The type of care you give to a horse varies with the type of animal it is, the climate in which it lives, the use to which it is being put, and the available local fodder. Looking after a horse is largely a matter of common sense and hard work.
In this article, we will be looking at a few general principles of how proper horse and pony wellbeing routines should look like. We will also emphasize 5 important aspects of horse caregiving such as daily inspection, companionship, and foot care.
Most of these tips will apply to almost any kind of horse or pony within the equine world. Whether you are a novice horse owner or an expert in the domain, the following tips are explained with you in mind. We have you covered.
Before reading this article, know this
Though these tips are made to meet the need of most situations of caregiving, we however strongly recommend that you seek the expertise of a veterinary surgeon for much more specific advice.
How do you take care of a horse or pony? Firstly, get to know your horse, find out what his character, his instincts are. Next, teach him new ways and ideas by association. Lastly, build a comfortable place for it to stay.
Table of Contents (Horspedia)
- 1 Basic Horse Instincts Every Horse Care Giver has to Know
- 2 How to Teach your Horse New Routines and Tricks
- 3 The Best Thing about Horse Care
- 4 How to Behave when around a Horse you are giving Care to
- 5 How to Build the Best Stable for your Horse or Pony
Basic Horse Instincts Every Horse Care Giver has to Know
To work efficiently with a horse or a pony, it is necessary to understand its possible point of view, what will upset it and what will reassure it, and why this is so.
Get to Know Your Horse and their Equine Character
Horses are generally not very intelligent, though the smaller they are, the sharper they are so that a very small pony can usually outwit a very small child. Adult-sized mounts, painful as it is to say it, are in general short of the brain to the point of stupidity.
The dominant instinct of a horse picked from the wild is fear. The wild horse survives by suspecting the rock, overhanging tree, ditch, or other covers that can conceal an attacker, and in shying at a fallen log or bolting from an unfamiliar sound, sight, or smell, the domestic horse is only obeying a wise instinct inherited through millions of years.
When threatened, the horse’s natural reaction is to run away at top speed, or, when the worst of all possible events comes to pass, and it finds something on its back in the wild state, always an attacker – to buck until the danger is thrown off. Many may think that the horse exists to carry a rider, but no one ever told the horse about it.
How to make a Horse Feel Less Afraid of Everything | Getting your Horse to Trust You
In dealing with fear, and therefore in dealing with all horses, handling should be kind but firm, instructions are given clearly and with patience, and sudden movements and sharp voices should be avoided.
All horses respond to a gentle, soothing flow of nonsense chat. With a very nervous horse, an arm slid quietly over the neck and leaned down heavily on the other side can work wonders because it is reminiscent of the gesture horses use to reassure each other – one head resting over the neck of another.
Herd Instinct | A dominant Equine Characteristic
Herd instinct is another dominant characteristic a horse has, so much so that a horse who is a steady riding school hack when out with others will often metamorphose into a disturbing ride when taken out alone.
Horses depend greatly on each other for company and reassurance, and an unfair strain is put on the animal who is asked to live alone. Failing other horse companionship, a donkey will give a lot of comforts, and even a goat or a cow will be better than nothing.
Horse Care is Easy when you Realize that your Horse is a Creature of Habit
The horse is a creature of habit, it appreciates a regular routine and is also easily upset by unexpected change.
Moving homes can be very traumatic for a horse so a week or two is needed to get the horse to settle down and get used to its new and strange surroundings or even a new purchase before any serious activity is demanded from it.
A truly considerate new owner will inquire into the routine practice in the horse’s former home and will make the change to his own routine only gradually.
Horses should be fed at the same times every day, caught up from grass with regularity (if brought into the stable daily at, say, 4 o’clock, they will soon learn to wait at the paddock gate at the proper time). If their daily program is too haphazard they may become fractious and difficult to handle.
How to Teach your Horse New Routines and Tricks
Horses and equines in general learn by association. Look at these scenarios for an example. An exercise boy who beat a racehorse filly for running away with him on the gallops handed out the punishment when he was safely back in the stable. The filly continued to run away with him but soon refused to enter the stable.
