Horse & Pony Care:
Understanding Your Horse or Pony:
It is not enough to just have a pet horse or pony. You must take proper care to ensure your animal’s comfort and health.
First Things First:
Your horse or pony neither knows you nor their new surroundings. So you must first try to form a bond with them. Communicate with them as much as possible and try to understand them. Be affectionate and gentle. Be reassuring so that they can trust you.
Do not force them to do things they do not want to. Do not be too tough with them. Remember being a master does not mean that you can bully your pet. Show them around their new home so that they get familiar with their new surroundings. Take extra effort to make them feel protected and cared for.
To Show you Care:
Your responsibility as a master does not end after you bond with your horse or pony. It only begins there. Your horse or pony’s health depends on diet, exercise, and cleanliness. So you must take good care of what you feed them.
You have to find time to take them out for exercise. Keeping them clean is extremely important too. And do not forget to clean their stable. Remember that a hygienic surrounding is a key to good health for everybody.
The Horse or Pony Stable:
The stable is the home for your horse or pony. Remember to design it in a way that is safe and comfortable for them – a place where they would like to stay.
Home Sweet Home:
You can make a ready-to-assemble wooden stable or one with bricks. The latter is stronger and safer too. The stable should be airy and roomy. Since horses are bigger they need more space and larger stables than ponies. There should be enough natural light available during the day.
It should have an accessible water supply and a proper drainage system. Concrete floors are easier to clean so they should be preferred. Straw, paper or Dubois beds can be used as bedding for your horse or pony.
The stable should have buckets, hay nets, managers, as well as tying rings for them. Separate food storage space and tack rooms are important too. Horses and ponies need clean, safe, and comfortable living quarters.
Safe and Secure:
The stable must be safe for your horse or pony. Remember, prevention is better than cure so make sure all electrical fittings are safe with circuit breakers. Hay catches fire easily so store it in a separate space. Keep fire extinguishers in the stable.
It is best to have a least two exits out of the stable to prevent thefts you can put a burglar alarm in the tack room. Take all necessary precautions to prevent fire in the stable.
Cleanliness is Next to Godliness:
The stable should be clean and germ-free as dirty stables breed disease. You must muck out every morning: for this, you need a wheelbarrow, a shovel, a rake, a fork or shavings scoop, broom, skip or bucket, hose, and gloves. Tie the horse or pony outside the stable before you begin cleaning.
Clean the bedding as well as the floor and put the muck heap well away from the stable. You must use traps or poison to control rats and mice as they cause damage and spread disease too. Muck breeds disease and must be cleared out daily. Sore all the equipment you need to clean the stable in a proper place.
Take every possible care to make sure that the stable for your horse or pony is a safe place for them. Do not forget to get your stable insured so that you are reimbursed in case of an accident.
Feeding Horse or Pony Well:
What you feed your horse or pony determines their well-being. They need different types of food to stay healthy and work well. It is important to make sure that they are not eating the same type of food for every meal.
Horses and ponies graze on grass in their natural surroundings. However, stabled horses and ponies are fed hay. Hay is the main source of roughage, which is important for their digestive system. It helps to add bulk to the food and is filling.
You must feed them good quality hay. Good hay is greenish-brown, sweet-smelling, and shakes out freely. On average, your horse or pony’s diet should contain about 70 percent roughage.
Apart from hay, your horse or pony needs other nutritious food. These are concentrates – food that gives energy for physical labor. Concentrates include oats and barley. Oats can be crushed and fed raw while barley is best fed boiled as it is easily digested in that form.
You can even buy concentrate feeds ready-mixed that are suitable for your breed of horse or pony. Concentrates should be about 25-30 percent of their diet.
Avoid feeding concentrates if your horse or pony is at rest because then the diet can prove too rich for them. Horses and ponies enjoy feeding on good hay. Crushed oats are the best source of concentrates for horses and ponies.
Stabled horses and ponies need some fresh produce in their diet too. You can either allow them to graze on grass for 10-15 minutes every day or supplement their diet with fruit and vegetables like apples and carrots. You can feed them yourself to your horse or pony as treats when they behave well.
Make sure that you slice them thin, lengthways to avoid any possibility of choking. Fresh food provides your horse or pony with vitamins and minerals that are important for their overall health. Fruits and vegetables fed in small quantities are good for the overall health of horses and ponies.
Horses and ponies need water along with their food. Water not only quenches thirst but helps in digestion too. Make sure to keep adequate fresh water for them in buckets in the stable at all times. Make sure they have access to water if they are grazing outside.
Diet and Routine:
In their natural habitat horses and ponies graze over a large area and feed little, but often. When staled, however, their diet and routine are changed.
How Much and When?
The quantity and quality of feed depend on your horse or pony’s size and the kind of work they do. Both under-fed and over-fed horses and ponies will not keep in good health. It is best to know your horse or pony’s weight and feed them accordingly.
They are usually fed about two percent of their body weight, most of which is roughage. Stabled horses and ponies should be fed twice or thrice in a day and always at the same time.
Horse and Pony Portions:
Since horses are bigger they need more food than ponies. Moreover, ponies tend to gain weight so you must maintain a strict diet for them. Horses generally require more energy-giving concentrates as they work more.
Ponies run the risk of foundering much more than horses and should never be fed grain. Bran or husks of the wheat grain are a good alternative for grain and can be fed to both horses and ponies. Hay can be put in clean buckets or hay nets. Note the difference in the size of a horse and pony. Being bigger, horses need more feed.
Things to Remember:
- Do not over-feed or under-feed your horse or pony.
- Always feed good quality food.
- Remember to keep food and water buckets clean.
- Never feed your horse or pony just before or after exercise.
- Let them graze on fresh grass occasionally.
- Remember to add fruit and vegetables to their diet.
- Prevent them from drinking too much water immediately after feeding or exercising.
- Feed them from your hand to show that you care.
Question: Where should I store the food?
Answer: You should store your horse or pony’s food in a dry place in the stable to keep it fresh. But remember to store it away from the pony!