Horses need care just like any other pet. But horses require much more care than dogs, cats, or goldfish. If you’ve always wanted a horse, it’s important to know how much money and time you’ll need to take care of one.
What to Think About If You Want to Own a Horse is a good resource because it tells you how much horses cost, what they need, and other helpful tips for raising horses. For example, you’ll need at least 1.5 acres of land per horse for turnout, and it must be properly fenced to keep your horses safe and keep them in. In some parts of the country, predators like coyotes, wolves, and mountain lions need to be kept out of the paddock. If you want to learn more about horse fencing, check out our guide to electric fencing for horses.
Routines for taking care of the stable and horses every day
Getting the right horse is just the beginning of being a good horse owner. Horses need regular care to keep them healthy and happy. A typical daily routine for caring for horses and running a stable might look like this:
- Feed the horses hay or grain in the morning and at night.
- Every morning and night, clean and fill up the water buckets.
- Clean the stalls in the morning and at night. When you “muck,” you pick out the urine and manure spots.
- Replace old bedding with new.
- Check and clean the hooves every day.
- During the winter, take off blankets in the morning and put them back on in the evening.
- During the summer, spray your horse with fly spray or an insect repellent in the morning and at night.
- Every day, let your horse out so he can walk around, stretch his legs, roll around, eat fresh grass, and get some sun.
- At least a few times a week, you should ride your horse in the ring, on a trail, or lunge him, which is like riding him with a long rein.
Caring for horses is a lot of work.
In their natural state, horses are animals that eat grass. During the day, they nibble on grass and get a steady supply of food and water. Because they can’t control how much food they eat and will eat too much if they have a lot of it, you have to feed them twice a day at set times. You must also make sure that the horses always have clean, fresh water.
If you keep your horse in a stall, the floor must be clean for him to walk on. Don’t let waste or manure pile up. This can make a good place for flies to lay their eggs and hurt your horse’s feet and health. To keep your horse healthy and happy, you must clean its stall every day.
You might think that all of this is a lot of work. It is, but for someone who has always wanted horses or ponies, it is a labor of love. To learn how to take care of a horse, you need to know not only how to groom him, but also how to meet all of his basic needs.
Caring for a horse also means taking care of its stability and equipment, such as its saddle, bridle, halter, lead rope, and blankets. Leather needs to be treated and cleaned often so that it stays soft, flexible, and comfortable for your horse. Blankets and saddle pads need to be washed so that mud and sweat don’t build up on them and irritate your horse’s skin.
Other things to do in a stable are to sweep dust and manure out of the aisles and take cobwebs off the ceiling and light fixtures. Cobwebs in a stable collect dust from the hay and shavings and can start fires.
How to Raise a Horse by Getting Your Hands Dirty
The best way to learn how to take care of a horse is to work for someone who already knows how. This could mean just hanging out at the stable where you take lessons and asking a lot of questions, or it could mean renting a horse for a while so the owner can teach you how to care for and groom a horse.
Once you know these basics, you’ll be ready to take care of a horse in a good way.
How to Feed Your Horse: The Basics
Horse care for beginners will only scratch the surface of equine nutrition when it comes to feeding, but knowing the basics of safe feeding is a great place to start…
BASIC RULES OF FEEDING:
- Feed horses based on their size, weight, and how much work they do.
- Always give the best food you can. Always let them drink clean water.
- Don’t feed concentrates an hour before or after exercise. Make sure the diet is well-balanced.
- Changes to feed should be made slowly.
- Keep feeding times and routines the same.
- Feed often but not too much
- Feed for the work done, not for the work you think you’ll do.
- Get the right amount of feed
How much and what kind of food a horse needs depends on its size and weight, the work it is doing, its type and metabolism, and other factors. In general, and according to the British Horse Society, horses need to eat about 2.5% of their body weight every day, most of which should be roughage (hay, haylage, grass).
Because horses have sensitive digestive systems, they need to be cared for carefully. Their feeding schedules should stay the same, and any changes should be made slowly. And because they were made to graze, they should be fed little and often, with most of their food coming from roughage.
- Roughage/Forage/Fibre: Grass, hay, and haylage should make up most of a horse’s roughage, which is also called forage or fiber. Always buy the best hay or haylage you can afford. Cheap hay is often dusty and may not be screened for poisonous plants. This will cause more problems than the money you save. Silage, which is food for cows, can’t be eaten by horses. This is important to remember.
- Hard Feed/Concentrates: Cereals and grains that have been processed, like “pony nuts,” are considered hard feeds. Depending on how much work you give your horse, it might not need hard feed. Some horses and ponies could almost live on fresh air, especially if they only go out for short rides once in a while. These horses and ponies won’t need any hard feed, just a handful of low-calorie chaff with a good supplement or even just a salt, vitamin, and mineral lick.
- Supplements: Most horses need a basic vitamin/mineral supplement to make sure they get all the important nutrients they need. Many owners also swear that garlic and apple cider vinegar are good for general health (and for getting rid of flies in the summer!). Older horses and horses that compete may need extras like joint supplements. If you’re not sure what your horse needs, you should talk to a nutritionist or your vet for advice (very fancy supplements and feed balancers can be super expensive, so it can save money to ask). Also, be careful to only buy products that are approved for the equine industry, and if you plan to compete, especially in an affiliated event, make sure they don’t contain any banned “doping” substances!
