On a daily basis horses have several requirements:
- Feed (hay and grain)
- Clean stall
- Exercise and/or turnout
- Special considerations
On a regular basis horses need preventative and maintenance attention:
- Veterinary care (vaccinations, 2x/year)
- Farrier (~ every six weeks)
- Deworming (~ every six to eight weeks)
- Dentistry (1x/year)
- Sheath cleaning (few times a year)
FEED Horses are given hay as the bulk of their diet, especially if they are on limited or no pasture turnout for grazing. They are grazers by nature, so it is beneficial if they eat hay in several feedings throughout the day before being fed grain.
Hay: There are several types and mixtures of hay available. They will vary in protein and nutritional content. Some common types of hay are grass mix, clover, timothy, alfalfa. Alfalfa is the highest in protein content.
Grain and feed: There is a wide variety of feed available. They vary in protein and nutritional valye and in how they effect the performance of the horse. Some common types are pellets, sweet feed, senior, oats, legacy (complete feed), and beet pulp.
It is essential that the horse have water available in large quantities (up to about 15 gallons a day). Horses should unrestricted access to fresh clean water, except if they are overheated or have just finished exercising. Buckets should be cleaned daily and refilled several times a day.
The stall should be cleaned every morning, and ideally picked out again in the evening if the horse is standing in it for most of the day. Fresh clean bedding should be added. There are several types of bedding, including wood shavings (chips, shredded or sawdust), straw, and shredded paper. Although straw is courser than hay, some horses may regard it as additional grazing material, and may put on weight by eating their bedding. These horses should be given another type of bedding.
Ideally a horse should have daily turnout, as by nature they are herd animals that move about almost constantly. If they are stabled, it is best for them to have a regular exercise program that will vary depending on their individual needs and suitability to work.
GROOMING: In addition to the aesthetic aspect, a horse should be groomed before and after riding and regularly even when not being ridden for the following reasons:
- Promotes a healthy coat (brings natural oils to the surface)
- Increases circulation to muscles by acting as a massage
- Allows checking for sores, cuts and injury
- Prevents tack sores and hair loss from dirt and sweat
- Shared time between horse and human which is beneficial for both
Some horses require daily attention for injury, illness or a chronic condition. Some require daily supplements in the feed, or special medications.Regular Maintenance
If nothing else is needed, horses will need to be vaccinated by a vet twice a year, spring and fall. Horses receive the following vaccinations:
Fall: Flu/Rhino Virus
Spring: Flu/Rhino virus; Eastern/Western Encephalitis; Tetanus; Rabies
(May also require additional vaccinations such as Potomac Horse Fever depending on geographic location)
Horses need their hooves trimmed approximately every 6 weeks. Most require shoes, especially when being ridden on harder footing.
Horses should be dewormed every 6 to 8 weeks. The type of anthelmintic (dewormer) is rotated in order to prevent intestinal parasites from developing resistance and in order to eliminate the full spectrum of parasites. This will help prevent colic.
For proper digestion and comfort, horse's teeth should be floated (filed) by a dentist once a year. Some horses require more frequent or more extensive dentistry.
Should be done on a regular basis, at least 2 or 3 times a year. Some horses are more agreeable to this cleaning than others. Mares should also have their teats cleaned regularly. Some horses need to be tranquilised for this cleaning, for the safety and convenience of the cleaner.