We talk a lot about what horses (and riding) can do for a person’s health and mental well-being. For all that they do by being there for you, here are just 8 things you can do to improve the life of your equine companion. Think of it as a way of saying “thanks” for all he does for you every day. How do you improve your horse’s life? Share with us in the comments!
#1 – Turn them out more
Horses are healthier if they can be turned out as much as possible every day. Not only is it good for them mentally, but moving around helps keep their joints moving freely and their muscles toned. Even better if they have grass to graze – this natural way of eating is what the horse’s digestive tract was designed for (small amounts of food over a large period of time) – which will keep them healthier as well.
#2 – Regular Teeth Care
Taking care to have your horse’s teeth checked out routinely is a great way to make sure they are living the best life possible. Horses continually wear down their teeth, creating sharp points and misalignments. A horse with a hurting mouth won’t eat enough, creating a host of other issues including malnutrition, weight loss, and colic.
#3 – Mental Stimulation
Horses need mental stimulation and you can give it to them in the same way you might a dog! Horse toys are excellent way to alleviate stall, paddock or even pasture boredom. The Nose it! is a great one because you can put your horse’s dry feed inside, allowing them to get their food of a longer period of time and stimulating them mentally at the same time.
#4 – Add a Friend
Don’t forget your horse is a herd animal and as much as he loves you, you aren’t there 24/7. If possible, your horse should have at least one other horse friend. Look for boarding facilities that turnout compatible horses together each day. If another horse isn’t possible, try a goat. Many horses love goat companions.
#5 – Add a Mirror to Their Stall
If your horse does spend a majority of the day in his stall, try installing an acrylic (unbreakable) mirror to his stall. Research has found it helps curb “stereotypic behaviors” like head nodding and weaving. (note: this is not a replacement for a real horse friend).
#6 – Regular Vet Visits
Be sure to have your horse checked out by a vet at least once a year, even if they seem perfectly healthy. Finding out about a hidden problem before it becomes visible can save your horse some discomfort (and your wallet too as things are usually easier/cheaper to treat the sooner you catch them).
#7 – Feed High Quality Food
Like many things on this list, feeding high quality hay and feeds, as well as making sure you are providing the right supplements will improve your horse’s life and could save you money in vet bills.
#8 – Give ‘em a Massage
Your horse’s back takes a lot – whether it's an all day pack trip, or putting up with youngsters learning to ride that tend to kick a bit too much – it take a beating and can become stiff, tight and even misaligned, just like your back. Having an equine massage therapist work on your horse will alleviate these aches and pains and help your horse by more comfortable with his work. It’s a great way to thank him for carrying you around every day without complaint.