The basics of caring for your horses
When beginning your new obsession of breeding horses, it helps to start with the basics and focusing on the fundamental requirements horses need in order to be healthy. If you focus on these in the beginning instead of trying to produce the top racing horse, you will have happy healthy horses that are better to breed.
So when you take a break from playing Aristocrat pokies online, implement some or our entire guide for caring for your horses.
These are the basics guidelines to follow:
The most basic but important need for horse breeding is ensuring they are housed correctly and safely, this also include stabling you hire form other landowners.
– Natural elements – your horse needs to be securely sheltered against not just cold rainy weather but harsh sun as well
– Run in shelter – if you are lucky enough to have your own land, consider building a run in shelter so the horses can decide when they want to be in the elements. Have a stable with a permanent stall for your horse is also a great option, but remember you will need to spend more time exercising them
– Check for hidden dangers – you should always ensure that the environment your horse moves around in is free from plants that could poison horses or from barbed wire or indentations that could damage their legs.
The nutrition horses need can come from simple grasses, but simple it is not really the word to describe a horse’s digestive system.
– Fresh Food– the food you supply your horse should be fresh, their digestion is sensitive and mouldy hay can cause serious issues
– Fresh water – a horse should have access to clean fresh water
– Extra nutrients – Supplements can be a great way to ensure your horse remains healthy, and sometimes are necessary to ensure your horse gets their full nutrient supply
– Know your poison – make sure that you or your stable hands know what is detrimental to your horse’s health and never gets fed to them
Al lot of people think horse care is all about brushing a horse down, but in reality there is a lot more to monitor and do.
As your horse teeth keep growing you need to make sure they get checked by a vet at least once a year. Letting your horses teeth get in bad shape can affect their overall health and lead to quite a few health issues.
Keep an eye out for bad breath, discomfort when using a bit or undigested hay, to make sure that your horses teeth stay in shape.
A horse’s hooves also grow continuously, so make sure you trim them regularly especially if your horse spends a lot of time in the stable and gets no natural wear and tear.
When grooming your horse, take the time to check for any potential health issues, from their teeth to the hooves. Also check for ticks or any injuries to your horse that can be treated on the spot.
Horses can get suddenly sick, so ensure you keep an eye on their health and make sure to get a trusted and experienced vet to care for them.
As a horse owner you should learn the basics of horse healthcare, like take their vital signs or knowing the symptoms of curtails common illnesses. Make sure to learn about Colic, as is often afflicts horse, and make sure you keep your horses vaccinations up to date.
Not being able to catch your horse when you need to is a very frustrating experience. Chasing it down, or tricking it into letting you approach is not a great way to begin the time you are going to be spending together either.
It really is worth spending a while teaching your horse to be caught safely: after all, not only does having to out-think and out-maneuver a horse that doesn’t want to be caught tax your time and patience, there may be a time that it is vital that you do so quickly, too.
Perhaps a farrier has arrived, or your vet needs to look at your animal -or maybe the race you are wagering on at one of the many Australian betting sites providing instant access is beginning. Whatever the case, you should always be able to catch your horse when you want to!
Rethink Turning Your Horse Out with a Halter On
As a general rule, horses should not be turned out with their halters still on them. However, while you are in the middle of retraining it so that it can be caught quickly and easily, you may want to consider keeping a leather crowned halter on it, even when it is in the pasture.
Horses have been known to entangle themselves when trying to scratch an ear with one of their hind feet, or hooking a halter on a gate and getting hung up that way. Leather halters and those with breakaway crowns are the safer option if either of these situations occur.
Associate Being Caught with Good Things
If you want to consistently be able to catch your horse when you want to, the most important thing you can do is convince it that this action will not always lead to discomfort or work. You can do this by spending time with your horse doing things that do not count as either of these.
Start off by visiting it in the pasture or paddock. Clean up its manure, check the fences -basically do anything but approach the animal. Should your horse eventually approach you, do not reach out to try and catch it. Let it approach, let it sniff at you if it wants to, and then walk away.
