Getting a new horse is an unforgettable experience. Bringing this magnificent new creature into your life means you’ll have lots of fun to look forward to – but also lots of hard work.
Taking proper care of a horse takes time and effort, so you really need to be dedicated when it comes to caring for your new friend.
One of the first things you’ll want to put in place is quality horse insurance because, as the new owner, you’ll be liable for any damage or injury caused by your new animal. Plus, for many people, buying a horse is a major long-term investment as they can live for up to 30 years or more, so you'll want that investment to be protected. Equesure can help you find the right policy for your needs and budget. Once that’s all covered, it’s time to turn your attention to caring for your horse’s day-to-day needs.
In this quick guide, we’ll talk about the types of maintenance your horse will need, which jobs you can take on yourself and which ones you should leave to the experts.
1 Behavioral needs
Before purchasing the horse, you’ll probably have visited the animal several times and spoken to the owner about their temperament and behaviour. Like all animals, they will get bored and frustrated if not given the right conditions in which to grow, thrive and behave normally. They need to be exercised regularly, given space to run freely and ideally spend time in the company of other horses.
The RSPCA advises that you should put in the time and effort to understand how your horse learns, so any training you embark upon can be done humanely. Shouting at your horse and being aggressive will not make them learn any faster and could cause behavourial problems in the future, which might cause you to claim on your horse insurance.
2 Health needs
Good hoof care is absolutely essential for keeping your equine in tip-top condition – you may have heard the saying ‘no hoof, no horse’, which tells you just how important hoof care is to these amazing animals. One of the worst things a new owner can do is leave it too long between farrier visits. If hooves aren’t kept in good condition, it could mean your horse suffers from abscesses, bruising or imbalance as a result.
As Horse and Rider explains, the ideal time between farrier visits is about six weeks, maybe more often in the summer when horses feet grow at a faster rate. Don’t try to tackle trimming or shoeing yourself as a new horse owner, but do invest in a pick so you can clear out any mud that gets stuck in your horse’s feet on a daily basis. Mud can become compacted and dried, causing problems down the line if it’s left to fester – another reason you might have to claim on your horse insurance. A good farrier will become a new horse owner’s best friend, so find a trusted and experienced professional by checking the Farriers’ Registration Council.
When you think about worming and vaccinations, cats and dogs might spring to mind, but horses need their shots too! Our equine friends need protection from viral infections and diseases just like our household pets – equine influenza and tetanus being two of the most common.
As a responsible horse owner you should also check their teeth regularly, learn how to spot lameness, check their tack is not causing irritation or pain and make yourself aware of any health or behavioral problems specific to your horse. Also, as the RSPCA points out, there is currently an overpopulation crisis when it comes to horses, so check with your vet before allowing your animal to breed.
3 Exercise needs
Your horse’s exercise needs will depend on a number of things – its breed, age, fitness level and history of injury for starters. But regardless of their age, all horses need the opportunity to run in a paddock regularly.
Horses that are kept in stables for long periods of time can start to develop illnesses like swollen legs, stiffness or negative behaviours. At the very minimum, horses should be let out of their stables for walks of at least 15 to 20 minutes every day. As Horse.com explains, lunging – walking your horse in a controlled circular area – is a good way of giving the animal exercise if you don’t actually have time to ride it. However, this practice should be undertaken by someone who knows what they’re doing in case you overwork or injure your horse, so get advice before embarking on lunging for the first time.
4 Bonding with your horse
Bonding with your new horse will be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of ownership. But if you don’t have time for long hacks through the countryside every day, how can you build up that special connection?
Speaking to Your Horse, Vicki Yates, founder of the Non Ridden Equine Association suggests watching how your horse grooms, and interacts with, other equines. “Some love a scratch, others prefer a gentle touch,” says Vicki. Take your cue from this and try to emulate it when you’re alone with your horse. If you can understand how they like to be touched, you can use this to show appreciation when training in the future and it will help build up the bond between you.
5 Horse insurance
As an animal lover, you’ll want to do all you can to protect your horse and ensure it gets the best veterinary care should the unexpected happen. The best way to do that is with specialist horse insurance. The good news is that any type of horse can be insured and the breed doesn’t affect the price you’ll pay. Horse insurance premiums here at Equesure are based on value of the horse, how they’re being used and their location. There will be different policies for different needs – perhaps you only ride your horse at weekends so the risk is less, or maybe you’re planning on training your horse to be a competition champ. Our experienced team has over 60 years of combined equestrian know-how, so we’ll be able to find the right policy for you and your new best friend.
Get a quote for horse insurance at Equesure today.