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Caring For Horses

Each state’s animal protection ordinances outline basic requirements for animal care. But a comprehensive understanding of the variables that can affect a horse’s health and safety is necessary for a thorough investigation. Horses should have the following:

Clean Water

Horses kept in pastures should have access to a water tank, ideally in the shade. (If kept in the sun, algae will grow, rendering the water undrinkable.) Tanks should be heated in winter and should always contain a large rock or log for small animals to climb out on. (Horses will refuse to drink from a tank into which an animal has fallen.) A horse kept in a stall should have access to at least one 5-gallon, clean water bucket or an automatic waterer at all times. Tanks, buckets, and waterers should be scrubbed and rinsed daily with baking soda. (This is especially important in the summer.)

Nutritious Food

Horses should be fed one-half bale of greenish-colored hay (grass, alfalfa, or a mix) each day (approximately 2 percent of their body weight). A horse forced to compete for food may need to be fed separately so that more aggressive horses in the the “pecking order” don’t leave him or her starving. Yellow, dusty, moldy, smelly hay or hay with fine dust, flakes, or clumps of plant matter may cause colic, respiratory problems, or even starvation, should the horse refuse to eat it. Regardless of the hay’s quality, it should be stored away from the horse’s stall to avoid respiratory problems caused by its dust. A dietary supplement of grains, oats, or sweet feed should be given twice each day, ideally at the same time every day. A salt block should be available at all times.


A windbreak, a shed, or a clean and dry run-in area of a barn should be available at all times. The horse’s bedding should be made of bright and clean straw, wood shavings (not walnut, which is toxic to horses),or sawdust. Stalls should be cleaned daily and should not smell of ammonia (its fumes can damage horses’ lungs). No more than five droppings should be accumulated in one stall. (Immaculate stalls can mean that horses are eating their own feces in order to supplement their diet.)

Hoof and Tooth Care

Horses’ feet should be picked daily to clear away pebbles and debris, which can cause painful bruises or “thrush,” a painful bacterial infection. Shod horses need to have their shoes reset and their hooves trimmed every six weeks by a farrier. Barefoot horses should have their hooves trimmed every eight weeks. Horses’ teeth should be “floated,” or filed, by a veterinarian once every year. If left untended, teeth will become sharp and chewing so painful that a horse may refuse to eat.

Veterinary Care

Horses should be on a cyclical parasite-control program and should receive twice-a-year inoculations, including influenza, rhinopneumotitis, eastern and western strains of encephalomyelitis, and tetanus. Vaccinations may vary depending on geographical location, level of activity, and travel. Stall-kept horses should receive at least one hour of exercise and fresh air every day.

Safe Surroundings

The manure pile, where droppings are temporarily disposed of, should not be able to be seen or smelled from the horse’s stall or shelter and should be cleared from the property at least once every month. The pasture should be free of debris. Fences should be checked regularly for stability and strength.


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  • james says:

    I’ve raised and ridden horses all my life alongside my dad. My horses and me share a bond like no other. I prefer to call the horse out of his/her stable , and ride. No saddle , No bit , no halter.

  • Susan says:

    I NEVER used a crop or spurs with my horse (owned him for 17 years until he passed away) and he was light off my leg and could turn on a dime with just a twist of my upper body. You people with the spurs and crops, you must be doing something wrong!

  • zepher says:

    lol I’ve owned horses my whole life. I never pick out my horse’s’ hooves unless their gait shows me something’s wrong. As to the person who wouldn’t ride a horse…lol…you are missing out on flying without wings and you are missing out on an amazing partnership! The love I feel for my personal horse is such a deep, strong bond. The main goal of a horse is to feel safe. My horse feels the best when I am near. To communicate well with a sentient being of another species is a joy of a life time. I feel so sorry that you will never experience this.

  • Victoria says:

    It is important not to buy a horse if adequate conditions and money for upkeep aren’t available, and to report the mistreatment of horses. Many people buy without thinking of the long term or not rescuing horses.

