Practices For A Healthy, Happy Horse
These practices are offered as my point of view, as a horse lover, advocate and admirer. Not a clinician, veterinarian, or specialist of any kind.
|Kessy, Miss Kitty and Saturday together at one of Kessy's slow hay feed nets. They stroll the paddock paradise known as "Kessy's Wood" together.|
Horses will get along, as many of them prove over and over again, with less than ideal conditions and treatment, but that does not mean they are happy, healthy or thriving. In my opinion we owe it to our horses to provide for them with as natural a lifestyle as we can possibly provide. Each of us as owners or caregivers have limitations placed on us by such things as economics, lifestyle, jobs, property, riding disciplines, and more. Our efforts must be to do the best we can within our own circumstances for the physical and mental health of our horses.
Basically we could sum up a lot of the healthy, happy needs for our horses in one sentence. "No shoes, no stalls, no grain, limited grass, and seeing everything from the horse's point of view." That's pretty much my focus; to me those are the most important things to the secret of a happy, healthy horse.
No shoes. Friends who've been following me here on our Coffee Clutch, or on facebook, already know I'm adamant that all horses can go barefoot – and will be healthier for it. All the arguments against it, to me, fall short, and lay in the camp of seeing it from the human's perspectives, not the horses. Of course a few things must be done differently, and that may take more effort than some are willing to devote. See Why Barefoot?
No stalls. This includes no stalls with small paddocks or pastures. The only time a horse should be confined to a stall is illness, traveling (shows, performances, etc) or other special short time circumstances. Even if space to roam is an issue, the Paddock Paradise or track system can turn an unhealthy half-acre paddock, or unwholesome 2 or 5 acre toxic lush grass pasture into a playground for health and contentment. This only takes a little effort to set up, and then it's there forever, and can be constructed anywhere, even with limited funds. See Paddock Paradise.
No grain. That's it, simple. Horses are designed to be forage eaters. Grain, and today's high potency grasses, do bad things to the insides, and the attitudes, of a horse. Again they can deal with it, but it will eventually take its toll. Don't you think it's odd the epidemic of ulcers? Slow hay feed nets positioned at several locations offering low sugar hay around the clock, will promote movement, health and clear headedness conducive to solid relationships, health and happiness .
Limited grass. We've touched on this, but the normal pastures filled with lush grass, or patches of grass mixed in weeds are as toxic to horses as fast food and overstuffed couches in front of televisions are to humans. Again, make it your mission to have horses under your care thriving in a track system. Horses, even in big pastures with other horses, move about 5 miles a day, or less. Horses in the wild move 20 and more miles a day ... Horses benefiting from a track system mimic the movement of wild horses. Health benefits are seen within weeks of making the change.
Seeing things from the horse's perspective. Housing, feeding, riding, training, everything ... the horse must come first.When that drives every thought and action of a horse owner or caregiver things take a paradigm shift toward a healthy happy horse. When that shift occurs, everything becomes easier, no matter the discipline the horse and human play in. I see having a horse as a part of my life as a privilege, and every horse I've ever known has given freely to me their friendship, time, energy, willingness and spirit ... I feel I owe them nothing less.
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry