Caring for Horses
Horses are as much a part of American history as hot dogs and apple pie. Far from being forgotten, these majestic animals continue serving farmers and ranchers every day. For all the important work that they perform, horses have nutritional demands that producers must meet each day. Many producers utilize nutritionists or university animal scientists to develop the best food mix.
Grooming and exercise
Equine health begins with grooming. Ranchers provide regular grooming to ensure the comfort of their horses, including regular brushing, hoof trimming and dental examinations. Tooth decay and gum disease is as uncomfortable and dangerous to horses as to humans! Horses are spirited animals, and also need ample time for exercise. Ranchers give their horses daily rides and access to outside areas to ensure they are healthy and content.
Veterinary care is frequently used for horses, in addition to the care of the rancher or owner. As with other animals, if a horse becomes injured or sick, it will be isolated to prevent other horses from contracting an illness and to make the “patient” more comfortable. Most owners and ranchers will also stay with their mares throughout a foaling (birthing or delivery) to ensure the safety of both mare and foal, and to provide any assistance.
Horse barns require regular cleaning to provide a comfortable environment, and tack (riding equipment) must be cleaned after each exercise.
In addition, careful recordkeeping is essential to ensure the quality care of every horse.
Horses on the farm
Horses have many roles including transportation, helping with farming and ranching, sport, therapeutic training, mounted police, search and rescue, and recreational riding. Horses in an agriculture or rural setting are mainly used for:
- Equestrian events
- Help with cattle production
- Checking pastures and fences
- Stress-free herding of cattle
- Recreational riding