There are many different challenges that can come with looking after horses as with all other types of farms and their animals and livestock. Domesticated horses and other equids need to be properly looked after by humans in order to achieve optimal health, and to live a long life. When looking after horses and running a horse farm, it is important to consider the following areas of care (amongst others):
- Maintaining living environment
- Grooming and hoof care
- Equine veterinary care
By ensuring that these major areas are maintained you can help to make horse care less of a challenge, and ensure your animals a good quality of life. Important to note is that should a farm owner of horses or indeed any other animals neglect to take proper care of their farm, their farm insurance cover may not cover them. This applies to both the equipment used on farms as well as the care and upkeep of the livestock and animals found on the farm.
Maintaining Living Environment
A horse will require room to exercise in as well as shelter from the wind and rain. Horses are usually kept in outside areas with enough space to move around and exercise in throughout the day. These fields usually also have access to shelter from bad weather.
Sometimes, horses can be kept in stables or barns. This can be due to various different reasons, such as protecting them from adverse weather conditions, or when the owner does not have land for the horses to roam around full-time. Horses that are not kept in a field full-time will have to be regularly exercised, being ridden, longed or otherwise.
Horses are also herd animals and will fare much better mentally and emotionally when close to other equids. It may therefore be best to place multiple horses in the same field either full-time or when put out to exercise. However, it is also important to know that some horses are best left isolated from the rest of your animals.
Stallions for example are often held in separate area from the other horses, as they can challenge other males for dominance.
Feeding Horses on Farms
Horses will also need to have access to food and clean water. They will also require access to enough forage (e.g. grass or hay.) A horse’s diet might include forage as well as grain or pelleted feeds. If your horses are not in full-time pasture, its best that they are fed in small amounts throughout the day rather than a big feed all at once.
It can be a challenge to feed your horses properly, as some will require more foods and different diets to others. Horses that are not ridden daily can get enough nutrients just on pasture or from hay. However, those who are worked out daily will often require both forage and additional nutrients from grain or pelleted feeds.
If you do not feed a horse correctly, it could develop seriously damaging conditions. This is particularly the case for young horses, as being fed improperly could lead to growth disorders.
Grooming and Hoof Care
Grooming and hoof care are another part of looking after horses that can come with various different challenges. Grooming a horse regularly is the key to a healthy and attractive-looking coat. Whilst many owners cannot groom their horses daily, grooming should always take place before riding, as this can help to stop chafing and sores.
Grooming a horse is also an opportune moment to check for any injuries. It can be challenging at first to know all the basic equipment you need for grooming a horse, as the process involves numerous different steps. Below is a list with some of the main tools you’ll need to complete a basic grooming of your horse:
- Curry Comb – Loosens dirt from the coat
- Dandy Brush – Used to remove the dirt loosened from the curry comb
- Body Brush – A brush softer than the dandy that removes smaller particles caught in the horse’s coat
- Mane Brush – As the name suggests, a mane brush is used to brush through a horse’s mane
- Water Scraper – Used to take excess liquid off of a horse’s coat
Maintaining a horse’s hooves can also be quite a challenge. It is important that you inspect your horse’s feet for injury and infection, and clean them out regularly with a hoof pick to get rid of any dirt, grit and stones. You also need to inspect the horse’s feet to check if their shoes (if on) are intact. A horse’s feet must be kept as clean and dry as possible to prevent diseases, such as foot and mouth disease as well as various others.
Equine Veterinary Care
One of the biggest challenges you can face when looking after horses is when they fall ill. Horses can get various different types of diseases, many of which are infectious and can affect the other animals on the farm. To stop this from happening, it is always best to register with an equine veterinary clinic, keeping your horse fit and healthy with regular check-ups and vaccinations.