Horses Are Special Too!

Horse Care


IconThe Stall

A horse should live in a clean, comfortable stall that measures at least 10 feet by 10 feet. The stable should be light, dry, and well ventilated. Clay or finely ground cinders make the best floor, but cement or wooden floors can be sued. Bedding spread at least 1 foot thick over the shavings, sawdust, straw, or peat moss make good bedding materials. Horses can sleep standing up and often doze while standing with their eyes wide open.



A horse needs food at least three times a day. The horse's stomach is small for the size of its body and holds about 18 quarts of food. In comparison, a man's stomach holds little more than 1 quart of food.

Horses eat grass, grain, and hay. When a horse eats grain or hay, it gathers the food with its lips. When a horse eats grass, it bites off the blades close to the ground.  Horses chew their food slowly and thoroughly. They do not chew a cud as do cows and deer.

Hay for horses should be placed in a net or on a rack (wooden frame). A manger (open box) holds the grain. A 1,000 pound horse that works three or four hours a day needs about 14 pounds of hay (5 pounds in the morning and the rest at night). A horse should never eat moldy or dusty hay or hay that contains coarse sticks, thorns, or rubbish. Timothy, or timothy mixed with clover of alfalfa, makes the best hay.

Horses like oats more than any other grain or hay. But they will eat oats too quickly unless they have some hay first. Working horses eat from 4 to 12 quarts of oats, or a mixture of oats and bran, every day. The exact amount depends on the animal's size, condition, and the amount of exercise it gets. A third of the feed should be given in the morning, a third at noon, and the rest at night.

Most horses require from 10 to 12 gallons of fresh, clean water daily. A horse should not be permitted to drink large amounts of water when the animal is hot or before it begins his/her exercise.

Horses need salt for good health because their bodies lose salt when they sweat. A horse eats about 2 ounces of salt daily. A box of salt or a solid salt block in the stable and in the pasture provides this important part of the diet.

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Grooming is important because it helps keep a horse healthy and improves its appearance. Horses kept in a stable should be groomed daily with a rubber currycomb, body brush, hoof pick, and mane and tail comb. Long, sweeping brush strokes in the direction of the growth of the hair help give the coat a healthy glow. Brushing removes dirt and dandruff. Areas touched by the saddle and girth, and the regions behind the heels and in the hock depressions, need special brushing. A thorough wiping with a soft cloth should follow the brushing. The hoof pick removes dirt and stones and other objects from the hooves.



Shoes protect the bottom of the hooves that run or work on roads and other hard surfaces such as race tracks. Light shoes, weighing about 8 ounces and having only a few nails, make the best shoes for most horses. Some riding horses wear shoes weighted in the toes to help them raise their hooves high. Race horses wear light shoes that may wear out after a few races. Shoes for wear in winter or for high mountain trails have cleats that help keep the horse from slipping on ice or snow.


IconWhy Your Horse Does NOT Need A Rug--Ever!!

A horse is a creature used to gradual climate changes and so prepares its body accordingly. It does not ordinarily don a wholly jumper when cold or shed a jacket when too hot.

The internal core temperature of a horse must be kept within a very narrow range (38 degrees C). Chemical biological reactions can occur at cellular level when the body temperature exceeds or falls below this limit causing health problems and even death.

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(Image below is linked to open in a popup window.)

Horse Hair Diagram


When cold, a horse can through muscular action, raise the hairs on the skin creating a thermal blanket to protect itself.


When hot, the horse can through muscular action, dilate blood vessels near the surface of the skin to cool off. Additionally, it can raise the hairs and even point them in the direction of a breeze to cool down.


If you put a blanket or rug over a horse for any length of time...then like all muscles--after a while they will atrophy, making it impossible for the horse to raise or lower the hair on its skin.


In such circumstances, a rugged horse is then "stripped" of its only protection and urged to go out on a crisp cold day and work. It no longer has the capacity to warm itself and the core body temperature is lowered.


Or a horse is rugged in warm weather and left to sweat and be unable to cool off normally.


Rugs are inefficient in terms of heating a horse...since it leaves the belly and upper legs still exposed to the cold.


Rugs that are ill fitting chaff a horse creating bruises, wear abrasions and buckle cuts.


Rugs prevent the natural cleaning of the horse when it rains.


Rugs prevent a horse receiving the benefits of a good roll on the ground, getting dirt on the skin and hair which are methods of cleaning from sweat and grime as well as protection from flies and other insects.


A blanket or rug, however used, effectively robs a horse of its natural, vital, efficient thermoregulatory system.

**The information on blankets and rugs came from the veterinarian that took excellent care of Dinkey's health when called upon to do so. Dinkey had become very sick after blanketing her after my own fears of her getting sicker due to the health issues she already faced when I first got her. In the process, I had caused her to get sicker. Through all the teachings as a child, they had taught me to always blanket my horse after exercise and the like; or, during a period of sickness. And the reality of the matter, it is the worse thing to do to any horse.

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