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Thursday, 24 March 2011

Horse Nutrition

Selecting the right type of feed and hay for you horse is important. Your horse not only needs the nutrients for it's daily activities or function but for replacing all the cells that it's system routinely replaces everyday. The National Research Council has developed recommendations for every type of horse and activity levels.
Horse Eating FoodWhen one talks about a specific horse feed or a feeding program, some horse owners routinely ask, "What is the protein content?" It is the opinion of some horse owners, breeders, and trainers that protein is a magical feed ingredient. Protein is often the only nutrient that some horse owners consider, which may explain why some feeding programs work better than others. Without a doubt, protein is normally misunderstood. The profile of the protein (Amino Acid Balance) matching the needs of your horse is the most important factor.
Energy for horses is required for practically all life processes - for the action of the heart- maintenance of blood pressure - muscle repair - growth - normal body maintenance- transmission of nerve impulses - ion transport across membranes - protein and fat synthesis - the production of power.
A deficiency in energy is normally seen as stunted growth, body fat reserve losses and a lower production of power and speed. Sometimes energy deficiencies in horses go undetected and not corrected for extended periods of time and, not until loss of condition, making visual identification easier, does correction take place.
It is common knowledge that horse diets must contain protein, fat and carbohydrates. Although each of them have specific functions in maintaining a normal body, all of them can be used as energy
Horses that need energy for slower or hard work can use fat as a energy source Horses that need energy for speed or fast work need carbohydrates as a energy source. Horses will actively seek out sufficient feedstuffs to meet their energy needs. The main sources of energy are fats and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates in the ration are the sugars and starches of the grains and the cellulose (fiber) of the roughage and grain. Fats are the oils and related compounds in the grain and roughage and naturally make up about 2 to 4% of the ration. A horse can handle a ration higher in fat (as high as 15%) without digestive problems. Rations with more than 15% fat may result in loose stools and have not been shown to improve performance over rations of 12% fat. Fats are necessary in all rations, as they participate in metabolic functions and produce healthy sleek haircoats. Many people add one to two ounces of vegetable oil (such as corn oil) to the daily ration for the purpose of improving the horse haircoat. When adding oils yourself it is normally wise to give your horse a little additional vitamin E to keep the unsaturated portion of fatty acid profile stable. Fats produce 2.25 times more energy per pound than carbohydrates, and when used to produce energy, they produce the least amount of internal body heat. As a result, some endurance horses are being fed as much as a pint of vegetable oil each day when they are working.
Minerals are necessary for most of the chemical reactions occurring in the body and also for the development and maintenance of the skeleton. Macro-minerals include calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and chlorine and are needed in the greatest quantity by the body. Trace minerals or (Micro minerals) are no less important but are needed in smaller amounts.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Basic Tasks

There are many basic routine tasks involved in taking care of your horse, here are just a few: -
Grooming a Horse
Grooming a horse is primarily carried out for appearance's sake, however, it has other objectives as well. Grooming cleans the skin so that it can work to maximum effect. Grooming and strapping, when the horse is rhythmically thumped with a pad on the shoulders, quarters and neck, also encourages muscle development and tone, and promotes circulation.
Stabled horses that are clipped, kept under artificial conditions, and fed quantities of heating food, create additional waste matter. Much of this waste is removed through an increased rate of breathing and through excrement, but much is also disposed of through the skin, the pores of which must be clean if the function is to be fulfilled.
Horses kept out at pasture should not be overly groomed since you remove the waterproofing layer of grease from the coat. It is sufficient to brush off the worst of the mud before going for a ride.
Grooming is best carried out from front to rear, starting high up on the horse's head behind the ears. Stand away from the horse, the secret of grooming lies in getting one's whole weight behind the brush, which cannot be done when too close to the horse.
Shoeing Horses
The object of shoeing is to protect the hoof of the working horse from being worn away more quickly than it could be replaced by natural growth, and it also improves the gripping property of the hoof.
The farrier's job is to preserve its natural function and the horse's natural action. He also seeks to remedy conformational defects resulting in faulty movement, and to counter the effect of disease.
The horn grows between 1/4" and 3/4" per month, therefore, the shoes need to be removed every four weeks so that the excess growth can be removed. A new set of shoes should be fitted if the old ones are unserviceable.
The shoe is fixed to the hoof either by hot or cold shoeing. Hot shoeing involves heating the shoe until it is red hot. It is then placed on the hoof for a few seconds, burning a brown rim where it touches. The object is to check the fit and to ensure the whole shoe is in perfect contact. If the brown rim is incomplete, the hoof must be rasped again until the surface is level. A well-made shoe follows the rim of the hoof wall and is neither too wide, too long nor too short. Hot shoeing allows the farrier to make adjustments to the shape of the shoe more easily and it should ensure a perfect fit. Cold shoeing is when the completed shoe is nailed to the prepared hoof without first being heated, and it is not thought to be as satisfactory.
Horse Hoof Care
HoofThe basic tools for cleaning your horse's hooves are a high-quality hoof dressing, hoof sealer and a hoof pick. Begin by holding the hoof in a comfortable position, with the hoof well supported by one hand. Holding the hoof pick in your other hand, loosen the mud, manure, and bedding by inserting the point of the hoof pick near the bulbs of the heels. Often you will be able to pop off a large disk of mud and manure with this technique. Next, make downward swipes with the hoof pick in the clefts of the frog. With practice, you will know exactly where the clefts are even if they are covered with mud. Now do a more thorough job of scraping all debris from around the inside edge of the shoe or hoof. Be sure to get any mud or material that has become lodged under the heels of the shoes near the opening of the clefts of the frog.

Caring for your horse

Caring for Your Horse
Once you have found your ideal horse, his well being will be your prime concern. If he is boarded, how will you know he is receiving the correct care? If he is at home, can you provide the necessary care to keep him happy and healthy? Common concerns include:
Finding a suitable boarding stable. Knowing your horse is well cared for provides peace of mind and is a great place for you to learn more about horse care and management. A good stable will provide for all your horse's needs.
Planning to look after your horse yourself? What will you feed him? Selecting the right feed for your horse will provide him with good nutrition. Feeding the correct quantities will save waste and save you money.
Selecting Veterinarians, Farriers and other equine professionals. A good support team will ensure that your horse is fit, sound, and healthy.
Your Horse's Health. Know the signs of good health. Learn the basic health care routines to keep your horse healthy.
Grooming. A horse that is well groomed is a thing of beauty. Save time by doing it right the first time.