Horse Care 101

All About Basic Horse Care

A man leads a horse out of stables.

Michael Hanson / Getty Images

Before you bring your new equine companion home, you'll want to learn about the basics of good horse care. Learn how to feed, house, and care for your horse or pony. Discover how pony care differs from horse care, what good health looks like and when to call the vet.

At the very least a horse needs:

  • Pasture free from hazards such as holes, rusty farm machinery and loose wire fences.
  • Safe fencing such as wooden, plastic, or vinyl rails, or mesh wire fencing.
  • Grass for grazing or equivalent amount of good quality hay.
  • Unlimited supply of fresh clean water, heated if necessary in sub-freezing temperatures.
  • Access to salt.
  • Shelter from wet or wintry weather and shade in summer.
  • A dry clean area to lie down.
  • Daily monitoring for injury or illness.
  • Companionship, either with another horse, donkey, mule or pony or another animal such as a sheep or goat.

Learn to groom, care for your stable, and care for your horse or pony safely with these tips and articles

  • 01 of 07

    The Essentials of Horse Care

    horse in stable aisle with woman
    Getty Images

    When you bring home your first horse, there are a few essential things you'll need to know in order to care for it properly right away. Learn the basics of feeding, tying and basic care for your first horse.

    Horse Care Essentials:

    • Basic Horse Care: Here is the very basic information you will need to care for your horse properly.
    • Horse and Pony Care By the Day, Week, Month and Year: Have you thought about the time required for properly caring for a horse? I've broken down what you need to do to care for your horse by the day, week month and year.
    • How to Tie Safely: Probably the first thing you'll need to do when you get your first horse is tie it in a stable or trailer. Here is how to tie your horse safely.
  • 02 of 07

    Feeding Your Horse

    Horse eating hay.

    Image: Mac99 / Getty Images

    Good horse care includes quality roughage. While grass is a horse's natural food, it's not always available, and may not be adequate in some situations.

    Horse Feeding Basics:

    •  Hay FAQs: There's good hay, and there's hay that can damage your horse's lungs and cause other health problems. These FAQs will help you choose the right hay.
    • Water for Your Horse: Find out why freshwater is essential.
    • Plants Toxic to Horses: Not all that grows in pastures is good for your horse. Learn to identify plants toxic to horses.
  • 03 of 07

    Shelter Your Horse

    Horse standing in shelter with door open.

    Andrea Edwards / Getty Images

    Most horses spend some of their time indoors in a stall. For good horse care and safety, barns, sheds and stalls need to be properly designed. Learn how to design and maintain your barns and run-ins.

    Learn About Sheltering Your Horse:

    • Designing a Run-in Shelter: If you don't have a barn, or even if you do, a run-in gives your horse a place to get out of the wind and wet.
    • Stable Design: It's exciting building or modifying a building for horses. Find out the ideal size for stalls, flooring options and ceiling height.
    • Pros and Cons of Stables and Run-in Sheds: Should a horse live in a stable or spend 24/7 outdoors? There are arguments for both sides. Choose what's right for your situation.
  • 04 of 07

    Horse Health Essentials

    Veterinarian examining the horse

    Alina Solovyova-Vincent / Getty Images

    It's an unfortunate fact that horses can get sick and injured. The key to good horse care is being able to identify health problems and treat them promptly.

    Essential Horse Health Care:

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07


    Person holding horse hoof with shoe, showing underside.

    Stephan/ Zabel / Getty Images

    Grooming is an important part of horse care. At a minimum your horse should be groomed before riding or driving. A quick grooming every day is a good way to check the condition of your horse's skin and hooves.

    Learn About Basic Horse Grooming:

  • 06 of 07

    Boarding Your Horse

    Sometimes boarding is a good option.
    Yuri_Arcurs / Getty Images

    Not everyone can care for their horses on their own property. Boarding is the next best thing to providing your own horse care. You'll want to find the best stable where you and your horse are happy. Here's what to look for, how much it may cost and how to be the type of boarder stable owners are glad to have in their barns.

    Boarding Your Horse:

  • 07 of 07

    Providing The Best Environment for Your Horse

    Two horses in a shady pasture.

    Demetrio Carrasco / Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

    Good horse care means providing the best possible environment, that is as safe and natural as possible for your horse. That includes providing companionship, understanding the needs of older horses, and keeping their surroundings clean and well maintained.

    Horse Care Best Practices:

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.