Thursday, August 16, 2007

Your Commitment in a New Horse: Educational

This is one in a long series of educational articles and press releases that we here at Denkai Animal Sanctuary plan to be sending out. It is our hope that in reading these short articles, people will begin to plan long term for their animal companions resulting in lasting relationships and a higher standard of care.

Future articles that we have in mind for this include caring for llamas, planning for pets in your will and pet insurance, caring for other animals such as pot bellied pigs, turkeys, sheep, goats, the human animal bond and many more! We hope that you enjoy this and encourage you to write to us with questions or comments. Our website can be found at the end of this article.


Plan before you jump! Horses are a 30 year commitment!

So many times we get calls here at the Sanctuary for people seeking placement for their horses. The reasons are always the same, “My horse went lame and since we can’t ride him/her, we need to get rid of them” or I just can’t afford it. A lot of the time we come across “green owners” or those who have always wanted a horse, but never had one and somehow end up with a yearling filly or colt that is “out of control!”

There is a remedy for all of this! Educate yourself! There are so many wonderful trainers in this northern Colorado area along with veterinarians and rescue groups that can help horse owners to make educated decisions about the commitment they will embark on when acquiring a horse. If you are new to horses, don’t jump in feet first and take on a yearling that has never had any training and is fresh off of the pasture. This always turns into a bad situation for both parties, you and the horse. Instead, you might look for a horse that is well trained so that the first experience for horse and rider is a good, safe one. Don’t just hop on right away either, gain a relationship with this horse, get to know them, make sure it is a good match before embarking on what could be a 15 or more year commitment. If you have to, hire a trainer to help you get started.

Some of the things to think about when acquiring a new horse include the cost of feeding this horse per year and board if you do not have the room to house a large animal on your property. Check in with the planning and zoning committees along with your HOA if you have one, in your county and find out what the regulations are on horses.

Veterinary costs per year can run up to a minimum of $1,000.00 and plan for more due to unexpected injuries. Do you have the proper and safe fencing needed for your animal companion? Wood is great, but horses tend to chew through that faster than you can put it up. Vinyl is wonderful, but very costly. Smooth wire works well and is economically much friendlier.

General care for your horse comes in the form of quarterly worming, rotating the wormer per quarter to insure the best results. Vaccinations need to be administered at least once yearly in the spring and farrier work (hoof trimming or shoeing) should be performed every 6-8 weeks depending on the type of riding you are doing. What you feed your horses is so very important to their long-term health, plan accordingly, will they be on pasture or will they be in a stalled area or dry lot with the need to be fed hay twice per day? Your food bill is going to vary depending on these situations. White salt blocks and mineral blocks, such as a 12:12 mineral, are crucial no matter whether your horse is pastured or fed hay here in Colorado. Lastly, do not forget to check the condition of your horse’s teeth on a yearly basis. Dental work is a very important factor in not only being able to chew food properly, but also in the comfort of the bit in your horse’s mouth when being worked with if a bit is used.

Plan to have at least two horses together. These are herd bound animals, they do not function well alone and we have seen many a behavioral issue in horses that are separated from their herd. Be aware of your moods, if you are afraid of your horse or feeling timid about things, they are going to pick up on this. We once had a horse come into our Sanctuary that was famous for looking at her owner, pinning her ears and running this person down, then biting them. This horse had absolutely no respect for their owner and could sense the fear that this person had toward them. This creates a dangerous and unpleasant situation all the way around. Within one day of entering our Sanctuary, this horse had learned respect for us with kind but firm training methods. This mare is an excellent example of what can happen with a green owner and a green horse.

There are many horses at Denkai Animal Sanctuary in need of foster homes and sponsors. Consider helping out at the Sanctuary or fostering one of these horses as a way to help you gain a better understanding of the commitment taking on a large animal entails.

Denkai Animal Sanctuary is a not for profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, adoption and sanctuary of all domestic animals. Volunteers are always needed and appreciated along with donations of in-kind materials and cash., (970) 897-3122.