Basic Horse Care
 
 

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Basic Horse Care

This is a discussion on Basic Horse Care within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Spraying water on sweaty horse
  • Will a horse go into shock if sprayed with water when hot and sweaty

 
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    11-02-2010, 04:16 AM
  #1
Foal
Basic Horse Care

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. Your horse's stomach is a highly sensitive bio-reactor that maintains a delicate balance of the organisms that digest food in your horse's digestive track.

Visitors should not feed a horse that you do not own without the owner's permission; no carrots, no apples, no treats, nothing. The horse could potentially, get sick if they have an allergy or sickness.

Pay attention to everything that goes into your horse; that means all feed, all hay, all water, all treats, all supplements, all pills, and all shots. This knowledge could save your horse's life in an emergency situation. Post this information on your horse's stall door so that it is available to a vet if you are not around in an emergency. Make sure that your horse gets high-quality feed and hay. Your horse's health and soundness depends on the nutrition that you provide for them. Take good care of your horse. A rider without a horse is no rider at all.

Vet Care:
Make sure that you have a good equine veterinarian. A good vet will save you money in the long run and may save your horse's life some day. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure your horse has all the vaccinations that are normal for your geographical location. All horses should be on a good worming program to control intestinal parasites. A horse should be wormed by a vet at least twice a year.

Horse Flies:
In the summer spray your horse trailer down with fly spray about 10 minutes before you load the horses. The flies should leave, and your horses will be without those pesky flies!

Cooling Horses:
Never spray a hot, sweaty horse with cold water immediately after working the horse. This can cause muscle spasms and binding, or shock that can lead to death. Wait until the horse is breathing regularly, and use warm water if it is available. If a horse has heat shock, consult your vet and the vet may instruct you to cold hose the horse, even if still hot and sweaty. Never put a horse in a stall or confined area while sweaty or while they are still breathing heavily. This can result in shock and/or colic that can lead to death. Walk the horse until the horse is cooled out and the breathing is normal.

Shoeing:
Horses' hooves generally grow approximately 1 cm in a month, and take nearly a year to grow from the coronet band to the ground. Horse's hooves need to be trimmed regularly (about every 6-8 weeks). Shoeing a horse does not hurt them. If you were to grow out your finger nail, you could put an earring/pin through it without causing discomfort; however, if you pushed the pin through the part of your nail that is attached to the soft tissue of your finger, it would hurt. When horse shoes are nailed in, they are nailed at an angle so which the horse doesn't feel it.

Make sure that you have a good farrier, especially if you show your horse over jumps. The concussion from landing from jumps amplifies any problems in a horse's shoeing. If a horse gets sore feet or legs from bad angles or bad shoeing, the horse can not just take his shoes off, sit back on a couch, and rub their feet, or find another pair of shoes like you can. Bad shoeing can result in your horse becoming lame due to a number of problems including: bowed tendons, popped splints, or shoulder/back soreness or spasms. Bad shoeing can ruin a good horse, so don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish where shoeing is concerned. A laid-up horse is far more expensive to maintain than a good farrier. And remember not all horses need to have shoes, only if they are competing, walking on hard/rocky surfaces, or have hoof problems.

Sleeping:
Horses do lay down to sleep, but only if they feel completely comfortable in their environment. It is not enough to provide a dry stable, food and water. Horses will often sleep standing up by locking their knees. Horses are one of the few animals that can put one half of their body asleep while the other half is wide awake. Emotionally and mentally, all horses need to feel they have and be comfortable in their own space!

To fully enjoy a horse's finer qualities you must treat them with both kindness and quality care. In the end, a happy horse will mean a nicer ride and a happier rider.
     
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    11-02-2010, 04:30 AM
  #2
Trained
There is quite a bit of misinformation in this.

Glaringly for me is keeping the horses coat clean. You shouldn't groom every day unless your horse is rugged 24/7. Grooming removes the dirt and oils that protect the skin from the weather.

Also, it is perfectly fine to hose down a hot horse with cold water. Look at eventing horses. They come in, as hot as a horse could possibly be after the cross country - and then they have ICE WATER thrown on them. Pretty sure they are fine with that.
     
    11-02-2010, 08:20 AM
  #3
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiilaa    
Glaringly for me is keeping the horses coat clean. You shouldn't groom every day unless your horse is rugged 24/7. Grooming removes the dirt and oils that protect the skin from the weather.
Grooming every day (not bathing, just grooming) is beneficial. All the currying and brushing stimulates the skin.

I have never heard of dirty protecting the skin. Yes, the natural oils do. Grooming actually helps them.
     
    11-02-2010, 08:27 AM
  #4
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alwaysbehind    
Grooming every day (not bathing, just grooming) is beneficial. All the currying and brushing stimulates the skin.

I have never heard of dirty protecting the skin. Yes, the natural oils do. Grooming actually helps them.
Hmm I think maybe I am misinformed. Growing up I always got told to not groom every day, but now that you mention it, it doesn't seem to make sense.

Thanks AB :)
     
    11-02-2010, 04:44 PM
  #5
Yearling
For spraying the horse with freezing cold water when it's hot, I always heard that you should spray them on the chest first to get them used to the cold, then spray the rest of their body. Is that true?
     
    11-02-2010, 05:02 PM
  #6
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by ErikaLynn    
For spraying the horse with freezing cold water when it's hot, I always heard that you should spray them on the chest first to get them used to the cold, then spray the rest of their body. Is that true?
grooming daily is beneficial, it also helps you to note any issues such as scrapes, gashes, and abnormalities. I do keep mine dirty in the summer to help keep the flies at bay.

