How Easy Are Horses to Care For?
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How Easy Are Horses to Care For?

How to care for a horse. How much work is it to look after a horse? How much time do I need to spend on my horse per day? How much land is needed for a horse? Can I train my horse myself? What vaccinations do horses need? How much money does it cost to buy a horse? How often do horses need their feet trimmed?

Many people, particularly young girls, dream about getting their own horse, but few understand the care that is needed. This article is written for people who want a horse and are wondering about what is needed and how to provide basic care for a horse.

Purchasing a Horse

Horses can be easy, or hard, to buy. You can buy one cheap from an auction, however the quality, and training, can be suspect. On the other hand you can invest months in looking for just the right horse, possibly even paying thousands of dollars for one in a private sale (or from a better quality auction).  In some cases you can even adopt a horse.

Training a Horse

Most people with little horse experience buy fully trained horses. It is not generally a good idea for an inexperienced person to try to train their own horse. Although this is often done in “story books” in reality a novice rider and create serious problems in a green ( or untrained) horse. If you are buying a green horse you should have a trainer work with you.

Appaloosa mare and miniature horse.  © B Nelson

Housing and Feeding Horses

There are several options here. Some people are lucky enough to have their own acreage and can keep their horses on their property. Other people have to pay for boarding their horse at a horse stable. Boarding can be expensive. Keeping your horse on your own land is convenient, but you have to do all the work; if the horse is in a stall, you have to clean the stall daily.

You must provide feed twice daily when the pasture is poor, and must make sure your horse has fresh water at all times.  Some horses are fine with just hay (there are many types of hay), but others may need a ration of grain depending on how much work they do and their metabolism. 

Horses are herd animals and should not be kept alone, they do best with other horses, and should have at least two acres of space each (more if they are not fed hay and are expected to graze only).  Some people keep companion animals with their horses.

Proper fencing is a must, it should be 4 feet high, and have good gates. Shelter from bad weather is important, however a barn with stalls is not needed in most situations.

Regular Care of a Horse

Horses do not need to be ridden daily, but should be attended to on a regular basis. If not ridden for several weeks they can be quite frisky when ridden again for the next time. Most serious riders (such as those preparing for a show) ride their horses five days a week, allowing for two days of rest. Frisky horses may need to be lunged before they are ridden.

Otherwise the basic care needed by a horse is regular hoof care; horses do not always need horseshoes but may require hoof trimming every eight weeks. They should have their hooves cleaned out regularly (before being ridden). Horses enjoy being brushed and should be groomed often as this helps them bond with their owner.

Regular Veterinarian Care for Horses

You will want to talk to your veterinarian about vaccination suggestions in your area. If you are going to shows or boarding at a stable there may be vaccination requirements. Worming should be done twice a year. Some horses require dental work (called floating their teeth), which is usually indicated when the horse is throwing its head in response to the bit bumping against a sore tooth (head tossing could be related to a poor fitting bridle, or a rider with rough hands).

Summary

In general it is important that a horse owner have time to spend with the horse and not get it on a whim. Horses should be viewed as long term responsibilities, not novelty pets.

You should plan on spending at least 2 hours per day on your horse if you are keeping it on your property, this includes feeding twice a day, cleaning the stall, brushing it, making sure it has water, and going for a short ride.

You might want to read:

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting a Horse.

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Comments (1)

Brenda, what a really enlightening article.

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