By Callie duPerier-Apffel with Kailey Sullins

Horses’ health and nutrition is very important. I’m definitely not an expert on nutrition, but we have always fed our horses what the previous owner was feeding them or, if needed, we would switch them to a feed our veterinarian thought would be best for them. We have also always fed our horses Platinum, so each of my horses gets a feeding of it every morning. 

Right now Rare Dillion eats Omelene 500, but sometimes when we’re on the road he stops eating so we have to try switching things up to get him to start eating good again. He also gets one flake of alfalfa and one flake of coastal Bermuda morning and night. Dash Ta Diamonds is the same way, but his regular feed is Safe Choice. He also gets one flake of alfalfa and coastal Bermuda morning and night. When horses are on the road, sometimes they get homesick and  tired of the same feed, so that is why we switch it up. Keeping my horses healthy is one of the top priorities for my team and me. 

Every year, we make sure my horses are current on all their vaccinations and plan on when we will worm them throughout the year on the road. Horses, especially those traveling up and down the road, are more likely to be exposed to viruses and the elements, which can cause sickness if their immune system is at risk from not being properly protected with vaccines and wormers. The horses can also get ulcers on the road, so it is very important to us to have them on UlcerGard to keep them as healthy as we can. 

I also keep my horses healthy through exercise. I like to ride my horses every day for about 25 minutes each. I long trot for about 15 minutes and then I lope each direction for 5 minutes. After the full 25 minutes, I like to walk them around to cool them off for about 10 minutes. Keeping your horses in shape is important for having a healthy horse. Having your horses in the best condition possible allows them to compete to their full potential and reduces the risk of injuries during competition.

Knowing what each horse requires for a healthy life takes a bit of extra attention. Sometimes it’s a little difficult to know exactly what your horse needs and when he needs it, but it can be as easy as going back to the basics. Here are a few fundamentals every horse owner should know to help keep horses healthy and happy.

Know your horse’s attitude. Spend time with him grooming him, cleaning stalls and just being around him and watch his mannerisms. Much of the time the first sign of distress in a horse is a change in attitude. Knowing what is normal for your horse will help you analyze when to take precautions, such as encouraging better eating behavior like duPerier-Apffel explains of her methods on the road. 

Water is one of the most important necessities for your horse. As with eating and behavioral habits, watch your horse’s water intake for any changes. In “The Basics of Horse Health” from BHN’s April 2015 issue, Christine Sutherland, DVM, says, “On average, horses drink between five and eight gallons of water a day.” But remember, horses at work or in extreme temperatures can drink more. 

Vaccinations should be given on a schedule to insure your horse is protected. Generally, following an annual vaccination schedule for your horse’s health is sufficient, however you might consider semi-annual vaccinations for things like strangles or influenza. Be sure to consult your veterinarian for the best practices for your mounts. 

Internal parasites can steal nutrition and energy from your horse and negatively affect his performance. Using a rotational deworming schedule lays the foundation for optimal horse health. The rotational method uses a different variety of drug in each treatment so parasites don’t become immune to the wormers. 

An easy way to judge your horse’s condition is by distance and heart rate. Track how far you go, at what speed, and how long it takes your horse’s heart rate to return to normal after exercise. Then log it in a journal or spreadsheet to keep track of your horse’s fitness. Sutherland also explained in “The Basics of Horse Health” that a horse’s normal heart rate is between 32-44 beats per minute and takes approximately 15-30 minutes of rest to return to normal. The fitter the horse, the faster the recovery time.


Email comments or questions to [email protected]

Write A Comment