The Essentials: Your Horse's Well-being

There are many guides online about how to look after a horse. From the stables to what items you need but do you know about what to look when you are looking after a horse? A horse is a wonderful animal, and you can develop a bond unlike any other, and as time goes on, you will be able to know when your horse is unwell or possibly feeling a bit sad. Your horse’s well-being is as important as your own. And if developing a good sense of well-being is important for you, it is doubly so for your horse. You can communicate your feelings if you are unwell, but your horse cannot. A horse’s health means the internal and the external, from the right nutrients to being given a decent opportunity to get out into the open and stretch their legs or exercise. So here are some things you will need to think about if you want to look after your horse as best as you can.




Feeding Your Horse

Your horse needs as many nutrients and vitamins as possible, but this doesn’t mean that you should feed them constantly. You will need to devise a feeding plan, complete with a balance of the right vitamins and minerals. Much like when we exercise and need to refuel our bodies adequately for us to grow bigger and stronger, you need to ask yourself if your horse is getting enough in relation to the amount of work they are doing. If they are just being relaxed in the pasture, their energy needs differ wildly to a horse taking part in endurance events. They may need double the amount of calories. Much as when we work harder, horses sweat too so they will need much more water and salt. Feed stores can give you good information about the needs for your horse based on their weight. But a general rule of how much to feed a horse depends on the amount per pound or per kilogram of body weight. Also, you can use a scoring system, such as the Henneke scale, to determine the right amount for them. Age is another factor, much like when we were younger we needed more energy. Younger horses need calcium and phosphorous to develop their tissue and bones, and older horses may need a diet change, as metabolic issues can develop later in age.

Looking After Your Horse’s Mental Well-being
While it may not be top of the list when it comes to your priorities, making sure that your horse is mentally stimulated is as essential as making sure they are fed correctly. Horses are, in essence, creatures of habit. They rely on routine, and if the routine is broken, they can become anxious. By setting up a routine that fits in with your schedule, and by sticking to it, you are doing more for their mental well-being than you realize. If there are occasions where you are unable to stick to the routine, such as a feed, then make sure that you have a friend to take over.

They also need to alleviate boredom, especially if they are in their stable all day. You can get horse toys to keep them occupied, but if stable door kicking is one of their habits, it can be harmful to their joints over time. Many horses learn this habit as a means of being frustrated, and if they are sharing a stable, it is a habit that can soon become learned with the stablemates. QuitKick is a product that is very useful in these circumstances. It is designed to shoot two streams of water the second your horse kicks the stall door or wall. The water is harmless but teaches them a valuable lesson so the pattern can be unlearned.

Other mind-occupying techniques include putting a mesh net over the hay, so they will feed over a longer period of time rather than going to eat it all in one go, a hanging salt lick, and also a bucket of apples in water; it encourages them to drink more water in addition to the mental stimulation. Giving them plenty to see is another way to keep their mind active, and something as simple as giving them plenty of hills and greenery to see through their stable door will be enough. Companies like Ranch Marketing Associates provide horse ranches, and if you are looking for a place that offers visual stimulation for your horse, ranches can be a big benefit to them as well as to you, especially if you are looking for a location to retire to. Ranches and open spaces are so important for the mindset of the horse, and an open space gives them enough room to be able to do the next point.


Exercising
When the weather is bad, and they have been in their stable for too long, they are bound to feel like they have been hemmed in for some time. They will want to stretch their legs as soon as they are able to, and if you are looking to exercise your horse properly, either in preparation for an event or just to make up for lost time during the winter, you can do interval training. Much like it does us a world of good, it is great for horses to build up speed and strength. A typical example would be getting the horse to gallop between cones spaced out around 50 feet apart, and then slowly jog for the next 50 feet, and then sprint for the next one. The horse will start to anticipate the sprint which will give him focus, and the exercise in its intensity helps to deliver blood and oxygen to the muscles. Other exercises include Hangbahn, using some raised poles, or canter box.



The well-being of your horse is something to take into account in all variations, not just the general ones. If you want a healthy horse, taking into account the mental well-being, as well as the physical, will help your horse to live a long and happy life.

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