The horse is a marvelous athlete and can make a delightful companion.
Most Australians have a strong affection for all horses, and many people, especially young people, would like to own and ride their own horse. People should be prepared to accept the many responsibilities of horse ownership before deciding upon the purchase of a horse.
Responsibilities of Horse Ownership
All horses have certain basic needs irrespective of the husbandry system under which they are kept:
- Ready access to food and fresh water to maintain health and vigour.
- Freedom of movement to stand, stretch and lie down.
- Regular exercise.
- Social contact with other horses and people.
- Accommodation that neither harms nor causes undue strain, and provides adequate protection.
- Protection from disease and regular inspection to assess the need for attention to feet, teeth and worm control.
- Rapid identification and treatment of lice, injury and disease.
All horse owners should be fully aware of the general and specific husbandry requirements of the horse. Many municipalities restrict the riding of horses in certain areas, prohibit taking horses to specific places (e.g. a beach or public park) and have regulations for keeping horses in their areas.
You will need to check with the local Council in your area.
The paddock should be a minimum of 1 acre, should have some natural shelter, good grass cover and adequate drainage.
The paddock should be:
- properly fenced (not barbed wire) and free from all rubbish and debris, especially old wire and iron.
- close enough to home to permit daily visits.
- kept free of droppings to discourage flies and aid worm control.
- suitable for catching and working the horse.
Horses need shelter from heat, wind and rain. Natural shelter such as a belt of trees or a hedge is good. A shed or stable may either supplement or substitute natural shelter. Old horses need special care and in winter should have a warm waterproof rug in addition to other protection from the elements.
Horses drink a lot of water so they must have access to a constant supply of fresh, clean water available from a ground level container. Horses may drink 25-45 litres of water per day in hot weather.
All horses require regular exercise and freedom to move. They should never be tethered. If, for emergency or health reasons, horses have to be tethered, it should be done in accordance with the “Code of Practice for the Tethering of Animals” available from the RSPCA.
Good quality grass is the best and most natural feed but when it dries up, hay and hard feed must be provided. Failure to do so will result in malnutrition and rapid loss of condition. Some feeding hints:
- Feed little and often (2 or 3 times daily).
- Feed plenty of bulk, such as good quality hay so that, as in grazing, the digestive organs are well filled.