Advice on keeping a horse
Looking after a horse is hard work, and takes a lot of time and commitment - although the reward is worth it!
Unless you're using a full livery yard service you'll need to be present to take care of your horse at least once a day, so knowing exactly what you need to do to take care of them will make it much easier to fall into a routine. Obviously there's a distinct difference between keeping a horse at grass and stabled, but we've put together a quick checklist to give you an idea of the basics - speak to an equine specialist or a vet for more help and advice.
- If your horse is stabled you'll need to turn him out before you can carry out any extensive cleaning and checking in the stable.
- Give your horse fresh water and make sure they have plenty of fresh hay or haylage. The amount should depend on how much they have been worked that day.
- If your horse is stabled, muck out the stable, removing all droppings and replacing bedding where necessary.
- Check over your horse's feet in the morning and evening, looking for stones, hoof cracks or twisted shoes. Make sure you do this before and after exercising to ensure they're clean and healthy.
- Do a visual check to make sure your horse has no cuts or scrapes, and check their face to make sure their eyes and nose look normal.
- Check the rug on your horse for damages and ensure it is fitted properly.
- Check your bedding supplies. It's helpful to have at least two weeks' worth of bedding on hand, just in case!
- Remove any manure from paddocks.
- Scrub out feed buckets, water troughs, and anywhere with a build-up of dirt.
Every two to three months
- Check paddock fences for any loose gates or damages, and go over stables for draughts or gaps where the wind and rain can get in.
- Every six to eight weeks you should have a farrier in to trim or level your horse's hooves and replace worn shoes. This will help keep your horse's legs healthy and ensure they remain active.
- Vaccinations and immunisations should be carried out by a vet once a year. These protect against flu and other viruses, and give you a chance to have your horse checked over.
- Have an equine dentist check your horse's teeth. Some horses may need this every six months, but your dentist will advise you on the best course of action.