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Basic Equine Care. Kristen M. Wilson Regional Extension Horse Specialist MCE Equine In-Service February 12, 2008. Areas To Consider. Horse Behavior Housing Nutrition Health. Why think like a horse?. To be safe To make a horse feel relaxed To have a satisfying experience

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basic equine care

Basic Equine Care

Kristen M. Wilson

Regional Extension Horse Specialist

MCE Equine In-Service

February 12, 2008

areas to consider
Areas To Consider
  • Horse Behavior
  • Housing
  • Nutrition
  • Health
why think like a horse
Why think like a horse?
  • To be safe
  • To make a horse feel relaxed
  • To have a satisfying experience
  • To achieve goals
prey vs predator
Prey vs. Predator
  • Evolved as small mammals whose survival depended on their ability to flee from predators
  • Same survival instincts are in today’s modern horse
  • Natural behavioral patterns are linked to their prey status
fight or flight
Fight or Flight
  • Flee first and ask questions later
  • Distance must be put between the horse and the situation/object
  • Use all senses to investigate their surroundings
  • Must recognize a horse’s curiosity and take steps to reduce accidents
safety in numbers
Safety in Numbers
  • Very social animals
  • Comfortable with the presence of other animals
  • Instinctively want to be in a herd and readily form herds if on pasture
  • Establish pecking orders
slide7

Housing Requirements

Diagram from “Fence Planning for Horses” Pennsylvania State University Eileen Wheeler and Jennifer Smith Zajaczkowski. See: http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/

housing requirements
Housing Requirements
  • Things to keep in mind:
    • Fencing
    • Pasture
    • Barn / Shelter
    • Bedding
    • Ventilation
fencing
Fencing
  • Type of fencing safe for horses
  • Should be sturdy, visible and durable
  • 4 ½ to 5 feet high
  • Bottom of fence and gates should be 8 – 12 inches off the ground
  • No sharp edges, narrow corners or projections
slide10

Diagram from “Fence Planning for Horses” Pennsylvania State University Eileen Wheeler and Jennifer Smith Zajaczkowski. See: http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/

slide11

Diagram from “Fence Planning for Horses” Pennsylvania State University Eileen Wheeler and Jennifer Smith Zajaczkowski. See: http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/

slide12

Types of Safe Fencing

Plastic PVC

Wood Board

V-Wire Mesh

pasture
Pasture
  • Good pasture can meet most nutritional requirements of horses
  • Provides area for exercise
  • Stocking rates
    • 2-3 acres/animal
pasture management practices
Pasture Management Practices
  • Avoid over or under grazing
  • Soil Test, fertilize and lime as needed
  • Identify weeds and poisonous plants
  • Choose plant species wisely
  • Rotational grazing systems
  • Utilize sacrifice areas
  • Nutrient Management Plan
shelter
Shelter
  • Provides horses protection from wind, extreme weather and moisture
  • Important questions:
    • What are the horse’s needs?
    • What do I want to do with the horse?
    • What can I afford?
    • Does my county have housing regulations for horses?
types of shelters
Types of Shelters

Run – In Shed

Stall

shelter stall
Shelter - Stall
  • Size: 12ft x 12ft
  • Well ventilated
  • Free of hazards
  • Good footing and drainage
shelter run in shed
Shelter – Run-In Shed
  • Allow 90 to 150 sq ft per animal
  • Usually three-sided
  • At least 12ft tall
  • Back to prevailing winds
bedding
Bedding
  • Preferred – Wood shavings or Straw
  • Others – Saw dust, Peat moss, Shredded newspaper, Stall mats
  • Avoid black walnut
  • Amounts:
    • 3 to 4 inches with dirt floor
    • 8-10 inches with concrete floor
ventilation
Ventilation
  • Poor ventilation can cause respiratory problems
  • Keep fresh air moving in
  • Exhaust out air contaminants, moisture and heat
  • Barn temp should be within 5 degrees of outside temperature
nutritional needs
Nutritional Needs
  • Feeding program should be tailored to meet the needs of each horse
  • Hard Keeper vs. Easy Keeper
  • Requirements based on:
    • Age
    • Breed / Type
    • Activity
    • Size
    • Weather
    • Reproductive status
nutritional program components
Nutritional Program Components
  • Water
  • Forage *
  • Concentrate
  • Vitamins & Minerals
water
Water
  • Most important nutrient
  • Always clean
  • Available in turn-out areas and stalls
  • 10-12 gallons consumed daily
forage
Forage
  • Very important for proper digestion
  • Types of hay:
    • Legume
    • Grass
    • Mixed
  • Horse will consume 1 ½ to 2% of body weight per day
concentrates
Concentrates
  • Used to:
    • Supplement and balance nutrients in forages
    • Supplement higher caloric needs of working and lactating horses
vitamins minerals
Vitamins & Minerals
  • Most commercial grain mixes will contain a vitamin/mineral mix
  • Free choice trace mineral and plain salt blocks can be provided
nutrition management tips
Nutrition Management Tips
  • Establish and maintain feeding schedule
  • Feed several small meals per day
  • Horses consume 2 to 2.5% of b.w. / day
  • At least 50% of diet should be from forages
  • Know what and exactly how much your horse is being fed
  • Provide fresh water
grooming
Grooming
  • Important for health, hygiene and appearance
  • Stimulates blood circulation & helps maintain muscle tone
  • Basic equipment:
    • Curry Comb
    • Brush (Dandy & Body)
    • Hoof pick
    • Mane & tail comb
health care
Health Care
  • Vaccinations
  • Coggins
  • Deworming
  • Teeth Care
  • Hoof Care
  • Emergency Care
deworming
Deworming
  • Recommended every 6 to 8 weeks
  • Rotate commercial products
  • Read labels for frequency and dosage recommendations
teeth care
Teeth Care
  • Important to ensure that your horse can chew and digest food
  • Recommended 1-2 times/year
hoof care
Hoof Care
  • Recommended every 6 to 8 weeks
  • Costs depends on what is done
  • Types of services:
    • Hoof Trim
    • Front Shoes Only
    • Four Shoes
    • Specialized Care
vital signs
Vital Signs
  • Observe horse daily
  • Know normal vital signs:
    • Temperature – 100° F
    • Pulse (Heart Beat) – 30 to 40 BPM
    • Respiration Rate – 8 to 16 BPM
  • Establish norms for your horse
vital signs34
Vital Signs

Anderson, K. “Tips for New Horse Owners”. Nebraska Cooperative Extension

exercise
Exercise
  • Level of adequate daily exercise will vary with each horse
  • Free exercise - use of a pasture
  • Forced exercise can be used if free exercise area is not accessible
    • 15 to 45 minutes per day on a regular basis
forms of exercise
Forms of Exercise

Longeing

Riding

Hot Walker

summary
Summary
  • Horse Behavior
    • Fight vs. Flight
    • Herd Bound
  • Housing
    • Fencing
    • Pasture
    • Shelter
summary38
Summary
  • Nutritional
    • Every horse is unique
    • Water, Forage, Concentrate, Vitamins & Minerals
  • Health
    • Vaccinations, Hoof Care, Deworming, Dental Care
    • Vital Signs
    • Exercise
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