Every horse that we own and care for depends on us greatly for their continued excellent care. We are in charge of day-to-day care and feeding, veterinary treatment, hoof care, nutritional requirements, and exercise. In the case that something happened that left you incapable of caring for your horse for a period of time, who would care for them as you do? Even if there was someone willing, would they be able to replicate your care? This unfortunate dilemma can be solved by excellent recordkeeping. By keeping a file of information on all aspects of each individual horse, you enable easy access to past history and current maintenance methods. In the case of an emergency or even just a vacation, you have a literal guidebook to your standard of care personalized to each horse.
The most obvious components of each horse’s binder should include descriptive documents. I like to include many photographs of the horse, paying special attention to any markings, scars or brands. These kinds of documents can be very helpful in the event that your horse is ever lost or stolen. Descriptive information such as registered name, age, breed, color, gender, resting TPR, allergies and any vices or special medical concerns. This section should also include names and contact information for the horse’s owner and trainer, the barn it is stabled with, the horse’s veterinarian, the horse’s feed supplier and the horse’s farrier. Any bills of sale, breeding contracts, lease agreements or registration documents should also be kept in this section.
Feed records are probably the most important component in record keeping because they allow detailed instructions for maintenance feeding and track any past changes in feed. For each specified feeding throughout the day, the roughage, concentrates, and supplements should be described in weight, not mass, to allow any caretaker a precise measurement.
Roughage is generally measured in pounds, specifying what kind of hay and protein content if known. Concentrates can be measured in ounces in most cases and include any kind of concentrated feed such as grain, usually purchased in 50lb bags. Supplements are measured in grams because they are generally fed in small amounts in addition to a concentrate to accomplish a specific goal.
Any special dietary restrictions or methods of feeding should be noted in this section as well. An included list of past feed changes can be recorded to keep track of how gradually the changes were made and how the horse responded. I also like to keep track of how much I spend per ton of hay because it is helpful to see how hay prices fluctuate by the time of year. Another important procedure to explain in the feed section is your deworming and vaccination program. I track when, what, and how much of these drugs are being administered to my horses. It is helpful to write down the actual drug name as opposed to the brand name to eliminate confusion in rotating wormers. With vaccinations I also like to document where each was given on the horse’s body so if any reactions are found, they can be promptly identified.
Exercise records enable someone who does not know your horse to continue their normal exercise routine and be aware of any changes in conditioning. This section should include the activities performed with your horse, the specified times per week and the amount of time spent on each activity. Similar to the feed record, I include a list of past conditioning changes so anyone can tell how the horse was conditioned to its current level of work. Resting temperature, pulse, and respiration (TPR) should be documented here again and include rates of working temperature, pulse, and respiration. These rates can change throughout conditioning and with a horse’s recovery rate, serve as a baseline for determining cardiovascular fitness. A show record is also helpful for competition horses to track progress and a breeding record, if applicable.
Overall, precise record keeping can help a horse owner in emergencies, vacations and even in day-to-day care. Record keeping can help track changes in feeding, medications, and conditioning. It can also be a useful tool in tracking costs for each individual horse. Through record keeping, a horse owner can keep track of all of the details that our poor brains cannot possibly keep track of. Records streamline horse ownership and make procedures easier for all professionals involved.
Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.