By Riley Hendersen
As any pet is cared for within the home, the care for horses is very much the same; ensuring the proper medical, physical, and nutritional care for a horse is part of the responsibility of its owners. There are many different facets of horse health and all must be attended to in order to ensure the horse’s vitality and longevity.
In order to be well-versed on horse health it is important to understand the signs of a healthy horse; conversely when those signs wane, you will immediately be alerted to a possible decline in the health of your horse. One quick indicator of horse health is the overall appearance of the animal. A healthy horse has a shiny, slick coat with a hard hoof. Any nutritional issues would immediately show up on the horse’s coat – resulting in dullness, slowed shedding, and even bald patches. Additionally, dry and cracked hoofs could be a sign of dehydration or poor circulation.
Of course, not much tells a greater story of horse health than the horse’s eating and drinking behaviors. The sudden and ongoing decrease in appetite or refusal to eat and drink altogether can be a common sign of a horse in dangerous health. Pay attention to the amount of grazing a horse does during the course of the day, its ability to hold food in its mouth and chew (problems with this could indicate teeth/mouth conditions) as well as the frequency with which it urinates and eliminates waste, and any weight fluctuations in the animal.
One of the most important indicators of horse health is behavior; like people, horses have their own personalities so what behavior may inspire concern when exhibited by one horse may be well within the boundaries of another horse’s personality. But there are a few common behaviors that generally signal distress across the board including the appearance of anxiety, lethargy or fatigue, decreased socialization, and stall weaving – a behavior signaling heightened anxiety wherein the horse paces around its stall. A healthy horse should also move unreservedly; any limping or bobbing of the head often indicates painful movement and a veterinarian should be consulted immediately.
As a matter of fact, the most important step to preserving horse health is an established relationship with a reputable veterinarian. As a horse owner, you are the first line of defense in maintaining the health of your horse; you are in a better position than anyone to recognize signs and symptoms that may indicate trouble for your horse. A veterinarian, however, in addition to performing frequent check-ups, can help you identify and address any health concerns you have throughout the lifetime of the horse.
Owning a horse can be a wonderful experience; but also an enormous responsibility. Just as children depend on us to care for them in every capacity, a domesticated horse relies on its human companions in much the same way. In this role, it is incumbent upon us to understand the many facets of horse health and do all that we can to do to protect the lives and vitality of our animal friends.
For more information on horses, try visiting http://www.interestinghorses.com – a website that specializes in providing horse related tips, advice and resources including information on horse health.
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