What Do You Need for a Horse? A Supplies Checklist for New Owners
Considering embarking on the grand journey of horse ownership? Bewildered by the array of equine items out there and unsure of what you’ll need? This checklist is for you. We’ll cover the basic supplies required for the daily care of your brand-new steed. Your requirements will vary depending on your setup and goals, but fundamentally, most horses need the same stuff.
Most importantly, you’ll need safe facilities for your new partner: a paddock or pasture with safe footing and fencing, as well as some form of shelter. While not all horses need to be stabled, he’ll need some protection from the elements. If you do have a stable, this should be safe, secure, and big enough to be comfortable. Ideally horses should also never be kept alone – if you can’t afford two, a donkey, goat or cow will be an acceptable companion. Now let’s get down to what you’ll need.
• A water bucket or trough. Standard, traditional water tanks are a cheap and viable option, but you run the risk of your horse running out of water if he knocks it over or drinks more than expected. A self-refilling water feeder will give your horse a constant supply.
• A hay feeder. The type of feeder you use depends on your setup. Wall-mounted hay racks are convenient in stables; stand-alone types work well in the field. Hay nets are a cheaper alternative but must be tied high enough that horses can’t catch their feet in them.
• Several days’ – preferably weeks’ – worth of hay. This is best obtained from a nearby farmer or feed store, and with the advice of an equine nutritionist. Hay should be soft, loose, and smell pleasant.
• A supply of concentrate. As with hay, this should be bought from a feed store; there will generally be a nutritionist or company representative that can help you select the right feed for your horse.
• A salt lick. This can be placed in your horse’s field or stable so that he can chew on it as he pleases.
Horse Clothing and Tack
• Lead rope. The cotton type is gentle on the hands as well as durable.
• Blankets. Depending on whether your horse is clipped or not, living out or stabled, and what your climate is like, he might need as little as a fleece. For colder weather or clipped horses, a blanket will be necessary; and if he stays out, he’ll need a waterproof rain sheet.
• Fly sheet. Some horses need this for protection from the sun and bugs.
• Dandy brush. This stiff brush is perfect for getting mud and dirt off your horse’s legs.
• Mane and tail brush. Gone are the days of ripping out hairs with a mane comb or picking away at knots with a bodybrush – the mane and tail brush is gentle and effective.
• Hoof pick. The most important grooming tool, for daily use.
• Rubber currycomb. This soft currycomb is used to lift dirt and dead skin from underneath the horse’s coat.
• Metal currycomb. Never for use on the horse itself, the metal currycomb is used to clean the brushes.
• Bodybrush. This brush is used on the horse’s entire coat to keep it clean and shiny.
• Face brush. While the bodybrush can be used if handled carefully, this handy little brush is perfect for cleaning the contours of the horse’s sensitive face.
• Horse shampoo. A daily grooming is all that’s usually needed, but for special occasions, use a suitable shampoo to get your horse looking his best. Special whitening shampoo can be used for greys, pintos, or white markings.
• Horse conditioner. Not for use on the horse’s body – which will cause his tack to slip – or when plaiting, conditioner can make the mane and tail soft and silky.
• Sponges. Use these when bathing, or for a gentle daily clean of the eyes, nose, and dock area. Never use the same sponge for the nose and the dock.
• Sweat scraper. This is used after a bath to squeeze excess water out of your horse’s coat.
• A first aid kit. Designed for the treatment of minor or serious wounds, this first aid kit is an essential to have around the stable. It includes bandages, gauze, Vetwrap, and topical wound treatments. One should always be available for humans as well.
• Thrush treatment. This very common condition of the horse’s frog is easily treatable if it’s caught early, using a topical treatment like this one.
• Hoof dressing. If applied in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions, hoof dressing can prevent cracks.
• Fly spray. An essential in summer, bug spray needs to be applied daily to be useful.
• Tick protection. Ticks can carry fatal illnesses like Lyme disease and biliary; regular application of a tick poison like this one is important for horses’ health.
Buying a horse is an expensive exercise – and the horse itself is only a small part of the cost. These supplies are pricey, and you haven’t even bought tack to ride your horse with yet! But horse welfare should always be paramount. Don’t skimp on stuff that affects your horse’s health and well-being. All going well, he will thank you for it with many years of faithful service.