Hi friends! It’s your pal Ed. Today I want to talk to you about how my owner properly takes care of me. In general, taking care of a horse is very similar to what you learned in your Kids 4 Critters lessons about taking care of cats and dogs.
Let’s talk about 5 key responsibilities my owner has in order to take care of me.
1. Space and housing
I am a big boy (about 1200 pounds!), so I need lots of space to live in. I live out in pasture with a few other horses. A pasture is a grassy field where I like to run around and eat grass. Pastures are also sometimes called paddocks. There is a nice wooden fence around my pasture so I do not go wandering off. My owner always makes sure the fence is safe and secure. If there were a wooden board sticking out I could get hurt. My owner always makes sure there is shelter in our pastures. We need these run-ins so we can get away from the hot sun or cold rain. There is also a barn with stalls. Some of my friends live in the stalls and sometimes my owner brings me into a stall when the weather is bad (like during hurricane Dorian).
I am an herbivore, so my eating habits are a bit different than a dog or cat. I have to eat for many hours out of the day. I spend most of my day eating grass and roughage, like hay. Some horses can live solely off of hay and grass. I am a very active horse, so my owner gives me another form of food called grain. This helps keep me from getting skinny. There are many types of grasses, hays, and grains. There are also many foods that can cause a horse to become sick. We can talk about these another time.
I have to be groomed just like dogs and cats! My owner likes to brush me, clean out my hooves, and she even gives me a bath sometimes. This is a really good bonding moment between me and my owner. I love being brushed. It feels just like a massage.
4. Training and exercise
You learned in your Kids 4 Critters lessons that it is very important to train your dog to respond to commands like sit and leave it. I have to be trained too. I also need lots of exercise just like dogs. My owner usually rides on my back when she exercises and trains me. Here is a cool video of a few of my friends doing some amazing tricks (make sure you ask your parents first before watching): https://www.pbs.org/video/nature-lipizzaner-stallions/
5. Veterinary and farrier care
You have also learned how important it is to take your pets to the veterinarian. Horses need to see the vet too! I don’t fit through the front door at the vet’s office. Usually my doctor comes to see me where I live because it is too hard for my owner to take me to the vet. I need regular shots just like dogs and cats. I get the rabies vaccine too! I also have to have a farrier (also called a blacksmith) work on my feet every 6-8 weeks. My feet are very important. The farrier trims my hooves and puts metal shoes on my feet. The shoes work just like yours! They keep my feet safe.