When you decide to own a horse, it means you are accepting full responsibility for the horse’s welfare. To fulfill your obligation, you must understand
the horse’s needs
the horse’s needs , both mental and physical. Ignorance of these can lead to your abusing the horse, albeit unintentionally. Owning a horse is a major financial and time commitment. Budget for one and-a-half times what you think it will cost. You will need to spend money whenever it needs veterinary attention, or new clothing or shoes, not just when money is available.
THE HORSE’S BASIC RIGHTS
Companionship: The horse is a herd animal and needs companionship. If you keep it on its own, then you must provide the physical contact and mental stimulation that it would normally receive from other horses in a herd.
Food: A domesticated horse depends entirely on its owner for food. If you expect it to work, then you may need to give it food other than just grass or hay
Careful treatment: A horse may take orders even from children because it accepts being dominated by a human, as it might be by a member of a herd. There is no need to make a horse submit to you out of fear
HORSE OWNER RESPONSIBILITIES
Hard work: Keeping a horse involves hard work such as mucking out, carrying hay and water, and grooming. A stabled horse needs exercise every day, and a grass-kept horse must be checked twice a day, especially in bad weather.
Expense: The many costs associated with keeping a horse are not optional. Food, blankets, farriery, veterinary visits, and shelter are all necessities.
KEEPING A HORSE HEALTHY
It is better to prevent disease than to have to treat it once it occurs. Horses can be vaccinated against specific diseases, such as tetanus and equine influenza, but the best general disease prevention is good stable management and a sharp eye for deviations from normal health. You must get to know what is normal for your horse. Give it a mini health check once a day; then you will spot a problem if it occurs. Be extra-vigilant if your horse has been mixing with strange horses—for example, at a show—and consider isolating it from other horses when you get home, in case it has picked up an infection.
Signs of health: You should visit a turned-out horse twice a day. Check that its feet are in good order, that it does not have any cuts or injuries, and that any blanket is in place and not rubbing. If possible, bring the horse in during really bad weather.
Disinfecting the stable: Never introduce a new horse to a dirty stable. The stable should first be cleaned thoroughly and then disinfected. Dirt, especially feces, renders many types of disinfectant inactive, so disinfection on its own is not an alternative to cleaning—it is a vital element of it.
Checking all over: Every day, you should run a hand over literally every part of your horse’s body. Look for the classic signs of inflammation: heat, swelling, and pain. Naturally, you should be familiar with the size of any existing lumps and bumps on your horse. The skin should be supple and not show any signs of sweating. Horses often rest one leg more than the others, but look out for any variations in this habit.
Worming: It is essential to worm your horse regularly. The main goal of worming is to prevent worm eggs from passing out in the feces to reinfest it at a later date.
Examining the mouth: Look inside the horse’s mouth and make sure that there are no ulcers on the tongue or insides of the cheeks caused by sharp points on the teeth. Watch your horse eat. If it drops appreciable amounts of food out of its mouth, there may be a dental problem
Respiration: While at rest, a horse normally takes 8–16 breaths per minute. (A breath is counted as one out–in movement of the ribs.) It may be hard to see and count such slow breathing. Stand behind it at a safe distance and watch the ribs rise and fall as it breathes.
Temperature: A healthy horse has a temperature of 101–101.5°F (38.3–38.6°C). At first, ask an expert to help you take the temperature. Grease the thermometer with petroleum jelly, shake it hard, then insert it, bulb first, into the rectum, holding on to it tightly. Read the mercury level after about one minute.
Pulse: The normal pulse rate of a horse is 30–50 beats per minute. It takes practice to feel it. Rest the tip of your fingers on the artery that passes over the edge of the lower jaw, and count the beats. Expect the rate to be three or four times the respiratory rate, even after exercise.