YOUR responsibilities as a horse owner.
When you decide to buy a horse, you are taking on a monumental responsibility. They are large animals that eat a lot and require a lot of care.
When you buy a horse, you are in charge of getting proper care for your horse, this means:
1) The horse should be fed according to their body needs.
That means if you buy a hard keeper, you are going to spend more money on feed. It's a fact of horse ownership. If the horse is old or has special dietary needs, you need to be prepared to deal with it.
Signs your horse isn't getting the nutrition it needs:
Take a good long look at your horse, and really look at what you're seeing. -If you can see the ribs, you might need to re-evaluate your horse's nutrition
-If the coat is dull and lackluster, you might need to re-evaluate your horse's nutrition.
-Your best bet is to go through each point on the horse with the BCS:
Body Condition Scoring of Horses
- Oh, he's old, that's why he's skinny. >No, the horse is skinny because you're not doing something right.
- He just won't pick up weight! >Then it is your responsibility to find out why, and fix it.
- He's always been skinny. >Same response as above
2) Their teeth need to be looked after.
Prepare to spend a few hundred dollars each year on this. Or more.
Horses cannot verbally tell us when their teeth hurt, so you need to be looking out for signals. Dropping excessive feed, balking at the bit, losing weight, etc, all signs that your horse needs his teeth done.
If one person comes out and says your horse's teeth are fine, but he's still not accepting the bit, dropping feed, and losing weight, get a second opinion., preferable from an equine dentist.
Signs your horse might need dental work:
- He is losing weight, or has a hard time keeping weight
- He refuses to eat, eats slower than normal, or drops a lot of feed while chewing
- He refuses the bit, or won't accept the bit
- He has trouble bending and suppling
- I don't have the money to do it. >Then don't own a horse.
- My grandfather owned horses all his life, they never had their teeth done and were fine. >I call bs on this statement. Ever lived with a toothache? It hurts! You can't eat right, and your every day actions are a pain too. Humans that have never seen the dentist suffer for it. Same goes for your equine pal.
- Horses out in the wild don't get their teeth done! >No, but they also die from it.
3) They need their hooves trimmed on a regular basis - most horses require their feet done every 4-10 weeks. Missing a trim, yes, even one, can damage your horse, and it can be a long road to recovery.
Yes, it's costly, but it's a necessity. My horse's feet grow like weeds and need to be done almost on a monthly basis, so I shell out the $45/visit because it keeps him sound, happy and healthy.
- My horses feet don't need to be done in the wintertime, I'll keep them trimmed in the summer. >Wrong. The horse can develop lameness from ill-kept feet. You need to keep them on a regular rotation throughout the year.
- Horses in the wild don't need their feet done! >Firstly, the lame ones get killed off pronto. Secondly, they travel vast distances and so their hooves do wear naturally, but they probably aren't balanced. Thirdly, your pet pony is completely out of the wild. It is being ridden, and asked to do things horses in the wild would never do, so your horse needs special hoof care.
4) Your horse needs regular deworming.
Horses get parasites internally, it comes from eating unsanitized food. You would need to be dewormed too, if your food came from a field without being washed, or you ate off the ground.
It's inexpensive, and keeps your horse healthy.
If your horse is infested with parasites, any food you pump into him is going to be shared with these lovely bugs. You can spend more money on feed and the horse won't pick up weight because - you guessed it - little buggies are getting the nutrients.
It really is cheaper to deworm on a regular basis than pumping more feed into try and offset parasites.
Signs your horse might need to be dewormed:
- Scratching the tail/butt
- Lackluster coat, not shedding coat
- The belly hangs down and the horse looks fat, but you can see the ribs.
5) You need to be prepared to shell out money for emergency veterinary care.
If your horse is injured, sick, or otherwise unhealthy and you don't know how to deal with it, CALL the vet.
Will it be expensive? Probably, but it is your DUTY as a horse OWNER to care for your charge.
- We can't afford to have the vet out. >Then please sell or give the horse away to a home that can. You should not own a horse. They are big, expensive animals, and if you can't shell out the bucks to get the horse properly cared for, you should not own it.
I am sick and tired of this excuse. You own a HORSE. Vet care is expensive, but necessary.
6) IT IS YOUR DUTY AS A HORSE OWNER TO EDUCATE YOURSELF.
In this day and age of information at your fingertips, IGNORANCE isn't an excuse.
If you take on a horse, it is your DUTY to read up on care for the horse. That means you should know how much to feed. That means you should know that farrier care is needed. That means that you should know to call the vet when your horse isn't well. That means you should know that your horse needs to be dewormed.
Horses are EXPENSIVE animals, it's a simple fact. If you CANNOT or WILL NOT provide adequate care, please reconsider getting (or keeping) a horse.
Actually, I'd also add regular shot schedule like rabies, 5-way, West Nile, etc.
I was going to, KV, I don't know why I didn't :(
7) Vaccinate your horse.
Vaccinations are touchy.. some horses never leave their property and no horses come in, so a basic 3 way will suffice. Some horses need a 5 way plus WN plus Strangles.
It is in your horse's best interest to be vaccinated at least against the basics. It is your responsibility to find out from your vet which vaccines your horse needs for that area, and your horse's activities.
