If you own a horse, you are probably aware of the time and money needed to properly care for this amazing creature. Since horses have a longer life than do most animals, keeping them healthy can be somewhat of a challenge. Still, there are several things you can do to help ensure your horse stays healthy. Below are five tips that will help you get started down the right path.
- Feeding your horse a well-balanced diet
Feeding your horse a well-balanced diet is one of the most important aspects of good equine health. I don’t think you can go past “The Oldtimers” diet for a healthy horse. Consisting of either oats or barley. Good quality oats (crimped or crushed immediately before feeding them out) or barley (soaked overnight then strained immediately before feeding out). A mixture of chaff and oaten chaff included in this along with a really good quality multi vitamin/mineral supplement. I recommend Antoinette Foster from HiForm Australia – HiForm Australia products are made from the finest, organic ingredients they can find. There are no hidden nasties in them. I use nothing but HiForm supplements in my feeding regimen and have since the inception of HiForm Australia. I am truly grateful for HiForm Australia’s sponsorship of my horses including my stallions, broodmares, foals and performance horses. I love my clients for coming on board with me using HiForm, it is truly second to none.
Then you want to make sure they have a quality pasture hay. I prefer pasture hay to lucerne hay, however, I will always feed lucerne hay to the younger, growing horses from weanlings to three year olds. The horses get all the nutrients in the hard feed as long as the multi’s are included in it. The pasture hay, I like to feed around an hour after they have finished eating their hard feed of a night. This helps keep them occupied and satisfied longer into the night. Keeping their digestive tract working as long as possible, helps to keep ulcers at bay. This hay bag is fabulous for slowing their eating down.
Be mindful of how much each horse needs, horses are individuals like us, it also depends on the horses workload for that day also so one horse may need more than another. Age may also make a difference, so it is also important to keep this in mind when choosing the proper amount of feed and what kind of supplements need to be included in their feed.
A young horse, up until four or five, will need supplements that look after their growth plates and their joints whereas, not so much for a 9 year old horse that has well and truly finished growing – they may start needing a supplement that is going to keep their joints and ligaments strong and healthy and help keep arthritis at bay.
- Regular worming regimen
Keep your horse’s digestive tract healthy by de-worming on a regular basis also. Failure to do this can result in your horse having worms that can result in significant harm, even death. I have had an arrival that needed a blood transfusion due to infestation of worms. – Some people come into this totally blind and ignorant to horse husbandry.
Make sure your horse receives vaccinations on a regular schedule so as to ward off critical diseases and conditions that can prove fatal. This is just as important for animals as it is for people, so be sure to treat this with great care. Keep a log of such vaccinations so that you will know when the various vaccinations are due. This can also help if there is ever a situation where the vet needs to know of previous vaccinations. While your vet will probably keep records of this, it is a good idea for you to have them as well.
- Maintenance of their hooves
Whether you are into bare foot trimming or getting in a farrier do it on a regular basis! Every six weeks is a good time to get the farrier in when it is show season or good weather riding season. When turning them out over winter, it’s important to make sure you get the shoes taken off before turn out but keep getting your farrier in for trims. This helps immensly stopping splits and cracks from appearing. It is very important that you keep a close eye on your horse’s feet. Poorly kept feet can lead to a variety of lameness problems, and can be very painful for your horse. You should also make sure your horse is shod properly, and whenever necessary, as this will help as well. Some horses have such brittle or misshaped feet sometimes it’s necessary to keep them shod over the winter break.
Finally, I can’t stress this enough. But before I do… I loved my equine dentist of over 30 years, he repaired many a horses mind and mouth for me.
I had so many teeth problems ranging all the way from two year olds to senior horses. Which leads me to another “I can’t stress this enough”, hunt down a really good equine dentist, ask around, do the research.
Make sure you’re not shy with the dentist, ask them if you can feel your horses teeth before and after the work is done. You can’t go wrong with this, you yourself will know why your horse has been misbehaving under saddle.
As long as the gag is in place and your horse may also be sedated he won’t be grazing on your arm at this point. Be sure to run your fingers over every tooth in your horses head. Some dentists have been known to not go far enough back therefore leaving sharp points of the back teeth.
For a more in-depth look at your horses health right through to training your horse you can pick up my book From Go To Whoa – Training your own horse to read more.
From Go To Whoa
Training Your Own Horse - Author: Pam Neal, Professional trainer, breeder of all western breeds horses, show campaigner and professional horse and rider coach
Old Timers kept it simple