Over the stable door
Greetings Fellow Equines and Horse Owners!
When the weather is not friendly and owners are tempted to take part in other activities, the horses are still out there in their paddocks, eating and moving around. Out of sight but should definitely not be out of mind.
There is always manure to pick up, check for dung beetles, check fencing and gates, check for areas that appear to be overused (for example where they like to stand or loaf around) and of course most importantly, check for the horse himself and his rugs.
Horses do not like to eat where they have dropped their manure, so if it is left there, eventually the paddock will start to look ‘sour’, with tufts of green surrounded by barer patches. If possible, before it gets to that stage, move the horses to another area, or use electrical tape to divide the grazing area. Each situation comes with its own unique problems and certain methods don’t always work – it just depends on your horse. Ideally it is preferable to paddock horses together to fulfil their social needs. This can also help to avoid problems such as fence walking, standing at gate areas or at a spot nearest to any other horses. Introducing a newcomer should be done with caution over a period of some days to a week or more. Again, it depends on the individual horses.
If you are lucky enough to have an auntie or uncle horse, that is a good way to start. Then each other horse can be introduced one by one. Ideally then put the new horse in the regular grazing area without the others to give him a chance to get to know his surroundings without being hassled by anyone else. Most of the time this system works well, but there is always the exception. The owner just has to read the situation and manage it accordingly, with safety being the bottom line.
Getting back to checking, even when not riding, it is a good practice to bring the horse in and unrug just to make sure that all is ok underneath. Once that warmer weather kicks in, there will be oodles of fur coming out and that means getting it off the inside of the rug. If left there, it can be incredibly itchy and annoying for your horse, not to mention a haven for lice etc. When possible, leave the rugs off and give your horse an opportunity to roll and have a good scratch. If more than one horse, they also have that opportunity for a bit of grooming and socialising. The more your horse can indulge in these basic needs, the happier and more relaxed he will be. Also make sure that when he is brought in from his paddock, that it is not just a time for a quick groom and off for a ride. Make sure that this is a friendly and relaxing time for him, so that he learns to enjoy your company. Allow plenty of time for that hoof clean, body hair and manes and tails. This time can also be utilised to do a body check for any small (hopefully) injuries, sores, cuts or anything else which may have changed.
I am being a good boy and keeping my weight down, so my owners are well pleased with me. As we move into spring, that will be my danger time, so my owners will have to be very vigilant!
Safe riding everyone and look after your Neddy’s!