Congratulations! You’re on your way to buying your very first horse. Maybe you’re just doing some initial research, or you already hopped in the saddle and have your horse looking at you as you try to furiously look for any helpful horse-owning tips. Even if you’re a veteran horse owner, it’s important to brush up on tips and tricks that are helpful for any horse owner to know. From grooming your horse with the right kind of brush to getting riding lessons, here are seven tips for first-time horse owners to keep in mind.
- Build a Routine for Looking After Your Horse — There are so many responsibilities that come with owning a horse. It can be overwhelming to take care of a horse. To make it a bit easier on yourself, it’s important to create a chore routine. Feed and water your horse daily around the same time every day. Horses, like many other animals, thrive on consistency. Your list of horse chores should include grooming your horse with the proper horse grooming tools, mucking out their stall, cleaning their water buckets and cleaning your horse’s tack (their equipment such as their saddle, stirrups, reins and more.) If you haven’t already invested in lessons to learn how to ride a horse, now is the time. Build the horse riding lessons into your schedule for looking after your horse as well.
- Give Enough Food and Water to Your Horse — Make sure you know how often to feed your horse. Your horse should also be getting enough to drink. To give you an idea, according to SPANA — or the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad — an average adult horse should eat about 1.5 to 3 percent of its body weight. It depends on the quality of the food and the horse’s activity, but ask your horse’s veterinarian for guidance if you need a better idea. Your horse needs water at least twice a day, but they should ideally have access to fresh, clean water as much as possible.
- Signs Your Horse Is Too Hot or Too Cold — Animals can’t let us know if they’re hot or cold. That’s why it’s important for you to know the signs to look out for. If your horse is too hot, chances are they’ll be tired, sweaty and in need of more water. Ensure your horse has enough water and isn’t staying outside for too long underneath the sun. Signs your horse is too cold are if you see them shivering or if they are lame, meaning they have a change in their gait. It’s usually a response to any pain they’re experiencing in a limb or limbs. To warm up your horse, put a winter blanket on them.
- Groom Your Horse Routinely — You should groom your horse routinely to ensure their coat stays nice and healthy. Even if your horse is mainly an indoor horse, you should still groom your horse at least once a day by brushing them with a horse shedding brush. Daily brushing will help remove any old horse hair. Brushing them will also help stimulate the natural oils on your horse for consistent and healthy hair growth.
- Get Your Horse a Veterinarian and a Farrier — Just like you’d get a veterinarian for your cat or dog, you need to get a vet for your horse. An additional step you’ll need to take for your horse, compared with the relatively simpler task of getting a cat, dog or goldfish as a pet, is getting a farrier. A farrier is a craftsman who specializes in trimming and placing shoes on your horse’s hooves. When the need comes for the vet to check up on your horse or your farrier to work on your horse’s horseshoes, you’ll know just who to go to.
- Create a Budget for Your Horse — According to the Equine Science Center, the initial price that you pay for your horse can vary greatly depending on a number of factors. These include breed, age, sex and more. While you have a budget for the cost of purchasing your horse, you should also create an ongoing budget for how much it costs to continue taking proper care of your horse. When budgeting for your horse, think about how much it will cost to board your horse in a stall.
- Be Smart About Your Horse — Horses are more than pretty animals you enjoy petting and riding. They’re animals with thoughts, feelings and desires. Don’t just get a horse because you want to feel like a pretty princess. Taking care of a horse is a serious responsibility. Make sure you not only love your horse but also take consistent and proper care of your horse. Don’t treat grooming your horse as just another chore on your list. They’ll love the quality time they get to spend with you, and you’ll love taking care of them, too.