Many people who own horses admit that they under-estimated the amount of care required by the owner. The importance of good research prior to buying a horse cannot be over-estimated. Here are a few points to get you started.
As a general rule, allow at least an acre of land per horse. Check the field for health hazards (rubbish, pesticides etc.) and ensure that the field is properly fenced. The field should be fenced so the horse cannot escape or injure itself. Do not use barbed wire.
Your horse needs to be able to shelter from the heat, cold and rain. A three-sided shelter / run-in shed will work very well. The flooring of the shelter should be dry and the walls should be strong and hazard-free.
If your horse is kept in a stable make sure you provide adequate bedding (e.g. straw, hemp) and keep the stable clean by following a daily mucking-out routine.
As with all animals, a well-balanced diet is very important. Your horse needs the right quantity and quality of food. Be careful not to overfeed - a horse doesn't stop eating when it is full.
You should feed your horse a minimum of twice a day. Get veterinarian advice on the most suited feeding program for your horse.
Ensure that a fresh water supply is available to your horse at all times. A healthy horse can drink up to 12 gallons of water per day.
In order to keep your horse healthy, its coat and mane should be brushed and cleaned regularly. In addition, you should check your horse's hooves to ensure that there is nothing caught in them and that they do not require changing. Feet should be trimmed approximately every 8 weeks.
Your horse will also require vaccinations, dental examinations and de-worming treatment. Seek veterinarian advice for a suitable health care program.
Equine Herpes Virus (EHV)
With the recent EHV outbreaks in Devon, Somerset, East Anglia and Gloustershire since November 2012, EHV is, and always has been, an ever present threat to horse owners.
There are many types of Herpes Virus, but the ones that affect the domestic horse are EHV1,2,3,4 and 5. EHV2 and 5 are found in most horses and rarely cause desease. EHV3 can cause sexually transmitted desease, but this is rare and does not cause death or need treatment. It is EHV1 and 4 that can cause problems.
EHV4 mainly causes respiratory desease. This can be severe but non-fatal.
EHV1 can cause neurological desease, respiratory desease, abortion and death.
EHV1 and 4 are extremely wide spread and although most horses will have the virus, many of them will not show any signs of illness most of the time. However, periodically there are outbreaks of desease. This is because this common virus has the ability to remain in a latent (hidden) form within horses and re-emerge (become active), without any warning, to cause clinical problems.
This is a similar phenomenon seen with herpes virus in humans, which re-emerge to cause "cold sores". Just like the human herpes virus, the re-emergance of EHV1 is seemingly variable between individuals and may occur in a variety of stressfull situations, however the actual mechanism of reaction is unknown.
There are no vaccines currently available that provide complete protection against EHV. The vaccines that are available give some protection against respitatory desease and can help reduce the spread of infective virus.
So here are a few pointers to help reduce the oytbreaks of EHV;
Due to the recent scandal of "Beef/Horse" burgers hitting the nations supermarkets, there has been a clamp down on vets about administering bute.
The chemical "bute" or Phenylbutazone, is an anti-inflammatory drug, used by vets, mainly to treat pain and fever in horses.
Horses that have been treated with bute are banned from human consumption forever by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
So earlier last year, when traces of bute were found in the beef/horse meat it fell upon vets to check that section 9 of a horse's passport is signed before administering bute. This rules the horse out of being used for human consumption.
This section can be signed by an owner or vet, but once signed, it can never be reversed, so, THAT horse can never go for human consumption.