What do I Really need for a Horse?

If you are thinking of adding a horse to your life and you have never owned one before it can be overwhelming to try and figure out what you actually need to keep one in a healthy manner.

First off you need safe fencing.  Now the caveat to this is that horses can manage to get themselves hurt on whatever fencing you put up.  But there are a few things that should absolutely be taken care of before you put an equine out into a fence.  Put caps on the tops of all of your t-posts.  If you have a barbed wire fence, figure out how not to feed your horse anywhere near it.  If you have high tensile fences, make sure it is at least 5 strand and delivers an effective shock.  Generally, with excellent management, one horse can be kept on as little as one acre, but you will be feeding a lot of supplemental hay and grain.  Also it will be hard to keep your horse out of the mud but it is doable. Life will be a lot easier at a one acre field for one horse. If running horses together, an owner would be doing exceptionally well to maintain a ratio of one horse per one acre. 

You need a reliable water source that you are able to maintain in all types of weather.  There are a million different types of troughs and all of them have pros and cons.  A stream or river is adequate as well, as long as you can keep it going in inclement weather.

You need something to feed the horse in.  This can be a rubber pan, a long feed trough, a home made manger, a fence hanger, a bucket on a post…it doesn’t matter here.  All sorts of containers are acceptable.

You need some sort of shelter.  This can mean a stall in a barn, a run in shed or in many cases a stand of good, thick trees depending on the area you live in.  Honestly a 12 x 12 stall is the smallest a horse should be kept in, with 12 x 14 being even better…but hopefully your horse won’t spend much time in there anyway.

If you have a stall you will need some sort of bedding for it.  Your bedding Absolutely Cannot contain walnut.  Walnut will kill your horse.  Sawdust that comes from a mill is the cheapest way to go, but you can also buy shavings from a local feed store or use straw (which is a real pain btw).

You will need hay.  Hay is something you cannot skimp on.  You will waste more money buying and trying to feed crappy inadequate hay then you would if you just bought the horse suitable stuff.  Horses need to be maintained mostly on forage and if you do not have a lot of grass you will need a lot of hay.

You need a salt block and high quality loose minerals (Not primarily salt with a bit of mineral) that can be put out free choice.  Horses who are provided with these things are much healthier, have much tougher feet, and do not require quite as much feed to look great.

You need a reputable veterinarian lined up, and a farrier who is willing to come out at least ever 6-8 weeks.  You also need an equine dentist who can see your horse once per year, and perhaps more if he is an older horse or has a weirdly formed mouth.

You need a halter that fits your horse well and a lead rope.  Then you will need to put together a grooming kit.  The basic necessities for this are a hoof pick, a curry comb, a body brush and a face brush.  There are Lots of different implements that can be added to this but the previous are the necessary ones.

You need a medical kit because horses try so hard to hurt themselves.  Some basic things to have would be a few rolls of vet wrap, maxi pads, Wonderdust, Betadine, Neosporin, Vetericyn, and Banamine.  Something that you may want to keep around would be at least one tube of Apple Flavored Electrolyte paste (because when you do need this you usually need it in a hurry) and Bute tablets.  You will find that you add to your medical kit more and more as time goes on but this will start you off.

You will also need a manure fork and either a wheelbarrow, a tractor bucket, or a manure spreader.  You will need to come up with a plan for waste disposal and what you will do with it.

If you plan to ride your new steed, you will need a saddle that fits it well, a girth that doesn’t rub holes, a saddle blanket, a bridle that fits your horse’s head and a bit that she is happy in.  It is important that the bit and the saddle be the right size for your horse to be comfortable.

As for the rest of the many, many horse accoutrements…we are quite sure many of those will come as your horse ownership time marches on down the road.  But for now this is a list you can begin with and have all the necessities.  Remember that in most cases used and in good shape is perfectly acceptable.  Your horsey friend won’t care about that!

This article helps Heart of Phoenix To grow a community of knowledgeable potential adopters, HORSE People and rational advocates, who are empowered to make great homes for horses in transition looking for their new soft spot to land.  As partners of the #RIGHTHORSE, we want to spread the word about partnership, good horse care and equine adoption. Good Equine Care and education are essential to being a good partner and keeping your horse a good co-adventurer! As Right Horse partners, we want to do all we can to keep you educated, so you and your RIGHT horse thrive together!

2 thoughts on “What do I Really need for a Horse?

  1. I just love all your informative posts. Not to mention the great work you do. I no longer have horses and sometimes amazed I did not to harm to any of them. eg- fed corn in the winter, switch to oats in summer, had some barbwire. But always had pasture and quality hay. I’m most fortunate never had colic or founder or any serious injuries. Thanks so much for all you do.

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