THE SIMPLE PLEASURE OF FEEDING
Food is one of the simplest and greatest pleasures of our horses, so make sure that your horse always has all the food requirements that he/she needs.
There are three types of food that your horse may eat. Pasture is the favorite meal of all horses, supplying needed nutrients, roughage and protein. Pastures and forage crops provide a major part of the nutritional needs of horses almost year-round. Horses are constant grazers, I mean 24/7. There are many types of pasture grass so do your homework, different parts of the country have different types of grasses that grow better in different areas and will provide the proper nutrients for your horse.
Hay is another type of food for horses, when fresh pasture is not available, hay is the best choice. There are many types of hay, such as alfalfa, coastal, T&A, Tifton, and the list goes on. Make sure you provide the best hay for your horses needs. Some hay such as alfalfa has tons of protein and for some horses you will want to give this type of hay sparingly as too much protein is not good for your horse, so do your research.
Secondly, always store hay in a dry but well-ventilated area. Feeding your horse with moldy hay can lead to various medical complications. Feeding your horse with hay alone will never make a sufficient diet so consider including another component in your horse’s diet such as horse pellets or sweet feet to ensure that all your horses nutritional needs are met. Do not forget to consider what your horse does, for example: racing, pleasure, show, competitive, jumper, etc. Horses that expend allot of energy need higher percentage of protein feed and a higher quality hay. Ask you vet for help in determining your horses diet needs.
WATER AS THE SOURCE OF LIFE
Horses are always thirsty, and can consume up to 10- 15 gallons of water daily. As such, it is extremely important that you have a ready supply of fresh water for your horse. During the winter months make sure that you place the water in heated buckets to prevent it from freezing.
SALT, MINERALS, AND HORSE TREATS
Salt and minerals are also important factors in your horse’s diet. Consult your veterinarian as to what your horse should take to consume the necessary vitamins and minerals. Salt blocks and horse treats can be purchased from your local feed store.
EXERCISING YOUR HORSE
The amount of exercise your horse needs depends primarily on its role in life. If you are using it for competitive riding, team penning or pleasure, whatever you choose will determine what type of exercise it needs and how many times it should exercise each and every week. As for all other types of horses, daily exercise is encouraged to allow horses’ muscles and bones to strengthen and not become affected by arthritis, etc. when they become older.
CARING FOR YOUR HORSES’ HOOVES
Horses need their hooves trimmed at least every 6-8 weeks. Pick your horses feet every day, and after each ride or workout. Depending on the work (pleasure, barrels etc.) you choose for your horse, will determine whether on not you need to have your horse shoed. Talk to some of your friends or your Vet, someone who can recommend a good farrier. Remember that just as it is with our feet, the hooves of horses are also the most abused and neglected part of their body so it’s important for us to give them the best care we can afford. The old saying “No hoof, No horse really does apply!
CARING FOR YOUR HORSES’ TEETH
Unlike human teeth, there is no end to periodontal growth for horses. As such, uneven usage of their teeth can lead to the development of sharply pointed teeth and which may cause chewing problems. Your Vet may have to (float) the teeth which means that he will have to file them down a little to help your horse’s eating enjoyment. To prevent this from happening, make sure that you have your veterinarian check your horses’ teeth annually.
GROOMING FOR YOUR HORSE
Allow your horses to enjoy baths regularly. Most horse enjoy their baths immensely but others need a little more coaxing in that area. Afterwards, use a sweat scoop to take off excess water and remember to brush their coat slowly, carefully, and thoroughly. Make sure that you use grooming products that are specifically designed for horses, they are reasonably priced and loads to choose from.
Above all, the best way to make your horse’s life absolutely wonderful is by showering them with your love and affection!
By Michele Anderson