According to the American Museum of Natural History, horses have lived in this world for millions of years. And since then, it’s been no secret that they’re great to have around.
You may just stare at them and admire their striking beauty, or go out with them for a ride.
Reasons to Keep a Horse
Looking after horses may take a lot of work. These animals tend to require attention from you, and keeping them can be quite expensive.
Despite these concerns, however, many people are still sold on the idea of owning and then taking care of them.
Here are three reasons:
- Physical health benefits. Caring for horses helps keep you physically active. Because you’ll need to feed and groom them, carry buckets of water, push wheelbarrows, rake hay, and do other chores regularly, you can say goodbye to a sedentary lifestyle. You’ll end up building muscle and burning calories, too!
- Recreation & Relaxation. Horses can help you unwind by making you smile and letting you breathe fresh air and enjoy sceneries. A few minutes of horseback riding can brighten your day.
- Because they are loyal animals, horses will always keep you company. In the wild, they are known to protect and always stick with their herd.
Kinds of Horses
Horse being washed
While they all benefit their owners in almost the same way, not all horses are the same.
There are more than 1,000 kinds of horses around the world. They come in different sizes, shapes, and colors.
Here are some common horse breeds:
- Andalusian – with long, thick manes
- Appaloosa – with sparse manes and big bodies
- Arabian – with a distinct head shape
- Morgan – with small bodies
- Thoroughbred – fast and enthusiastic
Best Environments to Keep a Horse
Horses love places with lots of grass and a large area to run around.
But placing these horses in large grassy environments is just the first step to ensuring they’re in a good and safe place.
Here’s what else you can do:
- Make sure there’s sufficient grass for them to eat at all times.
Likewise, make sure that they always have access to a clean water source.
- Avoid exposing them to sunlight for long periods.
- Have another animal nearby – another horse, pig, or cow will do. Horses are herd animals. Leaving them alone can ignite boredom, which will cause destructive behaviors and/or encourage them to find escape routes.
How to Keep a Horse Healthy
Horses have a lifespan of 27.5 years (on average). But even with this longevity, it’s recommended to adopt practices that can help them stay in their best condition.
What you can do to minimize horse health problems:
- Minimize stress by not exposing them to loud sounds and unfamiliar objects and people.
- Examine and file their teeth regularly.
- Feed quality hay, nutrient-rich grass, and other high-end roughage.
- Make sure they weigh right – neither underweight nor overweight.
- Walk them daily or let them run around for at least an hour. But while you’re at it, protect their hooves. Avoid exposing them to extreme heat or cold weather.
- Have a veterinarian check them. Make sure they’re dewormed regularly and vaccinated annually, especially for Influenza and Tetanus.
Various Diseases to Which a Horse Is Susceptible & How to Avoid Them
Unfortunately, regardless of following the tips on how to keep a horse healthy, horses can become ill. Common diseases can take a toll on their health. And there are certain diseases to which horses are susceptible.
In addition to the above-mentioned diseases that require vaccination (Influenza and Tetanus), here’s a list of diseases to watch out for in horses:
- EHV (Equine Herpesvirus)
- Potomac Horse Fever
- Strangles (Streptococcus Equi)
Common symptoms of such diseases include loss of appetite and depression. Here’s how you can help horses avoid them:
- Influenza – Vaccination; subjecting new or travelling horses to a 14-day quarantine period
- Tetanus – Vaccination; keeping wounds and environment clean
- EHV – Vaccination; subjecting new or travelling horses to a 14-day quarantine period
- Potomac Horse Fever – Vaccination
- Strangles – Vaccination
How to Select a Good Farrier & Veterinarian
Because conditioning horses’ hooves is a way to keep them healthy, you need the help of a good farrier. Select a farrier that you can trust and leave for hours with your horses. Remember, this professional will be handling one of the most important and sensitive areas of your horses.
Similarly, you should also select a veterinarian carefully. This professional will be helping you care for your horses properly. You should go with one whom you’re fully comfortable working with.
Here are some tips:
- Ask good questions about their practices.
- Ask these questions of a farrier:
- “How will you earn the horses’ trust?”
- “What will you do if the horses suddenly exhibit irrational behavior (i.e. they become shaky) once you touch their hooves?”
- “How exactly do you work on horses’ hooves?”
- Ask these questions of a veterinarian:
- “Will you be checking up on the horses regularly?”
- “Will you be checking on the horses’ living conditions regularly?”
- “How will you treat the horses if they get sick?”
- “Do you have any recommended supplements?”
- Ask these questions of a farrier:
- Check their work. Request to see any completed praiseworthy work from previous/ongoing clients.
- Learn about their reputation. Find out if other people, especially trustworthy peers, consider them reliable professionals who can provide quality services. You may ask around or look them up online to get the information you need.
- Choose an experienced professional. Years of experience working with horses is best. Request to see certifications from reputable organizations.
Sure, keeping horses can be tiresome. But once you get into the habit and start considering it as a hobby, it’s totally worth it. If you’re going to encounter problems, just use the above-mentioned information to help you.