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Basics of Horse Care

Copyright 2006 Rob Daniels Horses are amazingly beautiful and sensitive creatures. Horses require not only understanding and patience to have a horse as a pet, it also requires a whole lot of care. Herd Mentality: Observe horses in the herd system, each horse's welfare in the wild depends upon an instinctive submission to the discipline of the herd. The instinct is for immediate action. To the horse, action is survival. When horses live in an herd environment, they often take turns sleeping and standing guard for any predators.

When the leader of the herd signals danger they take flight. Learning respect and ascending to authority starts on the first day of life for the foals, there is a distinct pecking order in herds of horses. It is important to keep a quiet profile around horses. Horses naturally do not like unnecessary noise because in the wild their survival depends on detection of predators with their hearing. Extraneous noise interferes with this predator detection.

This predator detection is tightly coupled with a horse's flight reflex. Due to these survival genetics, horses have a physiological wiring in their brains that predisposes them to prefer quietness and to become bothered by unnecessary noise. Many horses can get startled easily from abrupt noises and this could result in injury to the horse, the rider, or people around the horse. Talk to your horse in a quiet, reassuring voice. Relationship With Horses: A horse will love you if, first and foremost, you treat it fairly, and secondly, if you allow yourself to develop a relationship with it in the same way you would a human partner. There are too many who will look after the horse's material needs but put nothing back into the partnership itself. The horse born in captivity will identify with an alternative provider and companion, resulting in a healthy relationship from the beginning. A healthy relationship with your horse requires: trust, coupled with respect, fondness with compliance, and a desire to please. Check Your Horse: Examine your horse every day and especially prior to riding the horse. Carefully examine the horse's legs and back for any unusual heat or lumps.

Make sure that the horse's eyes are alert and not glazy. Listen for any excessive noise or gurgling sounds coming from your horse's stomach. Catching problems before they become serious is critical to keeping a show horse sound and alive. Exercise caution and discretion when around stallions and mares when they are in heat. They are dealing with hormones on an order of magnitude that you probably can not comprehend. Stallions typically bite and some may be easily triggered into violent behavior. Grooming Horses: Keep your horse clean. Keep your horse's entire coat free from dirt, mud, sand, and sweat. Brush your horse every day. Pick out your horse's feet every day.

Wash out any sweat residue from the saddle pad or girth every day. Wash out any dirt or sand residue, as from the riding arena, on your horses legs every day. A number of different problems can result if a horse's coat is not kept clean. Barn Care: Keep your horse's stall clean. Make sure that your horse's stall is cleaned every day. Be sure that any wetness is removed with the manure. Replace the removed bedding with fresh, clean, dry bedding. Water should be dumped from buckets every day without exception. Unhealthy dirt and bacteria can build up in a bucket if it is not cleaned on a daily basis. Clean water is essential to maintaining a healthy horse.

Make sure your horse always has clean, fresh water available. Training A Horse: The intelligence of the horse increases rapidly with education. An intelligent trainer can make an intelligent horse. A kind but firm trainer will result in a disciplined but pleasing horse. Horse Feed: Feed your horse(s) at the same times every day. A horse may get upset and colic or injure themselves by kicking the stall or pawing, if not fed when feeding is expected. You should not make radical changes in a horse's feed program. If you must make a change in the feed program, make the change gradually. Drastic changes in a horse's feed program can cause the horse to colic and in some cases, may die.


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