The Essential Requirements for Your Horses Health
Horse health – If we know the basic requirements which are necessary for the optimum health of our horses we are then in a position to try and incorporate these requirements as much as is possible into their domestic lifestyles and our situations.
What has happened in so many cases is that general horse-keeping is so far removed from what they actually need that we as owners almost can’t see through the haze of the expected domestic horse-care (which has now become the “norm”), rather than what our horses actually need.
As much ‘constant freedom of movement’ is essential for optimum horse health. A horses entire physiological body is made for continuous movement. Its circulatory system depends on the blood-pumping action of the hooves as they move, so pumping the blood back up the horses legs to the body. So turning out horses as much as possible is essential.
It is worth remembering the figures quoted for wild horse movement which is, “Wild horses move on average 10-15 miles per day.”
(So keeping a horse stabled bound for 24 hours a day with one hours exercise is just not enough turnout for their optimum health.) See Barefoot Grazing for more detail
Companionship and turnout with others is a second point that needs to be considered for optimum horse health. Horses as we all know are herd animals and in order for them to remain psychologically sound and well balanced they need to live as a herd.
Only when the horse is psychologically balanced can their health be optimal. We know with humans the importance of our mental health in relation to our physical health and if it is impaired how this can affect us long term. (See You Can Heal Your Life
for more information on this fascinating subject).
When horses have been denied this companionship and they are then turned out with other horses it can take quite some time for them to become settled and for their herd companionship needs to become fulfilled.
One of Our Experiences
We bought a 7 year old gelding, that had hunted several seasons done a bit of show-jumping and was known to be easy to handle, well mannered etc. When he came here I took his shoes off and turned him out with the other mares and geldings. To cut a long story short he became extremely dangerous to handle, to the extent that you could hardly lead him from the field to the yard.
We do a great deal of groundwork training and even this was challenging to say the least.
PerplexED at his extreme behaviour I spoke to the previous owner (who show jumps and has evented at high levels) who was extremely surprised. I delved deeper and realized that the problem was occuring due to him being turned out with mares whom he had not previously been with since being a foal. It took several months before he became secure in himself and so safe to handle and ride.
To achieve optimum horse health if we nail pieces of metal to our horses feet we will always be at a huge disadvantage. Metal horse shoes inhibit the movement within the hoof structure by the very nature of the properties of metal.
There is no living tissue which does not move and horses hooves expand and contract with every step – shoes must be the most injurious part of all our domestic horse practices. why? because we are nailing metal on to living tissue every month and for many horses all their life.
Barefoot may seem challenging but once mastered it is one of the easiest parts of keeping horses naturally and with barefoot horses, herd life, then becomes a possibility. Keeping horses living together when they have shoes on is a real risk factor as injuries will occur which can be fatal due to the metal shoes. See Barefoot Horse for more detail.
Eliminate the fast packaged commercial foods. Keep their feed simply and unrefined – see
Horse Nutrition to understand the basics of simple nutrition and horse health.
Eliminate the constant overload of chemical wormers and drugs.
Yes there may well be a place for chemical wormers but not every month, i.e. not 12 times a year with additional boosters for the whole of a horses life.
Do not forget that chemical horse wormers are an industry and like any industry, will only survive with sales. Therefore, it is there job to sell their wormers to us and the easiest way to sell them is through the use of fear. i.e to frighten us by saying if we don’t use their wormers our horses will become invested with worms etc.
So What are You To Do?
There are worm counts which can easily be done to support you, this along with the use of natural wormers and keeping a close eye on your horse can reduce your chemical bill and increase your horses health dramatically.
Frightened – don’t know how to do this? Just take a month at a time, aim to reduce their chemical wormers gradually and test alongside for added support. See Natural Horse Wormers for more detail.