Jack and Paula Curtis


"Helping People Understand Horses"

Horse Care

   

Here are a few simple considerations in your horses care.

Turnout

It is essential to turn your horses out and allow them to be what nature intended them to be. Active, playful, social, mobile beings. This is critical to your horses physical, emotional, and spritual well being.

Horses are quite hardy and when provided with a few main necessities they will stay their healthiest when allowed to be outside 24/7.  These main necessities include; clean fresh water, quality forage, access to minerals and shelter from the elements.

Feeding

Horses tend to be the healthiest when allowed to graze on grasses and legumes.  If this is not available to you will need to supply a quality hay.  Some people supplement their hay with grain.

Horses guts are designed to have small continuous amounts of feed throughout the day.

While eating in order for the jaw to function properly, the horse must strech and lower its neck and head.  This allows the lower mandible to fall into the correct position for a biomechanically correct chewing motion.  Thus feeding from a hay rack or net does not allow for this natural mechanism causing problems throughout the body. 

The horses jaw is not made to chew large pelleted feed such as alfalfa cubes or certain types of pelleted grain.  If you must feed these it may be wise to soak them first to allow the horse to chew properly.

Clean, fresh, water should always be provided.  In the winter make sure your water does not freeze, and make sure your water tank does not shock the horses when they are drinking.  In the winter and summer make sure you regularly clean the tanks to prevent scum from building up.  In summer provide fresh water daily.

Herd 

In order to have a happy herd a couple main principles need to be considered. 

Do you have enough room for the amount of horses you plan to have in any given area?  Two horses may get along just fine in a small area but when you add a third you may have problems and a horse may get injured.  Horses rarely will kick or fight if they can get away. When given the choice they will usually just leave the situation. When there is nowhere to escape, even the most amicable horses will resort to fighting. Negative energy can be displaced from one herd member to another, this combined with little turnout or small spaces can lead to a stressed herd.

Group horses together that get along together.  If you have a horse that is always; picking fights, or getting beat up on, find him another buddy or herd to get along with.

Shelter

Horses need to have the ability to seek shelter from the elements (sun, rain, wind, snow).  Depending where you are from will depend on what type of shelter you will need. Trees are a good natural form of shade and wind block.  Three sided shelters are a great simple way to protect your horse from the elements, just make sure there is enough room for all of your horses to seek shelter.  The shelter should face away from the prevailing winds and weather patterns.

Hoofcare

When cared for properly the horses hoof can do remarkably well barefoot.  The horses hoof tends to mirror its environment; dry arid environment dry hard hoof, wet, mushy environment wet mushy hoof.  Try to keep a balance. If you live in a very dry environment, let your tanks over flow so each time the horse needs to get a drink his feet get moisture.  If you live in a wet environment provide an area such as in their shelter where the footing is dry.  Your horse will learn to seek out these areas as his feet need them.

Movement is essential to healthy feet.  It encourages proper growth, wear, and conditioning.  Providing large turnout areas for your horse to freely move helps.  Keep feed on one end of the turnout area and water at the other end, this will help encourage your horse to move.  Unless you have an extremely large area for your horse to move around, you will need to replace the natural distance typically traveled by the horse, with regular exercise.  Try to exercise you horses on a variety of terrains  to help condition his feet and body.

Stable

The stable should be bright and airy happy place.  Dark, poorly ventilated stables are very unhealthy for the horse.  Horses should be next to horses from their herd, preferably a buddy.  This will help reduce the stress of being confined to a stall.  When inside it is preferable to allow the horse access to feed at all times.  This helps eliminate boredom and helps prevent stable vices such as cribbing and weaving.

   

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