How to Keep a Horse Happy

Опубликовал Admin
25-09-2016, 12:10
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Expert Reviewed Part of caring for a horse is keeping it happy. Horses are very social and active animals that can get bored or lonely easily. They also need to eat a proper diet, one that closely resembles what they would eat in the wild. Keep your horse feeling happy and well by meeting his dietary, exercise, and social needs.

Feeding Your Horse Well

  1. Frequently offer small amounts of grain. Horses are natural grazers, spending their time steadily eating in small amounts. In order to keep your horse happy, you will need to replicate this natural way of living for your horse. You should feed your horse small amounts of grain throughout the day in order to make him feel comfortable.
    • Avoid feeding your horse big meals or all at once.
    • Larger meals won't digest as well as smaller meals will.
    • Try to feed your horse grain at least three times a day.
    • For example, horses can eat grains like oat and barely.
  2. Provide roughage. Horses won't eat just one type of food in their natural environment. As they graze, horses will eat many different plants, many of which provide roughage. These plants will help maintain proper digestion in your horse. In addition to letting your horse graze, provide some roughage in your horse's diet to replicate his natural grazing and keep him happy and healthy.
    • Generally, fresh hay is given to horses to provide roughage. Stabled horses should be given a stack of hay to nibble at whenever they like.
    • Horses love to chew. Providing roughage and fiber can let your horse chew and feel relaxed. Your horse may exhibit bad behaviors if he isn't able to chew as often as he likes.
    • Horses should eat about 1% of their body weight in roughage every day.
  3. Make changes slowly. If for some reason you have to switch your horses diet or introduce a new food, make the change a gradual one. Changing diets too quickly can have an effect on your horse's health or may cause him to simply reject the new food. Always work slowly to introduce any new dietary changes to help make your horse more comfortable with the change.
    • Make any changes over the course of one week.
    • Introduce new items by 25% every two days.
  4. Keep track of portion sizes. In order to stay healthy, your horse will need to eat a specific amount of food. Exactly how much will vary from horse to horse and is usually based on his size and ideal weight. Once you know what amount of food your horse needs to eat, it's important to measure that amount out each time you feed him. This will help keep your horse at an optimal level of nutrition.
    • The average horse eats about fifteen to twenty pounds of hay each day.
    • If your horse grazes often, you may not need to feed him as much.
    • Give your horse plenty of hay during winter months.
    • If your horse is doing more work, you will need to feed him more food.
  5. Feed the horse on a schedule. It can be a good idea to stick to a feeding routine. Horses are habitual animals and prefer steady schedules throughout their day. Regularly feeding your horse can help make him feel more comfortable, relaxed, and may actually encourage him to eat without trouble. Horses should be fed at least three times daily. You might try spacing these out over a period of fourteen hours.
    • Horses can get stressed if you don't stick to your schedule.
    • Your horse will know if you are late or early.
  6. Don't feed before or after exercise. Horses need time to properly digest and allow their food to settle. Taking your horse out for some exercise too close to meal times can cause digestive troubles for him. Always allow your horse plenty of time, either before or after meals, to keep your horse feeling comfortable and happy.
    • Feed at least three hours before exercise.
    • Wait for your horse to regain its normal breath rate and temperature before feeding after exercise.
    • Your horse may suffer from colic if he ate too close to exercising or heavy activity.
  7. Get some treats ready. Your horse will love receiving the occasional treat. These treats should be a healthy part of their diet and some foods are more ideal than others. It's important to only offer treats that are small, about the size of a quarter, to avoid choking hazards. Check out some of these following foods to learn which ones can make great treats for your horse:
    • Apple slices
    • Carrots
    • Melon
    • Pumpkin
    • Hay cubes
    • Commercial horse treats
  8. Avoid feeding your horse the wrong foods. Horses can eat many things, but there are some foods that are dangerous for them to consume. It's important that you know these foods and avoid offering them to your horse to avoid causing health troubles. Take a look at some of these dangerous foods that you should avoid giving to your horse:
    • Broccoli
    • Onions and garlic
    • Meat
    • Peppers
    • Potatoes
    • Tomatoes
    • Cauliflower
    • Cabbage

