If you’re new to the world of horse care, it pays to take advice from the experts. Using professional guidance to care for your horse day in and day out will make for a healthy, happy animal with a longer lifespan.
10 Ways to Improve Your Horse’s Quality of Life
- Keep his water supply clean. This may seem like a no-brainer, but your horse is more likely to drink enough water to stay hydrated if he has access to fresh water. A horse’s water intake is likely to decline if water is contaminated with debris; dehydration can easily lead to colic, the number one killer of horses.
- Feed him several small meals a day. Horses have small stomachs that are meant for grazing, meaning that they will do well by eating little and often. As a rule of thumb, feed a horse 2 to 3 small meals throughout the day to provide ample time to digest.
- Limit grain in the diet. Grain is known to pack on calories, which can cause bone, joint, and muscle development problems in growing horses. Experts recommend a diet that consists of low-energy foods like grass and hay instead.
- Change the diet slowly. To avoid colic, it’s important to make dietary changes gradually; horses are physically unable to belch or vomit, which can quickly lead to intestinal discomfort.
- Make dietary changes for senior horses. A horse is considered a senior at 16 years old, although this can vary based on the horse. At senior age, a horse needs different feed and living conditions to support his health.
- Take him for annual dental checkups. By the time a horse reaches five years old, he should visit the veterinarian for dental checkups yearly to determine if his teeth need filing.
- Give him supplements in the winter. Most horses will do well with extra fat for insulation in cold winter weather. The best way to achieve this is with added supplements to help a horse gain a few pounds in cold weather that he’ll quickly shed come summer.
- Exercise regularly. A horse is likely to eat well, digest fully, and experience less colic when he gets daily exercise. Make sure to finish feeding your horse at least an hour before working him hard.
- Always work a horse in the cooler part of the day. In hot weather, experts recommend working a horse in the early morning or evening as opposed to the hottest part of the day. Horses that are trained midday could be at risk for dehydration and heat stroke.
- Remember that your horse is an individual. The type of feed and activity that you choose for your horse will depend on his individual personality and fitness level. Some horses need to eat more than others to keep up their weight.