You may want to consider leasing
a horse before purchasing
one to make sure that owning a horse is the correct decision. You may also
want to examine the option of boarding the horse.
to consider in choosing a horse:
(It is best to
have a horse expert & veterinarian help you with these decisions)
*Breed of horse
Age of horse
*Temperament of horse
* Styles of riding and horse's training
*Horse's overall health
* Experience of rider
* Any previous injury to horse
You have purchased a horse
and want to take it home. What now?
Legalities: New Mexico requires
a Bill of Sale, Registration papers or a New Mexico Permanent Horse Transportation
Permit as proof of ownership. Also, a Permanent Horse Transportation permit
is needed if a horse is transported within New Mexico or when leaving the
state. A Negative Coggins test and Health Certificate are required when
entering New Mexico or traveling to other states. Contact the New Mexico
Livestock Board for more information.
Equine Liability: Equine liability
signs are required for commercial operators, and a good idea for any
horse owner. They are available from the New Mexico Horse Council. Click here to read the law or order a sign.
Space & Shelter: Horses
need a large exercise area, such as a corral or Pasture. They also need
natural or man-made shelter from the elements, both summer and winter.
This can vary from a protective stand of trees to a 3-sided shed or a complete
stable with box stalls. A man-made shelter should be clean and well ventilated
and free of drafts. Minimum space requirements for a box stall are 10 to
12 feet square, and at least 8 feet high. The preferred floor is
Fencing: Whether using a traditional
board fence, a rail fence, or electric wire fencing (wide ribbon wire is
best), the most important thing is that the fence must be VISIBLE to the
horse. This keeps the horse from becoming tangled in the fence or from
running through the fence. Electric fence should ONLY be used as an interior
fence and never as a major exterior fence. Do not use barbed wire!
Manure: You must have a plan
for manure removal and disposal, or use. You may want to start a composting
project to convert manure and yard waste into organic fertilizer. You will
also need a plan to control flies and other insects.
Feeding: An average saddle
horse that weighs 1,000 lbs. will eat approximately 20 lbs. of feed per
day (total ration). The total ration is a combination of hay, grain and
pasture. Salt should always be available to the horse. See additional
information on feeding your horse.
Pasture: The major component
of a horse's diet is good forage, such as hay or pasture. A horse weighing
1000 lbs. will eat about 600 lbs. of forage each month. How much land will
you need to feed one horse for a year?
a horse on dry land (non-irrigated) pasture, use the following formula
to determine how many acres your horse will need per year:
unit (1 horse) per inch of annual rain (for the region) per section of
land (640 ac.) example: 640 acres divided by 8 inches of rain = 80 acres
per 1 horse.
pasture grass healthy, DO NOT let the horse overgraze the land so that
the grass will no longer grow. Overgrazed dryland pasture may never
pastures with adequate moisture will grow more forage than dryland pasture
so less acreage is needed. The amount of land needed for one horse
ranges from 3/4 to 1 1/4 acres. The horse will not eat grass that
has been trampled or has manure on it. Overgrazing will also damage
irrigated pastures. For good quality regrowth, leave about 1/3 of
the grass uneaten. Mange your pasture as a crop by testing
soil, fertilizing, clipping weeds and managing manure.
Before turning a horse out to pasture
for the first time you must condition it to a change in diet. Turning
the horse out on a green lush pasture is DANGEROUS and can result in sickness
or death. Start out slowly by letting the horse graze for a few minutes
each day and gradually increase to a few hours each day.
Read more about maintaining a healthy
pasture at TheHorse.com.
Hay: Your horse will need
supplemental hay during periods of snow cover or other times when pasture
forage is not available. Feeding hay will also extend the grazing season
on properties with small acreage.
rectangular bale of hay can weigh between 45 and 85 lbs. How much
hay to buy and feed to your horse should be based upon the weight of the
bales and the nutrient value of the hay.
feed less hay if it is higher quality. It is best to have your hay analyzed
to determine nutrient value. An average 1000-lb. horse will eat 20
lbs. of medium quality hay per day.
(alfalfa and clover) hay is higher in protein than grass hay, so you need
to feed less (weight) legume hay than grass hay. Grass hay will keep the
horse busy eating longer and prevent boredom.
Mexico, alfalfa is cut up to six times per year. Later cuttings may have
higher protein content. Do not switch diets abruptly between grass and
alfalfa. Hays in your region will vary in type and cost. Consult
your veterinarian as to What is best for your horse.
horses must be mold and dust free.
limited nutritional value. Weed seeds can be passed through the manure
and infest your pasture. Buy hay that is free of Weeds; as some weeds are
poisonous to horses. How do you determine how much hay to buy?
