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The basics of horse care... what you need to know!

(December 14, 2007)

Horse Basics


Remember riding and being around horses is a fun and enjoyable experience. There are times that or when horses are dangerous no matter how well trained they are, RESPECT to the animal must be shown at all times. Horses are a fight or flight animal, they have to analyze each and every situation that faces them daily. Over time you may and should become a team with you being the alpha horse in the heard, this is done thru trust, not bullying.

            The bond between horse and rider are amazing. Being a horse owner is constant hard work this means in the winter too! There is so much that horse ownership can teach, respect, responsibility, self-esteem, trust, hard work, and love. 




  1. Hay ~ hay is the forage for the horse, remember these are grazing animals and need to have hay available thru the day, not to mention this will add the pounds if needed, and keeps the warmth in the winter. I figure about 320 bales per horse a year, and pasture on the summer.


  1. Grain ~ this is man made necessity, most horses need only small amounts, otherwise you are looking at colic! Stay away from the compound feeds, stick to natural forms like oats, corn, sunflowerseeds.


  1. Farrier~ every 6-8 weeks the farrier should trim or shoe your horse, after all you wouldn’t go to the dentist for a bunion on your foot!  Farrier’s are trained to be the horse hoof specialist, there are many things that go wrong if you don’t know what you are doing!


  1. Dentist ~ SURPRISE! Yes, horses need the dentist too! This is usually a once a year thing, the teeth are three inches long and continue to erupt out of the horses gum as they age, you see the dentist yearly, believe me they need to too! Without proper care the horses will develop hooks that cut into the opposing gum line, and then can get infected or become painful! Jana Scotia 926-3644 Maine’s dentist



  1. Shelter or Land~ good rule of thumb is two acres per horse! Shelter at least a 12’X 12’ per horse consisting of a three sided structure that is able to offer a dry place in yucky weather, this means that is needs to be clean of urine and feces, preferably bedded with shavings or a rubber matt of some sort! (If you don’t want to spend time in it would your horse?) Horses should be able to lay down.


  1. Boarding~ No Land or ability to have horses at home? Than you can Board your horse, monthly can cost up to $650 per month or more! This all depends on each facility as to what is offered, indoor arena, outdoor, hay, grain, turnout, blanketing, fly spraying, or more.


  1. Vet~ this could range from your yearly shots of West Nile, Rabies, Tetnus, E/W/Influenza, Strangles, Rhino, Coggins and others if you are breeding or showing. OR if you have a major incident from an accident or poor management it could run upwards of $10,000 depending on each situation!


8.Herd~ horses are herd animals, some do well by themselves and others are not able to function alone (could you?). Here there are some options: goats, ponies, chickens, donkeys, and of course another Horse!  The socialization benefits that horses receive from other horses are tremendous! Horses can be in together and get a long wonderfully playing while others may like to just be able to touch over the fence. Each horse herd is different, and as is each horse and owner pair, choose wisely as they will work their way into your heart!


  1. Continuing Education~ after you have the horse now what? Well you never stop learning, so by continuing to take lessons, join clubs, trail ride, and meet people you are working on becoming a better team! Everyone likes to progress at something so try a new type of lesson look up a clinic or go to a fun show!



  1. TOTAL COST:      
  2.   Hay [email protected] 3.00  =$ 960.00                                                       
  3.  Grain 4 bags a [email protected] $8.00 per bag =$    32.00 ($ 384.00/yr easy kpr)                                                                                          
  4. Farrier 8 times a year for trims              $30/  =$240.00                                                                  
  5.  Dentist once a year @ $50 per time     =$50.00                                      
  6.  Vet we’ll say shots @ once a year       =$  150.00                      
  7. Board at $275 @ month 12 months     =$3300.00                       
  8. Weekly Lessons @ $25 figure 40        =$ 1000.00                             GRAND TOTAL                                =$6084.00  (IncludesBoarding)                                       
  9. GRAND TOTAL                                =$2784.00 (Without Boarding)




This figure above includes boarding with the facility supplying hay, some facilities will supply while others can ask a lower board as you supply the hay. If you choose to keep the horse at home there are other aspects to remember water, electricity, pasture management, poop management, trailering; do you have a horse safe rig or will you have a plan to use someone else’s?  What is a horse safe rig? Remember a horse in a trailer is like a human in a coffin space allowance. (Next issue)




Having a horse is an every day activity 365 days a year. This is a tremendous responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly! The best way to see if your son /daughter or you are interested is to first take lessons thru the whole year! Remember the horses don’t just go away when it is below freezing! Next try leasing a horse at the facility, this is much like leasing a car, you pay all the up-keep without sinking in the initial sale price. Finally if the fit is right start looking for a horse, enlist the help of knowledgeable horse people, finding the right horse is not an instant thing. Finding the best match takes time and patience, and planning!

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