Studies carried out by a team of scientists from University of Rennes in France have shown that horses are happier living outdoors than in stalls. Be that as it may, 24-hour turnout isn’t really an option for every owner. There are, however, still many things you can do to improve your horse welfare, no matter where it’s kept.
Modern research concludes that bedding is important, and so is the amount of bedding available for the horse. The bigger the surface area of soft bedding, the more time horses spend lying down. This is important for obvious reasons; it promotes recovery from stress and exercise.
Food & Treats
When giving treats to your horse, it’s important to make a distinction between safe fruits & veggies and the ones you should avoid because they are potentially toxic. Safe fruits include apples, pears, grapes, apricots, cherries (with pit removed), and oranges, to name a few. Some of the veggies that are good for your horse are peas (consider soaking if uncooked), lettuce, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, celery, corn and sprouts including alfalfa, wheat, barley.
Food you should avoid when feeding your horse include broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, spinach, onions and cauliflower. Also, older horses tend to have dental issues so to make it easier for them, you can chop up harder fruits or veggies. It goes without saying that even if a certain fruit or vegetable is good for the horse, you shouldn’t go nuts and stuff his mouth with it every day; moderation is the key and too much of a good thing can turn out bad.
Also, a diet composed mainly of hay is the most important factor in minimizing stereotypies in horses. It’s important to note that a diet consisting mainly of concentrated feeds is associated with increased risk of injury, possibly because the horses are more energetic.
- You should avoid sharing your brushes between horses in order to minimize the chance for fungal infections.
- It’s a good idea to curry your horse on a regular basis, since the more you do it, the more you bring out the oils in skin to the surface, which is beneficial for the horse.
- Don’t forget the hooves! They should be picked out daily, not just when you are getting ready to ride.
- Avoid combing your horse’s mane and tail every day if you want them to grow out.
- Sometimes a proper bath for the horse is not the best idea due to cold weather. In that case, you can simply sponge off his saddle and girth area as well as neck and face with warm water. This should remove any sweat and refresh your horse.
- If you’re about to clip your horse, give him a bath first. Dirt in it’s coat will dull your clipper and you won’t get a even, close clip like you wanted.
- If there’s a show ahead, and you plan to do a body clip on your horse, it’s wise to do it couple of weeks before. The reason for this is that clipping makes the coat dull, and it’s best to give it time to get it’s natural shine back.
- Don’t go over the top with oil and highlighter! To avoid that greasy look, use it sparingly on your horse’s face and make sure it looks natural and blended.
- In order to brighten the white socks on your horse, you can use baby powder or cornstarch.
- If you want to polish his feet, you can simply use a wax-based shoe polish, which will also protect the hoof.
- Don’t overlook the inside of your horse’s ears. Get a damp cloth and remove any dirt and debris.
Clémence Lesimple, one of the researches from University of Rennes stated that, “Healthy diet, proper straw bedding, daily free time with other horses, and good riding techniques are crucial elements for equine welfare in stables”. That last thing can’t be stressed enough, as the poor riding technique is the number 1 reason for the onset of injuries. Proper riding technique can’t be covered in this article due to it’s volume; it’s simply something you’ll have to take the time to master. However, while you’re at it, make sure to follow advice given in this article; you’re equine friend will thank you, and you’ll have a happy and healthy horse for years to come.
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