Buying your first horse is an exciting experience. Horses are a big commitment, but the reward is a loyal, loving companion that will be in your life for many years into the future.
If you’re going to have a successful introduction to horse ownership, there are a few basics you’ll need to know.
You don’t need to have your own farm to keep a horse but you do need to have enough space for them to run around and stretch their legs. As a general rule, you need a paddock of around a hectare (three acres) to give your horse enough room to be comfortable. If you have to keep your horse at a stable, make sure they have access to a yard, and exercise them every day.
Many horse owners choose to agist their horse with other horses. This makes a lot of sense as horses are sociable creatures and enjoy company. Even if there are no other horses around, another type of animal can help stave off loneliness.
Safety is crucial when considering where to keep your horse. Make sure the area is clear of any poisonous weeds or grasses, both within the space and just outside their paddock, as they might be able to reach over or through the fence.
Fencing is important for your horse’s safety and to prevent them escaping and wandering on roads. Make sure you regularly check your fencing and fix any damage. Avoid barbed wire or loose fencing that your horse could become tangled up in.
While horses can live outside all year round, it’s important they have access to shade in the summer and shelter from rain and wind during the colder months. This can be provided in the form of a tall hedge or trees. If their paddock lacks natural shelter, you may need to build one.
There are a number of factors that will influence how much your horse needs to eat. These include how much exercise it gets, its size and breed and the amount of grass your horse has access to on a daily basis.
Horses often need extra hay when there is not much grass, for example during winter. Even if there is plenty of grass, you might still need some extra feed if your horse is ridden a lot. If your horse has particularly high energy requirements, it might need extra grain or pellets as well as hay.
You'll also need to make sure your horse has access to clean water. You can fill a trough every day with a hose, or set up an automatic watering system, which turns on and fills the trough as soon as the water drops below a certain level.
When horses have plenty of room to run around during the day, they tend to exercise themselves but it’s still a good idea to ride as often as you can. Without regular exercise your horse could gain weight, even if they have plenty of space to move around in.
To keep your horse healthy and those vet bills down, it’s a good idea to take some time to learn about the ins and outs of proper horse care. By taking good care of your horse you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of horse ownership for years into the future.