If you’re lucky enough to own a horse, or look after one, it’s your responsibility to make sure he’s healthy and happy, and the easy way to do this is to check on him every single day.
Even if you don’t plan to ride, you need to walk out in his field (don’t be lazy!) and make sure that your precious horse is feeling fine.
Horses can get into lots of trouble out in a field. They can cut themselves or get kicked. They can colic. They can get caught in a fence. That’s why you have to get close to give your horse a quick check up.
If you have enough time, bring your horse back to the barn and groom him. Not only does grooming feel good to your horse, but it’s a great way to make sure everything’s all right with him.
Here are some other ways to tell that your horse is in good health:
Your horse’s coat should look healthy and be in good condition. If he’s a dark color, his coat should be shiny. He shouldn’t have scabs or bare patches. If he does, he might need veterinary care or a change in his diet.
Look under his coat near his skin. If you see creepy crawlies like lice, you’d better get a medicated shampoo from the vet, and use it as soon as you can. Your horse should get fuzzy in the fall, and start shedding out his winter hair in the spring. If he doesn’t lose his coat in the spring, he might have Cushing’s Disease, a condition that affects old horses.
Feed Me, Please
Most horses are thrilled to get fed, and gobble their food down immediately. If your horse suddenly loses his appetite, or begins leaving food behind in his bucket, he’s probably not feeling well. He might need a visit from the vet or the equine dentist. Remember to check your horse’s bucket after he has eaten.
Some horses lie down for a snooze several times a day. Others take catnaps standing up. Observe your horse’s sleeping patterns. If he has trouble getting up, or never lies down, he might have hoof pain or be suffering from some other disorder.
Thanks to Carl David Otten and Jock Gurnee of Mt. Sterling, KY, for their help!