Checking the grass kept horse/pony
A horse turned out in a field should be checked at least once a day
but preferably every two - three hours. It is important to get into
the habit of noticing anything that may have changed overnight either
in the field or any changes in the horse's behaviour.
Spend time each day watching your horse, each horse is an individual
and therefore there will be minor differences in behaviour and no two
horses have the same 'lumps and bumps' on their legs. Stand a short
distance away from horse and look for any changes in his behaviour.
Ask yourself if everything looks the same as yesterday or has something
Having assessed your horse's condition from a distance, go up to him
(approaching from his head) and make a closer inspection, walking around
him looking at both sides and front and back checking for new 'lumps
and bumps' and any fresh blood.
This is a lovely summer scene, a mare and foal in a well-fenced field
with plenty of good grass and thick hedges for shelter and shade.
What to look for in the horse (signs of good health)
An alert look with ears moving back and forth.
A sheen on the coat, the hair lying flat.
The skin loose and supple.
At rest or eating no signs of sweating, unless
it is a very hot day and then there may be a little around the base
of his ears.
Bright eyes with salmon pink membranes and the
lining of the nostril the same.
Body in good condition, well filled out but not
Legs free from swellings, cuts, or heat.
Taking even length strides and an equal portion
of the horse's weight. (Resting a hind leg is fine but not a front
Horse urine is fairly thick and pale yellow.
Droppings will vary in colour depending on the
diet, forming damp balls that break when hitting the ground. They
should not smell offensive. (You will see a lot of these as you muck
out the field daily!)
During the winter months, it is important that rug is taken off daily
and that the horse has is groomed, this will help to keep the skin in
good condition. Without the wind and rain grease, scurf, and skin debris
can soon build up and cause problems. Grooming also gives you the opportunity
to check you horse thoroughly at close quarters.
Having assessed your horse check the field
What to look for in the field
The quality and quantity of the grass.
A fresh clean supply of water.
The fence is in good condition, and has not been
Roadside fencing should be checked for 'fly' tipping,
i.e. bottles/cans/garden rubbing - many garden plants are poisonous
to horses including grass cuttings (mowing).
Pick up droppings from the field to prevent large
areas from becoming sour.
Fill in any rabbit holes that appear, with stones
or brick rubble then cover with earth, and stamp down.
Keep an eye on the trees in and around the field
for dead branches and remove them as soon as possible.
During the spring and summer months, go around
the field weekly weeding. Take a spade and cut through the roots of
docks, nettles, thistles, and burs. By removing these early in the
year, you will prevent them from seeding, thus reducing the number.
There is a saying in gardening "let a weed seed and you will
have weeds for seven years".
Finally, keep a watch for Ragwort and remove and
Once you get into a routine all these checks will become second nature,
but do spend time getting to know your horse and his surroundings, then
if any thing is different you will spot it quickly and be able to correct
the problem easily.