Owning a horse means there are some daily horse chores that must be done to ensure they are healthy and comfortable. Horses are amazing creatures that many of us develop deep bonds with as riding partners and friends. However, they do require some work.
In today’s post, you’ll learn what horse chores are a part of everyday horse care and how to do them- plus, you’ll find a printable checklist of horse chores you can use to organize your barn- and even edit to customize with your horse’s specific needs
It’s easy to only think about the good things when you own a horse. The daily cuddles, shared snacks, the feeling of flying, and those days when your horse quietly listens to all of your problems. But there are some things that are required to care for your horse that just aren’t fun.
We are of course referring to chores! There are a few things that need have to be done every day regardless of how tedious we find them. Keep reading for our list of essential daily horse chores.
If you house your horse in a stable, your daily chores will be a little bit different to the people who keep their horses in a pasture full time.
Your horse needs 24/7 access to fresh, clean water. Regardless of whether your horse is on a stable you own or if you are boarding your horse in someone else’s stable, it is your responsibility to make sure water is always available. Like humans, horses need clean water to live and remain healthy.
Check your horse’s water every day. If they use manually filled buckets, make sure that they are full. If you use an automatic filling system, make sure the system is working properly.
Your water buckets, tanks, and troughs should be cleaned once a week, even in winter. This prevents moss, mold, and bacteria build-up.
Ready your Hay
A horse that is stabled will need food to graze on. Horses in a pasture will graze for up to 17 hours a day. This is vital for their health. Obviously, a horse in a stall does not have access to grass to graze on. This is why it is important to make sure they have access to plenty of hay during the day. A good quality hay of 70% grass hay and 30% alfalfa is usually a good choice for a stabled horse, but not always. To learn more about what you should feed, Rutgers has a great, simple fact sheet on Equine Nutrition, or you can ask your vet.
Groom Your Horse
A horse should be brushed down every day to remove excess dirt. This will help keep your horse’s coat healthy and shiny. It will also make your horse feel more comfortable. The process of grooming your horse also allows you to check for any injuries or health problems that may have developed since the last time you groomed them.
Clean the Stalls
Horse chores for horses in stalls always includes stall cleaning. A horse’s stall needs to be cleaned every day. You do not need to change the entire bedding every day. Remove the manure and wet patches of bedding, the rest can be re-used. This reduces bacteria build-up and chances of illness in your horse. It also makes it much more comfortable for the horse. You wouldn’t like it if you had to live in your own filth and your horse is no different.
Feed Your Horse
Sometimes the hay you leave for your horse is enough, but if your horse is exercised daily, you will probably need to supplement their feed. If you don’t know what grain to feed, get some advice from an experienced horse owner or your vet. Then make sure you give your horse the recommended type and amount of grain at the same time(s) every day.
Horse Chores if Your Horse is Kept in a Pasture
Horses kept in a pasture obviously don’t need their stalls cleaned or their hay nets filled, but that doesn’t mean that there are no daily tasks to be completed.
Check Their Water
Like in the stalls, a horse in the pasture needs access to fresh, clean water. Daily horse chores include making sure you check that the water supply is adequate and the temperature isn’t too hot or cold. If your water freezes over in winter, you may need to invest in water heaters to keep it at a drinkable temperature or use non-electric methods to keep troughs thawed in freezing temperatures.
If it gets too hot in summer, try placing a shade over the water to help keep it cool. Shaded water will keep horses drinking more, and the reduced exposure to the sunlight will slow algae growth and make horse troughs easier to clean.
Lay Out Hay
If the pasture doesn’t have adequate grazing, you will need to supplement your horse’s food with hay. You will need to provide hay each day for your horse to remain healthy. Some people choose to do this with rationed food provided each day, others will leave a large round bale in the pasture.
If you choose to leave a round bale in the pasture, make sure you check it daily and remove any moldy hay and cut away the mesh holding it together as needed. Never leave the excess round bale net in the pasture, since your horse may accidentally eat it or become tangled in it.
Take off Their Blanket
If your horse is in a pasture full-time, they don’t have the same protection from the elements as a stabled horse. This means that sometimes you will need to blanket your horse overnight. During some seasons, you may need to remove your horse’s blanket each morning to make sure they do not overheat and then re-blanket them in the evenings.
If you are in the middle of winter and they require a blanket full time, you still need to check the blanket every day. Blankets can slip out of position on your horse and become very uncomfortable- quickly! About 15 years ago my horse was stabled 20 minutes from my house. One day I was late doing my horse chores (only by about 3 hours), but that meant she had a slipped rug for an extended period of time. By the time I got there, the strap of the rug had been rubbing on her hind leg so badly that it was deeply embedded in her flesh!
Never assume your horse will be fine for a day, and never miss checking on them or skip your horse chores. I was only late checking in on my horse, but I can’t help but wonder how bad would it have been if I had simply not managed to get there that day?
Download a PDF/Editable Doc of Daily Horse Chores
Grooming Horse Chores
A pastured horse should also be groomed each day. While it is ok, and recommended to leave a bit of dirt on them as it helps them regulate their temperature, they still need to have their mane and tail detangled and any hard, dried mud removed. Pasture braids or roached manes can reduce time spent on horse chores for pastured horses.
You should also use the hoof pick each day to make sure they have not picked up any stones in their hooves while they have been out in the pasture.
General Health Check
Always check your horse for injuries each day. In a pasture, they could get scratched by a tree or fence, or they may have stepped on a rock. Anything can happen. When you check them, don’t just look across the pasture and go ‘yup, they look ok’. Actually, walk up to them and properly look them over. This allows you to see the condition of their skin and eyes and notice any swelling.
One day when I checked on my horse, she looked fine from across the pasture, I could clearly see her. Her coat was shiny, and she was grazing. But I walked up to her and saw ¼ of her hoof missing! She had stepped on a large stone and torn her hoof. If I had just looked from across the pasture, that injury could have festered and resulted in a life-threatening infection (don’t worry, she was treated straight away and had a fully recovered hoof within about a month).
To make things a bit easier, we have put together a checklist to help you remember all of the essential daily chores when you own a horse.
Checklist of Daily Horse Chores
☐ Check the water source
☐ Fill your hay net
☐ Give your horse their hay net
☐ Groom your horse
☐ Prepare your horse’s grains
☐ Feed your horse their grains
☐ Clean the Stall
☐ Check the water supply
☐ Provide Hay
☐ Check the hay for mould
☐ Adjust/cut netting on the hay bale (if you use a bale and not daily rations)
☐ Take off the rug in the morning
☐ Re-rug your horse for the night
☐ Groom your horse
☐ General health check (remember, actually walk up to them. Don’t just look across the pasture)