horses, humans, and the environment.
Insect resistance is also becoming more of a problem. Eliminate standing water and control moisture To reduce breeding areas, keep feed areas clean of wasted hay or grass that retains moisture.
Make sure there is no water standing in tires, barrels, puddles, or ditches.
Empty water tanks once a week.
Repair leaky faucets, clean rain gutters, and make sure all areas have good drainage. Traps and Baits These come in a wide variety of types.
All use some method to attract and kill adult flies.
Some are disposable, and some need to be emptied and restocked.
They can be smelly and unsightly. Parasitic Wasps (fly predators) Turnout Times These small, nonstinging wasps are harmless to horses and humans, but they can help control fly populations.
They lay their eggs in fly pupae, killing them before they can hatch.
Release these predators early in the fly season and then approximately every 2 weeks throughout the summer.
It may take a long time before you see results.
Certain parasites are more active at certain times of the day.
For example, mosquitoes are most active at dusk and in the early evening.
Adjust your horse’s turnout time according to which parasite is the most troublesome. Daily Feed-through Fly Control Feed-throughs prevent flies from developing in the horse’s manure.
While these can be effective, the chemicals in them may also kill beneficial microorganisms, such as those that decompose manure. 40 Health The 4-H Horse Project The Equine Hoof A well-known saying among horsemen is “no foot, no horse.” Since the majority of lameness problems arise from something wrong in the feet, taking care of your horse’s hooves is critical.
Your farrier can help you set a hoof care schedule.
Talk knowledgeably with your farrier and veterinarian.
Also, learning the function of the different parts helps you understand the problems that can occur.
The coronet is the band around the top of the hoof.
The hoof wall grows downward from this band and is the hard exterior of the hoof.
The wall is divided into the toe, the quarters, and the heel.
It bears the weight of the horse and is thicker at the toe than at the quarters.
The wall is not sensitive, but it can crack or crumble if it is too wet or too dry.
The white line is where the hoof wall joins the sole.
The underside of the hoof is called the sole.
Its primary function is to protect the inside of the hoof.
The sole is susceptible to stone bruises and punctures which can cause abscesses.
The frog is the triangular, spongy area in the sole of the hoof that acts as a shock absorber.
It is quite sensitive. P arts 1. Bulb of heel 2. Frog 3. Bars 4. Sole 5. White line 6. Laminae of wall 7. Wall 8. Toe 9. Quarter 10.
Cleft — G oals for a ma nag ed F acility W ell – • A productive pasture with plenty of grass and few weeds • Safe turnout areas • Very little mud, even during the rainy season • All manure and stall waste composted to feed the pasture, or removed from the facility and composted • Convenient setup for the feeding and care of horses • Safe fencing • Safe, well-designed stalls Be sure you know what the laws of your state require.
Also, each county has different building codes and land use laws, and there are various water quality standards you must meet.
It is important that what you do at your equine facility is both legal and environmentally sound.
Ask the following questions about your facility (or the place where you board) to assess whether there are health or pollution concerns. 1. Are the horses in good health? 2. Is the drinking water clean? 3. Are there plants growing on streambanks? 4. Is all running water carrying manure or dirt diverted to avoid creeks or canals? 5. Is manure stored so that no pollutants infiltrate groundwater? Shelter Shelter is one of the basic requirements for horses, mainly to protect them from wind and give them a place out of the rain to dry off.
Shelter also allows them to get out of the sun and avoid insects.
A simple shed is adequate shelter.
A typical shed has three sides with the open fourth side facing away from the prevailing wind.
It should have a high ceiling with no objects overhead, so a tall horse throwing its head up does not hurt itself.
There should be slight drainage Feeding and Watering A good facility is set up so that you can feed and water your horse easily.
Water is available wherever you need it, and feed is stored for convenient access. 52 Care and Management The 4-H Horse Project If possible, design so that you can feed without having to enter stalls, paddocks, or pastures.
Horses can be aggressive around food, so this a safety feature.
It also usually makes feeding faster.
You can choose from a variety of feeder styles for both hay and grain.
Whenever possible, feed horses at ground level.
This is a horse’s natural eating position, and it helps stretch the neck and back.
Feeding at ground level also means there will be less chance of hayseeds or other debris falling into the horse’s eyes, ears, and face.
If you can feed at ground level, it is better to place the feed in a manger or tub rather than on the bare ground.
This helps reduce waste, external parasites, and internal parasite ingestion.
It can also help prevent sand colic.
Whether your horse is in a stall, turnout area, or pasture, it should have water available at all times.
There are many types of water containers, but all should hold enough water to last from the time you fill them until you check them again.