- Succulents: Succulents are considered fruits and vegetables, like carrots and apples, which are often given to them by their owners. I feed these every day, but not too much. I always make sure to cut them in a way that won’t cause choking. For example, horses may not be able to chew small chunks or discs well, and they could get stuck.
- Treats: There are a lot of treats available. I don’t usually give treats, and when I do, I stick to organic or low-sugar ones (or just a carrot! ), since some can be very sugary or full of fillers. Be careful with treats, because they can lead to bad habits. I’ve met ponies that are so used to getting treats that they won’t let you catch them without them or will almost knock you over as they search your pockets for treats.
How to Groom Your Horse: The Basics
Grooming is an important part of taking care of a horse, and both new and experienced horse owners need to know how to do it. After all, it’s something you’ll do every day! I could talk about grooming for hours, but since this is a guide to basic horse care for beginners, I’ll just talk about the basics of a typical daily groom for me.
- Start by cleaning the feet with a hoof pick to get rid of dirt and stones. Be careful to avoid the frog of the foot. This is a good time to look at the feet and shoes and make sure they are in good shape.
- When brushing a horse, brush in the same direction as the horse’s coat, keep as much contact as possible with the horse’s body, make sure you’re in a safe place, and be careful around sensitive areas.
- When you brush your face, use a soft face brush and be careful around your eyes and nose.
- Remove the worst of the dirt with coarser brushes, rubber curry combs, and dandy brushes, being careful around joints and parts that have been clipped.
- Then I brush the mane and tail. For daily grooming, I prefer a brush over a comb because it’s less likely to pull out hair, and I never brush a tail without using some detangling spray and working from the ends up. (I beg you not to try to brush a matted tail without having time to wash it first and gently work out the knots by hand before brushing—you’ll end up pulling out more hair than you realize and ruining the tail. Trust me, I
- After getting rid of the mud and dirt, it’s time to make them shine! Use a body brush on the coat with one hand and a metal curry on the other to clean the body brush of dust and hair. To give it a final shine, you can wipe it down with a tea towel.
- Horses that live outside without rugs need to keep the oils in their coat, especially in the winter, so use rubber curry combs and dandy brushes instead of cloths and body brushes, which can remove these oils.
- You can clean your eyes, ears, nose, and under your nose with special wipes or clean, damp sponges made for each area (I have a different shape and color for each area).
- As your horse starts to get rid of its winter coat, you’ll need shedding blades and brushes to help you get rid of the extra hair. But they can be harsh, so pay extra attention to places that are sensitive.
- After working out, make sure to clean your feet again and wash any sweaty spots.
What tools will you need to take good care of a horse?
To take good care of a horse, you’ll need a lot of tools to keep them in good shape. Aside from the obvious tack and rugs, you’ll also need equipment for cleaning out the stables, feeding and water buckets, a grooming kit, things for bathing the horse, equipment for cleaning the tack, and clothes for yourself.
For a detailed list of everything, you’ll need. The most complete list of horse equipment
- Tack: To keep your tack from cracking or becoming weak, you’ll need to keep it clean and keep the leather soft with leather soap and balm. You should also check the stitching and overall condition of your tack regularly. To stop rubbing, you should also wash the numnahs, saddle cloths, boots, and fabric girths. Saddles and bridles should be kept on a rack that is made for them (if using a metal one for the saddle, I recommend padding it with pipe insulation to prevent dents in the flocking). A saddler should also look at saddles once or twice a year to make sure they fit, are flocked, and are in good shape.
- Rugs: Check the straps, buckles, and clips often, and keep the rugs as clean as possible, which is easier said than done. The ideal is a special washing machine, but if you don’t have one, you can wash smaller rugs, numnahs, etc. in a special bag or an old duvet cover to keep the hairs from ruining it. Larger rugs and turnout rugs will need to be professionally cleaned and reproofed every season.
- Grooming Kits, etc. – Wash brushes every so often and don’t share them with other horses to keep infections from spreading. I think you should make everything match because it will help you keep track of your things. Here’s a link to a great matching set that’s already made.
- Equipment for the yard: Make sure that any buckets you use to feed or store hay are safe. I always suggest the ones that are made of rubber and don’t have metal handles. A first aid kit is an important thing to have in your yard. Make sure it’s full and that you check the expiration dates of any medicines, creams, etc., on a regular basis.
- For You, the most important things are to make sure you have a helmet and, if possible, a body protector that meets current safety standards (and to replace your helmet if you fall or drop it), riding boots with a good sole, and a small heel to keep it from slipping through the stirrup iron, and fluorescents/reflective if you plan to ride on the roads. I really believe that “there’s no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” when it comes to clothes. Get yourself some thermals and good waterproofs!
A Brief Summary of Horse Care
- Remember to hang out with people who have been there and done that, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or for help.
- Learn the basics of how to take care of horses in stalls and horses that live in the wild.
- Find out how to feed a horse and what it needs to eat.
- Know how to clean a horse’s feet and groom it, etc.
- Find out what equipment you need and keep it in good shape.
- Learn how important it is to have regular health checks and take care of your horse with things like good farriery and worming.
- Make sure you know the basics of horse health and first aid. You need to be able to spot signs of illness and treat injuries.
- Continue to learn and gain experience to improve your skills and knowledge.