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Essential Horse Care: Nutrition Living Quarters and More

As horse owners, it is important to understand the basics of equine nutrition and proper living quarters for a healthy and happy horse. In this article, we will cover the essential terms and concepts in equine nutrition, as well as the types of living quarters commonly used to keep horses comfortable.

Equine Nutrition and Feed Terms:

1. Hay:

Hay is a primary source of roughage and nutrients for horses. It is commonly made from grass or alfalfa and is essential to keep a horse’s digestive system healthy.

Horses should have access to hay throughout the day, either through free-choice feeding or slow feed hay nets.

2. Slow Feed Hay Net:

A slow feed hay net is a tool used to provide horses with access to hay all day while promoting digestive health and reducing boredom.

These types of hay nets are designed to restrict how much hay a horse can access at once, which encourages them to eat more slowly. Slow feed hay nets also prevent horses from wasting or trampling their hay.

3. Grain:

Grain is a type of commercial horse feed that comes in pellets, sweet feed, and other forms. Typically, grains are high in energy and can be used to supplement a horse’s diet when necessary.

However, it is important not to rely on grains as a primary food source.

4. Supplements:

Supplements are powders, granules, or pellets designed to provide horses with additional nutrients such as biotin or joint support.

Horses may require supplements depending on their age, activity level, and overall health.

5. Pasture:

Grazing on natural grass in a field or paddock is a great way to provide horses with a variety of nutrients.

However, it is important to manage pastures to prevent overgrazing and ensure weed control. Rangeland may also be utilized as a natural source of nutrients.

6. Free Choice:

Free choice feeding means providing horses with 24/7 access to food, such as hay or grass, in a private pasture. This method can help prevent digestive issues and ensure that horses maintain a healthy weight.

Horse Living Quarters:

1. Dry Lot:

A dry lot is an area used for outdoor exercise on a surface such as dirt. It is typically used for horses who need to maintain weight or those who cannot be turned out on grass due to dietary restrictions.

2. Paddock:

Paddocks are small fenced areas, usually with both grass and dirt, where horses can move around and graze. Paddocks provide a happy medium between dry lots and larger field areas.

3. Run:

A run is a small paddock that connects to a stall, allowing horses to have indoor and outdoor access. This set up is commonly used in barns to give horses more room to move around.

4. Loafing Shed:

A loafing shed is a shelter designed to protect horses from wind, rain, and sun. This is particularly useful when multiple horses share a living space.

5. Stall:

A stall is a self-contained area where horses can rest or sleep. Its primary function is to provide protection from weather conditions, as well as access to food and water.

6. Turnout:

Turnout simply refers to outdoor exercise, which can take place in a dry lot, paddock, or field area. Horses who are kept in stalls benefit greatly from turnout, as it allows them to move around and stretch their legs.

7. Individual Turnout:

Individual turnout is an outdoor area for one horse at a time. This is particularly useful for stallions or performance horses who have specific dietary or exercise needs.

8. Group Turnout:

Group turnout is an outdoor area where horses of the same gender and temperament can interact. This is typically done in larger pastures or fields and can promote healthy horse socialization.

In conclusion, understanding equine nutrition and living quarters is crucial to maintaining a healthy and happy horse. By providing adequate access to hay, supplements, and proper living quarters, horses can enjoy a fulfilling life.

Remember to always prioritize the safety and health of your horse when making these important decisions.

Barn Terms and Facilities:

When it comes to caring for horses, having the right facilities and equipment is essential.

1. Tack Room:

The tack room is where all of the horse riding equipment is stored, such as saddles, bridles, and grooming equipment. It is important to keep this area organized to ensure that everything is easy to find when needed.

2. Feed Room:

The feed room is where horse feed is stored, typically in metal containers that are rodent-proof. Keeping horse feed clean and fresh is essential to ensure your horse’s health, and proper storage is crucial.

3. Wash Rack:

The wash rack is where horses are washed, rinsed, and soaked. The area should be designed to allow complete drainage, and equipped with a pressure washer.

4. Cross Ties:

Cross ties are straps or ropes used to secure a horse in place while being groomed or tacked up. This is an important safety feature to prevent the horse from moving while being handled.

5. Mucking Stalls:

Mucking stalls involves cleaning up soiled bedding and spreading fresh wood shavings or straw. This is typically done on a daily basis to protect the horses’ health and maintain proper hygiene.

6. Hay Loft:

The hay loft is the storage area for hay, typically located above the horse stalls. It should be designed to prevent hay from being exposed to moisture and pests.

7. Round Pen:

The round pen is a 30-meter diameter circular pen used for training, groundwork, longeing, and riding exercises. As it is a confined area, it is ideal for isolation and concentration.

8. Lounge:

The lounge is an area designed for rider amenities, such as a comfortable seating area, kitchen, and space to store personal belongings. It is essential for comfortable and appropriate rider care in the facility.

9. Shavings:

Shavings are materials such as wood shavings or straw used as bedding for stabled horses. They are absorbent, provide insulation, and reduce odors from ammonia.

10. Breezeway:

The breezeway is a passage that runs between stalls and is designed to provide a passage with open ends for airflow. It is crucial to maintaining proper ventilation, especially in hotter climates.

Boarding Terms and Fees:

Boarding your horse at a professional facility can offer many benefits, but it is essential to understand the different boarding terms and fees.

1. Stall Board:

Stall board provides housing for horses, typically with limited turnout in a small paddock. This is ideal for horses that require extra protection, such as those with sensitive skin or that need to be kept on a specific diet.

