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4 equine New Year’s resolutions

Will 2016 be the year you adopt a horse?

The closing out of one year and the start of the next is great for letting you hit the reset button. Sure, for the most part, your daily life continues as normal. But the promise of a new calendar year allows you to kick some of those old habits and start afresh in a way you can’t do midway through.

“Your equine friend need some quality horse-to-horse time.”

You’ve probably already made a list of resolutions. Here are a few more horse care-related points you’ll want to include.

1. I will exercise my horse more often

Whether we’re talking about a racehorse, show horses or anything in between, exercising your hoofed helper is critical to its health. According to “Equine Breeding Management and Artificial Insemination,” horses kept in a stall all day can develop vices like cribbing, weaving and stall walking, and for young horses, it may stunt the development of their musculo-skeletal system.

That’s why many horse owners will take their equine companions out for a minimum of a half-hour per day, as well as for longer segments of exercise once or a few times a week. But the more you can do this, the better. So this coming new year, try and find a few more hours during which you can get your horse up and about.

2. I will get my horse to be more social

Horses aren’t made for the solitary life. They are herd animals by nature, and while the companionship of their owner and trainer is important, they need some quality horse-to-horse time as well. Without it, they exhibit similar issues as when they don’t exercise, according to “The Encyclopedia of Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare.”

If your horse is kept on its own, try and make sure its socialization needs are met. Have it spend some time around other horses or, if that’s not possible, make sure to at least provide it frequently with your company. You might also consider getting a companion animal for the horse, such as a dog.

3. I will have my horse go barefoot

If you’ve been thinking about making your horse go barefoot for a while, then maybe 2016 is the year to finally do it. Barefooting has been a hot topic in the equine world for some time now, with its proponents touting a number of potential health benefits, such as avoiding hoof-related lameness and other hoof problems.

Maintaining a barefoot horse requires a little more work than does your average horse, which is why many owners tend to put it off. If you’re serious about it, consult a vet, and work with a qualified and knowledgeable trimmer to help your horse make the transition. And remember that not every horse is made for the barefoot life. As Stephen O’Grady of Virginia Therapeutic Farriery notes, some horses may need horseshoes for traction due the activities they engage in, or to treat various physical ailments.

4. I will adopt a rescue horse

For those horse lovers who have one or more extra spaces in their stable, adopting a rescue horse at some point may be a good resolution for 2016. While horses are truly incredible creatures, that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of unwanted horses out there in the world.

Although accurate figures are hard to come by, according to statistics compiled by the American Veterinary Medical Association, there were 170,000 unwanted horses in the U.S. in 2007, with 90,000 to 140,000 sent to slaughter each year. This can be for any number of reasons, commonly:

  • The horse is injured or too old.
  • The horse has become too difficult to manage.
  • Owner-related issues, such as financial hardship or change in employment.

In fact, the owner’s financial hardship is the most common reason for a horse becoming unwanted. Perhaps you can improve one such animal’s year in 2016 by taking it in.