Unlike the average domesticated pet, horses require so much more from their owners
. They cannot be kept in just any kind of property because of their size, their feeding habits, and their free-spirited nature. If you are thinking of taking on the responsibility of owning a horse, you first must have the space to keep them in.
An acre for your property’s pasture per horse is fine, although some resourceful owners have managed with more than one horse per acre. Two acres for just one horse is ideal, as the horse will have more space to graze and move about and you have more time for pasture maintenance.
It doesn’t stop there, however, as you also need to carry out the following actions to ensure your horse is in the proper living conditions.
Out in the Pasture
Horses help produce a lot of mud with their activity in wet seasons, and that leads to all sorts of problems. Fence off a small area of your paddock for such times and cover that pen’s ground with about 20cm of wood chips or bark. This is where you should keep your horse when the pasture is muddy if you have to turn them out.
This is to prevent bacterial infections from stepping on mud mixed with manure, slipping accidents that lead to broken bones, and too many weeds growing in the pasture.
Horses are very fast grazers. If you don’t control their grazing, they will encounter digestive problems and the pasture’s grass will be much slower to grow.
You’ll want to keep your horse from eating the last 3 inches of grass to promote faster regeneration. By keeping the grass thick throughout the pasture, you’ll also be preventing weeds from growing. Use a portable electric fence as a means for rotating the grazing areas. If you notice patches of land that have been overgrazed, spread grass seed in those spots to help the grass grow. Get a soil test done before you use fertilizer.
Regularly check your fences for any integrity problems. Try moving the posts yourself. If they are the tiniest bit loose, your horse will have no problem pushing them away. Tamp the ground surrounding its base with more soil, or place it on more solid ground. If the problem is with the post itself, replace it immediately.
You should also cover the tops of your T-posts with protective vinyl caps to prevent any piercing accidents with your horse.
Make sure the fasteners for your gates, stalls and trailer doors are also secure. You don’t want to run the risk of your horse suddenly escaping out into the wild or in places with lots of human traffic.
In the Stable
Always be on the lookout for nails or any other sharp objects protruding from the walls, stalls, and other enclosures inside the stable. You’ll want to have a designated hammer in the barn to take care of such minor problems immediately before they inflict major damage to your horse.
Four inch gaps inside the shed can also be unintentional traps for your horse’s feet. If you keep other farm animals like cattle and sheep in the same barn, your horse might get snagged on woven or welded fencing. You can cover up some gaps in enclosures with panel caps.
Don’t let hay and other feed fall on the ground. This is to prevent any parasites from finding their way onto the feed and into your horse. Keep the feed supply locked away so that your horse doesn’t get to it before feeding time and accidentally spills some all over the place.
Although it’s nice to have a natural water source such as a pond, you’re better off keeping your horse healthy with a controlled source like a trough. With that, you can manage how much water your horse can drink. Horses generally need 8 to 12 gallons of water a day.
Winter will inevitably come and freeze your water supply. You can break the ice manually, purchase a heater for the water tanks, or just boil water in your home that you can use to warm your horse’s icy cold water.
You’ll also want to store an emergency supply in case your power goes out for any reason. The recommended amount is about 30 gallons which should last for 3 days.
Take the Initiative
Horses are not hardwired to be domesticated. You will have to prepare an environment that will tame their inner beast while still allowing them the room to let loose. You are both the master and caregiver, and you carry out those roles through the property you have set up.
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About the author:
Jay Manangan is an active contributor at abler.com and a pet lover. He never get tired of sharing his pet care tips and advice to other animal lovers.