This quick guide will outline a basic horse care list, with the emphasis on beginners or people that have perhaps become a horse-owner or rider for the first time. When you become an owner of a horse, the care of any animals you own becomes your legal responsibility. This care covers health and welfare, stabling, feeding and exercise, as outlined in the Animal Welfare Act of 2006.
So, what is basic horse care?
The monthly cost of owning a horse is comparable with owning a car and making monthly payments to cover the cost of ownership. So, depending upon your stabling or livery situation, you will be looking at £250-£400 per month as a rough guide.
A horse brings year-round enjoyment and some of the information below will help to make your year go as smoothly as possible.
Shelter and Stabling
All horses need somewhere to take shelter, to keep warm and to sleep. Ideally some form of internal stables would be the best solution. A covered building or barn would be perfect, with stalls and secure doors so that the horses can be safely kept at night. Well ventilated, but not drafty would be the best way to go. A clean area to lie down in, whether on straw or rubber stable matting and access to water are essential.
Horse care for first time owners and beginners
Here is a quick list of some of the points to bear in mind when owning a horse:
- Daily monitoring (for injuries, illness, etc.)
- Grass! A safe area for grazing free from plants that may be harmful to your animals
- Hay and concentrate horse foods
- Access to salt
- Grooming and hoof care
- Mucking out
- Insurance (get your animal insured)
- Vaccinations and worming
A great resource for more in depth information on some of the above topics is the Equine World website.
Horse care in hot weather and in winter
A field that has some shelter or cover from the rain/sun would be ideal. Trees are great for this, but if there are no natural features to provide cover, then you may consider an outbuilding like a field shelter. In summer ensure that your horse has a fresh supply of water.
In winter, your horse may likely need a horse rug or blanket to keep them warmer. Rugs should only be used when your horse is clean and dry. Ensure that your animals have access to water, as on colder days their water troughs or buckets may become iced over.
In winter (and in hot summers) the supply of grass your horse has access to may change, due to lack of rain or in winter too much mud. Bear this in mind with your feeding schedule, as you may need to ensure a fresh supply of hay is on hand. Rotating areas of a field where the horses have access to is also a good idea to ensure new growth of grass.
Your horse will likely need clipping at some point in the year. This is usually done in the winter and something else you need to be aware of. Some horse owners like to clip all year round, but usually twice a year will suffice.
The amount and type of food your horse will need, will largely depend upon its size, weight and how much exercise they get.
The basic diet for most horses should be grass and good quality hay, free of dust and mould. In most cases, plenty of fresh, clean, unfrozen water should be available at all times, even if the horse only drinks once or twice a day. Most of the time, horses should be able to graze or eat hay when they want to. (Source – ASPCA.org)
Horse Care Supplies
You’ll need to source some supplies for your horse and equipment. Tack is top of the list, so you’ll need head collars, reins, numnahs, girths and so on. These will then all need to be cleaned on a regular basis as well with leather soap and balm. Yard equipment for mucking out is required as well, so forks, spades, buckets, wheelbarrows and the like all need to be added to your list.
Other less obvious items, like a first aid kit are also a good idea to have on hand.
Horse Care and Stable Management Courses
Finding out more from a course can be a good idea as well. A local stable may run stable management courses, or you may know an experienced horse owner who can impart their knowledge to you. An alternative would be to look at online stable management courses, which will take through from a basic level to a more advanced level of management.
A second or third animal to provide companionship for your horse is always a good idea. Horses are pack animals and enjoy the company of other horses and similar animals, such as a donkey, mule or goat for example.
Time. An often-overlooked requirement. Horses and their care, require your time and commitment. They require daily care, so another family member or friend can be a usual addition to your care schedule to cover you for the days when you are elsewhere.
Common sense and an organised outlook will stand you in good stead to ensure you provide the best possible care you can for your horse.