‘Never look a gift horse in the mouth’ is a common phrase, although we would say it’s the best place to start when inspecting your horse. Bad or strong breath is a sign of something isn’t quite right with your horse’s health. There are a number of causes for bad breath, some are visible and some are not.
Check the teeth, like human teeth, they need inspecting regularly for rotten teeth, holes, abscess at the base of the tooth or bleeding gums. Mouth Ulcers can be painful and need attention. Then there are the causes you can’t see such as lung infections, presence of a tumour or even pneumonia.
So, in short, Bad breath requires attention. If your horse’s breath smells as sweet as fresh grass, then give your horse a hug, he’ll appreciate it and you know he’s in great health.
At any time you’re unsure of your horse’s health, attitude, or demeanour, always contact your local veterinary practice. Prevention is better than cure. Always feed your horse on the best you can afford and administer regular vitamin supplements.
Who will be the main rider of your horse? What age are they? What weight are they? Once you have isolated the preferred rider/s, then the next step is the breed of the horse. Will you be riding over harsh terrain or gently riding in open fields? Riding over jumps? Entering competitions? Never purchase a horse which is too big to handle or too small for the rider. Every horse has a temperament, check your personality and the horse’s compliment each other. A horse isn’t like a cat or dog, they need companionship and do really enjoy human interaction and can’t be left for days on their own. A horse wants to be your best friend and will show you that special attention in return.Before you purchase any horse, do ensure you have an up-to-date veterinary report to ensure that all vaccinations have been administered. A horse has a long working life so carefully calculate the cost of caring for your horse. It needs more than just love and attention; it needs a home for all weathers, food and grooming.
One of the best ways to relax your horse is to groom them. This is a relaxing activity for your horse but also for you. Grooming your horse is an effective way of relaxing your horse and reduce the stress your horse is feeling. It’s also the best way to build a bond between you and horse. Take your time and talk to your horse whilst grooming. Remember to stay calm and slow when carrying out the grooming. If your horse reacts to a sensitive area of their body when your grooming their coat, you may be startled by your horse’s behaviour and get spooked, but the horse is only going to experience more stress if you stress yourself out. When grooming your horse avoid direct contact with their face. Our first reaction is to touch their face; however, this is an unfamiliar action. You are trying to relax your horse. A calm voice and slow movements will be felt by your horse, which in turn will look forward to your grooming sessions, with pleasure rather than apprehension.
We all need exercise to stay fit and healthy. Don’t you feel refreshed afterwards? Your horse feels them same when exercising. Like a human we don’t start with a sprint once we put our trainers on. You need to warm up your horse with a walk or trot, to loosen the joints, pumping the blood around the body much faster. You can either ride the horse during the walk/ trot or rather hold the lead rope and walk beside it.
Horses need at least annual vaccinations to protect them from the following diseases:
- West Nile Virus
- Equine encephalomyelitis
- Influenza /rhinopneumonitis
Doing this will reduce the spread of disease and decrease the severity of illness in affected animals.
Your veterinarian may recommend others specific vaccinations to your area of the country and your horse’s circumstances.
Healthy fresh food promotes good health in your horse. Your horse’s food can be analysed ( off site at a cost )to make sure you are providing your horse with a balanced diet. Added supplements such as omega-3 have potential health benefits to horses. The benefits of omega-3 for your horse are:
- Lower heart rate during exercise
- Improved lung function for horses
- Reduced osteoarthritis pain
Food is extremely important for a horse and can impact the overall health. You can be exercising your horse and provide the best stable, but without the correct food it means nothing.
Providing the incorrect food can cause equine colic this is a common disorder of the digestive system. Formally known as abdominal pain. Common disorders have common solutions.
Solutions to prevent colic prevention-
- Correct supplements
- Constant supply of fresh water
- High fibre content food
- Don’t overgraze pasture
- Allow as much turn out in a paddock
- Horse colic can be treated with products from Spillers.
Remember, a quick way to know your horse is healthy smell it’s breath and check its mouth.
Your horse needs blankets for the cold weather and protection for wet weather. Shoes that are complete on each hoof. You will need head protection when riding, a good fitting saddle and riding attire, boots etc. saddleries offer a vast range for all horse lovers. Spend time looking around your nearest Saddler, ask questions, savour the experience. They are there to help you and your horse enjoy years of pleasurable recreation time together.Keep your horse healthy and it’ll return you love for years to come. Your horse’s wellbeing is your wellbeing too.