Tips on how to keep your horse healthy


This week I wanted to keep it quick and simple and address the basics of owning a horse. There are so many things that you have to learn when you have a horse.

But there are also a few little things that you should take into account about the health of your horse. Yes, of course feeding and regular upkeep, but I am talking about the little things that most people don’t tell you.

These are the things you learn on your own, through the grapevine, or ‘the hard way’. So let me bundle all my such learnings up in a nice, orderly fashion for you.

I know some of these might seem like common sense but oftentimes I’ve found ‘common sense’ isn’t all that ‘common’.

Some you may know, some may be new, and some may have been forgotten.

But I hope this little list helps you no matter where you are on your journey with horses.

1. Keep the horses that regularly travel off premises segregated from the horses that don’t travel.

2. If you have a horse that has been off property at a show, watch him for 2 weeks after he gets back for signs of sickness. Make sure to check his temperature daily.

  • If you have a daily routine, you can work with these horses after you have finished with the others.

3. Don’t let your horse touch noses with a horse you don’t know or one that may be or have been sick.

4. Keep a copy of your current Coggins test, health certificates and updated vaccinations in your horse trailer. This is especially important if you are taking your horses across state lines.

5. Disinfect new stalls, or show stalls, upon arrival before moving your horse in.

6. Take your horse’s temperatures on a regular basis and know what their baseline is.

7. If you’re off property, don’t take the shavings or the hay back home with you, unless you brought it yourself.

8. Wash and disinfect all tack and items used off property, including the horse trailer.

9. Wash your hands between horses. This is important if you are working with horses that have recently been off property.

10. Ask your veterinarian and farrier to wash their hands before handling your horses.

11. Wash your towels, blankets, halters, saddle cloths, and wipe rags between uses.

12. Make sure that your horses get their annual vaccinations as prescribed by your vet.

13. Make sure you worm your horses as suggested by your vet.

14. Take note of your horse’s manure to see what’s normal and if there are any changes.

15. Notice how often your horse urinates, how his body looks when doing so and if there are any changes.

16. Don’t use multiple-dose medications on different horses. This relates to oral pastes or topical ointments.

  • Keep the medications in a proper insulated area and secure.
  • Throw out any medications past their end date.

17. Make sure to keep the barn free of rodents, birds, or insects that can infect your horses.

18. Keep your veterinarian’s contact information posted in your barn.

19. Don’t share blankets, tack, bits, saddle cloths, or wipe rags.

  • It’s best to use designated equipment such as halters, lead ropes, blankets, and bits for each horse.
  • If you must use the same equipment, clean and disinfect it between uses.

20. Wash grooming supplies between horses if using the same ones.

21. Don’t submerge the water hose into the horse’s water buckets while filling them.

22. Keep your horse’s water bucket clean and use fresh water.

23. Keep feed bags or loose feed in secure containers. This keeps out rodents or insects from contaminating the feed.

24. Store feed and hay off the ground and away from the elements.

25. Use fly spray or a mosquito spray system in the barn during fly and mosquito season.

26. Don’t take dogs around other people’s horses.

27. Make sure to get a health certificate, Coggins test, and proof of required vaccinations if you board other horses on your property. Isolate new arrivals from your current horses for at least 2 weeks. Watch them for signs of sickness, checking their temperatures daily.

28. If one of your horses is sick:

  • Isolate the sick horse away from the other horses.
  • Keep in contact with a vet for any necessary procedures.
  • Wash your hands between handling each horse.
  • Do not share grooming supplies.
  • Do not share tack, blankets, bits, etc…
  • Don’t allow horses to share water sources or feed buckets.
  • Don’t take your sick horse off property unless you are going to the vet’s or an equine hospital.
  • Don’t share cleaning equipment like wheelbarrows or stall mucking tools.
  • Take your horse’s temperature twice daily.

Some of these things you can take out if you only have one horse. But, they are good to know in case you decide to get another horse or come into contact with other horses.

Horses are a lot of fun but they are also a big responsibility so it’s important to find the time to take care of both.

I’d love to hear from you in the Comments below if you have any additions to this list. Thanks!

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  • Thank you again for the important tips as in bringing own feed and wiping down stall at new locations

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