Horses, mules, donkeys...all our equine friends need to be cared for by us humans in order live a long and healthy life. In the past, horses typically lived to 20 years or less due to harsh environments. Now, there are horses that lives well into their 30s and even 40s.
First you need to have a place for your equine friend. At least a half an acre of pasture is needed. You will also need to keep your horse well fed and exercise them several times a week. Remember that horses in the wild are used to roaming long distances and feeding on a variety of plants. They are more relaxed when allowed to hang out in a pasture with their buddies. Which brings up socializing...
Horses are herd animals. They love spending time with other horses. Often they will befriend other animals as well such as dogs, cats, goats and cows. All these animals will need to have their own amount of space too. Human contact is important too. They appreciate your visits – although you may feel ignored while they are grazing unless you have a treat. Offering treats that are good for a horse such as carrots is a wonderful thing to do. Just remember the safe practice of laying the carrots (or other treats) on the ground and stepping away. Horses have large mouths and could accidentally bite or nip you as they get their snack.
The place where a horse lives should have some kind of shelter as well. At the very least a shelter that offers shade from the sun and rain in the summer and snow in the winter is required. Pasture land that horses are kept on should be as level as possible and drain well. A pasture also needs excellent solid fencing with no sharp edges and visible to all horses. Electric fencing is also fine. Pastures need to be maintained – some plants, such as ragwort, are poisonous to horses and need to be pulled as soon as they are found. Horse droppings should be removed on a regular basis. They can contain parasites dangerous to horses. By leaving the droppings on the ground, you could spread these parasites to all your horses. A large pasture should be dragged or harrowed to break up droppings to dry them out to kill the parasites. Once or twice a summer, pastures should be mowed to encourage new grass growth and break up weeds like nettles that can hurt a horse. Clearing trash and stones regularly is also necessary to keeping your horse healthy. Horses can get small stones in their hooves or trip on larger ones.
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