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Caring For Your New Horse
Essential Care Items:
Water and Food Drums
Saddle & Saddle Pads
Halter & Lead Rope
Horseback Riding Helmet
Curry Comb, Brush, & Mane Comb
First Aid Kit
Bridle & Bit
Shovel & Rake
Housing - Horses don't necessarily need to live in a fancy barn. The simplest structure made out of pipe corral and with a cover will do nicely. It is important that the corral has a cover to shield your horse from the weather. The smaller the corral...the more exercise your horse will require. The smallest we recommend is 20 feet by 30 feet. This allows your horse ample room to move around and to have areas away from the "potty corner". Keep in mind when housing your horse at home, some states require that you have at least one acre per horse. Be sure to check the corral on a regular basis for bolts sticking out, loose wires, and other potential cutting hazards.
Most horses do well on a diet of Alfalfa and Timothy Hay. Horses are grazers and should be fed twice per day. A healthy adult horse should eat a "flake" of hay twice per day. A bale of hay has about 8 healthy flakes. Therefore, one bale of hay should last you for about 4 days. Hay should be fed in a drum up off the ground to prevent your horse from inhaling and ingesting dust and dirt. We recommend that you give your horse bran at least once per week to help with their digestive system. During winter months, you can supplement your horse's diet with grain to help keep your horse warm. Grains are considered "warm" food because they give your horse more energy. If you feed grain, you will notice that your horse may sweat a lot more and may even act differently. If this becomes a problem, cut back on the grain that you are feeding. Water must be available at all times in a trash can sized drum (30 gallons). The water should be topped daily and completely changed once per week. We do not recommend automatic watering systems unless sit is monitored daily to be sure it is working properly.
Grooming is a daily chore that can be therapeutic. A good, long brush-down is relaxing for both you and your horse. Start with a curry comb (hard rubber comb with ridges) and work in a circular motion. This type of comb loosens dead hair and dirt. After you have loosened the dirt, completely go over your horse whit a soft brush. A regular old hair brush works just fine as a mane and tail comb. Use a soft wet cloth to clean around your horse's eyes. For your horse's comfort, finish off with a Fly Repellent. Last but not least, don't forget your horse's hooves. Cleaning your horse's hooves is an important part in keeping them healthy. Be sure to pick the hooves clean at least once per day and always before and after riding. To help the hooves stay healthy, you can apply a hoof ointment to the tops and bottoms of the hoof. This ointment works like a hand lotion by keeping the hooves from drying and cracking. Baths can be given as often as necessary. Be sure to use a horse shampoo. Human shampoo can dry out your horse's skin.
Riding a horse requires the horse and rider to work together in tandem. If you are a newcomer to horses, we suggest you take some riding lessons. You will need to learn the movements and pressures that are the universal language between horse and rider. Horse need regular exercise and bonding with their owners. Lack of exercise can lead to health and handling problems. If you are able, your horse should be exercised once per day or, at least, once per week. This does not mean at a full gallop. Especially if you do not ride frequently. Horses, like people, need to build their stamina and need to have a warm-up period. It is also equally important to have a cool-down period. This entails a non-rider walk for about 10-15 minutes (longer if you have worked up a lather). You can also run cool water on your horse's legs. This method cools the blood being pumped through the legs and throughout the body. Be sure to brush your horse after riding to remove the dirt and sweat. Most horses love a good roll in the dirt after they are done exercising.
A must for a responsible horse owner is a good farrier and veterinarian. You will need to have the farrier out at least every 8 weeks to reshoe your horse. If you do not have shoes on your horse, then you will need to have the hooves filed and shaped. It is a good idea to pick a veterinarian prior to having an emergency. common calls to the vet include cuts and abrasions, lameness, and bouts with colds and viruses. Below are a couple of common problems that can be easily treated: