Keeping your horse healthy

Wednesday 1st December, 2021

healthy horse grazing

Looking after a horse is a full-time job. Many of us will go above and beyond to make sure our horses are happy and healthy. Every day there’s more that we can learn about our equine friends and it’s normal to sometimes feel overwhelmed. But it’s all worth it when you are able to watch your horse galloping around the field. Healthy horses make happy owners. When horses are at their best, they are easier to train, care for and interact with. The more you know about horse care, the easier you’ll find keeping your horse healthy.

So, how exactly do you keep your horse healthy?

Provide suitable and quality feed

They say that money can’t buy happiness, but you can certainly eat your way there. A good hearty meal can really brighten a person’s day. Likewise, a horse’s feed can have a significant impact on its mental and physical wellbeing.

As horses have small stomachs, avoid feeding them large portions of grain. An influx of starch in the large intestine can cause an upset stomach and other digestive problems, such as colic. Instead, you should divide grain feed into two to three small meals per day. This should help keep digestion stable.

Understandably, you may want to cut some corners when it comes to looking after your horse. But it’s best to avoid buying cheap hay and/or low-quality grain as they can cause further digestive problems. Ultimately, prevention is the best cure and investing in quality grain will pay off in the long run.

Ensure your horse isn’t lonely

From time to time, your horse may be perfectly happy to fly solo. But remember, horses are generally social animals that are at their best when they have companionship. Prolonged isolation can be particularly distressing for horses and, in some cases, can lead to depression and anxiety. 

If your horse is a bit of a loner, then there may be something wrong with that particular horse. For example, they may be sick or they may have trouble getting along with the rest of the herd. In such cases, try to provide your horse with as much attention as possible. Studies show that simply providing your horse with a mirror could help them feel less lonely and more relaxed. Who knew that mirrors could be that powerful?

If you have a solitary horse, you’ve probably considered increasing the size of your herd at some point or another. This is a pretty big step to make. A cheaper alternative may be sharing land and/or stables with other horse owners. Not only will this provide new equine friends, but you can also cut back on some costs if housing expenses are shared.

Check your horse’s dental health

Believe it or not, horses share similar facial expressions to us humans. Researchers have found that horses have 17 facial expressions, many of which are also similar to those of a cat or dog. Don’t expect to see a big cheesy grin painted across your horse’s face anytime soon – although it’s still important to take care of their teeth!

Domesticated horses only have access to a limited range of plant life compared to wild horses. Eating the same foods day-in-day-out will cause their teeth to wear unevenly. For this reason, you need to file and check your horse’s teeth every 6 to 12 months. 

As much as we all love our horses, an afternoon of teeth filing doesn’t exactly sound exciting. This task is often best left to a vet. Plus, an experienced vet will examine your horse’s mouth for any other issues, such as a loose or abscessed tooth.

In between vet visits, keep an eye out for other signs of dental problems, such as quidding (dropping food) as well as smelly odours from the mouth and nasal passage. The earlier you spot potential dental problems, the better. 

Protect and moisturise your horse’s hooves

A horse’s body is built to stand throughout most of the day. However, if their hooves and legs are not kept in good condition, this will eventually impact their ability to move around comfortably. 

To protect your horse’s feet, try to keep their stables clean and dry. Placing an absorbent product underneath their main bedding will help to soak up unwanted moisture. Plus, it will make mucking out a lot less stressful. Stuck-on-mud can act as a breeding ground for bacteria. So, try to scrub your horse’s feet regularly and paint on a quality hoof protectant. A hoof protectant will help to prevent mud from getting stuck to the bottom of hooves. 

Any good horse care routine is incomplete without regularly moisturising hoof horns. If you fail to regularly moisturise hooves, they will eventually crack and chip. Use a tried and tested hoof oil to keep your horse’s hooves supple. Remember not to apply too many products. The goal is to moisturise and protect, not create armour. 

Make sure your horse is at a healthy weight

Seeing an underweight horse can be upsetting. If your horse is getting too thin, it may be time to speak with your vet. They will provide you with advice on how to increase your horse’s dietary intake so you can get them back to their optimal weight.

Of course, an overweight horse should be avoided as well. It’s likely that the owners of a slightly overweight horse don’t mean any harm, however, excessive weight can take a toll on a horse’s legs and joints. If this is the case, try to increase exercise and reduce grain intake.

Provide suitable living conditions

A cosy and roomy shelter is vital. If your stable is too small, your horse’s overall happiness and health will be affected. 

While your horse may not make the most out of their stable every second of the day, they will seek refuge when they need it most – especially during winter or when the weather is particularly warm. As such, you will need to provide a suitably sized space for your horse to enjoy and feel safe in.

Keeping your horse healthy by expanding your stable or knocking down walls may not necessarily be the best solution to providing your equine friend with suitable living conditions. Sometimes you may need to make slightly bigger changes. Whether it’s building a completely new stable or investing in a field shelter, we can help you find the right solution for you. So, what are you waiting for? Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you and your horse.

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