Horses make beautiful companions and many people who own horses develop a strong affection towards their animals.
It is this beautiful nature and athletic ability that make them so attractive to people, especially young people who wish to own and ride a horse. However, it is really important when deciding on horse ownership to consider the numerous responsibilities involved.
What to consider before owning a horse
Horse ownership is hard work and involves on going daily chores for the life of the horse.
There are also considerable ongoing expenses involved in horse ownership. It is wise to enquire about these costs first as they can be very expensive items, and time and care is needed in their selection.
You will have to consider whether the horse will be kept in a paddock, or whether it must be stabled.
Paddock horses may need some supplementary feed when grass becomes eaten down, and stable horses will be fed continuously on procured feed.
All horses have certain basic needs irrespective of the husbandry system under which they are kept:
- Ready access to food and fresh water to maintain health and vigour
- Freedom of movement to stand, stretch and lie down
- Regular exercise
- Social contact with other horses and people
- Accommodation that neither harms nor causes undue strain, and provides adequate protection
- Protection from disease and regular inspection to assess the need for attention to feet, teeth and worm control
- Rapid identification and treatment of lice, injury and disease
What you will need
Basic necessities for your horse include:
- A bridle
- Saddle and saddle blanket
- Grooming brush
- Feed tin and water container
The paddock should be a minimum of 1 acre, have some natural shelter, good grass cover and adequate drainage. It should also be:
- Properly fenced (not barbed wire) and free from all rubbish and debris, especially old wire and iron
- Close enough to home to permit daily visits
- Kept free of droppings to discourage flies and aid worm control
- Suitable for catching and working the horse
Horses need shelter from heat, wind and rain. Natural shelter such as a row of trees or a high hedge is good. A shed or stable may either supplement or substitute natural shelter. Old horses in particular need special care and in winter should have a warm waterproof rug in addition to other protection from the elements.
All horses require regular exercise and freedom to move. They should never be tethered. If, for emergency or health reasons, horses have to be tethered, it should be done in accordance with the Code of Practice for the Tethering of Animals.
Good quality grass is the best and most natural feed for your horse. However, when it dries up, hay and hard feed must be provided.
Horses drink a lot of water so they must have access to a constant supply of fresh, clean water available from a ground-level container. Horses may drink 25-45 litres of water per day in hot weather.