Your First Horse Horse Care Tips

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An inexpensive horse treat. Frosted Mini-Wheats. They are practically grain and have the sweetness but without too much sugar.

Previous Tips
Health Care
Stable Management
Tack Tips
Making Your Life Easier

Body clipping your horse in the winter will make grooming and cooling out much easier. If it is warm enough, give your horse a soap bath before you clip him. Do a final rinse with a fabric softener solution. This will make the clippers glide through his coat and reduce the number of tramlines. If it is too cold to bath your horse, a thorough grooming is a good idea. Dirt dulls the blades and leaves the coat looking rough. When you have finished clipping, dip a rag in either warm water and baby oil or warm water and alcohol, ring it out, and go over the entire horse. This will remove loose hair and scurf and leave your horse smooth and shiney. Be sure to keep a clipped horse warm and dry.

When you give your horse a soap bath, rinsing with white vinegar will help to remove the soap. White vinegar also acts as a natural hair conditioner and fly repellant.

Put half a cup of pine cleaner and half a cup of fabric softener in a small bucket of hot water. Wring out a rub rag in this mixture and use it to remove dust, dirt, and germs from the coat. This solution will also soften the coat and leave a great shine.

To untangle a matted tail, wash it with soap and water. Ivory liquid will work well. Rinse and apply a hair conditioner following the instructions on the bottle. Allow the tail to dry and then carefully untangle the mat. A plastic comb with large teeth will work well. You will loose some tail hair as the tangle comes out. For a really bad tangle, repeat the process a couple of times.

Health Care
With winter now here and in full swing, we need to pay extra attention to our horses. Make sure your horse is drinking plenty of water. When the temperature plummets horses often stop drinking which can lead to colic. Provide a mineral block for your horse and add to salt to his feed to encourage him to drink plenty of water. Also try offering luke warm water. This does not shock the stomach like ice cold water will and many horses appreciate having the chill taken off.

Have you done your spring shots yet? Spring is here and it is time for booster shots. Flu, tetanus, Eastern and Western Encephalitis, and Rhino. Depending on where you live your horse may also need rabies, Potomac fever and other regional vaccinations. Ask your Vet for the appropriate vaccinations for your area.

During this wet weather, carefully check your horses heels for signs of scratches or cracked heels. Wash these wounds with iodine shampoo and dry with a towel. Using Desitin on these wounds helps them to heal and prevents new sores.

Is your horse on a regular deworming schedule? If not, now would be a great time to start one. As the weather is still cold and unpredicatable, your horse needs to be carefully monitored so that he maintains his condition. A good deworming program will help your horse get the most from his food.

Keep a container of Gold Bond powder at the barn. Gold Bond can be used to treat rain rot and thrush. It is also useful in preventing rubs from protective boots.

To treat severe thrush try using the strongest iodine solution (7%). As an initial treatment flush out the infected area with hydrogen peroxide. This will kill anaerobic bacteria but also impede healing. Each day after, pack the infected area with cotton and soak the cotton with the iodine solution. A syringe works well for this or even an empty wormer tube. Be careful not to get any iodine on the heels or pasterns as it will blister them. Once the thrush is dried up try alternating iodine with Gold Bond powder. A good prevention schedule for horses that are prone to thrush is to use iodine once a week and Gold Bond once a week.

Appling Vaseline around horses eyes will repell flies. Also appling lard to horses face keeps the flies away.

A good treatment for severe or chronic thrush: flush the affected area thoroughly with water. Next use hydrogen peroxide to kill all the anaerobic bacteria. Dead tissue should be removed by your farrier or vet. To promote new growth and healing use Sugardine. Sugardine is made of equal parts Betadine scrub and table sugar. Mix the two until you have a paste. If possible pack with cotton soaked in sugardine and bandage. The Betadine fights bacteria and the sugar provides the correct PH balance for new tissue growth. Sugardine works on most wounds as well. It is especially good for sole abscesses.

Stable Management
To make a broom last longer, turn it 180 degrees frequently as you sweep. This will help keep the broom even. As the broom wears down, tidy up any ragged ends with scissors and remove the top two restraining strings from around the bristles.

Does your horse crib? To discourage this vice, hang water buckets and feed tubs very low. Just off the floor. This will make it much harder for your horse to use them as cribbing edges. Cribbers often do better outside where there is more to keep them busy. Cribbing is almost impossible to cure, however good management will reduce its frequency.

Cobwebs driving you crazy? Once you have them knocked down, wash the walls with a Lysol solution. The mixture does not need to be very strong to discourage spiders and repel flys. One washing should last you all summer.

When purchasing blankets for your horse be sure they fit properly. Measure your horse from the center of his chest going around his side to a point in the center of his tail. This will be the size in inches that he needs. Be sure that blankets do not press on the withers and cause sores. A well fitting blanket has no pressure points and will remain in place when the horse lies down or rolls. If your horse tends to loose the hair on his shoulders spray them with show sheen before putting on his clothes. Blanket liners also help prevent these unsightly bald spots.

Tack Tips
In order to find a saddle that will fit your horse, it is helpful to make a wire template. To make a template of your horse's withers use flexible wire, such as floral decorating wire. Bend the wire across the horse's withers at the point at which the pommel would normally rest. (To find this point place a saddle on your horse and make a note of where the pommel sits.) Bend the wire downward on both sides, molding it against the horse's shoulders, it should be in contact with the horse on both sides and on the withers. You need to have at least eight inches of wire on each side extending downward from the withers to the shoulders. Once you have made your outline of the withers with wire, trace it onto a piece of 8 1/2 by 11-inch paper. Cut away the excess paper so that only the shape of the withers and shoulders remains. Take this template with you when you are looking for a new saddle. By holding the template underneath the pommel of a saddle it is possible to see how the saddle will fit your horse.
A well fitting saddle does not press on the withers nor does it pinch the shoulders. To test this you should be able to slide two fingers between the saddle and the withers.

A wet chamois will help prevent your saddle from slipping. Wring out the chamois and place it under the saddle pads, directly on the horses back.

Making Your Life Easier
In winter smear Vaseline in water buckets before filling them with water. This will make the ice much easier to remove. It should just slide out when the bucket is tipped up!

Before riding in snow, smear a layer of Vaseline on the inside of your horse’s hoof. This will prevent ice and snow from balling up inside the hoof. No Vasoline handy? Then spray a thin layer of cooking spray on the bottom of the hoof.

Do you use Duck Tape when your horse pulls a shoe? Applying strips of tape to a barefoot will help to prevent the hoof wall from cracking and breaking away. To make a more substantial pad, wrap a rag around the hoof before applying the duck tape. Diapers are also great for temporary hoof protection. Again, secure the diaper with duck tape.

This tip is for horse lovers who may be intimidated by horses or even afraid of the animals they love. Spend a lot of time with horses. Talking to your horse will help build friendship and trust. Give commands with a strong tone of voice. Spend time with your horse observing his natural moves and reactions from the ground. Take a walk with your horse and see the world as he sees it, begin to learn how he reacts to the world. Gaining your horse's trust and confidence and letting him know that you are in control will help with your confidence level.

To prevent snow packing into your horses feet, clean out the feet and spray the sole and shoe with non-stick cooking oil spray.

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Last updated July 2014
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