Don’t allow your horse to walk away from you -you want to ensure that you are always the final decision maker in any exchange you have with it. Several short visits a day will be more effective than one occasional long one, too.
Watch Your Body Language
When you are approaching your horse, don’t march smartly up to it, full of an obvious intention and definite purpose!
If you do this, it will very likely read your body language correctly and make for the hills! Try softening your body and meandering towards it in a relaxed fashion.
Avoid direct eye contact, and make sure not to approach its head or tail. Using your peripheral vision, make your way towards its neck or shoulder.
Experts from the world of hunters, jumpers, and dressage all agree on following these breeding guidelines in order to maximise your chances of getting the foal you want.
Look Out for the Characteristics of Good Equine Athletes
As punters who enjoy watching the horse racing and accompanying NZ sports betting will know, there are a number of traits that excellent equine athletes all share. These include:
- A supple, powerful forward movement
- A clean and refined throat latch, and a jaw channel that is wide enough for your fist to fit into
- Withers that blend smoothly into the animal’s neck and back, but are also prominent enough to keep a saddle from slipping off
- A deep heart girth
- Feet that are big enough for the horse to be sound, stable, and bear the weight it needs to
- Front legs that are straight
- Hocks that are substantial
- Gaskins that are wide-looking, strong, and well-muscled from the rear and sides
Dominant Stallions are the Best Bet
It is advisable for you to seek out a dominant stallion with a record for always producing offspring that have the qualities you want: competitive foals that are sound, trainable and of good mind. Don’t rule out a stallion who is not perfect, however.
You are neither buying nor riding him, so you won’t be getting a clone. There is something to be said for selecting sires that possibly aren’t that much to look out as well: his strengths may well counterbalance your mare’s weaknesses.
Have a Plan in Place for Evaluating Stallions
You need to make sure you have a practical plan in place for evaluating various stallion prospects, otherwise you are in danger of making a faulty decision during casual or general observation.
Look Beyond Breeding Classes
Don’t make the mistake of fixating on breeding classes or futurities. Performance over the long-term and tractability are more important than good looks as a two- or three-year old stallion, and many futurity and champions on-the-line are never heard from again.
Keep your statistics in perspective as well: if two stallions are able to produce four good offspring each but one bred ten mares and the other bred 80, the question to ask yourself is which is the more consistent producer, and thus the better breeding prospect?
Seek Out Stallion Advertisement
I always advise prospective breeders to keep an eye on advertisements for stallions. This not only narrows the field, it sharpens your eye as well. But do not breed off of a photo, either.
While photos can reveal sickle hocks, or a head you don’t like, clever photography is more than capable of exaggerating an animal’s good qualities and concealing its faults. And no matter how good a photo is, it can’t show you the all-important movement of the animal. This will require your viewing videotapes or seeing the stallion in person.
While these tips will help you on your way, they do not begin to cover everything you need to know before you start your horse breeding journey. Seek out the help of professionals as and where you can until you are more confident that you know what you are doing.
When it comes to breeding horses, it is important to take the emotional aspect of these animals into account as well. Breeding viciousness and laziness out of horses is an accepted fact, but is it rooted in reality, or just a projection of our own emotional states?
While your mare, for example, may seem excited to see your face when you arrive at her stall, does she really have any kind of emotional attachment to you, or does she simply connect your presence to the treats you bring?
With horse racing being as popular as it is thanks to the online betting in Australia and the rest of the world, many punters have started wondering about this aspect of the horse as well -do they enjoy the races, do they know they have won?
A Question for the Ages
The question of whether or not animals have feelings is one that has perplexed both philosophers and animal behaviourists for centuries.
Rene Descartes argued that, since it could not be proven that they had any feelings, animals could and should be treated as automatons, subject to mechanical responses.
A couple of hundred years later, a student of Charles Darwin, a Mr George John Romanes, argued the opposite: he stated the fact of injective knowledge, whereby one could infer what was going on inside someone/something else by a careful observation of their reactions to certain stimuli, and comparing this to one’s own.
