Horse Health

It’s been a crazy year already and many of us are itching to get out and about with our Equine buddies. Whether you enjoy the occasional trail ride or a bit of fierce competition, I think it’s fair to say that ensuring your horse is fit for its purpose and has a general health check-up is a pretty vital aspect of owning a horse.

Often, when we think about health, we think about the kind of foods we are eating, the kind of liquids we’re drinking, and how much exercise we are, or are not, doing…
When it comes to our horses, however, there are quite possibly a few more things to take into consideration than you first thought.

So what should we be taking into consideration?
All in all, regardless of the discipline you follow, there are several all-around health checks your horse should be able to pass before thinking about going for a ride. If you are already regularly riding, and you find that your horse is either challenging you or its behaviour has changed, then there is a very high chance it is trying to tell you something.
A lot of the time this sort of behaviour is dismissed, but when we learn that it could be an underlying issue, it is important to go through a process of elimination to work out what the root cause of the change in behaviour actually is.

Muscle and skeletal structure

horse muscel

Muscular tension or vertebral misalignments can be the cause of a lot of ridden problems. If your horse is not responding to something you are asking it to do, it can be because their movement is being restricted by muscle tightness, underdevelopment, or a joint mobility problem.

Some signs to look out for:
 - Shortened strides;
 - Cross firing in their leads;
 - Lugging on the bit;
 - Difficulty stopping & backing up;
 - Difficulty flexing;
 - Bucking or rearing.

 Top 8 behavioural changes you may notice:
 - Being difficult to catch;
 - Head shy;
 - Uncharacteristically nervous or flighty;
 - Sour or irritated;
 - Threatening to bite or kick when being saddled;
 - Pulling away from you or pulling back when tied up;
 - Difficulty standing correctly to urinate;
 - Muscle & ligament induced lameness.


horse teeth

Teeth are another very important aspect of your horses' overall health. They are constantly growing and wearing therefore if not attended to, a head full of bad teeth can result in numerous issues from malnutrition to riding-related problems. If your horse isn’t able to chew its food adequately for proper digestion, it can also lead to internal issues such as mouth abscesses, ulcers, gastrointestinal and kidney problems.

Some indications to watch out for include:
- Can’t maintain condition;
- Drops a lot of feed while chewing;
- Head tossing when pressure is applied whilst riding;
- Lugging on the bit;
- Bolting;
- Head shy;
- Sour and irritated;
- You find un-masticated food in poop.

In any case, you should do some more in-depth research to discover exactly what it is you need to be looking for when having your horses’ teeth done, and also to find a qualified and proficient Equine dentist for a regular check-up for your equine pal.


There is the ever contentious debate of “to shoe” or “not to shoe”.

horse shoe

Caring for your horse’s feet is far more than slapping four metal shoes on the hooves or running a rasp around the edge and calling it a day! A comfortable horse will always perform better, and allowing your horses' feet to function as close to the natural biomechanics of the hoof as possible, is probably one of, if not the best way to approach your horses' farrier requirements.

The balance and alignment of a horse's feet can have a profound effect on nearly every aspect of the horse from its comfort, behaviour, posture, overall soundness, and ultimately, its ability to perform. When the difference between winning or losing depends on your horse’s speed and athleticism, every measure you can take to ensure your horse’s health and safety is paramount.

Your farrier shouldn’t have to train your horse to stand still or pick up its feet when they come to visit, but they should be able to explain to you how the balance of the overall hoof works. They should also have an understanding of how the hoof functions and be prepared to do a pre-shoe or pre-trim examination of your horse.
For a part of the horses' healthcare that falls largely into the category of the individual opinion, it is once again important to do some research of your own to gain an understanding of at least what you need to be looking for, when it comes to a balanced and functional hoof.


horse feed

Blood builders, Calmers, Digestive Aids, Diuretics & Neutralisers, Essential Oils, Electrolytes, Arthritis & Joint Aids, Immune Boosters, Laminitis and Founder aids, Respiratory support, Injectable Vitamins… It is quite mind-boggling and literally overwhelming how the market is flooded with so many quick fixes and gimmicks. 

It is important to educate yourself about what elements are a necessity to assist in your horse functioning adequately because by doing this, you can get rid of the fluff and fillers that have no nutritional benefit whatsoever.

A good way to discover what your horses' needs are specifically is to get a blood test and or hair test taken, so you know exactly what you are working with for each individual.

Another way to get to the bottom of things is to gain an understanding of what your pasture may or may not be lacking in. This can be done by way of pasture/soil testing and the same applies to the feed you are giving them.

Vitamin A is an organic compound that's essential for normal growth and metabolism and is required in small quantities in the diet because it can't be synthesized or produced by the organism (your horse).

Vitamins have diverse jobs when it comes to keeping your horse's body functioning. For example, vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium from your horse's small intestine, while vitamin E scavenges for damaging "free radicals," and helps to protect the body's cell membranes. In contrast to vitamins, minerals have a definition separate from their role in body functioning.

A Mineral, on the other hand, is an inorganic substance, in simpler terms, it's a solid crystal. Almost 5,000 minerals are known to exist, and of those, a relatively small number are required in the diet of your horse to make sure his body functions the way it should. Certain minerals are critical, such as potassium, which is key to keeping your horse's muscles contracting and his heart pumping!

Conclusion: the body requires these to function but cannot manufacture them on their own in sufficient amounts, which is why we supplement them by putting the additives into their feed.

Exercise and conditioning

horse exercise

The importance of overall alignment is paramount, particularly in the horse that has to exert itself. By overall alignment, we mean that it is taking into consideration a combination of all that we have discussed in this article thus far. Exercise and conditioning are just as important because horses were designed to move, roam, buck and play.


There are many, many different programs to get your horse fit and conditioned, and it really is one of those things that come down to personal preference. The biggest point to observe is that you have a healthy, happy, pain-free and functioning horse to begin with, by taking into consideration everything we’ve already discussed.

The most important thing to remember, is that having an un-conditioned horse leaves them extremely susceptible to injuries, so think of conditioning your horse as “prevention is better than the cure”.

You may be a complete newbie to conditioning schedules or you could very well have a stack of them piled on the table… In any case, the suggestion to leave you with today would be to jump onto your favorite search engine and discover what is going to work best for your horse, you and the time you have available.