Your horse works hard for you! Here are 10 easy ways for you to treat him like the top athlete he is, and work towards keeping him sound and healthy.
The easiest, and most fun way, to keep your horse sound is to memorize your horse! Every lump and bump and scar and squishy place. Don’t forget to also memorize all of his sounds, his habits, how much he sleeps, eats, and drinks. It’s all valuable information that will alert you to something new.
Now that you have it all memorized - spend time every day double checking your horse’s legs. Look for cuts, scrapes, heat, swelling, ticks, anything new. Also check his digital pulse. You can also watch and listen to his footfalls to see if anything is clip clopping differently.
Hoof care - Your job is to keep his hooves picked out, clean of thrush, and protected from hard and unforgiving footing. Most likely you will be picking hooves out multiple times a day, and checking your horse’s digital pulse, too. The digital pulse is the first sign that something is brewing in the hooves.
Footing - Avoid deep sand, as it stains your horse’s tendons. Also avoid hard and concussive ground for anything more than a gentle walk. Be aware of gravel and rocky surfaces for their tendency to cause bruises and soreness. Also try and avoid the mud, it’s straining and can help your horse pull his own shoes off.
Farrier care - don’t wait too long between visits! Keep your Farrier in the loop about any cracks, thrush, tender spots, new things that you find on your horse’s hooves.
Veterinary care - it’s more than just routine vaccinations and dental floatings. Your horse’s soundness can be measured with flexions and routine physical exams. If your horse starts to develop arthritis or other conditions that happen with age, your Vet can help with treatments and medications.
Saddle Fit - no horse can move comfortably with a poorly fitting saddle and/or bridle. Maybe the tack needs to be adjusted or changed. Or your horse is telling you he’s having trouble in his spine, jaw, or teeth.
Daily TLC after exercise. Figure out if your horse likes ice or heat on his joints after a work out! Maybe he likes a little warm before hand, and a little ice after. Ice will take out any heat and inflammation that naturally occurs after exercise, this is important for the soft tissue structures of your horse’s legs.
Monitor your horse’s fitness. A little bit daily is healthier than going wild on the weekend. Keep your horse’s warm up and cool downs long and careful. And keep him moving even when you are not riding with lot of turnout!
Make sure your horse’s diet is spot on. High quality forage, low starch and carbs, supplements as necessary. If you are using more than one supplement, make sure any overlapping ingredients are not too much.
Keep your horse’s brain happy! Turnout, plenty of eating all day long, friends that are close, and suitable exercise and play all help your horse’s brain. A bored horse tends to develop vices, and might panic easily, risking his soundness.
How do you keep your horse sound and healthy?