Whether you’re worried about them over winter or just want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to give your horse a happy life, there are plenty of ways you can bring joy to your equine friend. Here, the experts at Horse & Country share their advice for keeping horses happy throughout the year.
As horse owners, it’s our responsibility to ensure our equine friends lead happy and fulfilling lives. By implementing these easy and practical tips, you can make a significant difference in your horse’s happiness, both in the winter and beyond. A happy horse is a well-behaved horse, so as well as increasing their wellbeing, you’ll benefit from their attitude during rides and training too.
1. Provide a comfortable shelter and bedding
Ensure your horse has access to a cosy and dry shelter. In winter, this is crucial to protect against inclement weather, but it’s a year-round necessity to protect them from the elements. For example, in summer, adequate shade is needed to avoid overheating and sunstroke.
On top of providing shelter, regularly check and replenish their bedding to provide a comfortable resting environment. A well-rested horse is a happy horse.
2. Ensure balanced nutrition
In addition to making sure your horse gets enough to eat, pay close attention to their nutritional needs. In colder weather, horses may require additional calories to maintain body condition and stay warm, whereas during summer, hydration is key. Things like their size play a part too, so work with a veterinarian to create a balanced diet that meets your horse’s specific requirements, promoting both physical health and mental well-being. The odd snack such as an apple or carrot can be a real mood booster too!
3. Regular exercise and mental stimulation
Just as humans need to move in order to feel good, you need to engage your horse in regular exercise to promote physical fitness and mental stimulation. While winter might limit outdoor activities, consider incorporating indoor games such as groundwork or puzzles so they can feel the benefit all year round. As the weather warms, vary your horse’s routine with trail rides and pasture time, keeping their mind active and spirits high.
4. Social interaction
Horses are social animals and thrive on companionship. Whether it’s arranging turnout with compatible pasture mates or spending quality time grooming and interacting with your horse, prioritise their social connections if your horse seems a bit down in the mouth. This remains crucial in winter when outdoor activities may be restricted and opportunities to see their friends are limited, but it should continue as a year-round commitment.
5. Take them for regular check-ups
Stay on top of your horse’s health with routine veterinary check-ups. Addressing minor health concerns promptly prevents them from escalating, contributing to your horse’s overall happiness and keeping discomfort at bay. Regular dental check-ups, vaccinations, and parasite control are vital aspects of maintaining your horse’s well-being throughout the year, as well as regular pampering sessions — just for fun!
Perhaps the most crucial technique is to form a strong bond with your horse by spending plenty of time with them and getting to know their little quirks. This will make identifying low mood and even health issues a lot easier, as you’ll be much more likely to spot behaviour that is out of the ordinary for them. So, be sure to give them lots of attention and do plenty of activities together.