Use this formula and fill in the blanks with your own numbers:
____ Number of days to feed hay
x 20 lbs. hay per day divided by ____lbs. of weight per bale = number of
Example: 365 days x 20 lbs. hay
per day divided by 50 lbs. per bale = 146 bales needed for one year for
Grain: A grain mix (usually
oats and corn) should be added to the diet when you increase the horse's
training, work or activity. Young and old horses may also need
shows how much grain to feed an average 1000-lb. horse:
No Work, No Grain
Light Work (1-2 hours per day) 1-1
1/2 lbs. grain per hour of work
Medium Work (2-4 hours per day)
1 1/2-2 lbs. grain per hour of work
Heavy Work (4 or more hours per
day) 1 1/2-2 1/2 lbs. grain per hour of work
Water: Your horse must have plenty
of clean, fresh water available at ALL times. A horse will drink 10 to
12 gallons of water each day, depending on temperature, humidity levels,
ration content work load. In the winter months, stock tank heaters
will help stop ice buildup so that water is always accessible to the horse.
Develop a relationship with a
veterinarian who knows you and your horses.
YOU NEED TO KNOW - If you do not
know how, work with your veterinarian to learn:
How to use a twitch and other restraints
How to give oral medicine, give an intramuscular
injection and an intravenous injection
How to take a horse's temperature, pulse,
respiratory rate, and assess gut sounds (click here
for a quick HOW TO)
How to bandage properly
The parts of your horse including the
Pulse rate: 30-45 beats per minute
Respiratory rate: 8-20 breaths per minute
Rectal temperature: 99.5-101.5.
Capillary refill time: 2 seconds
Consult your veterinarian for your
horse's routine and preventive health care.
Skin pliability is tested by pinching
or folding a flap of neck skin and releasing. It should immediately snap
back into place.
Color of the mucous membranes, nostrils,
conjunctiva (inner eye tissue), and inner lips of vulva should be pink.
Bright red, pale pink to white, or bluish-purple coloring may indicate
Color, consistency, and volume of feces
and urine should be typical of that individual's usual excretions. Straining
or failure to excrete should be noted.
Signs of distress, anxiety or discomfort.
Lethargy, depression or anorexia.
Presence or absence of gut sounds.
Evidence of lameness such as head-bobbing,
reluctance to move, odd stance, pain, unwillingness to rise.
Bleeding, swelling, evidence of pain
Seizures, paralysis or "tying-up:
Vaccinations: All horses
should be vaccinated at least once a least once a year, usually in spring.
A vaccination program is determined by age, use and overall health of your
horse. Time of year influences the risk of infectious diseases.
Contact your veterinarian for recommendations.
Internal Parasite Control:
horse needs to be de-wormed several times each year. The frequency
of treatment varies with your horse's management.
Dental Care: Teeth should
be checked by a veterinarian at least once a least once a year. The
teeth may need to be floated (filed) due to uneven wear from the grinding
motion used while eating.
First Aid: Consult your
veterinarian about an appropriate first-aid kit to have on hand at all
times. Click here
for a suggested list of things to start with. Contact a veterinarian
any time your horse appears sick or disoriented, or has been injured.
Foot Care: You need
to engage the services of a qualified farrier (horseshoer) to assist you
in the proper care and maintenance of your horse's hooves. Hooves should
be trimmed regularly. The need for hoof care varies with the use
and age of your horse. Consult your farrier for specific recommendations
for your horse and your style of riding. Clean out hooves before
and after each ride. Examine them regularly for problems.
For additional information,
see the Ask The Vet information on the website of the American Association
of Equine Practitioners, www.aaep.org/ask_the_vet.php.
Monthly columns go back to 2005, and cover a wide variety of topics.
A booklet produced by the US Hunter Jumper Association focuses on horses
in competition, but contains much useful information for recreational riders
Click here to
open the pdf file.
for Winter Horse Care
As the weather turns cold, many
horses are ridden less and less. It is easy to become relaxed in a horse's
daily care since they are not being used as often. However, horses still
require much care and attention throughout the winter. Here are just a
few of the points to think about when caring for your horses during those
frigid winter months.
Consult your local equine veterinarian
when you have questions or concerns about your horses health and well-being.
Create and maintain a proper winter management plan for your horses and
they will respond by coming out of winter fit and ready for the new year.
For a horse to be an "easy keeper" during
the winter he needs to be free of parasites, in good flesh, and properly
immunized going into the winter. We tend to think that if we are cold,
our horses must be cold. Not necessarily so. Preconditioning horses before
the onset of cold temperatures helps to reduce the effect of cold weather
on the horse and will reduce his nutritional needs to maintain weight.
A horse shouldn't lose weight in the winter. In fact, a little extra layer
of fat to fend off the cold won't hurt. Fat cover acts as an insulator
and provides energy reserves during stress. Altering your feeding program
for the upcoming winter by providing some extra calories will allow horses
to lay down an insulating layer of fat under the skin.