As for spraying them... I thought it was legs first then chest. You don't want to hit them in the chest and put them into shock when they are hot.... (I think)
     
    11-02-2010, 09:30 PM
  #7
Trained
Watch the horses come in from a xc leg - they don't bother with hoses, they just dump buckets of ice water over the horses.

Hosing the horses from the legs up is to let them get used to the stream of water hitting them :)
     
    11-02-2010, 11:48 PM
  #8
Trained
Good post Karl! Most of the 'basics' covered, for people who may know little but considering getting a horse(or find themselves with one without having prepared).

Don't know how much I'd call it 'misinformation', like the person that doesn't believe in grooming daily, but below are a few points that I disagree with, for one reason or other...

Quote:
Originally Posted by karl638    
It is important to keep a quiet profile around horses.
Well this one I agree with when considering new or strange horses, to get them used to stuff in the least stressful manner, but I think it is so important NOT to fluff around horses quietly, but desensitise them to the normal, generally rather loud & abrupt human environment that they must live in. For eg. Glad I'd done lots of noise desensitisation one day riding along a road on my old horse, with dogs accompanying.... when we passed a shed, some teenage idiots thought it was funny to crack a stockwhip to see what happened! Was so proud of my animals, cos I was the only one that jumped!

Quote:
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.
I think that's an interesting perspective... sounds too much like just anthropomorphising to me, which I don't find overly helpful, but I guess it depends how you understand 'fair' and what parts/sorts of human partnerships you're talking about. I think many people get into bother(or their animals do) precisely because people treat them too much like & expect them to think like people.

Quote:
Keep your horse clean. Keep your horse's entire coat free from dirt, mud, sand, and sweat. ...A number of different problems can result if a horse's coat is not kept clean.
I agree that daily grooming is beneficial, but for those of us with horses that are kept like horses - eg. Out 24/7, unrugged, the sentence above is a joke, also virtually impossible. I don't think dirt is harmful anyway, or else how have wild horses survived so well? Interested to know what those number of problems are, as I haven't experienced any over the years, where it's been rare for me to reliably see my horses daily, let alone groom them. ...Except for the problems to the rider/saddle if riding a dirty horse!

Quote:
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 'hard feeding', 'little & often' meals are vital for the animal's health, and in this case, feeding at the same times each day is often beneficial *for the carer*. But I think the colic & behavioural problems are largely related to horses being fed unnaturally & left for hours at a time with no feed. That is, it's largely a physical, digestive problem. But horses of course do also get used to routine and if a horse has always been fed on the dot at a certain time, it would likely cause some amount of stress if that suddenly didn't occur. For that reason, as with desensitising to noise, I think it's helpful NOT to get into too structured a routine, as in the real world, things have a habit of happening to upset the applecart, so don't set your horse up to being unable to cope with things.

Quote:
A horse should be wormed by a vet at least twice a year.
Never heard that one. What's the advantage of a vet doing it?

Quote:
Never spray a hot, sweaty horse with cold water immediately after working the horse. This can cause muscle spasms and binding,
Never heard that one either, & among others, I've worked with expensive race horses who were routinely cold hosed after track work. I understood muscle spasms & binding(presuming that's another name for tying up?) to generally be related to nutrition - namely magnesium imbalance.

Quote:
Horses' hooves generally grow approximately 1 cm in a month, and take nearly a year to grow from the coronet band to the ground. Horse's hooves need to be trimmed regularly (about every 6-8 weeks). Shoeing a horse does not hurt them.
Info on hoof growth is an average. Every horse is different and it depends on hoof function & exercise as to how fast they may grow. Eg. A barefoot endurance horse may grow out an entire hoof in 6 months. A long-term-shod beast with contracted feet may take 18 months. Shoeing *shouldn't* hurt the horse, but depends on the state of their feet & how good or bad the farrier may be.

Quote:
If a horse gets sore feet or legs from bad angles or bad shoeing, the horse can not just take his shoes off, sit back on a couch, and rub their feet, ......And remember not all horses need to have shoes, only if they are competing, walking on hard/rocky surfaces, or have hoof problems.
Hear hear to the first comment above! One reason why I believe horses are generally best unshod. I don't believe shoeing is necessarily 'evil', but I also don't believe it is only badly shod horses that suffer. There are so many more factors to consider. Horses do not generally need shoes, even if competing or on rocky surfaces, altho they frequently require hoof *protection*, which modern boots & alternatives are generally a good answer to. IMO shoes are generally unhelpful & often harmful, so therefore contraindicated where 'hoof problems' are concerned.

Quote:
Horses are one of the few animals that can put one half of their body asleep while the other half is wide awake.
Interesting. What do you mean by that? Most people know that horses generally sleep standing up, but it is something that I've only recently learned, that they need to lie down in order to get deep sleep.
     
    11-03-2010, 08:30 AM
  #9
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie    
Never heard that one. What's the advantage of a vet doing it?
Not sure what country Karl lives in so I will leave him to say why he said it. But I will say that it was not long ago that paste dewormers were not so readily available and most people had their horses dewormed by the vet.
     
    11-03-2010, 06:47 PM
  #10
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alwaysbehind    
Not sure what country Karl lives in so I will leave him to say why he said it. But I will say that it was not long ago that paste dewormers were not so readily available and most people had their horses dewormed by the vet.
Yeah and less time ago that paste wormers weren't all that effective anyway. I wondered if considering what's available now there was any advantage in getting a vet to do it. Also from what I can remember it was a pretty unpleasant event for the horse, tubes down nose & stuff.
     

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