    There is a petition to stop the branding of equines at

    .@DefraGovUK Stop the multiple hot branding of Equines in England and Wales

  • Keke99 says:

    I totally agree with this article

  • Cruce says:

    I agree with most of this article. I think horses should be turned out AT LEAST 4 hours a day, but that’s just me -shrugs- However, some of the comments I have to disagree with. I rode a horse I leased last year with a crop and a small, blunt spur. He loved me, whinnied everytime I came, I cuddled him, etc. However, think about this: is it kinder to lightly nudge a horse with a spur or tap them with a crop so they remember to listen to your leg? Or is it kinder to constantly nag them with your leg while they ignore it so you have to keep squeezing/kicking? And honestly, a lot of horses enjoy riding. MIne always goes around with her ears pricked, eager for excerise. She gets eager while jumping, she cuddles up to me, nickers when I come to see her, and LOVES to run! So riding really isn’t that cruel. It’s a lot better than starving to death with no shelter, little food, and cold winters in the wild!

  • Naturalhorsemanship099 says:

    @LeeP Agreed. :)Horseback riding can be as much an act of companionship and exercise. My horses loves to be ridden all the time <3 <3

  • Naturalhorsemanship099 says:

    @LeeP Agreed. :)Horseback riding can be as much an act of companionship and exercise. My horses loves to be ridden all the time <3 <3

  • LeeP says:

    hey, theres nothing wrong with riding a horse. we arent hurting them, and they get love from their owners and riders. riding a horse, if done correctly can provide a good workout and keep the horse and rider fit.

  • Niikkii says:

    I own a horse, who whinnies to me everytime i come and call her name. I do parelli natural horsemanship, i dont need chains,whips,spurs,crops,a bridle, even a halter! i can ride her competley bareback, and bridless! She just goes off of my command and seat, i dont even use my leg. Howeverrr: Spurs are not ALWAYS meant for bad. People have formed them into something theyre not. they use them for speed, there SUPPOSED to be used for fast steering like while herding cattle. In a ethical way. Horses are much more than riding animals(at least should be.) i ride my horse about 3 times a week, aand outhers, i just give undemanding time brushing, grazing, and going out on trails!

  • Naturalhorsemanship099 says:

    I ride my horses without spurs and whips! I’ve never used any of these harmful things on my animals. Anyone who uses a whip or a very harmful tool on a lovable companion animal, shouldn’t own animals at all. My horses really love to be ridden ( Why? ) Because I respect them, by not abusing them with harsh tools ( Like: Whips and spurs.) Like most people do ( Which is pretty pathetic and abusive. But the majority of horse lovers like me don’t harm our equines. We love them as if they were part of the family. Same thing goes for choke chains on large dogs! I find it very wrong and abusive!..With that said….Don’t abuse your companion animals. Let’s go PETA!

  • mariefredo says:

    I don’t think that it makes absolutly no sense to ride a horse. To ride a horse isn’t an activity where humans only benefits, it’s not a selfish act, because it’s an experience. It’s maybe the one and only way to share a strong link between an animal, a real. I’m not riding a horse, he is not galloping, he is not jumping, we are. Each movements he makes, i repeat it like it was mine ans when he is scared, and even i am, he knows it and i know it. It’s an incredable experience where we can understand and listen those animals. But, it’s true that it’s not everybody who are nice and who are trying to understand there horses. That’s where horseback riding turns to compete…

  • Rico Arguello says:

    It makes absolute no sense to ride a Horse, to me atleast. We have two legs, why is it so hard to just use them. A Horse should never have to work for a human especially to carry one around that is to lazy to walk themselfs around. Until people earn such a privilege then people should just keep off……I think. I’m sorry and thank you.

  • Lasse says:

    I agree with all of your points. Especially the hoof and tooth care. I mean, people often forget the importance of such “small” things.

  • Jess says:

    Hmmm,. these are acutally good instructions. I own horses and just wanted to check some facts of PETA’s, For once a non-extreamist, anti-ownership aritcle. And yeah, it’s okay to ride a horse. They’re upwards to 1200 LBS or more (Rideable horses are older than 2, and at a healthy weight, usually more than 800 LBS) you’re weight is no more to them than you carrying in a sack of potatoes, if even that. They’re solid muscle, bred for being rideable. Just be careful not to bounce too much (post when you trot) to prevent injury to their back, which constant bouncing can cause but not casual riding. If you know how to ride, there’s no danger to the horse, if you don’t know how to ride, just be careful. 🙂

  • ALEC says:

    So, it´s allowed to ride a horse and make it carry heavy things or humans, isn´t it?