eTech Horses and Ponies Pasture Management Guide:
Horses and ponies are happiest when they are grazing out on fields. Pastures not only provide the necessary forage they need but also provide a good exercise area.
Taking Care of Grazing Land:
Managing the pasture well is of utmost importance. It requires a lot of time and effort but yields rewards for your horse or pony, as well as you.
You need to choose the grass that suits the soil type as well as your horse or pony. They are fond of legumes, so plant some. Use good fertilizers and make sure that you weed the field regularly. Remove droppings to prevent the grass from becoming sour.
This also checks the breeding of diseases. Roasting the grazing land replenishes the soil, interrupts the worms’ life cycle, and reduces infestation. Fresh green, juicy grass is every horse and pony’s favorite meal!
Boundaries and Fences:
The boundaries of a pasture help to control how much of the paddock your horse and pony have access to. It is best to divide the grazing into at least two sections. Your horse or pony can have access to one paddock while the other can be rested. The fence enclosing your land stops any stray animal from entering or grazing in your field.
You must choose the fencing that is safest for your horse or pony. The best option is fence posts and rail fencing, which is usually made of wood.
Electric fencing and hedges are the other options. Barbed wire is very dangerous and should never be used. Fences should be at a height that horses and ponies cannot jump over.
Horses and Ponies Shelter and Water:
When your horse or pony is turned out to graze, it will need shelter to protect itself from the scorching sun and rain. You can either have a building with a roof in the field or plant lots of trees in the center of the field to provide natural shelter.
Ensuring a sufficient water supply is extremely important. Keep a large trough and remember to change the water every day. This is in addition to the water you keep in the stable. A shelter in the pasture is a must for horses and ponies.
When grass is in abundance, horses and ponies tend to put on weight and run the risk of foundering. Therefore, it is essential to restrict their grazing. It will help if they exercise but do not make them exercise hard soon after a meal.
Turning Out Horses and Ponies:
After you have a good pasture for your horse or pony you need to learn the art of turning them out in the field to graze.
Controlling the Excitement:
Most horses and ponies love the prospect of grazing. They get so excited that they tend to run off, dragging you along too!
You need to learn to control them to avoid any accident. Use a long lead rope to lead out, as it is easier to control them with that. Avoid turning out over-enthusiastic horses and ponies at the same time every day so that they do not wait in anticipation.
You could try giving them a tit-bit so that they wait for it before they runoff. If nothing works they simply ride to the paddock, dismount, and remove the tack.
Shy Horses and Ponies:
Some horses and ponies on the other hand are shy and you may face difficulty in turning them out. They avoid going out because they are scared. You should try to dispel their fears. Introduce them to the pasture slowly.
Keep them where they can see the open field so that they get familiar with it. Put some hay and water in the paddock, take them there, and talk to them back. They will begin to associate the paddock with food. Then increase the time gradually.
Things to Remember:
- Use enough fly spray on your horse or pony, especially during summer, to save them from the nuisance of pests.
- Cover your horse or pony with a warm blanket when you turn them out in winter.
- Limit their grazing time to prevent overfeeding.
- Make the pasture a safe place for them with fresh grass free from poisonous weeds, and a safety fence and boundary.
- When you offer a tit-bit be careful how you hold it, as there might be a chance of an enthusiastic horse or pony struggling to get it and hurting you accidentally.
- Stand beside them when you lead them out and neither pull the rope too hard nor let it slack be firm.
The Grooming Kit:
Did you know that special brushes are available for grooming or cleaning your horse or pony? These brushes are kept together in a plastic box or canvas bag. This is known as the grooming kit.
Horses and Ponies Grooming Kit List:
- Rubber curry comb: It is used to remove dried mud and loose hair from the pony.
- Dandy brush: A brush with stiff mud and dirt from the legs.
- Body Brush: It has soft bristles and can be used on the entire body to remove dirt.
- Metal Curry Comb: It is used to remove dirt off the body brush during grooming.
- Mane Comb: Plastic or metal combs are used to brush the mane and tail.
- Hoof Pick: Usually metal, used for removing dirt and stones from the hooves.
- Sponges: One for cleaning eyes and nose and the other for the dock area.
- Sweat Scraper: It is used to wipe excess sweat or water off.
- Linen: A good linen drying-up cloth can be dampened and gently wiped over the body to give it a final polish.
*A body brush, gently rubbed, leaves your horse or pony’s body shining. A nicely groomed horse looks smart and healthy.
Always ensure that you keep the grooming equipment clean. Remove hair from brushes and combs and always clean the sponge after every use. Anything dirty in your grooming kit could lead to a skin disease for your horse or pony.
Keeping Clean Your Horse or Pony:
Just as you wash to keep yourself clean, your horse or pony must be kept clean too. Grooming is a very important part of horse and pony care and must be done very regularly.
Importance of Grooming:
Grooming helps to keep your horse or pony neat. It keeps their coat shiny and makes them look smart. It also helps to keep your horse or pony free from lice. Grooming gently massages your horse or pony helps to increase blood circulation and builds their muscles.
When you groom your horse or pony you can always check carefully for any wounds or sores that it may have and treat them immediately. Grooming also helps to build a good relationship with your horse or pony and shows that you care.
How Often Should I Groom?
You should groom your horse or pony every day, as it gets dirty after exercise. Even if you do not take the horse or pony put for exercise one day, you should not skip grooming. Bathe your horse or pony using good shampoos meant for them.
But do that only when it is essential. Remember to wash them only when the weather is warm. While bathing them, do not splash the water all in one go – sprinkle a little water at a time.
Use the sweat scraper to wipe off the water, or they might catch a cold. But not bathing them does not mean that you skip the grooming. That is essential.
Remember to give your horse or pony a brisk rubdown soon after it has done vigorous exercise so that the seat does not stay on the skin.
*Dirt and mud must be rubbed off the horse or pony’s body with care. Make sure that the horse or pony does not feel scared when bathed.
Things To Remember:
- Always tie your pony safely before beginning grooming.
- Begin grooming at the shoulder and go up the neck so that your pony knows where you are. Stroke the rubber curry comb firmly, but gently, in the direction of the hair to remove the dirt. Use circular movements to bring out loose hair.
- Pick up the Dandy brush and go down the front legs. Be careful! Do not put your face in front of the legs. You may get a knee in your face if your animal picks its leg up suddenly.
- Now move towards its barrel, its quarters, and its hind legs. Stand close to its quarters while cleaning its hind legs to avoid a kick.
- When brushing its face, start from the side so that the animal does not feel scared. Rub off the dirt as gently as possible.
- After dried mud and dirt have been removed, use the body brush gently to produce a shine.
- Do not forget to brush the mane, preferably with a plastic mane brush. Always comb in the direction of the hair.
- Comb your animal’s tail similarly.
- Use a damp sponge to gently clean your animal’s eyes, nose, and dock area.
- For an extra smart look, perhaps before a show, apply some coat glass and rub gently.
Why shouldn’t horses and ponies be bathed regularly?
Bathing removes the natural oils from your horse or pony’s skin. These oils protect the skin against dirt and even cold. Soaking the coat tends to wash these oils away making your horse or pony vulnerable.