2. Run-in Shed:

A run-in shed is a three-sided structure designed for horses to take shelter from rain or wind. Run-in sheds typically come with access to a dry lot or paddock, making it an excellent option for horses that require turnout, but may not be suited for stall boarding.

3. Full Board:

Full board is an all-inclusive option that provides all care for your horse, including food, shelter, and turnout. While it is expensive, it is ideal for owners who do not have time to manage their horse’s care up close and personal.

4. Partial Board:

Partial board provides shared care for your horse, such as hay, bedding, and feed. This option is ideal for horse owners who want to stay involved in their horse’s care, but cannot visit their horse frequently enough to do it all themselves.

5. Self-Care:

Self-care boarding means providing your horse with a stall, water, and private turn-out, while taking on all care responsibilities for the horse. This option is ideal for experienced horse owners who want to control every aspect of their horse’s care.

6. Pasture Board:

Pasture board is an affordable option that provides 24/7 grass access to horses, along with shelter. However, it should be noted that pasture boarded horses may have limited access to medical care or shelter during the winter months.

7. Automatic Waterer:

Automatic waterers are designed to provide fresh water to horses in stalls or troughs. These devices are especially helpful during the summer when horses drink more water, ensuring that the water is always clean and fresh.

8. Trailer Parking:

Trailer parking is available to boarders and offered as an additional service with an additional fee. This is ideal for horse owners who need access to their horse trailers for trips, shows, or other events.

9. Hold Fee:

Hold fees are typically charged by boarding facilities when a farrier, veterinarian, or other service provider is scheduled to visit. This fee covers the time that the horse owner must spend holding the horse during treatment.

10. Waitlist:

Waitlists are used by boarding facilities to indicate how many spaces are available and when they will be available. This is important for horse owners to know in order to plan ahead and ensure that they are not stuck without a place to board their horse.

In summary, understanding the terminology and options of equine care is important for horse owners. Whether it is managing the facilities or managing the fees, the right set-up ensures happiness and optimal health for your beloved animal.

Miscellaneous Horse Care Terms:

Taking care of horses goes beyond feeding, grooming and boarding.

1. Barn Sour:

Barn sour is a behavior where the horse becomes unwilling to leave the stall or barnyard area. This can be due to fear or anxiety and may be resolved through desensitization training and disciplinary action.

2. Herd Bound:

Herd bound is a behavior where the horse becomes afraid to leave the herd and feels safer in numbers. This can lead to anxiety when isolated or being ridden away from other horses. Desensitization and positive reinforcement are good methods to resolve this issue.

3. Longeing:

Longeing, or “lunging,” is a method of training or exercising horses by having them walk, trot, or canter in a circle while being attached to a lunge line and being directed by the trainer. Longeing is typically done in a round pen or other enclosed area.

4. Free Lunging:

This refers to lunging without a line, and instead relies on body language and voice signals to direct the horse, usually done in a round pen. It is used for training and exercising horses, especially when preparing for the introduction of the rider’s weight to the horse’s back.

5. Hand Walking:

Hand walking is when the horse is led by hand, usually alongside its handler, as part of its recovery from injury or illness. This technique is crucial in helping the horse regain strength and increasing activity slowly.

6. Blanketing:

Blanketing is the practice of covering horses with a blanket or rug to keep them warm and protect them from harsh weather conditions. It is important to select the right blanket for the horse, as improper use can lead to sweating and dehydration.

7. Lease:

A lease involves temporarily allowing someone to care for or frequently ride your horse, either in part or in full. The horse remains owned by the original owner. Leases are generally very specific, and should outline the caretaking responsibilities and financial obligation of the lease holder.

8. Partial Lease:

A partial lease is when a horse owner shares the care and riding duties with another individual for a fraction of the week, usually 2 or 3 days. This arrangement often sees the horse living at a boarding stable where the leasee may come and go as they please, within the leasing agreement.

In conclusion, understanding these miscellaneous horse care terms is crucial for every responsible horse owner. Properly caring for horses involves more than just food and bedding – desensitization, training, exercise, and leasing agreements are all important components to know and understand. By educating ourselves, we ensure that our horses live healthy and happy lives.

In conclusion, horse care is a multifaceted topic that requires comprehension and implementation of various disciplines, methods, and facilities. Knowing the ins and outs of equine nutrition, living quarters, barn terms and facilities, boarding, and the many miscellaneous care terms ensures that your horse is given the best possible care. Take the time to educate yourself on proper horse care and treatments and, whether you’re a long-time horse owner or a newcomer, make sure to rely on trusted resources for support.


1. Q: What kind of hay should I feed my horse?


Grass hay and alfalfa are excellent sources of roughage, and it’s important to ensure that your horse has access to fresh hay throughout the day.

2. Q: How often should I clean my horse’s stall?


Mucking stalls should be done on a daily basis to ensure your horse’s health and hygiene.

3. Q: Should I choose stall or pasture boarding for my horse?


This decision depends on your horse’s needs – stall board provides more protection in limited turnout while pasture board is affordable with 24/7 access to grass.

4. Q: How do I desensitize my horse to barn sour and herd bound behavior?


Training, positive reinforcement and disciplinary action can help curb these behaviors.

5. Q: What kind of blanket should I use for my horse?


It’s important to choose the right blanket or rug for your horse, taking into account factors such as weather and your horse’s breed and weight.

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