Large tanks work well in pastures, and they are better insurance against your horse’s running out of water.
You can make tanks from bathtubs, wash tubs, or garbage cans, or you can buy regular watering tanks.
In a stall, you can use buckets or automatic waterers.
Place buckets in a corner or hang them from a hook so they don’t get knocked over.
For mature horses, secure them about 38 to 42 inches off the ground.
Automatic waterers make watering your horse easy, but some people don’t like them because you can’t tell how much water your horse has drunk.
Research indicates that horses tend to drink less water when you use automatic waterers than when you use buckets.
Drinking less water can lead to dehydration, colic, and other health problems.
Whatever containers you use to water your horse, be sure you keep them clean and change the water often.
In the summer, empty them once a week and scrub them out.
This eliminates algae growth and kills mosquito larvae.
If it gets below freezing in the winter, remove any ice chunks twice a day. (See “Weather and Your Horse,” page 77, for more cold-weather watering advice.) Storing Feed Feed must be stored properly to maintain its quality.
Store hay in a well-ventilated place to keep it from molding or getting powdery fungus.
Use boards or pallets to keep it off damp floors.
Keep hay under cover to protect it from rain, snow, or direct sun.
Never stack wet hay in a barn, as spontaneous combustion can cause a fire.
Remember that hay loses nutritional value over time, so don’t store more than a year’s supply.
Store grain in tightly covered containers to keep out rodents and other animals.
To prevent mold, be sure the storage area is dry.
Clean the insides of storage bins often, especially in summer, as they can mildew quickly.
We suggest that you store no more than a 2-week supply of grain at a time, as grain molds can be deadly.
Be sure that horses cannot get into any feed storage areas. Tie Areas It is important to have a safe area to tie horses, whether inside the barn or outside in a paddock or field.
Always tie to a solid, immovable object.
A strong, tall, solid wall is the safest.
Solid, heavy fence posts are safe as long as they are not on an electric or barbed wire fence.
It is never safe to tie to a rail.
Place sturdy tie rings in walls, trees, or posts.
The tie ring should be level with the horse’s withers or higher.
Cross-ties in barn aisles are recommended. (See “Tying,” page 49.) Stall Bedding The more absorbent the bedding, the less you have to use.
Using less bedding reduces the amount of waste, takes you less time to clean a stall, and costs you less.
One way to reduce the amount of bedding required is to use rubber mats in your horse’s stall.
Mats provide enough cushion for the horse that you need only enough bedding to soak up urine.
Mats make cleaning easier because they are flat, which is also better for the horse’s feet and legs.
Mats also prevent a pawing horse from digging holes in the stall floor.
Even if you have rubber mats, you still need to put some bedding on them.
Use whatever is available in your area as long as it is dry and not dusty. The 4-H Horse Project Care and Management 53 kind of bedding — disadvantages Wood shavings Absorbent Relatively inexpensive Easier to clean out Horses seldom eat them Keeps down odor Absorbent Has little dust Easy to store Decompose quickly Absorbent Relatively inexpensive Decomposes quickly Absorbent Soft Comfortable Pollen-free Has little dust Can be dusty Pasture Management Pastures are grazing areas of 2 or more acres.
If you maintain your pasture well, you’ll greatly reduce the amount of hay needed to supplement your horse’s diet.
Plant hardy varieties of grass that grow well in your area (contact your local Extension office for advice).
Nothing contributes more to good pasture than controlled grazing.
It’s ideal to divide pastures into sections so you can rotate grazing from one part to another.
The best grass length for grazing is 6 to 8 inches.
Take horses off the pasture or move them to a different section when grass is 3 to 4 inches tall.
This keeps the grass healthy and productive.
It also helps control parasites.
Horses grazing on taller forage are less likely to ingest larvae, because the larvae usually live in the lower couple of inches of grass.
Leave pasture free to grow back for about 3 weeks.
During this time, drag the pasture to break up manure piles so parasite larvae will be killed by exposure to the sun.
This also helps speed up composting.
Mow or clip places where the grass is too long.
While your horse is off the pasture, supplement its diet with hay, if necessary.
Keep brush, coarse grass, and weeds— especially poisonous tansy ragwort—pulled, cut, or sprayed to leave room for forage.
In some areas, yellow starthistle and poison hemlock may be problems.
Also, inspect your pastures for hazards such as rodent holes, glass, and sharp sticks.
During winter months or when soil is wet, limit horses’ access to pastures to avoid compaction of soil and damage to roots by trampling.
Use turnout areas during this time.
Do what you can to improve soil fertility.
Have a soil test done regularly, and apply amendments as needed.
Fertilize in the spring, and irrigate if possible.
