Keeping a horse as a pet can be a truly rewarding experience; however it is not one you should approach lightly.
When buying a horse it’s important to remember that it requires a different type of care to a cat or a dog – and in order to get the most out of the experience you will need to be ready to invest your time and money. By taking good care of your horse you will save yourself money in the long run as a healthy horse will need considerably fewer visits from the vet. A healthy horse will allow you to get the most out the experience.
If you already have land available this obviously cuts down on your costs, however it is worth remembering that horses are herd animals and do prefer to be in groups rather than on their own. Obviously, getting yourself a herd could end up being pretty expensive, so it pays to check around and see if you know anyone with space for an extra horse. You could also offer up your own land and take a few horses in to keep your own horse company.
The process of introducing a new horse to an already established herd can be tricky so it’s a good idea to put them in paddocks next to each other until they get used to each other and then they can be mixed more safely. You will also need to make sure you give the horses somewhere to shelter in the paddock, either a natural shelter such as trees or shrubs or a man-made shelter. This will protect the horses from extreme weather, which will keep them healthier, and it will also provide them with places to hide if they do chase or hassle each other in the early days.
The initial cost of providing proper shelter may seem daunting but by taking care of your horse you will save in the long run by avoiding big vet bills. Taking care of your paddock will also benefit the horse’s health, keeping it clean and free from droppings as much as possible will reduce the risk of parasites. You should be aiming to clean the paddock of droppings at least twice a week.
Your horse’s diet is also vitally important to its health. A horse should eat a mixture of fibrous feeds like hay and seeds as well as supplements and mineral licks, which provide the horse with the vitamins it needs. As with any outdoor animal the diet will need to be adapted depending on the season. You will need to add a supplement such as rice bran during the winter months. This will help keep up the horse’s calorie intake.
There are also some simple precautions that you can take to avoid health problems. Keeping all equipment clean, in good condition and not sharing it with others will help prevent infection.
The best way of keeping your horse healthy is to keep their routine as consistent as possible and to introduce change gradually. Horses like a regular routine and will be at their best when everything stays the same. Keeping a calendar of their schedule will help you to stick to it and if you also keep a note of any problems that do arise you can see when and why they are happening.
Spotting if your horse is unwell will be a lot easier once you know their routine. The better you know your horse and its routine, the quicker you will spot anything abnormal in their day to day habits.
If the worst does happen and your horse becomes unwell, be sure to separate it from the herd for a short time. Giving a horse the chance to rest, away from other horses, should speed up recovery times. Doing all of these things should cut down on the amount of money that you spend on vets bills and the amount of time that your horse is out of action.