Taking Care of Horses
Horses kept in a stabled environment will need attending to at least twice a day. This is because they are confined to a small area, with no access to grazing and no opportunities to self exercise.
The horse’s digestive
system is designed to take in small quantities of food at regular intervals
therefore a stabled horse will need more feed, in particular roughage, to
maintain weight because it will have no access to pasture. Another essential
part of equine care is providing hay in morning and afternoon (and if possible
some horses may require extra at lunch) helps to maintain a healthier digestive
pattern and reduce boredom.
How To Care for a Horses
Some horses will be
messier than others when kept in a stable. Some are easy to clean up after and
will leave droppings all in one spot in the stable while others will walk it
through the bedding, requiring manure to be sifted out. A dirty stable can lead
to health problems, especially in the hooves.
A stabled horse should
still have its hooves cleaned out daily to remove manure and bedding from
building up and trapping moisture and bacteria from building up in the hoof
which can lead to thrush. Thrush infections result in a black substance on the
sole and frog of the hoof, strong odour and crumbly hoof horn. Some horses may
become lame when thrush is present.
Regardless of what type
of bedding is used, the process will be very similar. Stalls/stables should be
cleaned out at least twice a day for a horse which is not turned out.
It is safer for both you
and the horse, to clean the stable whilst the horse is out of the stall but if
doing so isn’t practical then tie the horse up to one side of the stall.
Method of Mucking out
Your Horse’s Stable:-
1. Using your fork,
remove manure and wet or soiled bedding. You may find it easier when working
with straw, to pile up clean bedding on one side of the stall. If you are going
to do so, pile it away from the horse
2. If your cleaning out
sawdust or shavings, scoop the manure up with the fork and shake to release
excess sawdust so that all that will be left on the fork is the waste
3. You will also need to
remove any stray bits of hay
4. With sawdust/shavings,
use the shovel to remove wet patches
5. Once the stall is
clean you need to replace the bedding which has been removed with fresh material
6. Rake the bedding so
that it slopes up the walls. This will help to prevent the horse getting cast
(rolling and getting stuck against the wall)
7. Take the dirty bedding
and manure to the manure pile/muck heap
8. Sweep up outside the
9. Sprinkling lime or
detergent onto the floor will assist in keeping odours and bacteria to a
Recommended Stable Size
The size of a stable
should be big enough for a horse to be able to move around and lie down
comfortably. Stables which are too small can lead to injuries and stables which
are too big become difficult to clean and maintain.
Below are some
approximate sizes for different heights of horses.
Ponies up to 14.2hh = 3m
Horses 14.2hh to 16.0hh =
3.6m X 3.6m
Horses over 16.2hh = 4.2m
Foaling stalls/stables =
4.8m X 4.8m
Daily Exercise &
Boredom Prevention for Stabled Horses
Horses which are stabled
all the time need exercise. Whether this be turning the horse out into a
paddock or yard for a few hours daily or regular exercise or training will
depend upon your situation. Horses that are not provided with opportunities to
exert energy become difficult to handle, can develop boredom habits such us
weaving (swaying from side to side) and crib-biting (sucking in air) and sour
in mood, in some cases horses can become dangerous. Boredom habits not only
reflect a horses poor mental health but can cause a horse to lose body
condition because they spend so much time performing the behaviours.
Providing Water to Care
For the Stabled Horse
Though horses need a
great deal of water, they spend very little time drinking, they will usually consume
water 2-8 times a day with each time lasting 1-8 minutes. How you provide and
supply water to your horse will depend upon your situation.
Automatic waterers save
time in that they automatically refill when the water reaches a certain
low-level. They are simple to clean as most have an outlet to release stored
water. However if the waterer breaks of doesn’t function properly the horse
could be without water and it will cost time and sometimes money to repair.
Here we have the advantages
and disadvantages of some common watering systems.
Bath tubs &
Bath tubs hold large
quantities of water and are good if numerous horses will be accessing the one
water source. they are also easy to empty to clean. However unless the stable
is quite large they will probably consume too much of the available space.
If using a tub they
should be rust free. The disadvantage of bathtubs is that they may be heavy to
move and some have sharp edges and corners which have the potential to cause injury.
Containers can come in
all shapes and sizes and are generally easy to relocate. Rubber ones are softer
and may last longer than plastic however they may be easier to knock over.
Plastic are also easy to relocate but tend to deteriorate in the sun.
If you are taking care of
horses who live in a stable you will need to attend to them at least twice
daily to meet their horse care needs. Remember that this article does not teach
you how to care for a horse completely; it only gives you a few tips before you
start your equine care journey. If you would like to know more about horse care
then please contact us to ask about a horse care course.