Healthy as a Horse
There’s a reason we say that we’re “healthy as a horse” when we’re feeling good. Horses tend to live long and healthy lives when properly cared for and attended to. Even so, there will come a day when your horse gets sick and you’ll need to make that expensive appointment with the vet.
You can avoid the frequency of those calls by paying attention to your horse’s needs every day. Not just food and water – but all of the other important things that will help keep your horse in top condition.
Here is a check-list of dos and don’ts for maintaining your horse’s good health:
Don’t stress out
Horses are stressful creatures and they are highly tuned to their environment. They are very sensitive to your moods and behavior, and if you’re stressed out around your horse, the chances are she’ll be stressed too. Be clam. Be patient. Try to see the world through her eyes. Your horse will thank you for it.
Horses Need Companionship
Just as humans need friends, so do horses. Make sure that your horse has another horse companion, and is given time to socialize.
See Your Vet
Never miss an annual check-up. There might be things going on that you can’t immediately spot, and only a thorough check-up by your vet can give you the certainty that’s your horse is in great shape.
Get Your Shots
While you’re at the vet’s, make sure your horse gets his shots. Horses require a range of annual vaccinations and it’s important to keep accurate, up-to date records.
Don’t Skimp on Nutrition
Horses need good quality hay or access to adequate pasturage to stay healthy. Low grade grain, decaying hay and cheap commercial feeds are all a recipe for disaster. If you want a healthy, happy horse, you need to provide her with good nutrition.
Along with attention to quality comes quantity. It is just as distressing to have a horse whose weight triggers chronic pain as it is to be able to count every bone in his spine. You need to monitor your horse’s weight, and take immediate steps if your horse is getting too thin or appears overweight. A fat horse needs less food and more exercise. A thin horse may need additional feed or supplements. Make sure to talk to your vet.
Don’t Forget the Teeth
In the wild, horses eat a wide variety of plants and grains which cause their teeth to wear at an even rate. You need to file down your horse’s teeth because she is no longer living in the wild. By eating the same feed every day, her teeth will wear at an uneven rate.
Inspect your horse’s hooves on a regular basis and make sure they are kept trimmed and free of build-up. Horses spend almost all of the time on their feet, so it is vital that you keep their hooves and legs in great shape.
Nobody likes to think about it much but like all domesticated animals, horses are prone to catching worms. Deworming your horse is easy, inexpensive, and doesn’t require help from a professional. You can find a whole variety of products at your tack store.
Exercise Your Horse Every Day
Like people, horses need regular exercise. Standing in a stall all day is not exercise, no more than sitting at a desk. Your horse needs to run. He needs to move his legs and stretch his muscles. This is vital for circulation, proper digestion and weight maintenance. Most importantly, it is key to your horse’s emotional wellbeing.
Most horses need a little help in keeping their joints well lubricated. They are prone to arthritis and may suffer from a variety of aches, pains, and stiffness. Look for products that contain glucosamine, a proven agent in helping joints (both horse and human) move more freely. You can find an array of products at your tack store, and glucosamine supplements are available at the drugstore.