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Horses are one of the most rewarding animals to have. They are intelligent and loyal, and they can provide a lifetime of companionship. But with this reward comes responsibility. As their owner, you must be knowledgeable about how to keep your horse healthy and happy. Let’s take a look at some important considerations when caring for your horse.
Hay is Essential
Horses need access to hay for 75% of the day—this is essential for their health and well-being. Slower feeders can be used to eliminate wasted hay while keeping your horse chewing for longer periods of time. Prairie hay is usually sufficient for horses that aren’t in hard work, but some may need alfalfa to maintain weight.
Grain Consumption Depends on Workload
Depending on the workload of your horse, you may or may not need to supplement with grain. If you do decide that grain is necessary, there are many different types available depending on the needs of your horse—oats are an example of a simple feed that many horses do well on. There are also a host of commercial feed mixes for horses in different age and workloads. It’s important to note that overfeeding grain can be dangerous, so it’s best to consult with a veterinarian before making any decisions regarding grain consumption. To keep things simple for my herd, aged 13-23, I feed different levels of oats, with a mineral top dressed.
Provide Accessible Water Source
It’s no surprise that horses need water! On average, a horse will drink 5-10 gallons per day depending on weather and workload—so make sure they have easy access to plenty of water either from an automatic waterer or stock tank.
Horses also need regular foot trimmings. Like our fingernails, horses’ hooves grown continually. Unless they are running around on rock the hoof growth will outpace the wear down. You will need to locate a fairer to come and trim their hooves every 6-8 weeks. Horses will need their teeth floated occasionally. This is when a vet comes and files the sharp points of the teeth down so they can chew more effectively. Some horse need floated once a year, some every 5, it really depends on the horse.
Caring for your horse requires knowledge and dedication but it can also be incredibly rewarding! Make sure you provide hay throughout the day, determine if supplemental grain is necessary based on their workload, always make sure they have access to plenty of fresh drinking water each day, and their feet and teeth are cared for! With these simple steps in mind, you can ensure your horse stays healthy and happy in their forever home!
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