Your horse is a large animal whose care is a big responsibility.
There’s a lot of horse stuff on the market, and though you don’t need half of what’s marketed to you, you will need some of the basic supplies to be able to take care of your horse.
Here I’ve compiled a list of essential supplies you’ll need regardless of whether you have your horse on your own property or boarding it.
Supplies for grooming.
Your horse needs daily grooming, even if he’s not being ridden.
Brushing the coat and picking out the hooves will keep your horse healthy as well as provide you with time to deepen your bond.
Horses tend to enjoy being groomed and regularly picking up the feet and picking out the hooves reinforces the behaviour of letting you handle the different body parts of your horse.
At the very least, you’ll need these supplies for grooming your horse:
- A hoof pick to clean out dirt from the hooves.
- A hard plastic brush and/or a curry comb to get dirt out of the coat.
- A soft brush to bring out the shine and give your horse a bit of a pampering.
- A detangling comb for brushing out his mane and tail.
You can also get a shedding brush or blade to help your horse shed his winter coat in the spring.
Basic tack for riding & handling.
The tack you need will depend on the kind of things you’re going to do with your horse.
For riding, you’ll need a saddle, for driving a harness and cart, and for vaulting a whole other host of equipment.
Most typically you’ll need:
- Halter. A headcollar used to lead and tie up the horse, having a few is a good idea.
- Lead rope. A length of rope that snaps onto the halter for leading a horse, always a good idea to have several.
- Saddle. This will be different depending on the style of riding you’ll choose.
- Saddle pads. Specifically ones that fit your style of saddle.
- A bridle and bit. This will, again, depend on the style of riding you choose to do as well as what suits your horse best. If you want to ride bitless, you’ll need a bitless bridle and a horse that’s been trained to a bitless bridle.
- Blankets. If you plan on clipping your horse, you’ll need different blankets for your horse.
You may also need other types of tack, depending on the climate you live in and your horse’s needs.
When you’ve got leather tack, you’ll also need things like saddle soap and leather conditioner, as well as towels and sponges to apply them.
First aid kit.
You’ll want to be prepared for when (not if) something happens, even if it’s a minor thing. A well-stocked and up-to-date first aid kit is essential in an emergency.
Horses are prone to getting minor cuts and scrapes and you’ll want to be able to deal with them quickly before they turn into bigger problems that require a vet visit.
Antiseptic spray, bandages and absorbent pads will allow for a quick clean-up of any minor cuts and scrapes – but the best thing (and often required by insurance) is having a fully stocked, up-to-date first aid kit that serves both horses and humans.
Fly control products.
No matter where in the world you live, you’re bound to face at least one season when your horse will be overwhelmed with flies and other insects.
Having a couple of bottles of fly spray handy as well as some ointment is always a good idea. Make sure you stock up on your fly repellants before the bug season begins so that you don’t run out when you most need it!
In addition to sprays and ointments, bug blankets and fly masks are really good to have.
Hay nets & feed buckets.
These aren’t necessary in every case but I always make sure I have several hay nets and rubber buckets around.
I prefer rubber buckets to plastic ones because I’ve seen horses stick their faces and feet through the plastic handles one too many times when they get bored.
Hay nets are great for when you need to slow down your horse’s grazing and when you need them to stand still for something.
Also, you can’t always feed hay off the ground, in super sandy paddocks for instance, and hay nets or other raising contraptions are necessary.
Hay nets are also useful when you need to soak the hay prior to feeding; you can soak it in the hay net and hang it right up after soaking.
Horses eat a lot of hay so when you have a horse on your own property you’ll have to make sure you have a proper space for hay storage.
Hay needs airflow to prevent becoming mouldy yet can’t be stored in a place that’s too hot or dry because it can catch fire.
If you supplement your horse’s feed, you’ll want to make sure you have storage containers that are rodent-proof, otherwise, you’ll end up losing a lot of sleep and money over broken containers and spoiled food. Not to mention you’ll end up with an explosion of rodents when they have access to an easy source of food.
Wet conditions will quickly cause an increase in the bacterial population on the ground and cause hoof infections, dry season will dry out the hoof and cause cracking.
Having remedies for both (especially whatever is typical in your area) is a great way to be prepared to tackle the problem before it gets serious.
Make sure that your horse has access to a salt lick, either in his stall or out in the paddock, for necessary minerals.
Supplies for watering.
Horses are big animals that drink a lot of water daily.
A mature, average-sized horse will drink between 20 and 40 litres (5 to 10 gallons) of water a day.
Exercise, hot temperatures, humidity, sweating, pregnancy and nursing as well as increased hay intake will all increase the amount of water your horse needs – sometimes by as much as three or four times the normal amount.
Making sure that your horse has access to clean water is critical.
Water troughs need daily checking and regular cleaning out, so you’ll need a brush and soap for cleaning.
If you don’t have an automatic watering system, you need to check and refill your horse’s water several times a day.
Equipment for mucking out.
If your horse lives in a box stall, you’ll need to muck out daily. Even if your horse has a lean-to or lives in a pasture all day, you’ll still need to muck out.
Mucking out means picking up the poo. It’s kind of like cleaning a giant cat litter box and, when you’re caring for a horse, mucking out is a big part of the job.
To do this, you’ll need a shavings fork or pitchfork (depending on the kind of bedding you use), a shovel and a bucket or wheelbarrow.
Having a broom is also a must if you’re mucking out any kind of indoor space, because bedding does make quite a mess, plus you’ll need something to sweep out the stable, tack and feed rooms, as well as the hayloft.
Clothes for riding and stable chores.
You’ll want to have waterproof shoes, rubber or stable boots for when you’re working in the stable because it does get wet and mucky.
Tall riding boots are not comfortable for anything other than riding, so it’s a good idea to have good shoes to change into when you’re not riding.
Hooves are also very hard and horses are heavy, so having your toes stepped on will hurt if you don’t have sturdy shoes on!
You’ll also want to have comfy clothes that you can move around in – sweats, t-shirts and hoodies are standard stable wear.
Helmet, gloves, jodhpurs, riding boots and/or chaps, riding skirts, vests as well as waterproof jackets are on my absolute must-have list.
I also like to have plenty of pockets for things like keys, phone, treats etc.
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