If you have a horse or are thinking about getting one, then you probably already realize what versatile creatures they are. Horses are large animals built for both work and companionship. Since their bodies are so complex and powerful, there are many potential ways for them to become sick or injured. Your individual horse’s needs will vary depending on how it spends its time, so you should discuss the specifics of its healthcare needs with your veterinarian. Nevertheless, there are some general principles that you should keep in mind when it comes to keeping your horse healthy.
Ways to Keep Your Horse Healthy
1. Good Diet
Perhaps unsurprisingly, proper nutrition is the centerpiece of good horse health. Horses have genteel digestive systems, and are more comfortable when they can graze on small meals throughout the day rather than being forced into the human schedule of breakfast-lunch-dinner. The best things to feed a horse depend on its lifestyle. For example, work horses tend to benefit from diets that are high in protein. All horses benefit from having good-quality hay and grass to eat, as well as pellets or grains. They should also eat vitamin supplements to ensure that their nutrition is well rounded.
Horses are unable to vomit, which makes it very dangerous for them to ingest mold and other poisonous substances. For this reason, you should always make sure their food is fresh and clean. The amount of food your horse needs will depend on its individual physique. Some horses require a lot of food just to stay lean, while others are prone to becoming overweight from an average sized diet.
2. Alternative Treatments
Some horses may benefit from treatments that go a step beyond the standard level of care. If your goal is to keep your horse as healthy as possible, talk to your veterinarian about incorporating alternative treatment methods into its healthcare plan. Philanthropist and equine expert Marcia Radosevich blogs about a variety of horse health topics, including some of these lesser-known treatment options. Equine chiropractic can improve your beloved steed’s gait and overall comfort, while herbal supplements can enhance nutrition and improve skin conditions.
3. Proper Grooming
Incorporating a good grooming schedule into your horse’s care routine will not only keep it looking its best, but it can also help prevent a number of unpleasant and uncomfortable conditions such as thrush and chafing. Grooming your horse frequently also gives you the opportunity to bond with it and make sure that it does not have any hidden injuries.
A thorough grooming routine should include the areas of hoof care, dental care and coat care. Hooves need to be cleared of debris, trimmed and polished. Teeth need to be regularly checked for good health and filed down to enable ease of chewing. Washing and brushing the coat and skin clears away dirt and insects, leaving your horse clean and comfortable.
Horses are vulnerable to many contagious diseases. Luckily, there are vaccinations available to protect against them. If you board your horse in public stables, the stable owners will probably require your horse to be vaccinated before it can stay there. Horses also need to have documentation of their vaccinations before they can travel or compete in events. The specific vaccinations required by governing bodies will vary depending on where you live, but some of the most commonly administered ones are for rabies and tetanus.
5. Proper Living Conditions
When horses are kept indoors, they should have pleasant living quarters. Horses excrete a large amount of waste each day, and they can get sick if they stand around in it for too long, so their spaces need to be cleaned daily. No matter how comfortable or well-kept a stall is, the horses who stay in them also need space to roam.
6. Proper Exercise
Like people, horses need exercise to stay healthy. For horses that are kept for the purpose of sports participation, getting the proper amount of exercise should not present a problem. On the other hand, horses that are primarily kept for show or entertainment need to be exercised regularly. This could consist of turning the horse out to pasture to let it roam freely, engaging it in an active work routine or riding it.
Horses are social beings that, for the most part, thrive on companionship. They enjoy bonding with their owners and with other animals, especially other horses. There are certain exceptions to this rule, such as stallions, who often prefer solitude. However, in most cases you should make sure to spend plenty of time with your horse, and keep other animals if you can.
The Main Point
As you can see, horses need many of the same things that humans do in order to feel good. Diet, exercise, good hygiene, socialization and even alternative treatment methods are all contributing factors in keeping your horse feeling healthy and happy. Horses have been loyal companions to humans for thousands of years. It is important to take give them the respect they deserve by taking good care of them.