Five Things Your Mother Told You to Keep Your Horse Healthy

Habits for keeping yourself healthy can apply to keeping your horse happy and healthy as well. And what your mother told you when you were a kid – brush your teeth, no candy, eat your vegetables, well… uh… it’s true!

Horze-Momleadingkidonpony

Most people acknowledge as fact that if we eat nutritious food, supplement our diets with essential vitamins and minerals, drink plenty of water, and exercise regularly that we can live a healthier and more active life into our golden years. But what about our horses? Surprisingly, it’s pretty much true for them too!

1. BRUSH YOUR TEETH!
We don’t question that brushing our teeth daily will pay off in the long run for our health. Your horse benefits from some dental checkups as well. Even slight irregularities in how his molars meet to chew food can affect his nutrition. So keep up on his checkups to see if he has a sharp edge that needs floating. Keep an eye on his teeth even more vigilantly as he ages to avoid loss of weight and condition.

2. NO SNACKS BEFORE DINNER!
Eating junk food has never made much sense. Feeding your horse poor quality hay or grain doesn’t make sense either. Efforts to obtain quality feed for your horse will result in his long term health and happiness. The horseman’s rule to “feed little and often” applies to humans too.

3. TURN OFF THE TELEVISION!
Sitting in front of the TV or computer, in essence – not moving – is not healthy for humans. The older, spry, active seniors in this country are those who have kept walking, jogging, golfing, riding horses, mucking stalls… you get the picture. It is also essential for your horse to get regular exercise and turnout. Every day. If you don’t ride, or even if you do ride – turn him out. The bones, tendons, ligaments, as well as the digestive and circulatory systems of the horse need to keep in motion.

4. NO SODAS!
Be sure both you and your horse have access to plenty of fresh, clean water to drink to stay hydrated. Horses that stop drinking can colic, especially in hot weather.

5. TAKE YOUR VITAMINS!
Most people find they need to supplement with some vitamins and minerals they may not be getting in their diet. Both horses and humans require sodium for maintaining good health. Salt is the main source of sodium that is essential for nerve and muscle function, regulation of fluids in the body, and more.

LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER!

Yeah… your mother was right. Follow these common sense health habits so you and your horse can grow old and gray as you travel the trail together.

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The First Rides of Spring – Keep It Safe!

The rain and snow have slacked off, the weather is warming up, and the trail beckons. You put a date on the calendar to go ride with your favorite horse buddies. You anticipate the day’s ride coming up with visions of a warm spring breeze on your face, green grass and spring flowers abound, and your horse’s mane and tail gently blowing in the wind. You sigh…., “I can’t wait until this weekend.”

Sandy Cheek
Photo: Endurance Action Rider, Sandy Cheek

The first rides of spring can be glorious. But be sure to take some precautionary steps to avoid unwanted surprises. Most importantly, check the frame of mind of your horse! The completely dependable trail horse that you put away in November for his yearly time off, may not prove himself to be all that dependable the first couple of rides out.

Start off with some round pen work, or put him on a lunge line if you don’t have a round pen or arena. Watch how he moves at all three gaits keeping your eye out for soundness issues. How exuberant is he? Perhaps several days of lungeing are in order. Saddle him up and send him around some more. Has he lost or gained weight? Does the saddle still sit level? Girth still fits?

Then, choose an easy trail with good footing. If it’s too muddy, consider going a different way. It’s safer and doesn’t chop up the trails for the rest of the year. Be sure and give your horse some breaks if he gets winded, and gradually increase the length and difficulty of the trails as you both get back in shape. Watch for chicks and cubs who might be hanging around their nests and dens. Protective mothers in the wild are not to be messed with.

Don’t’ forget to stop and smell the roses.  And pack your sheepskin seat saver; you may need it after an hour or so! Happy Trails!