Easy Horse & Pony Hoof Care and Manes and Tail Guide:
Horses and Ponies Hoof Care:
Your horse or pony’s feed needs a lot of special care as they rely on their feet to do all the work.
My Shoes are the Best!
Horses and ponies began wearing shoes hundreds of years back when men domesticated them. Shoes protect their hooves when they travel long distances at great speed and carry loads. Nowadays, several types of shoes are available for your horse or pony.
Shoes are available for your horse or pony. Shoes, such as egg-bar or straight-bar, are specially designed to correct any particular foot problem that your horse or pony may have.
Fuller shoes are most commonly used for horses and ponies. Extra-grip shoes can be used on horses and ponies that work hard, especially on hilly roads or compared on slippery grass.
Your horse and pony must wear properly fitted shoes. For this, they need to be shod every six to eight weeks. Regular shoeing prevents disease and lameness among horses and ponies. You must contact a farrier to shoe your horse and pony.
He will trim the hooves and shape the shoe to ensure that the shoes are comfortable for them. He will also be able to offer corrective shoeing if that is necessary so that over time your horse and pony’s feet become healthier. If a shoe comes off for some reason, you must get it replaced immediately.
Cleaning your horse or pony’s hooves daily is very important. Hold your horse or pony’s feet up gently, check the hoof and use the hoof pick to pick out dirt, pebbles or anything else stuck in the sole. Remember to check for any injury, infection, or cracks and consult your farrier in case of any problem. Repeat the process for all four feet.
Apart from injuries and cracks, check your horse or pony’s hooves for canker and thrush (rotting of the hooves), abscesses, and inflammations. You must never ride a horse or ponies whose shoe may have come off by accident.
Of Manes and Tails:
A thick and shiny mane and tail add to your horse or pony’s beauty. However, if they are unkempt, they can make your horse or ponies look very untidy.
Horse and Pony’s Combing:
Always use plastic and not metal combs for your horse or pony. Brush down in sections to remove the tangles. Do not pull too hard. While combing the tail, stand to one side and pull the tail gently towards you to avoid an accidental kick from your horse or ponies. You can use a grooming spray that helps to detangle the hair easily.
Horse or Pony Washing:
Manes and tail tend to get dirty and greasy. It becomes essential to wash them at such times. Remember to wash them only when the weather is warm. Dampen the mane and tail in lukewarm water and then wash with a good quality shampoo.
Make sure that the shampoo does not get into your horse or pony’s eyes, ears, or nose. Rinse off the shampoo and dry with a towel. You can swing the tail to remove excess water. Do it gently. Do not forget to brush the mane and the tail after a wash.
*Many horse and ponies owners spend a lot of time beautifying their horse or pony’s mane and tail.
‘Pulling’ Manes and Tails of Horse or Pony:
Most horses and ponies have thick manes and tails that can get unmanageable. It is for this reason that manes and tails need to be ‘pulled’ or thinned. It is best to pull the mane and tail after exercise as the pores are open at this time and excess hair comes out easily.
Remove tangles from the hair then wind a few hairs at a time around the comb and pull sharply downwards. Work on it until it looks neat. Remember to pull only a small area every day and work over a week or two for a tidy look.
*The illustration shows how manes and tails are to be pulled. Horse and ponies manes can be thinned for their comfort, especially during summers.
Question: Can’t I just cut my pony’s mane and tail?
Answer: Never use scissors or clippers to cut your horse or pony’s mane and tail. Cutting or trimming can ruin their appearance and make them appear even thicker.
Keeping Horse and Pony Fit:
Exercise keeps your horse or ponies healthy and fit. Horses and ponies are built for life on the move so you must exercise them every day, except when they are ill.
Beginning with the Basics:
Tacks up your horse or ponies before exercise. Do not forget to wear proper gear yourself. Now sit up straight on the saddle, keeping your knees bent and heels down. Relax your arms when you hold the reins. It is a good idea to stretch yourself a bit before you mount your horse or pony. Now begin the exercise of riding by walking them.
Instead of a full riding by walking them. Instead of a full riding exercise every day, you can occasionally lunge them in a circle around you, remembering to change the direction regularly. This allows the horse or pony to exercise without having to carry extra weight.
On the move:
Always begin your horse or pony’s exercises with warm-up walks and increase the workload gradually. Encourage them to keep steady as they walk by giving them proper riding aids or signals. A walk should ideally last about 20 minutes after which you can trot them.
Build up the pace gradually. Short periods of galloping help to build stamina. But do not overburden them. Allow them to cool off after fast exercise by walking them slowly. A combination of walk, trot and gallop is the best exercise for your horse or ponies, but keep the gallop to a minimum.
*Since you stand in the middle and instruct your horse or pony, lunging teaches it to pay attention to you.
Good Horse Riding:
Try to supply as many movements to your horse or pony as possible. Make it move in circles and serpentine ways. Walking on roads makes their tendons and muscles stronger, but you must ensure that your horse or ponies are comfortable moving on roads and you are well versed in road safety procedures.
Do not exercise your horse or ponies immediately after a feed or shot. Their hooves must be picked before and after every ride. Just as you enjoy Sundays, give your horse and ponies a rest day too.
*Take all road safety precautions when you ride on the road. Good riding is that which is comfortable for both you and your horse or pony.
Question: What is the Pony Express?
Answer: The Pony Express was a mail system that began in April 1960 in old western America where the riders rode without rest to deliver mail. It was the fastest mail system of that time till the telegraph was introduced a year later in November.
Predictably, the horses that were made to work so hard fell ill and lived only a quarter as long as normal horses.