet should consist of grass and hay, which should be free of mold and dust. Clean, unfrozen water should be available along with a salt block or trace mineral.
How much to feed your horse depends on its condition and activity level, but most of them should consume between 2% and 2.5% of their weight in pounds of hay and supplemented feed each day. Provide your horse with plenty of fresh water and shade on hot and humid days. Limit forced exercise under scorching temperatures. To safeguard your horse from extremely cold weather, ensure that it has access to shelter. Your equine companion should also be capable of protecting itself from moisture and wind.
As social animals, provide your horse with opportunities to roam and interact with other horses to help them become more physiologically sound. If you keep your horse in a stall, provide it with enough socialization and enrichment opportunities, as well as daily turnout if possible. If it lives outside, ensure that it has safe access to shelter.
Your horse may also need shoes depending on its activity level, body type, and environment. Consult your farrier for advice on keeping your pet’s hooves strong and well-balanced. Don’t forget to trim them every six to eight weeks.
As for its teeth, they should be checked once or twice a year and filed or “floated” by your veterinarian. Your horse’s teeth will grow continuously so uneven wear can lead to the formation of sharp points and edges, causing pain and making it difficult for your pet to chew. Dental problems resulting from painful points or rotting teeth may contribute to quidding. Quidding happens when food falls out of your horse’s mouth. Watch out for other signs of dental issues such as bad breath, undigested hay in feces, or discomfort in the bit or noseband.
Owning a horse is a big investment. Hence, owners need to calculate how much they are expected to pay for their horse’s health care, food, etc. Have an emergency fund for unforeseen illnesses or injuries. Most importantly, owners should choose a horse that suits their lifestyle to help them narrow their search for their dream horse.