Whether you care for your own horse in a stable or board him in a facility that provides care, you should know how to care for your horse. Basic care includes regular feeding, cleaning stalls, hoof care, grooming, vaccinations and exercise.
Feed and Water
Your horse must always have access to clean water in the stable. Most horses will drink at least 8 gallons of water each day, although some horses will drink more, especially during warm summer months. During the winter, make sure the water does not freeze by using a heater or regularly checking buckets and breaking up the ice.
Horses are designed to eat grass throughout the day. An average horse eats about 20 pounds of food each day. Feed your horse hay at least twice per day. If you turn out your horse in a pasture with grass, you may be able to feed less hay. Some horses may need grain for additional nutrients and calories. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your horse.
Stall and Bedding
Your horses stall must be mucked each day to remove manure. Maintaining a clean stall helps keep your horse and his hoofs healthy and minimize pests such as flies and mosquitoes that are attracted to manure. If you use shavings to bed your stall, make sure they do not contain black walnut as this is toxic to horses.
Stalls should be a minimum of 5-by-10 for your horse to move around. Larger stalls are better for your horse. Check the stall daily to ensure the fencing and walls are in good condition. Broken boards can cut your horse and poor fencing increases the chances your horse will get caught in the fence and injure himself.
Groom your horse regularly to keep his coat clean and healthy. As you groom, check for any injuries or skin conditions that may need treatment or a veterinary consultation.
Your horse needs vaccinations at least once per year to protect against diseases such as tetanus, influenza and herpes virus. It is important that all horses in the stable are vaccinated and that horses moving in have proof of vaccinations and are in good health. In addition, your horse needs to be dewormed regularly to prevent worms in the digestive tract. Your veterinarian will help you establish a worming and vaccination schedule based on your horse's health and the disease risks in your geographic area.
A horse's teeth continue to grow throughout his life and need to be checked by your vet regularly. Your vet may need to float his teeth, a procedure where the vet files down sharp edges and uneven surfaces so that your horse can chew properly.
Horses hooves also continue to grow and need to be trimmed by a farrier every six to eight weeks. Depending on the work you do with your horse and the footing, your farrier may recommend putting shoes on your horse that will need to be changed when he is trimmed.
Regular movement is important to maintaining a horse's health. If possible, your horse should be turned out each day to move around and stretch his legs. In addition, riding your horse or training gives him more exercise and helps to engage his mind and prevent him from becoming bored in his stall.
Horse's who are bored in their stall may develop bad habits such as kicking or cribbing that damage the stable and may injure your horse. In addition to regular turnout and exercise, you can help prevent boredom by providing toys in his stall. Consider using hanging treats that your horse can lick and play with. Some horses enjoy playing with large rubber balls designed for horses. Feeding your horse in a mesh hay net makes him eat slower so that he has hay throughout the day.