The winter coat is a horse's first defense
from the cold. When allowed to grow, a horse's natural coat acts as a thermal
blanket. A winter coat is also naturally greasy, which helps repel snow,
ice and sleet. Horses that are to be maintained outside should be allowed
to grow long hair coat, plus the hair within the ears and around the fetlocks
should not be clipped throughout the winter months. Stabled horses may
need blanketing when they are turned out during the day, but the best blanket
for an outside horse is his own full winter coat.
Falling temperatures, wind and wet conditions
cause a tremendous demand on the horse's body for heat production. As with
all warm-blooded animals, horses must maintain their body temperature to
survive. The environmental temperature and the heat produced within the
body determine the extent to which heat must be conserved. The body does
little to regulate heat generation and heat loss when the environmental
temperatures are within ranges of the animal's comfort zone or the "thermal
neutral zone." As environmental temperatures fall below the minimal temperature
of the comfort zone or "critical temperature," heat production is increased
by the body by speeding up chemical reactions which produce heat.
The combination of cold wind and rain
or sleet is probably the worst case scenario for a horse. Under those conditions,
without shelter, he can quickly become chilled. Older horses, in particular,
tend to have difficulty maintaining their internal temperatures in such
circumstances. The effects of falling temperatures, wind and wet conditions
will put a enormous requirement on the horse's body for heat production.
How much body condition a horse loses depends on the severity and duration
of the cold season and the amount of energy the horse receives from its
Know in advance what you are going to
feed during the winter months. When first frost kills your summer pasture
is not the time to decide on a winter feeding program and it can be detrimental
to your horse. When the temperatures dip, the best heat source for your
horse is extra hay. During the cold weather it is best to increase the
amount of hay, not concentrated feeds. Hay is digested in the cecum and
colon which results in heat production by bacterial fermentation.
Without water, nothing in your horse's
body will function. Water should be available at all times. Water should
be maintained between 45-65 degrees F and any ice crystals should be removed.
If you are in an area that has regular freezing, check the water supply
twice daily as horses will drink 8 to 12 gallons a day.
Stalling is not necessary for all horses
but protection from the winter elements is necessary. Horses acclimate
to winter conditions extremely well but need to be able to escape the bitter
winds and moisture. A small, three sided run in shed or timberline to provide
escape from strong winds and snow or ice is often all that is necessary
for pastured horses. Horses provided shelter will require less feed, can
more easily maintain body weight and are less stressed. These effects make
the cost of sheds and windbreaks more attractive by reducing feed bills
and reducing stress related sickness.
Care should be taken when leaving younger,
less experienced horses on winter pasture. Running an older horse as a
"baby sitter" can help teach the youngsters how to find shelter, food and
and Rules of the Road
venture out you won't always ride in remote areas. You may find that most
of your trail riding requires you to use roads designed for motor vehicles.
Just reaching the peace of an unimproved roadway might mean a half-hour's
ride beside a busy thoroughfare.
ride on or alongside roads, you will realize that the public sees your
horse as an unusual, nostalgic form of transportation. You must ride defensively,
ready to cope with the unexpected.
observe all state and local traffic laws that apply to equestrians. Like
other travelers you have certain rights on public roads. Some states give
equestrians the right of way, or they require you to ride on the right,
with traffic. All expect you to obey regulatory signs and signals. Ignoring
laws endangers you and your horse, and you are not exempt from receiving
a traffic citation.
most drivers are unaware of the laws regarding equestrian traffic. On roadways
keep your horse as far from pavements as possible. Just seeing a horse
makes some drivers act silly. It's hoped that you'll never encounter one
who purposely honks his horn just to see your horse jump, but these clowns
traffic hazards that might impede your progress. Try to avoid roads under
construction, major bridges, and commuters' favorite shortcuts. Besides
staying alert for motorized traffic, watch out for other forms of transport.
Keep a safe distance from bicyclists and skateboarders. Respect pedestrians
encountered along the way."
The above excerpt reprinted
with permission by author Charlene Strickland of Los Lunas, NM from The
Basics of Western Riding, Storey Books, Pownall, Vermont (1998).
to see a short video with safety tips for trail riders.
Tips for Trail Riders
See a short video about staying safe when riding on trails. Click
New Mexico Horse Council, Inc.
P.O. Box 10206 • Albuquerque, NM 87184
Equine Liability Signs
New Mexico Horse Council Foundation
P.O. Box 10513 • Albuquerque, NM 87184
Tax exempt; scholarships
New Mexico Veterinary Medical Association
American Association of Equine Practitioners
Locate an AAEP-member veterinarian
New Mexico Livestock Board
300 San Mateo NE, Suite 1000 • Albuquerque, NM 87108
Reference material on horses and horse management