Health care advice by Nicky Moffat
Need some help deciding which clip to go for? Here are some important considerations to make.
- Bib clip (hair removed from the chest area): Perfect for horses who live out and who will only be in light work.
- Trace clip (hair removed along the bottom lengths of the body, from the quarters to the jaw: Ideal if your horse lives out and will be doing light to moderate work.
- Blanket clip (Like a trace clip, but the whole of the neck hair is also removed): Great for horses in moderate work. If your horse lives out you will need to invest in good rugs.
- Chaser clip (Hair removed from the stifle to the poll in a diagonal line): An alternative to a blanket clip and ideal for horses in moderate work.
- Hunter clip (everything but a saddle patch and the legs are removed): Ideal for horses who live in at night and are in hard work, such as eventers or hunters.
- Full clip (all the hair is removed): For those in hard work as above. Removing hair from the legs can look smarter and prevents mud clogging up in the hair.
Changing weather can take its toll on our horses’ hooves. Here are some top tips to help them stay healthy as winter approaches.
- Pick feet out regularly and check for any objects which may have become wedged, such as stones. Keep an eye out for nasty smelling feet, which could be a sign of thrush.
- Make sure your horse’s feet are regularly attended to by a farrier. Hooves need shoeing or trimming every four to six weeks.
- Ensure your horse has access to a dry area to stand in, such as a field shelter, yard or stable. Try to avoid sudden changes from very wet to very dry conditions as this can cause the onset of cracks.
- Avoid riding too fast on hard or boggy ground and stick to good going where possible.
- Invest in a good hoof supplement or dressing if necessary. Your farrier will be the best person to advise you on which products are best.
- Feel regularly for any signs of heat in the hooves and get to know what’s normal for your horse’s feet temperature.
- Keep stable bedding dry and fresh to avoid the risk of thrush.
- If you’re changing to a less heating feed because you will be cutting down on your horse’s workload, ensure you make any changes gradually to avoid upsetting the horse’s gut.
- Reduce energy in the feed before you reduce exercise, otherwise you could end up with a very fresh horse or one who’s at risk of developing azoturia (tying up).
- Always choose good quality hay or haylage and soak or steam hay where necessary to avoid the horse ingesting dust.
- Little and often is always the best way to feed your horse, so try to give him smaller feeds at least twice a day, rather than one big feed. If he’s stabled more, then pay careful attention to the amount of energy he is getting and consider changing to a less heating feed.
- Balancers are a good way of ensuring your horse gets all the nutrients he needs without the extra calories or energy. Talk to one of the feed companies’ nutritionists for more advice.
Are you doing everything you can to keep your horse happy and healthy?
Horses don’t want much out of life. They simply thrive on feeling safe, with survival being top of their list. First and foremost it is essential that you provide your horse with all the essentials he needs in order to survive. These are:
- Friends. Horses feel much safer in groups and would never live on their own in the wild.
In the wild horses will roam several miles in a day and graze along the way. Try to mimic this natural lifestyle as much as possible by providing large turnout areas and feeding him little and often. Spreading hay piles around the field will encourage him to move around more.
It’s also important to ensure that your horse isn’t being bullied by anyone in the field and that he’s happy in his herd and knows his place in the pecking order.
A stressed horse can develop behavioural problems, such as fence walking or crib biting, or even physical disorders, such as stomach ulcers, so it’s really important to give him a happy stress-free lifestyle where possible.