My child has been begging me to buy her a horse. We have read some books on horse care but would like to know more. Could you help us out? (Part two of a two-part article)
Grooming - A horse should be thoroughly groomed before she is ridden each day and again after she has finished her day's work. A shining, glistening hair coat can only be developed by diligent massage and through grooming and hand-rubbing. Hard metal or irritating combs and brushes should be avoided. An ordinary curry comb made of rubber vigorously rubbed in a circular motion is the most effective in massaging the skin and loosening dead hair and dirt.Foot care - Feet should be cleaned and examined regularly at grooming time to detect nail punctures (quite common), wounds and infections in the bottom of the foot. If a horse is shod, the shoes should be removed, the feet trimmed and the shoes reset or replaced at six-week (or less) intervals. Shoes may be reset two or three times before they wear out. Many horses can do their required work without shoes. However, their feet usually require trimming and shaping at four-to six-week intervals. Shoeing and trimming is best left to the experienced hand of a farrier.
The healthy horse - The healthy horse possesses several typical characteristics. She is alert, attentive, and her eyes are bright. Her skin is elastic and her hair coat shows luster. If given the opportunity, she will usually run and play for exercise. She is in good flesh and is pleasing in appearance. Her appetite is good and she rather promptly consumes a normal ration at feeding time.
The sick horse - A horse has many ways of telling when she is sick or injured. If her back is sore, she will flinch down if pressure is put on it, either by rubbing a hand over it or by mounting. If a foot or a leg is sore, she will limp as she walks, and as she rests she will stand on three legs, with the affected foot extended forward, resting limply on the ground. If she is sick, she usually will not eat. Loss of appetite is one of the first symptoms noticed. She will appear listless and as if something were wrong with her - quite the opposite of the healthy horse.
Diseases - The horse, like man, may be affected by many diseases and also as in man, the most common are respiratory disease, common colds and influenza, seldom serious if the horse if given rest and shelter while sick. Several diseases may be effectively prevented by vaccination: tetanus, influenza, encephalitis (sleeping sickness) and others. Since disease situations vary greatly in different parts of the county from year to year, it is best to rely on a local veterinarian for guidance in control and prevention.
Parasites - External parasites, flies, mosquitoes and lice are obvious and can be controlled by sanitation and appropriate spray. The real problem is the less evident internal parasites, especially the roundworm and bloodworm. All horses, especially younger ones, should be treated every eight weeks, if damage from these parasites is to be avoided. Again, the local veterinarian is the best informed source for guidance.
Safety precautions - Ensure that your horse is properly fed, watered, housed and exercised. Be sure there are no dangerous objects in her stall or pen, such as protruding nails, broken boards, pitchforks, shovels, buckets, sharp objects and just plain junk that she may step on or run into and suffer injury. Barbed wire as a fence is most dangerous and should be avoided. Any fence should be strong enough, visible enough and high enough (preferably about five feet high) so that a horse will not be tempted to jump over it. If boards or rails are used, spacing between should be sufficiently narrow so that a horse cannot stick her head between rails or boards. If strands of wire are used, the lowest strand should be at least two feed above ground, where a horse is less apt to playfully stick a front foot over it. Finally, be sure all grain is stored in a safe place where it will be impossible for a horse to accidentally reach it and overeat.