Making A Comfortable Stable

  1. Make sure the stable is the right size. Different size horses will require larger or smaller stables. The stable will have to be large enough to comfortably accommodate your horse and make them feel at home. The following are some of the basic size requirements for different size horses:
    • Horses around 1,000lbs should be given a stall that is around 12'x12'.
    • Small draft horses need around a 14'x14' enclosure.
    • A large draft horse will be comfortable in a 16'x16' stall.
  2. Keep bedding clean and fresh. Part of keeping your horse happy while in a stable is maintaining his bedding. Horses may relieve themselves in the bedding or otherwise make it unsuitable. Replace old bedding often with fresh material to help keep your horse healthy, cozy and happy.
    • Regularly muck out the stall. Try to do so at least once a day.
    • Rubber stall mats can help with cleaning and cost in the long term.
    • Leaving the bedding and stall dirty can make your horse ill and stressed.
  3. Make sure the stall has adequate lighting and ventilation. Since your horse will be spending a lot of time in their stall, it's important to make sure it has enough light and air. These will help keep the stall clean and comfortable for your horse. Keep these tips in mind when considering if your horse's stall is set up correctly:
    • If the stall doesn't have natural light, consider installing lighting fixtures.
    • If you install lighting, make sure they are at least 8' off the ground to avoid contact with the horse.
    • Most horse stalls should have a window to allow fresh and light to enter the stall.
    • The tops of stalls should be open, allowing air to circulate.
  4. Maintain your horse's hygiene. Even if your horse isn't running outside, it will still need to be regularly groomed and have its hooves cleaned. Keeping up with your horses grooming needs will help keep them happy and healthy, during their time in the stable. Take a look at some of these basic grooming tips:
    • Brush your horse everyday.
    • Clean the horse's hooves at least once daily.
    • Clean the hooves whenever the horse comes in from the field or paddock.
    • Use a hoof pick to clean out a hoof. The pick will let you remove the daily build up of dirt and mud.
    • If you are new to cleaning a horse's hoof, consider asking or hiring a farrier for help.
  5. Visit your horse regularly. Checking in with your horse regularly can be a simple way to keep him happy and engaged. Regular visits can also help keep your bond strong. If your horse in in a stable for any length of time, always make an effort to stop in for regular visits throughout the day.
    • Groom your horse daily.
    • Stop in and give your horse some scratches or belly rubs.
    • You may want to give your horse an extra treat once in a while.
  6. Stable other horses nearby. Ideally, you will want to have other horses in nearby stables. Since horses enjoy each others company, keeping other horses nearby will allow your horse to feel comfortable during its time in the stable. Whenever possible, always try to meet your horse's social needs while he is in the stable.
    • Try to keep your horse near horses that they are familiar with.
    • Don't separate your horse from other horses that they are usually around.
    • Horses seem to be happy in groups between four to ten other horses.
  7. Use a radio. Horses are social animals. If you are unable to stable him with other horses nearby, you may consider leaving a radio on for him. The noises and voices that play from the radio can keep your horse comfortable and help him avoid feeling alone. Always try to leave a radio on for your horse if you must leave it alone in the stable to help keep him happy.

Getting Enough Activity

  1. Let your horses out to graze. In the wild, horses will generally spend their days steadily grazing in fields. This kind of gentle but steady movement will be the best kind of physical exercise your horse can get. Allowing your horses to graze in the pasture will help them feel comfortable, stay healthy, and keep them happy.
    • Movement helps maintain healthy circulation in horses.
    • Horses naturally move between 30km and 80km a day.
  2. Turn horses out together. Horses need to interact with other horses in order to feel their best. If your horse is turned out alone, it may lose interest quickly and simply stand in one place. It's always best to let your horse out with other horses to keep him moving, engaged, and happy.
  3. Introduce some toys. Horses can really enjoy their playtime. Providing toys for your horses can be a good way to let them really enjoy their time outdoors. There are many different toys available for horses that are designed to keep your horse entertained and having fun. Take a look at some examples of horse toys that are available:
    • Large inflatable balls.
    • Plastic balls that have a handle on them, allowing your horse to pick them up and toss them.
    • Hanging salt licks or play balls.
  4. Give your horse a break. Although horses enjoy activity, play, and exercise, they also need some quiet rest. Giving your horse time a to relax and rest is just as important as giving him enough activity. Keep some of these tips in mind when considering when your horse might like a break:
    • Don't always bring your horse out to ride him. Try grooming him or giving him a treat sometimes instead.
    • Always let your horse rest after any heavy exercise or work.
    • If your horse has been out playing or grazing, give him a nice break in the stable afterwards.
  5. Ride your horse properly. Riding your horse can be a lot of fun for the both of you. However, you may inadvertently make your horse uncomfortable during the ride. Keep some of these basic tips in mind to keep your horse happy while riding:
    • Don't pull on the reins too tightly as this can hurt your horse's mouth.
    • Before riding a new horse, allow it to smell your hand as an introduction.
    • Knowing the signs of fatigue can tell you when your horse has had enough riding. If your horse slows, won't speed up, or becomes uncoordinated, you may want to stop.
  6. Monitor your horse's activity levels. The ways in which your horse moves, plays, or acts can indicate their overall level of health and well being. It's a good idea to give your horse a brief check-up everyday to make sure they are in good health and to catch any issues early. Here are some common signs that your horse may be injured or ill:
    • Mood changes, such as becoming depressed or aggressive can indicate an illness or injury.
    • Changes to the horse's appetite can indicate a health issue.
    • Acting nervous or scared when the horse is normally calm, may be a sign of an illness.
    • While grooming your horse, look for any obvious signs of injury such as cuts, scratches, or other wounds.


  • Feed your horse in small amounts throughout the day.
  • Make sure your horse is eating enough fiber or roughage.
  • Always keep your horse's stall clean.
  • Don't leave your horse alone. Visit often, stable him with other horses, or leave a radio on for him.
  • Let your horse get plenty of activity.
  • Horses will be more active when turned out with other horses.
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