Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Want a Guaranteed Health Plan for Your Horse?

If you could find a way to ensure your horse would receive the very best care and attention in the event you could not provide for him, would you?  I am sure most of you are saying- Yes!!



Ideally, we all probably want our horses to stay with us forever.  How many rescues and ads ask for 'forever homes' but are asking for what they aren't able or willing to provide themselves.  (Rescues, you are excused because that is your purpose - to rehome hard to place horses.)  The reality is that as much as we all may want to provide a forever home we may not be able to at some point in time. Horses are expensive and life happens.  So how can you ensure your horse has the best possible chances of going on to a good, loving home if you weren't able to provide one any longer?

I can tell you the answer in one word:  training.




I am part of a horse training group on facebook.  Members share their successes and struggles of working with their horses.  A woman shared this morning how she has been working with her young, green horse and has now progressed with him enough he is calmly and obediently carrying around a young rider who until recently clutched the horn in fear at a walk.  This little girl is now confidently trotting around the riding ring with this woman's horse.  What a happy start for both of them!



I read her post and thought immediately how that horse's future life just got SO much brighter!!  A horse that possesses good manners, good training, and a happy disposition is always in demand.  Even slightly lame or arthritic senior horses who are good with kids and/or grandmas for short trail rides, pony rides are not hard to place.  They often are the most loved ones of all!

With the exception of poor health, which will at some point, be out of the owner's hands, providing training for your horse, good ground manners, and experience under saddle is what will ultimately make or break whether a horse has a fighting chance at a good home.

Horses that are hard to place have:

Poor ground manners
Poor horse social skills
Not good with farrier
Horses that buck, shy, bolt, charge and or any other equine behavior that makes life around them dangerous and unpredictable.
green broke
broke at one time but left unridden for an extended period




So, to give your beloved horse a brighter future you can follow these simple steps:


  • Work with your horse on the ground and in the saddle.  You don't have to be a super duper rider- just ride and keep your horse ridable.  Green broke horses or horses that haven't been ridden for an extended period of time have limited options for homes.  Don't start your babies too young or ride them too hard - keep a mind toward future soundness but ride those horses!!   If your horse is now semi-retired, an ex-show horse, for example, work on new skills such as trails and obstacles.  If your trail horse is bored with putzing around the farm, challenge them with new activities and disciplines.  Horses have preferences for different activities.  Where are they most engaged and interested?   
  • Handle their feet and work on them to stand for the farrier.  It's not fair to the farrier to have to wrestle with your horse.  A sure way to sore feet and a bad life is to have a horse that won't allow his feet to be trimmed.  
  • Insist on good ground manners each time you handle your horse.  Teach them to stand quietly and respect your personal space.  This goes a very long way to keeping the horse's mind in a good place and a pleasure to be around.  
  • Find the 'holes' in their training and fix them.  Most horses have some kind of hole or challenging area in regards to training.  I am doing that right now with my broke horses and am learning a lot. 




Another thing to consider.  Keep up with their dental work, vet visits, vaccinations, worming etc.  Prevention goes a long way.  Vet bills rack up and emergency vet calls are notoriously expensive.  Geld your colts- that should go without saying but saying anyways. 



Finally, one more bit of advice.  It is in my opinion that horses that are allowed to live like horses are happier and healthier.   Don't load 'em up on sweet feed.  Feed free choice grass hay when at all possible.  Give them lots of turn out with horse company.  Your horse will thank you!  Long live our horses and long live their niche in the horse market ~~ for this ensures a good home better than anything else!

Happy Trails!

Sue Steiner
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