Taking care of a horse does not need to be overwhelming, nor need it be so time-consuming that it takes the entire day. A good approach to take is to determine what things must be done on a daily basis a weekly basis or a monthly basis.
Owning and caring for a horse is hard work, especially if your horse is housed on your property. Falling behind in your daily chores can lead to unsanitary or unsafe conditions, so it is important to keep up with the daily tasks.
For many horse owners, time spent in the barn is therapeutic and an enjoyable part of horse ownership. For others, the work required is more than time allows. For many, stabling the horse in a commercial barn where the basics are taken care of by staff is a better approach. For those of you who choose to take hands-on responsibility for the daily horse care, here are the basic tasks that you should consider.
Basic daily tasks
These tasks should be done on a daily basis.
- Feeding a forage based diet, ideally in 2 or more smaller meals throughout the day
- Watering or checking the water supply in automatic waterers. Horses can drink up to 10+ gallons a day during warm weather, so a minimum of two 5-gallon buckets should be filled with clean cool water
- Removing soiled or wet bedding from the stall areas and manure piles from the paddock areas
- Observing your horse for any signs of illness or injury, best practices is to also pick-out your horse's hooves
- Exercising or turn-out your horse for a minimum of 30 minutes
These tasks can be scheduled a few times each week or once a week based on your needs and schedule and the needs of your horse:
- Exercising your horse for several hours at a time to give it a good work-out, release pent-up energy, and promote optimum health
- Grooming your horse's body, mane, tail, and hooves (Many horse owners do a bit of grooming each day with a full grooming only when needed)
- Bathing your horse
- Doing a maintenance clip
- Clean automatic waterers and buckets
Other periodic tasks
These tasks are important, but should be performed based on local conditions and the advice of your veterinarian. In the long run, periodic and preventative health care will save you money and save your horse from suffering from preventable diseases and conditions.
- Controlling pests such as flies and intestinal parasites including deworming according to schedule
- Vaccinations based on veterinarian recommendations
- Dental care based on veterinarian recommendations
- Cleaning water troughs
- Keeping tack and gear maintained and in good shape
- Power-washing stall and barn walls to reduce dust
- Basic repairs to fencing, doors, stall mats and more - it never ends!
Keeping your horse happy
Take the time during your daily chores to approach your horse for nothing more than a pet or to give a treat. This little activity will make your horse easy to catch when you want to go riding.
Horses are herd animals, and are most comfortable when in a herd setting. Allowing horses physical contact with each other in a herd environment may reduce stereotypical behaviors, and reduce stress related conditions, including ulcers.