RBEI MASTER COURSES: EQUINE MANAGEMENT: MAINTENANCE 3
AREAS OF EQUINE MAINTENANCE THAT ARE COMMONLY NEGLECTED:
ADEQUATE / SHELTER
WATER THAT IS CLEAN & FRESH
AN ENVIRONMENT THAT ENABLES RELAXATION.
But there is a major horse maintenance aspect additional to those we've mentioned which will affect your horse more than anything and that is their PEACE OF MIND regarding their purpose and their ability to function with people as asked without confusion or fear.
Confusion and frustration while being handled and / or ridden affects horses more than any of the above and prior maintenance aspects.
Therefore a horse's peace of mind must be 'maintained' and included as a priority when addressing maintenance of any horse.
Frustration and confusion are generally from the handler not asking gently first and providing time to respond, I see it all the time. Grab a horse out of the paddock and turn around to shut the gate you just passed through and you turn but forget the horse has 4 legs and is bigger and takes longer.
With horses you should NEVER present the horse with a situation they don't have time to complete in a relaxed and calm fashion. This means gently asking and gently giving space and time to do. In ALL you do with horses.
Whether your horse is just a paddock ornament, a pleasure riding horse or a competitive horse, these things are essential maintenance for all.
As a horse owner you should be aware of seasonal changes which will affect your horses maintenance requirements.
Autumn can be tricky when it comes to rugging, it can get chilly overnight and in the early mornings so night rugging to keep horses warm enough is important and then taking the rugs off as it warms up in the mornings is normally required. You will feel the nights get colder yourself. When it's not too cold you may get away with a cotton combo day and night. When nights get colder they will need a 4 seasons combo, these look like winter rugs but are very thin with no filling. Just enough to keep them warm over night without over heating.
Another thing to be aware of is, as the trees shed their leaves they can sit in, and infect water, drains and feedbins so always remove these as you see them daily.
Trees that normally provide shelter during other seasons may not provide shelter without their leaves in Autumn also so be aware of your horses shelter needs.
Grass growth slows as the cooler weather sets in and so be careful not to slash all the paddocks thinking they'll grow back during this season, because it's likely this will very much set you up for barren paddocks fast for a long time.
In winter grass growth can be non-existent so horses must be provided adequate supplementary hay / forage. Horses when cold will need a thick winter combo rug over night and at least a 4 season combo during the day unless it is very cold during the day also in which case winter rugs all round. Horses need to nap more during the day in Winter due to the chill in the air overnight.
Spring is a season you must be aware can be a little dangerous for horses. Plants that are fine in their paddocks and trees can flower and become quite potent to horses in spring. The sugar content in grass rises also. There are more instances of Colic and plant poisonings in spring with horses than any other season so it's a good idea to keep on top of the weeds in your paddock around this time and be aware. Never put your horse in a lush grassy new paddock in spring, coming from a less lush pasture. It can cause serious colic and death. Be careful and don't provide too much grass in spring. Horses are also renowned to suddenly start playfully bucking in spring also and getting over excited, their hormones are on the go and they are a lot more wound up than normal. So just be aware of this. Social relationships and fights amp up and mares can be in season and crampy for weeks on end. Many mares get spring heat, ie, in season for about a month. Like humans mares can get very crampy and sore during this time...and cranky ;) When it comes to horses, spring is a volatile season!
In summer flies show up more than in any other season and bug the heck out of horses, horses LOOOOOVE fly masks and fly combos, even when it's sticky hot horses prefer to have fly sheets and fly masks on all the time. You can also get fly boots :)
The flies will go for different horses more like with humans, depending on the blood. Some horses get absolutely harassed.
When it gets really hot you can hose the horse thoroughly in their rugs and they stay wet and cool the horse right down, heat generally peaks at 2pm so a hose at noon and a hose again at 2 can really ease in heatwave climates. Fly combo's are fine day and night in hot summers.
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