Spring And Summer Horse Care

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Last year The Humane Society of Utah investigated 91 complaints of horses without necessary feed and water or without medical attention for illness or injury. The warmer months are here and it is vital for horse owners to provide their animals with a quality care program.

Utah's horse population is estimated to be from 120,000 to 135,000 animals. In money terms, Utah's horses mean more than sheep, swine and turkeys and are beginning to rival our dairy industry. Related businesses include: horse sales, trailer manufacturing, fencing, horse and/or rider training, racing, stables/boarding, horse facility contractors, feed companies, farriers, clothing, horse shows, etc.

Pastures, stalls, and corrals must be kept clean, including removal of manure, boards, nails, loose bailing wire/twine, and machinery which can cause injuries or increase parasite levels. Make frequent inspections of all fencing and immediately repair damage. Inspect tack and before using horse trailers, insure they are in good condition. Check trailer floors, tires, wiring, latches, and hinges.

If your animal(s) is (are) boarded in a stable, make frequent inspections to insure that facilities are properly maintained and staffed. Watch for fire hazards, such as storage of flammable liquids, worn, chewed, overloaded or frayed wiring; accumulations of trash or bedding material, lack of fire extinguishers, sprinklers or fire alarm systems; and lack of structural lightning rods.

Horses should enter Spring and Summer in good physical condition (flesh). Their ribs shouldn't be seen but should be able to be felt with slight hand pressure.

A regular parasite, hoof, and tooth care program is needed to maintain good health. Keep vaccinations current, especially tetanus. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations on which vaccinations are needed in your area of the state.

Stabled or corralled horses should be wormed every two months, while those on pasture should be wormed every three months. Equine teeth require yearly attention to determine if 'floating' is needed to remove 'burrs'. Regular veterinary examinations are part of humane and responsible ownership.

Stabled horses should have their feet examined and picked daily. Hooves should be trimmed every eight to ten weeks. Professional farrier attention helps prevent problems and will insure that the animal's hooves are trimmed at the correct angle to the ground.

Warm weather requires less energy than in winter, resulting in the need for slightly decreased nutritional levels, unless the animal is being worked. Maintain your horse so it doesn't become overweight, as body fats insulate the animal and result in excessive body heat. Regular grooming and exercise are necessary for a healthy animal.

Horses require a minimum of 1.5 - 2.0 pounds of clean, quality hay each day for each 100 pounds of body weight. For best results, feed often in small amounts, on regular daily schedules. Feed up off the ground and watch for domination of foodstuffs by other horses. Any change in feedstuffs should be made slowly, over 3-5 days, to allow the animal's digestive system to adjust to the new source of nutrition. Rapid dietary changes can result in 'colic', or death.

A 1,000 pound horse requires from 8-12 gallons of water/day or it may develop impaction colic, a severe form of constipation. A horse should, ideally, have access to free-choice water and either a salt or mineral block to replace losses resulting from sweating. Water containers should be cleaned and scrubbed at least once a week.

A horse in good flesh doesn't require shelter, but a good windbreak allows the animal to escape direct wind, sunlight, and bad weather. A pasture with trees is ideal as it provides shade, while still allowing free air movement.

A good shelter is a dry, draft-free, tightly-roofed, three-sided, shed facing south or east, with 60-80 square feet per horse. The opening should be 11-12' high, with a back wall minimum of 9' high. An overhang of 4-6' helps prevent rain and hail from blowing inside. The shelter should be well-drained and bedded. The floor should be higher than the surrounding ground.

Pastured animals and their surroundings should be inspected at least 3 times/week. Horses that are stabled or corralled should be inspected at least once a day, and preferably several times a day.