Summer horse care can sometimes be frustrating and challenging. Here are 5 natural horse care tips that you can do around your property that will help maintain your horse’s health this summer in a more natural and cost effective way.
Remove Mosquito Havens – Stagnant Water Sources
Mosquitoes carry many different diseases, such as malaria, heartworms and west nile virus, that put your family, pets and livestock at risk. If you have large stock tanks or water troughs, consider using fish to help keep down both the algae and mosquito larvae, keeping your horse’s source of drinking water clean and healthy.
Scan your property and remove any unnecessary items that may collect water, such as tires, barrels and buckets, or store them in such a way that they cannot collect stagnant water and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. If you have smaller water tanks or storage containers, remember to clean these out several times per week.
If you don’t mind bats, you might consider building a couple of bat houses. A single bat can eat 600 mosquitoes in an hour! They are wonderful bug exterminators. However, bat colonies can harbor rabies and their guano is a source of the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum of which the spores when inhaled cause histoplasmosis in humans and animals. Cases of histoplasmosis most often occur in the warm, moist climate of the southeastern states from East Texas to Florida. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of this method thoroughly before deciding to go the bat route.
There are quite a few alternative natural pest control solutions available like electric mosquito traps, mosquito pheromone replacement lures and traps, and natural non-toxic chemical-free repellents.
Access To Trace Minerals and Vitamins
Horses require certain trace minerals and vitamins in the proper ratios for their body systems to function properly. Most of these vitamins and minerals come from their forage and/or supplemented feed products. Plants pick up trace minerals from the soil as they grow. Depending on where you live, certain minerals may be lacking in your area and need to be supplemented in order for your horse to get what its body needs to function. Contact your county extension agent to find out if there are any deficiencies in your area soils. You can also have your hay tested for the same purpose, determining what, if any, essential nutrients may be missing from your forage.
Natural Hoof Care
Horses in the wild naturally travel many miles over varied terrain as they forage for food and water. This activity has the effect of naturally wearing down the hooves, and immersion in wet soils at the edge of water sources helps to maintain the moisture content of the hoof. Consider providing your horse with a more natural and varied environment for hoof care. If you don’t have a stock tank that your horse can get its feet wet in, consider allowing your water trough to run over once a day so that your horse has to stand in wet soil while drinking. Have rocky areas that your horse must traverse during the day to help keep its feet worn down, creating lanes that your horse must navigate to get from point A to point B. See Jaime Jackson’s Paddock Paradise for more on this concept.
Watch your horses stand in the pasture this summer and you’ll know the daily torture they endure with summer flies. The pesky pests nibble on our horses, creating raw and crusty areas on their bodies from the incessant biting. Some horses have very severe reactions leading to open sores and some horses even completely rub out their manes and tails.
There are a couple of things you can do to help reduce the fly problem around your property this summer that won’t require the use of toxic chemicals. Fly predators are a very effective natural pest control method. Another method you can use is either guinea fowl or chickens. They can help greatly with manure management, spreading the manure naturally and eating the insects that would otherwise find a nice breeding ground in the piles of undisturbed manure. Consider also composting your manure. The heat from the composting process is not ideal for the breeding of flies and the composted manure can be re-spread later to help maintain your garden and/or pasture health.
Shelter From The Elements
Make sure that your horse has adequate shelter from the elements. Horses can get heat exhaustion and heat stroke just like humans. If your pasture or enclosure does not have any natural shade trees, consider building a man-made lean to. A three-sided 10′ x 20′ pole barn is all your horse needs to find a shady place during the heat of the day or to get out of the rain during the occasional summer thunderstorm.
These simple horse care tips can make the world of difference for your horse this summer. Take just a few minutes to walk your property and see what you can do to improve your horse’s environment using some of the tips provided in this article. What kinds of things do you do to help your horse stay healthy and more comfortable during the heat of summer? Please share your ideas in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you. Share what works for you with others that might benefit from your experiences.
Lisa Carter is a Certified Equine Massage Therapist (CEMT), with multiple certifications from several different equine bodywork schools. She incorporates her knowledge and experience with Parelli Natural Horsemanship, equine bodywork and as a veterinary technician to provide her clients with the resources they need to make informed decisions for their horses. She encourages and facilitates network building between equine health care professionals, working together to find the best combination of therapies to meet the needs of the “whole horse”.
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