I have to say I disagree with many of the points you made. I'll highlight one: Missing ONE trim can mess your horse up for life? Please.
Great post JDI - and I think that is a great eye opener for those younger generations who think owning a horse is everything, or to those who's parents take care of everything for them, so they end up not realizing the importancies and the financial expenses it takes to own your own horse.
It is a huge responsibllity to own an animal - period.
Animals are not a right, they are a priveledge.
About the trimming -
Nelson and I are now paying for 1 year of errors made by our previous farrier. Most people think that TB's are born with natural horrible feet, which I believed for years as well, and my previous farrier kept telling me that too "There's nothing I can do, he is just how he is, work around it" - and that's garbage.
When I bought Nelson and for the year I owned him - his toes were long, no heels what-so-ever and very thin soles. So I had him shod all round with pads. I was forking out big money for this.....without even realizing how incorrect it was.
Nelson had hock issues, he would come out of his stall in the A.M for turn out with swollen ankles. I thought he had to begin Legend Injections. I had him on joint suppliments. His movement wasn't that great either - I had to ride hard just to get him to even track up. He couldn't keep a shoe on if his life depended on it.
Until - one fateful day, he lost a shoe, yet again - and I called my farrier at the time to come out and replace it, but he couldn't because he was on his way to Texas for vacation - so I had to find another farrier right away.
Due to this, I learnt allot! I have a new farrier, and I learnt that correct angles and correct trimming to allow blood flow, is what makes a healthy hoof.
Guess what - Nelson now has THICK soles. He actually has HEELS and his toes were brought back immensely - he is no longer on joint suppliments. He doesn't have any hock issues, his movement is HUGE and LOFTY - and a much happier horse.
- - - - So it isn't just having their feet done, it is having the right farrier, who is educated and up to date on all techniques, so that your horse has blood flow, correct angles according to their pasturns and hips/shoulders - - - - -
But it took that 1 day of he throwing his shoe, to be educated on how it should be done.
Just thought I'd share that.
If you can provide food, water, shelter, deworming, vaccinations and tend to their teeth & hooves then there is no reason why you shouldn't own a horse.
While I agree that as a horse owners we are responsible for their care and upkeep but I do think you have gone a bit overboard and extreme here. Yes, horse owners should be educated and I often find myself shaking my head at the basic things people don’t know BUT there is a line between being educational and using scare tactics. If we are speaking to educate there must be a certain screen between thoughts and words. The most well received lessons are often tempered and moderate. I’m picking the same example as mls because I simply have the biggest bone with it.
In response to responsibilities-
Re. #3. Horses should be trimmed or shod on an as need basis. They have their own growing schedules and those schedules change from season to season. You cannot say that all horses fall in the 4- 10 week range and that all horses need to be kept on a regular schedule. I watch my horse for signs of growth and wear and tear. When her feet need to be done they are done, not any sooner and not any later. I can definitely say that I do not keep track of weeks in between. It happens to be that her feet get worn down more in the winter so she really doesn’t get done as often in winter. I can also say with a clear conscience that I don’t remember when my mare last had her feet done but I can confidently say that they do not need to be done right now.
Very rarely will skipping a trim, two trims, three trims etc. lame your horse for life. While we shouldn’t let our horse’s hooves get overgrown and chipped- the end result is not that extreme. We’ve all seen the photos of horses with slipper-feet get proper hoof care to go on and live happy, active lives.
This sounds like a frustrated rant JDI, and don't get me wrong we have two right now that suffered at the hands of abusers, so I can understand where your coming from. However, if a person can provide the minimum in care who are we to say they shouldn't own a horse.
How do you draw the line on what can be considered ignorance? I may have more experience than another person about a certain subject, be it training or health. Does that make them ignorant? No, they just haven't dealt with the issue before. One can never be 100% prepared for everything.
We had to do a $10K colic surgery a few years back............we could afford it, but if the kid down the street can't, should it ever happen does that mean they shouldn't be able to enjoy and own a horse?
This is a slippery slope...... what one person feels is minimum care may not fit what you feel is minimum
Missing one trim isn't going to kill your horse! Sometimes, FARRIERS DON'T COME OUT WHEN THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO! Especially farriers in this area. They tend to be pretty flakey and will drop appointments and not tell you until you call them. Luckily, I have found a farrier that comes when called :)
It's a bit more serious if you have a horse with shoes on, Then it is vital that the horse gets them reset on a schedule. But when they are just getting them trimmed and have a fairly good base of support? It's not going to kill them.
I like what you are trying to do, let people know how complicated, time consuming, and expensive it is to have a horse and make sure they are not neglected. Writing such a detailed account is sure to draw criticism. I do disagree about the trim but it is true most horses need trims 6 to 8 weeks or so. My horse does not, she wears her feet naturally. However if she didn't I would get them trimmed whenever she needed it.
I do agree too that you ought to have some money saved for emergencies, however right now I personally don't. I basically "rescued" my horse and was intending to sell her but the market is no good right now. If I can't take care of her for some reason, I would make sure I found a place she would be cared for. But it is good to know what can happen and what to be prepared for.
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