While dogs are members of 63.4 million American households and another 42.7 million are owned by cats, only 1.6 million households in the United States have an equine resident. If you're considering a pet horse, you may wonder why they're less popular than canine companions and feline friends. One reason is that owning a horse is much more work than cleaning Fluffy's litter box or taking Fido to the park. Are you still longing for a noble steed or pretty pony? Here are four elements of horse care that you need to prepare for.
Shelter and Room to Run
Your backyard may accommodate even the largest mastiff, but it's nowhere near spacious enough for a horse. A horse needs a comfortable stable and plenty of miles to run and exercise. However, you can still own a horse even if you don't live on a multi-acre farm. Many horse-owners choose to board their horses at a riding stable, but keep in mind that boarding your horse typically costs several hundred dollars per month.
It's important to connect with an equine veterinarian before getting a horse because many veterinarians only treat cats, dogs and small animals. Adult horses need annual checkups along with vaccinations, parasite prevention and dental care. Because horses are so large, many veterinarians who treat them will make house calls.
Tack and Toys
A puppy or kitten may rack up a hundred-dollar bill at the pet store, but you should be prepared to spend thousands on horse supplies. The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to use western or English tack before picking out a saddle, bridle and other riding accessories. These not only make horseback riding more comfortable for you, but proper tack also makes riding more comfortable and safer for the horse. This equipment will also need regular maintenance and proper care to protect the health of the horse. Young or very active horses also benefit from oversized balls and other toys.
Healthy Horse Diet
You can't just open a can of horse chow for your equine companion. Unlike our carnivorous house pets, a horse's digestive system is designed for roughage and lots of it. Pasture grass is ideal, but high-quality hay is also a good choice when fresh grass is unavailable. If you choose to feed your horse grain, provide it in small amounts spread out over the day.
If you're ready to bring a horse home, consider adopting a rescue horse instead of purchasing a purebred. Some rescue horses have been saved from neglect or abuse situations, while others were simply no longer wanted by their owners. You can give a great a horse a new lease on life by choosing to adopt.
About the Author:
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.