Horses and ponies are popular pets, owning one is great fun and immensely rewarding. Horses and ponies vary in breed, size and temperament, although, in terms of care there are some main needs you will need to see to.
Your horses living area should be safe and secure. Check for any hazards such as toxic plants such as ragwort or yew and ensure that any fencing is in good condition.
Horses are large animals and in turn need a lot of exercise. Access to a paddock, preferably in the company of others is ideal.
Any horses left in a paddock need shelter from the elements, sun, wind, rain and hot or cold weather.
Stabled horses will need a clean, draught free environment. Stables should be cleaned at least once a day, and it is recommended to use good quality, dust-free bedding. Horses that are kept in for too long can become agitated and show strange behaviour.
A healthy diet for horses consists of continuous access to fresh water and as much grazing as possible. This will help to keep their gut and stomach healthy.
Additional hard feed may be required, depending on your horses lifestyle and pasture. Some pastures may not provide adequate nutrition and your horse will need to be topped up with hard feed to maintain their body weight.
Keep an eye on your horses weight, overweight horses are more prone to developing laminitis. Laminitis is an extremely painful foot disorder.
An equine nutritionist or vet can advise you of a healthy diet for your horse.
Health and welfare.
When you are grooming your horse, it is a good idea to check for any injuries or signs of illness. Ideally this should be done every day. Once you get to know your horse you will recognise if they are acting differently, this can be an early sign of illness.
Regular worming and vaccinations are essential to protect your horse again influenza and tetanus.
Hooves should be inspected daily for any foreign objects, swelling or anything else out of the ordinary. Even if your horse does not wear shoes, their hooves should be seen by a blacksmith at least every six weeks.
An equine dentist can check your horses teeth, do this at least once a year. Any sharp edges of hooks that have developed could become painful.
If you are looking to buy a horse, it would be worth asking a vet to check them over for any illnesses or unseen problems.
Currently there is an overpopulation of horses and it is encouraged to not breed them.
Take time to get to know your horse. Do not use any fear tactics when training your horse as this will only lead to problems. Use consistent training methods, with positive rewards.
If your horse exhibits strange behaviour, seek advice from a vet as this could be a sign that there is an underlying problem.
Boredom can lead to behaviour issue so make sure that you are giving your horse enough stimulation.