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Cheat Sheet

Horses For Dummies

From Horses For Dummies, 2nd Edition by Audrey Pavia, Janice Posnikoff, D.V.M.

Horses don’t make for cuddly pets; on the other hand, you can’t go for a gallop on a kitten. Like any animal, horses need daily care and occasional grooming. If you’re buying a horse, you need to know the right questions to ask, and if you own a horse, you need to be able to recognize when your horse is experiencing a health emergency. Otherwise, it’s “Hi-ho, Silver, away!,” as the Lone Ranger used to say.

Questions to Ask as You Shop for a Horse

Buying a horse is a big deal. It’s a process that deserves and needs some thought and preparation. When you set off on your horse-shopping adventure, arm yourself with the following questions for the seller:

  • How much are you asking for the horse? Is this price negotiable?

  • How old is the horse?

  • How big is the horse? (How many hands?)

  • What is the horse’s gender and size?

  • In which discipline is the horse ridden?

  • Has the horse ever had professional training?

  • Is the horse suitable for a beginning rider?

  • Is the horse suitable for children (if you have kids who will ride the horse)?

  • Does the horse load into a trailer?

  • Does the horse have any bad habits such as cribbing (biting a fence while sucking in air), weaving (shifting back and forth repeatedly from front leg to front leg), or pulling back when tied?

  • Does the horse have any medical problems or a history of medical problems like colic, lameness, or allergies?

  • Why are you selling the horse?

Daily Horse-Tending Tasks

Taking care of a horse is a major responsibility, and you have to tend to your equine friend every day. The following list describes the tasks you need to accomplish each day for your horse:

  • Feed your horse two to three times

  • Check your horse’s water supply

  • Examine your horse for any signs of health troubles

  • Exercise your horse

  • Clean out your horse’s stall once or twice

  • Groom your horse and clean her hooves

Horse Grooming Tools

Keeping your horse clean and looking good is an essential part of horse ownership, and besides, it can be fun! The following is a list of grooming tools you need to have handy:

  • Rubber currycomb

  • Stiff brush

  • Soft brush

  • Shedding blade

  • Cloth

  • Mane and tail brush

  • Mane and tail detangler

  • Hoof pick

  • Hoof brush

  • Bathing supplies (such as shampoo, conditioner, and sponges)

  • Clippers

How to Respond to Horse Emergencies

Your horse, like you and every other animal, is susceptible to health troubles. The problems in the symptom column in the following table are ones that merit immediate attention and a call to the veterinarian.

Symptom(s) Possible Cause Steps to Perform
Bleeding Injury Apply pressure; call vet
Blood in urine Severe infection or bladder injury Call vet immediately
Coughing and salivating with head down as food exits the mouth Choking Horse can breathe, but call vet immediately
Inability to stand; staggering Severe sickness Call vet immediately
Liquid, foul-smelling excrement Diarrhea Call vet immediately
Profuse sweating, lying down and getting up, pawing ground, biting abdomen Colic Remove food; call vet immediately
Rapid breathing, raspy breathing, heavy coughing Illness or infection Call vet immediately
Refusal to eat Serious illness or mild colic Call vet immediately
Severe pain Injury or illness Call vet immediately
Straining to defecate or urinate Intestinal or urethral blockage Call vet immediately
Swelling or body part that’s hot to the touch Injury Call vet immediately
Teary eye; closed eye; red eye; cloudy eye Eye injury or infection Call vet immediately
Temperature significantly above or below 98–101.5ºF Fever Call vet immediately
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