20 Questions Horse Owners should be asking!
Assessing and improving your horse maintenance...
I always suggest re-evaluating every six months your horse's physical and mental state. Also, consider how you maintain his health and why you're doing what you are.
Especially for those folks who experience all four seasons throughout the year, horses can react drastically to weather and environmental changes.
Also for those people who have had the same horse(s) over a long period of time, I find that they have found or become accustomed to doing things in a certain way but as the horse gets older do not frequently re evaluate their maintenance program.
Below are a few questions that I suggest people answer along with keeping a horse health journal as a reference point to learn from and find what works best for their horse.
Take pictures from both profiles, front and rear every six months.
What is the general condition of your horse's mane and coat?
Weight wise does your horse look consistent or does he look like he is carrying extra weight or pockets of fat especially along his neck and hindquarters?
What do your horse's hoof condition look like? Have you taken pictures from the front, rear and behind? Have you measured how large your horse's feet are? Easiest thing to do is place the hoof on a sheet of paper and trace it.
Have your watched your horse chew his hay and/or grain and notice if there's any bits and pieces that fall out? Have you assessed his manure to see if food is not breaking down properly when he is chewing?
Have you ever done a fecal count, checking for worms and Parasites?
If you keep your horse at home, are you able to rotate where he lives, and discard old manure?
Have you assessed your horse's current work program in correlation to his current feed program and do you make adjustments throughout the season?
Even if you went through the challenge of saddle fitting at some point in owning your horse, especially for those with younger horses and older horses whose bodies wind up changing quite rapidly in a short period of time, have you reassessed if your equipment is still fitting as well as possible?
Have you noticed any soreness in your horse after certain types of work whether it is changes in terrain, length of time, etc?
Have you noticed any behavioral differences in your horse's attitude and mentality towards you depending on what work you've been asking of him?
Do you ever see your horse roll all the way over or does he roll on one side, stand up, then roll on the other?
If your horse has experienced a physical trauma, have you had a quality chiropractor or any other body worker assess them?
Have you seen your horse lay down and sleep on a regular basis?
Does your horse seem relaxed in his pasture or stall, or always on alert?
If you have a mare, does she have extreme heat cycles? Has her ovaries been examined for cysts and other issues?
Most folks treat their own personal health as a reactionary issue. Unfortunately the same approach is frequently used with horses.
By prioritizing the horse's physical well being, even if nothing specific appears to be wrong, you can frequently eliminate many unwanted behavioral "issues."