Following on Part 1 of Horse Care Basics, this article provides tips on grooming, management of stalls and stables and horse training.
Horse grooming tips
Wild horses stay clean by grooming themselves daily, rolling in grass, scratching against trees and getting washed by rain. They naturally know how and what to do to eliminate shedding hair and have their hooves trimmed. Domesticated horses who do not live among a herd or are confined in small areas or stables, rely entirely on humans to carry out these essential grooming tasks.
Horses should be cleaned regularly for good health. The coat should be kept free from sweat, dirt, sand residue, and other matters. It is important to give the animal a good brush daily or at least 3 times a week. It will help eliminating dead skin cells and speed up hair renewal. Most of all, this little routine will keep your horse’s skin healthy by not allowing bacteria causing rain scalds, ringworms and other sores to set in. As a bonus, it will also build your the bond between you two.
Horses’ feet must be cleaned daily if shod or standing in a stall where the ground gets spoiled by urine and excrements. If the horse is housed in an area big enough where he can gallop and naturally clean his feet, then you should clean them at least once a week. Hoof hygiene is important to avoid diseases like Thrush. Hoof check-up also allows to detect any sole injuries.
After riding, the saddle cloth should be rinsed to remove sweat residue, or at least let to dry. The bit should be rinsed in water to remove any saliva and food matters. It is important to maintain a clean environment to keep your horse healthy. If the horse is sweaty and the weather is warm, then the carer should hose him down to remove sweat residue. If it is late during the day and the weather is cool, you can use a sponge with warm water to clean the sweaty patches. You must never wash a horse in a weather or at a time of the day where he would not be able to dry before night when the temperature drops as the horse may get cold and become ill.
Stalls and stables
Their stall must not be in a mess and should be cleaned daily. The daily removal of manure is of utmost importance. A horse standing in a soiled stable and breathing ammonia from urine 24 hours a day is bond to develop some serious illnesses like greasy heel, thrush and respiratory problems. The bedding must be replaced daily and it must be a mandatory routine. Feed buckets must be emptied and washed to avoid creation of bacteria and dirt. At all time, horses must be provided with access to clean and fresh water. Troughs and water buckets should be cleaned regularly to avoid algae growth and water must never be allowed to become stagnant.
Horse Training Regime
Horses are considered intelligent animals and appropriate stimulation and training will help in developing their intelligence further. If a horse is confined in a stall other than for medical reasons, he must be allowed to exercise daily for a couple of hours at least. Horses who have the chance to live in large paddocks do not require daily exercises for their well-being. However, if you are attending equine events where you and your horse will be competing, no matter at what level, then you should train your horse daily to build up his strength, level of fitness and his techniques. Imagine an athlete, a person who competes every week or second week in their favourite sport. They train daily, even if it is only for half an hour, in order for their body to be able to sustain the extraneous work during the competition day. Your horse is the same, he is an athlete.
Part 3: we will talk about feeding your horse and veterinarian care