Care and maintenance for horses is filled with year round chores. Care may change slightly with the seasons like these five care and maintenance chores should be completed during the autumn months.
- Bedding Requirements: Bedding material should be purchased during the autumn months. The most popular choice for bedding material is pine or other wood shavings. However, shavings may become a bit dusty. The main purpose for bedding material is to absorb urine, moisture and for the management of waste disposal. Horses do not require a soft fluffy bed; however, a dry bed is essential. If utilizing shavings for bedding material, the barn should be well ventilated. Bedding material is also available in the form of wood pellets, peat moss, straw, shredded newspaper and even rubber mats.
- General Horse Health Maintenance: General horse health maintenance should not be neglected during the autumn. The first crisp days of autumn is a good time for deworming and then continued throughout the year as recommended. While most horse owners have a preference for deworming agents, all agree that the deworming agent should be rotated regularly to prevent worms from developing a resistance to the chemicals. Horses should be reshod every four to six weeks. Semi-annual or at least annual dental care is important. A regular vaccination schedule should be maintained.
- Hay Supply: Autumn is the time to purchase a supply of hay for the winter months. The hay should have a fresh smell, free of dust or mold. Look for hay that is green and leafy, not discolored. A horse weighing approximately 1,000 pounds will need about 600 pounds of hay per month.
- High Traffic Areas and Paddocks: Chipped wood, coarse sand or crushed rock should be hauled in for high traffic areas, such as gates and paddocks. These materials will help keep high traffic areas from becoming muddy and slick from winter rains and snow. These materials allow the water to drain properly. The proper solution is to remove the top layer of earth and place water permeable, geotextile material down before spreading the woodchips, sand or gravel.
- Pasture Management: To maintain a healthy pasture, rotate horses every six weeks to fresh pasture land. This allows the former pasture time for regrowth. Overgrazed pastures are more likely to contain plants that may be poisonous to horses. Drag the pasture with a chain harrow to break up manure piles, which will help to kill parasite larvae, as well as fertilize the pasture. Test pasture soils, then reseed and fertilize.
Photo is courtesy of Three in a Row as uploaded by Rachel Kramer at Flickr’s Creative Commons.
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