In the fall, you can use composted stall manure as fertilizer, but be sure to use a good deworming program.
If a pasture has a stream or pond, limit horses’ access to the water to avoid contamin ation and destruction of vegetation.
Use trees and hedges already growing along banks, plant “living fences,” or put up fences to help restrict the horse’s access.
If a stream is your water source, build a ramp to limit damage to the bank.
When possible, create an alternate drinking source using gravity flow or pumping water to fill a remote watering tank. Wood pellets High cost Straw Hard to clean Difficult to store Highly combustible Horses may eat it Highly combustible Sometimes difficult to dispose of it Recycled newsprint Clean manure and wet bedding out of stalls once a day.
About once a week, sprinkle lime on wet spots to neutralize the ammonia. Turnout Areas The healthiest equine lifestyle is for the horse to be turned out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The next best thing is as much turnout time as possible.
There are several types of turnout areas.
Remember that the smaller the area, the higher the risk of injury.
Pens are at least 12 by 24 feet, about twice the size of a stall.
While they do let the horse get outside, they are not big enough for a horse to get daily exercise.
Runs are long, narrow areas.
They are usually about 20 feet wide.
A 100-foot run allows the horse to trot, while a 200-foot run allows it to gallop.
Paddocks are large pens or small pastures, usually around ½ acre in size, that give a horse plenty of room to exercise.
They should be grassy, though overgrazing is a common problem.
Fences in turnout areas should be level with the horse’s eye or just above the withers.
Footing in a paddock area is important both for safety and health, especially in the winter.
A thick layer of footing material, such as gravel or wood chips, keeps horses out of the dirt and lets rainwater drain through.
Spread the material when the paddock is dry.
If you use gravel, use 5⁄8-inch or less for your horse’s comfort and to avoid lameness or bruising.
Before you use wood chips, find out what type of wood it is, and check with your veterinarian to make sure that type is not toxic to horses. 54 Care and Management The 4-H Horse Project a guide to plants of the northwest that are poisonous to horses name (scientific name) habitat toxicity level clinical signs yew (Taxus) azalea/laurel/rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.) red maple (Acer rubrum) chokecherry/wild black cherry (Prunus spp.) Throughout U.S.
Throughout N. America Throughout U.S.
Northwestern, northeastern, through southern U.S.
Northeastern to central U.S.
Throughout N. America Western U.S., southern Canada Throughout N. America Throughout N. America Throughout N. America Very high Moderate High High — The safest gates have a secure fastening, swing both directions, and are easy to operate with one hand.
The minimum width is 4 feet for horses, but gates into pastures or buildings must be wide enough to get equipment through, too (usually at least 12 feet wide).
The gate should hang a minimum of 6 inches above the ground, but it may need to be higher in an area of high snowfall.
Many types of gates (mesh, tube, wood, etc.) are suitable.
Channel steel or aluminum gates are not recommended.
These bend and break easily, leaving razor-sharp edges.
If a horse catches a foot in one, it can be seriously injured.
If a cable is necessary to support a gate, make sure it cannot endanger the horse.
If possible, locate gates in the center of paddock fences and away from corners in a pasture.
This helps prevent a horse from getting pinned in a corner. Reining Roping Barrel racing All arenas should be well-drained, but the footing required depends on the activity.
A 6-foot fence is helpful.
The arena can be rectangular or have rounded corners (better for jumping and driving). F enci ng Fences must be stronger and more visible for small areas or if you are enclosing several horses.
Mark fences with white plastic or cloth strips to improve visibility, particularly when you add new horses.
Generally, the smaller the area, the sturdier the fence needs to be.
There are many types of fencing.
Woven wire, wood, and pipe are recommended.
Refer to the fencing chart on the next page for the advantages and disadvantages of each type.
You can use different types of fencing in combination (for example, running an electric wire at the top of a woven wire fence).
Avoid using barbed wire if at all possible; it is extremely hazardous to horses. M a nure M a nag ement Clean up pastures, paddocks, and stalls to manage parasites and mud and keep your horse healthy.
Clean stalls daily.
Clean turnout areas and pastures at least every 3 days.
A 1,000-pound horse produces about 50 pounds of manure per day.
In 1 year, that’s enough to fill more than 13 pickup trucks.
The best solution is to compost the manure and use it as fertilizer.composting reduces the volume of the material up to 50 percent, and it kills parasite eggs and weed seeds.composting also converts nutrients to a form plants can more readily use.
Spread the composted manure on pastures during the growing season or on gardens, trees, and flower beds.composting techniques vary according to climate and geographic area.
