CSU ext

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What behaviors should we consider for horses?
Horses are a prey animal and therefore have a flight response, which requires  moving quietly and slowly around them.  They are a social herd animal and when separated from their herd mates they may become stressed.  When stressed they may call for herd mates, sweat, paw, kick, bite, fling their head and act aggressively toward people and other animals.

horse behavior
Horses can be aggresive to others

What environmental conditions should we consider for horses?
Keep horses cool and comfortable with fans, clean bedding, food and water.  It is very important that horses have fresh water and are drinking it, when they sweat they become dehydrated and this may lead to intestinal upset (colic). 

comfortable horse
Content horse in cool, clean stall

What is the proper way to hold or restrain a horse?
Most horses are trained performance animals and are halter broke to lead.   Approach a horse on the left or “near side” as this is the side the animals are used to being worked from on the ground.  The right side or “off side” is not as commonly worked from.  Face the horse and establish your boundary as most horses like space themselves; do not hold the halter tightly or they may use their head to push you out of their way.  To lead them turn around and walk beside their head, if they do not follow, give a brief tug on the lead rope, if you pull on them or look back at them this will cause them to stop. To stop them, pull lead rope back to their chest, stop, turn around and look at them.

Tturn the horse away
Turn the horses head away from you,
for better control.

What should we look for to identify a sick horse?
Engage the exhibitor in conversation and observe the horse for incoordination and stress, a calm animal will listen to your voice and acknowledge you decreasing the element of surprise. If the animal is wearing a blanket, have the exhibitor remove this for the examination.  Approach the horse on the left side between the head and the shoulder, if the animal wants to sniff you let them do so at this time. Examine the head; eyes, ears, nose, throat latch, lips and mouth for discharge, lesions and abnormalities. Run your hands across the neck to the shoulder, part the hair looking for parasites and fungus. Run your hands down the legs looking for any heat, swelling, lesions and abnormalities. Run your hands across the body and abdomen (stomach) looking for lumps, abscesses and abnormalities. Check for diarrhea and the genitals for swelling, discharge, and abnormalities. Change your gloves or wash your hands before moving onto another group of commingled animals.

Check horses mouth
Check horses mouth for lesions
Horses going for excercise
Walking horses
Young cowboy
Horses ready for vet check