Every horse owner wants a strong, happy, and healthy horse. However, we do not always want to drop hundreds of dollars on vitamins, supplements, and equipment to improve our horse's well being. Thankfully, we can improve the health while spending little to no money with the following 7 tips.
1. Feed From The Ground
Feeding your horse from the ground mimics their natural feeding position. When their head and neck are down, they can not only chew and digest better, it also opens up their airways. This prevents them from inhaling dust and debris from the feed. Feeding on the ground helps prevent chok, colic, and respiratory issues. Best of all, it's free!
2. Turn Out Often
Keeping your horse inside has obvious benefits. However, turning your horse out often or keeping them outside 24/7 is best for their health. Yes, they will get muddy, get scratches and require effort to catch to bring back in but their health will definitely be improved. When horses are constantly moving, they build up muscle and help keep their feet in good shape. The sun is also good for them, they will get some much needed vitamin D. If you have access to a good safe turnout area for your horse, even if it's just a small pen, use it!
3. Pull Shoes
Horses are not meant to have metal nailed to their hooves. Shoes affect a horse's posture, joint health, and hoof health. Keeping your horse barefoot is the cheaper and healthier option. As long as their hooves are properly trimmed, a bare hoof can be stronger than a shoed hoof. It's a good idea to find a farrier with knowledge in barefoot trimming or natural trimming. Although they may charge more for their services, it will still be cheaper than paying a shoer.
4. Use a Bitless Bridle
A bitless bridle is a great training tool and is perfect for everyday use. Riding without a bit opens your horse's airways and allows for better breathing during workouts. Also, horses being ridden bitless tend to be more relaxed and happier which allows them to carry themselves with a better posture and puts less stress on their joints. Bitless bridles can be much cheaper than bitted bridles. You can buy your own custom bitless bridle for under $50 online.
5. Braid Manes and Tails
Braiding manes and tails can help keep your horse's hair in top condition. Hair that is braided will grow faster and longer. Braids also can help prevent hair from breaking. Remember not to braid too tightly though. If your horse is uncomfortable, they may rub causing the hair to fray and break. Don't braid all of the tail in the summer, leave some hair out to allow the horse to swish away flies.
6. Stop Feeding Sweet Feed
Feeding sweet feed and concentrated feeds to your horse is not healthy. These feed mixes have more sugar in them than any horse needs and can not only damage their health, but also your wallet. More roughage and hay is the healthiest diet for any horse. If you are going to feed any kinds of grains, stick to low sugar options like whole oats and bran.
7. Check Your Tack
An uncomfortable horse is going to move stiffly and put more pressure on joints and muscles. Many behavior problems under saddle are often related to poor saddle fit. Most of the time this can be corrected with proper padding, but some horses require a saddle fit expert to evaluate them. While this may cost a bit, the payoff in the long run will be worth it.
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