Sounds simple, right? Yet it’s easy for doting horse owners to fall in the habit of over-managing our horses. Karlie Mitchell shares some tips for taking a more natural approach.
All photos used under Creative Commons License.
So there’s lots of buzz about natural horsemanship, but here are my 5 steps to simply getting natural regarding your horse. I know it’s easy to get caught up in being super control-freak horse owner because that is me sometimes, but try to let your horse be a horse.
Try home-grown treats:
Plant a horse treat garden. Naturally grown apples, carrots, corn, etc. are healthier for your horse than processed treats. The sugars are natural vegetable sugars instead of added sugars and preservatives. Overall they’re just healthier and your horse will still love them (unless they are one of those weird horses that does not like apples and carrots). P.s. You can even fertilize their treat garden with properly composted manure!
Let them get dirty:
OK. I understand it’s really annoying currying a horse for an hour to remove mud, but every once and a while you’ve got to let them be. Here and there take that blanket off and release them into the paddock. Let them roll and get dirty. It’s not fair to keep them blanketed 24-7. You know they’re jealous of that horse in the next pen feeling that breeze through his coat or rolling in the dirt. Over-blanketing can also cause coat and skin issues.
Explore the world of natural remedies and herbs, which when appropriately used can be better for your horse than a chemical compound. I’m not saying that everything can be treated naturally, but some ailments can be. There are plenty of natural herbs/remedies available for coughs, joints, sore muscles, wounds, etc. How about safely and naturally using a product to treat and prevent injury instead of just reaching for the pain reliever medicine? For instance, Back On Track products, which employ ceramic particles that radiate heat back towards the body thereby increasing circulation. Do your homework, find a reputable brand, and talking to your vet first is always a good idea too.
Let them graze:
I can say firsthand that when I moved to my own farm where my horses had proper rotational grazing set up for the summer they were healthier. Before they were boarded in a dirt pen and fed hay all year long. After moving them to a more natural grazing lifestyle I noticed better attitudes, less vices like chewing and pawing, healthier respiratory system, healthier hooves, and shinier coats.
Turn them out with adequate space:
It is not good for your horse to be stalled all day and not turned out with adequate room to be a horse. It’s good for their joints and muscles to move regularly and be allowed to do horsey activities like walk, roll, trot, look cute, and maybe throw a little buck. For young horses, being allowed to move around, traverse hills, play, buck, etc. is beneficial in proper development. Their joints require a certain safe level of stimulation from a physiological standpoint to strengthen and develop. For older horses, continual movement helps keep stiffness at bay.
About Karlie: I am from Alberta, Canada and live on a farm with my equine crew (a Paint, QHx Arab, and two OTTBs). I mainly do English and jumping, but also enjoy western and trail riding. I love riding, training, learning about Equine Science related topics, and having a great time with my horses.
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