On the other hand, though just as valid as an object lesson, one (who has ambitions to play polo) could train a pony to follow a ball by throwing apples into his paddock.
The pony will soon learn to follow the apple. Following that, you could mount the horse equipped with an improvised polo stick and an old tennis ball, for example, the horse catching a glimpse of the now-familiar round shape out of the corner of his eye.
Now when you threw the ball, the horse will pursue it with trained accuracy. Though at that point, the horse may try to eat the ball and even throw you off, that is a great start.
The Best Thing about Horse Care
Horses, like humans and, have widely-differing personalities. Some are bold and relatively outgoing, a few are prima donnas, many are timid and unsure. Nearly all are capable of great affection and some even of loyalty, and the rare “rogue” has usually suffered some injustice from a human in his past.
Horses have excellent memories, and loss of temper or bad treatment by a groom or rider will never be forgotten. Deliberate bad behavior should be punished at once, and a single corrective blow with the stick is quite sufficient.
Praise for doing well, be it only a single quiet pat down the neck, is always appreciated and is beneficial in training.
How to Behave when around a Horse you are giving Care to
The ideal horseman is quiet, kind, unhurried, regular habit, firm and gentle. If he is unvaryingly so, he has a good chance of becoming the owner of the ideal horse.
Keep in mind, horses have different tempers and various characters. They can behave erratically and make sudden changes in their behavior. Take extra care if you are working with a horse in a close environment, such as a stable.
Always treat your animal with respect and approach it carefully from a point where your horse can see you.
How to Build the Best Stable for your Horse or Pony
Stables can be built of brick, concrete, stone, or wood, the last not less than 1in thick and protected with creosote on both sides.
Roofing is normally of tile or asbestos sheeting (corrugated iron is undesirable because it is noisy in rain, hot in summer, and cold in winter).
There are two types of horse stables:
- Looseboxes – stables in which the horse can move freely.
- stalls in which it is tied by the head.
Stalls are much the most desirable form of accommodation for a horse. The area should be large enough to avoid cramped movements and being “cast” in the box (which happens when a horse lies down so close to a wall that it is unable to do the necessary stretching out of its body to get up).
What is a Good Size for Loose box Horse Stable type?
A good size for a loose box (also loosebox or loose-box) is 10ft by 10ft, with an 8ft clearance at the door rising to a 12ft overhead ridge. If partition walls are used to segregate areas of, for example, a barn, these should be not less than 5ft high to avoid kicking and should have bars above them up to 8ft high to prevent biting.
Stable doors facing outwards need overhanging eaves to protect the horse from sunstroke or from the persistent dripping or driving of rain. Where many horses are kept together, individual looseboxes under one communal roof are popular and practical.
These could either be with boxes facing each other across a central aisle, which is advisable in predominantly cold and wet climates and is convenient for labor (though not particularly easy to ventilate), or with boxes facing outwards from a central core which may be used to store fodder.
A rough finish to the flooring is essential to prevent slipping. The floor must be waterproof, either of brick or concrete, and a slight fall of approximately 1:40 is necessary for proper drainage.
To avoid flooding and to facilitate drainage, the stable floor should be higher than its external surroundings.
Keeping the Equine Stable well Ventilated is Important!
Good ventilation is essential to a horse’s health, and the lack of it leads to coughs, colds, and claustrophobia. Half doors give plenty of fresh air while protecting the body from drafts, and hopper windows permit continued good ventilation when the weather is too bad for the top half of the door to be kept open.
Window glass should be set far back in the wall or protected by bars so that the horse cannot break it, and all fastenings, bolts, etc. should be placed out of the horse’s reach.
The stable site is important since bored horses tend to develop vices such as weaving or windsucking and crib-biting, which damage the respiratory system. The view should provide the occupant with something to look at, at best another horse across the yard or next door to satisfy his herd instinct.
Mangers should be substantial and placed high enough to stop the horse from getting its front feet in them but not so high as to make eating difficult. Hay racks (more economical than feeding from a pile of loose hay in a corner) should not be higher than the horse’s head or it may get hayseeds in its eyes.
With these tips, you should be able to give your horse the best care and get the most out of him.