Contact your local Extension office for composting guidelines appropriate for where you live. The 4-H Horse Project Care and Management 57 type of fencing safety tips benefits disadvantages Wood • Paint or stain must be nontoxic • Boards must be secured to the inside (or horse side) with nails or hex screws • Posts should be pressure treated and at least 4 inches square or round with the top angled for drainage • Posts should be 6 to 8 feet apart (measured center to center) • A 60-inch fence would have four to five 1- by 6-inch rails (2- by 6-inch minimum if fencing a small area) • The bottom board should be 9 to 12 inches above ground • Minimum of three rails for horses, preferably four or five for security • Safe • Attractive • Expensive • High maintenance — Feeding In cold weather, a horse needs more energy to keep warm, so its nutritional needs increase.
Feeding your horse properly during Blanketing Most horses do not need to be blanketed.
A normal horse’s winter coat keeps it as warm as a top-quality blanket.
In fact, blankets may be counterproductive.
The weight of the blanket The 4-H Horse Project Care and Management 77 flattens the hair, eliminating the air layer and the horse’s natural insulation.
One of the main concerns with blankets is overheating.
If the horse gets too warm, it sweats under the blanket and becomes wet.
This can lead to chills and illness.
If you choose to blanket, change blanket weight with changes in temperature, both from day to night and from day to day.
It is always better that a blanket be too light than too heavy.
Check for overheating by feeling for sweat under the blanket near the girth and the flank.
Often people blanket their horse more as a convenience to them than as a help to the horse.
Make sure you have a good reason for keeping your horse blanketed all winter.
When deciding whether or not to blanket your horse in the winter, take the following into account: Horse’s condition.
A healthy, conditioned horse is less likely to need blanketing.
An older horse, an underweight horse, or a horse with a health problem may require blanketing.
Horse’s activity level.
If your horse is not being ridden much during the winter, don’t blanket it.
If you are riding daily or showing, you may want to clip the horse, in which case you must blanket it.
If your horse has adequate shelter, it probably doesn’t need a blanket.
The more exposure your horse has to wind and rain, the more likely it will need a blanket.
Blankets are expensive.
To blanket your horse properly, you will need several blankets of different weights.
Your time commitment.
Keeping your horse blanketed takes a lot of work.
Because blankets flatten the horse’s hair, you should groom the horse daily to stir the hair back up.
You should remove and readjust blankets at least once each day to check for areas of rubbing, hair loss, or sores.
Replace wet turnout blankets with dry ones.
Never stall a horse in a wet blanket.
Check blankets for damage daily, and clean them several times a year. All of these things take time.
If you cannot commit to changing your horse’s blanket at least once a day, you should not blanket at all. hurt themselves if they are too rambunctious, pulling muscles and tendons.
Make sure your horse gets some exercise each day.
Warm it up slowly to loosen muscles.
The colder the weather, the longer it takes to warm up adequately.
Even more important than the warm-up time is properly cooling the horse down after the workout.
In winter, a horse needs to be cooled down gradually and completely to avoid the risk of chills.
If the horse is sweaty, rub its coat with a towel to fluff the hair.
Keep the horse moving until its hair is dry and its body temperature has returned to normal.
If the blood vessels narrow too rapidly, cramps can develop.
On the average, during the winter, half of your workout time should be spent cooling the horse down.
If you are riding outside during the winter, remember that footing is often slippery.
Frozen ground is hard and can cause bruises to the horse’s sole.
Abscesses are more common in the winter mud.
Snow can pack in shoes, causing lameness.
Check your horse’s feet often. H ot W eath er C are Four common heat-related health problems are dehydration, heat stroke, thumps, and sunburn. Dehydration Dehydration occurs when the horse does not drink enough water to supply its needs.
Signs of dehydration include dry, hard feces; dark yellow, opaque urine; and lethargy.
In severe cases, colic can occur.
The horse may stop sweating, collapse, or die.
A slightly dehydrated horse may show few symptoms and be fine if it drinks water.
A moderately dehydrated horse may need electrolytes along with water, while a severely dehydrated horse needs veterinary care and may require intravenous (IV) fluids.
To test for dehydration, pinch 1 to 2 inches of skin on the horse’s neck, forward of the shoulder.
When you let go, the skin should immediately snap back.
If it doesn’t, the horse is dehydrated.
You also can check for dehydration by testing the capillary refill time (CRT).
Apply pressure to a spot on the horse’s gums for a few seconds.
The gum will turn white.
When you release the pressure, the gum should return to a pink color within 2 seconds. Exercise Even in winter, daily exercise is important.
Horses often are turned out and ridden less in winter.
This makes them very energetic when they are turned out, especially if their grain ration has not been reduced.
Horses can 78 Care and Management
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