Basic and Important Necessities That a Horse Needs to Be Healthy and Thriving
Horses are lovely creatures, a beast considered one of the noblest known to man, helping us work, hunt, fight, but also exercise and relax. They used to be such a large and important part of our culture and daily lives that life without them used to unimaginable, yet today they have become a rarity. And with so few of them left we should at least take good care of these precious companions.
However big, they can sometimes be very fragile and prone to disease if kept or fed inappropriately. That is why you should educate yourself before engaging these animals, be it as a rider, a trainer, or just keeping them for fun. And although sometimes fragile, with proper care they can become strong, healthy, and above all - lovable friends that will be by your side for decades.
If left on their own, especially in an enclosed yard, horses tend to get lazy and fat. And as we know from humans - this can become a serious health issue in the long run if left untreated. Hearth problems, too much pressure on joints, underdeveloped muscles, etc. The root of the problem is in the horse’s nature to overeat if given the chance, and not having to run from predators if there are none.
Because of this horses need to be fed carefully and put to exercise almost every day. Modern systems with a motorized fence that forces them to move in a circle are a great option, yet a very costly one. The good old whip, rope, and running in circles - or just riding the horse if you have the energy - are also doable and give you an exercise as well.
A rule of thumb for feeding horses with grain is to give them 2% of their body weight in grain daily. And like all rules of thumb - this one has many exceptions. If using fodder, or if the horses are used for work and heavy exercise - they need more than that.
Consulting a veterinarian would be your best bet if you are not sure what to feed them. Places such as https://forageplus.co.uk/ offer a wide range of supplements and analyses for a horse’s nutrition that should be used regularly. Today we know better than our ancestors, who would only give them some salt and rest if they got weak from work. A planned out and cultivated pasture, alongside proper forage, can give you a very healthy and happy horse.
Are They Socializing Enough?
Horses are herd animals and should be treated as such. They do not necessarily need to have another horse, or a whole herd of them, to as if they belong, but a group of larger animals is very beneficial for them. Donkeys, sheep, sometimes even dogs, are all good choices for a small herd.
And like within all of those herds, there exists a strict hierarchy. Whenever possible, you, the owner or trainer, should strive to be accepted as the leader of that group. That way it is far easier to control them, but also take care of them. Socialized horses are happier and far more willing to learn new tricks and behave properly - something that every horse owner wants.
A Fitting Garment
Today, as well as back through time, a well-kept horse was a status symbol and something the owner would be very proud of. To better achieve this they would also adorn their horses with various caparisons, beautifully colored, and with braided tails and crest. The caparisons would also fulfill another important function - keeping the horse safe both from the elements and from the rider.
All horses will sweat to relieve themselves of internal heat, but an appropriate covering may help to “cool” them quicker, just like a human would wear a linen shirt. A blanket, or some sort of jacket, is more commonly used during winter to help the horses keep warm. Stables are usually not heated at all, but horses need to keep warm nonetheless. So large blankets for warmth and smaller as cushions under the saddle are a must-have in every horse owner’s inventory.
Taking care of horses is a year-long obligation, one that doesn’t allow for pauses or vacations, unless someone can jump in for you. So if you’re already in it in the long run, why not do it correctly?
Seeing your horse thriving and joyful is one of the greatest things you can do for both of you, and while it may be expensive it is still a very noble cause to spend money on a companion’s wellbeing than on trivial things.