The Debate Still Rages On
The debate is far from resolved, and continues up until the present day. Behaviour science, however, is no longer subjective. When studying animal behaviour, scientists observe, quantify, and explain particular aspects of behaviour, and strive to steer clear of any personal interpretations.
Two different people, you see, can view the very same behaviour in their horse, and come up with two entirely different sets of interpretations to explain it, since these will always be based on individual life experiences and views of the world.
There’s the Rub for Behaviour Science
This fact, that outward behaviour is subject to individual perspectives, is both the strength and the shortcoming of behaviour science. Only motivations that are provable can be held as legitimate explanations for behaviour when it comes to science.
But while projecting emotional responses onto animals is mistaken, there is nothing to say that this is what is occurring. You may well be reading the situation perfectly correctly!
The Only Two Provable Drives
Thanks to this nebulousness, ascribing any kind of emotion to horses, or any animals for that matter, is considered to be unscientific, and those who accredit the world of science avoid it at all costs.
Most animals’ action is explained by two basic, provable, drives:
- Survival: to stay alive at any given moment, so doing things that will result in the animal surviving
- Reproduction: to breed and then nurture offspring, so as to ensure the survival of the species
Seeking food, water, shelter, and mates can all be ascribed to either one of these drives, either survival or reproduction.
On the other hand, there are unique behaviours in horses and other animals that seem not to be linked to either of these drives, but are not provable either. Since we neither whinny or nicker, and they have not grasped any human language, however, we must simply rely on our gut-feelings, and make up our own minds as best we can!
The idea of breeding from their own mares has a lot of appeal for horse owners. The chance of producing a foal with qualities like its mother, or even better, has a number of attractions.
Horse owners who enjoy the races bookmakers who provide Australian sports betting make available will be particularly interested in this hobby, hoping to breed the next big winner, but prior knowledge about normal breeding behaviour, what to expect at foaling, and how newborn foals should develop and behave is vital.
It is thus best for novices to seek out professional help when mating and foaling from a stud.
When is Best to Breed?
Mares have a natural breeding season. Increases in daylight hours stimulate receptor centers in the mare’s brain, and this in turn triggers the production of the hormones in charge of reproduction. These initiate the patterns of the regularly spaced oestrus, or heat, periods, which characterise the breeding season each spring.
These oestrus periods will keep occurring throughout the summer, and cease when autumn/fall comes around.
Artificially increasing light, by means of electricity, for example, allows breeders to begin the season earlier if they wish to.
This is a prevalent practice in Thoroughbred studs, since breeders try to ensure that foals are born as close as possible to January 1st. In fact this is such common practice that January 1 is the official birthday of Thoroughbred racehorses!
Should You Breed from Your Mare?
Although breeding horses is commonly not too problematic, it is advisable for novices to think very carefully before putting their mares in foal. Rearing foals is additional work, which requires particular facilities, including different accommodation once it is weaned.
If the mare is a purebred horse, however, there may well be financial benefit from proper breeding. Breeding crossbred horses, however, is unlikely to result in financial gain, and the additional outlay will generally outweigh any potential profit.
Is My Colt Worthy of Becoming a Stallion?
Probably not. Very few colts that have been bred at home are good enough to be used as stallions. There are a lot of excellent stallions available commercially, however, and it is always recommended that one of these is used.
Young colts are also difficult to handle, and usually it is a better idea to geld them as soon as possible.
Both stallions and colts need handling by experts, and it can be not only difficult but dangerous for amateurs to attempt to manage them alone.
Is My Mare the Right Age to Breed?
Mares will frequently continue breeding until late in their lives, and suffer no ill effects as a result.
This is even more true of animals that are regularly bred -it is difficult to get an old mare in foal if she has never undergone the process before.
Fillies reach sexual maturity at about 18 months, and can start foaling as soon as they reach two-years of age. However, you must remember that, at two, they are still growing, and it is possible that pregnancy can hinder their growth.
The ideal age for mares to breed is around four, so that they foal at five-years old, although some are put in foal at three-years old.