Bare bones horse care: 7 must-haves

Horse ownership takes plenty of care and includes significant responsibility, but equine needs are pretty basic. Even so, we keep hearing about equine neglect cases. Does it not break the hearts of horse owners, animal lovers, and maybe anyone with any semblance of compassion to see these tragedies continuing to occur all around us?

So maybe a quick review of simple horse care needs is in order.

To survive and thrive, horses need at least seven things.

The Humane Society of the US outlines these essentials clearly. (Find them detailed here.) Some are daily needs, while others crop up periodically throughout the year.

Take a look at the basic listing of horse needs:

  1. Funding (to ensure the rest)
  2. Food and water
  3. Hoof maintenance
  4. Veterinary care / vaccinations and dental
  5. Parasite treatment/deworming
  6. Shelter
  7. Exercise

Diligent and devoted horse owners can likely come up with many items to add to the list. But it’s a good start.

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Ever feel like a fair-weather equestrian?

Hey, I gotta admit it. Sometimes I'm a weather wimp, when it comes to horseback riding. Sure, I love going out to the barn. And I can't get enough of time with my beloved horses.

But there are days when the excuses for mounting up and riding tend to pile up. Maybe the weather is crumby. Perhaps something hurts. Whatever ... right?

Occasionally, office or home responsibilities keep me from even getting to the stables. And once in a while, I don’t have wheels to go there. At such times, I am particularly grateful that my equines are safely stowed in a wonderful boarding barn with excellent care. They will eat and enjoy roomy turnouts, whether I show up or not. Then they will return to their neat and clean stalls in a well-maintained barn with fresh water and plenty of hay. And they never miss a meal.

Neither do I. Well, that’s sort of the problem.

How can an equestrian stay in shape, even on those days when a trip to the horse barn is not in the cards?

I wonder if someone ought to bring back this old gadget. Take a look.

Well, I’m not sure my liver is stagnating. I’ve not suffered from gout or actual obesity. And I’ve never felt as if my vital organs needed inspiriting. But I do find this a little hysterical. I'd bet the thing would cost a bazillion dollars today - or maybe a month's board.

But, hey, if it was good enough for HRH, the Princess of Wales …

How do you feel about finding a way to gain some horse exercise at home? Well, maybe the exercise part would work, but a little daily horse company cures all sorts of ills that aren’t wholly physical. (Yep, we all knew that.)

If I got one of these things and practiced the walk, trot and canter at home, I would like to think that my horses would miss me terribly. Or, at least, they’d miss the carrots and peppermints and tick-picking. OK, maybe not the tick-picking.

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