All horses should live in a suitable and comfortable environment. A horse’s home affects how the horse feels, thinks and behaves. Providing your horse with shelter and a comfortable resting area is one way you can make sure that your horse stays healthy and happy.
This law is called the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act says that animals in your care must be provided with and environment and care that meets their five welfare needs. These welfare needs are five important conditions that animals need to be healthy and happy. These five welfare needs are called the five freedoms.
One of these Freedoms is: freedom from discomfort. In this section you will learn about this freedom and how you can make sure your horse has the environment and shelter that he/she needs to be freed from discomfort.
In order to be free from discomfort horses must also be healthy, well fed and have plenty of good water. These aspects will be covered in the other resources that explain about freedom from injury, pain and disease, and freedom from hunger and thirst.
Horses are big animals who will need lots of room. When housing your horse, you need to make sure he or she has enough room to get daily exercise.
Also, your horse’s sleeping and resting area need to be big enough for him/her to stand, stretch, turn around and lie down in.
Horses should not be left tethered (tied up) in a confined space. A horse needs to be able to exercise and explore throughout the day in order to be happy and healthy.
Ideally, one horse will need about one acre of land. If you do not have land available to use or rent, then having a horse probably isn’t right for you.
We all know New Zealand weather can be a bit crazy sometimes! Sometimes the sun is out, and it is really hot, while at other times it is very cold and even snowy! Horses notice the change in weather too, so your horse will need some form of shelter to protect him/her from the sun, wind or rain.
Although horses can cope with some changes in temperature, when the weather is both windy and rainy, this can make your horse very uncomfortable.
If your horse becomes too hot or too cold, he/she can become quite ill and could even die. This is why it is very important to make sure your horse is well protected from the heat and cold.
Shelter for your horse should be appropriate so that he/she stays warm and dry when it is cold or wet, and so that it also provides the horse with shade so that he/she remains cool and comfortable even when the weather is hot and sunny. Shelter for your horse can consist of a combination of:
Horses are very strong and curious animals so you will need a strong sturdy fence to keep them safely contained!
You’ll need to make sure there are no gaps between the fences where your horse can get out, or where his/her head or another body part stuck.
If you do not already have a fence, an adult will need to construct one using either strong timber or a combination of timber and wire.
If you do use wire in your horse’s fence, be sure to check that there are no pieces of sharp wire sticking out anywhere on which your horse could get hurt. Never use barbed wire for fencing!
Horses are social animals, which means that without company or interaction, they get very bored, lonely and unhappy.
When you get your horse, you should try to make sure that he/she will be kept relatively close to your home so that you can visit often and spend time with him/her.
If your horse is kept very far away and you hardly ever visit, he/she could start to feel lonely and neglected.
If you can’t always be near your horse, make sure that he/she has other people around who are willing to check on and spend time with him/her in between your visits.
Horses are big animals that need somewhere soft and comfortable to rest. Bedding should be soft and absorbent so that your horse’s rest area stays dry and clean. The suitable material to use for your horse’s bedding include:
These materials can be purchased from your local farm store.
Remember to clean your horse’s rest area and bedding out regularly and keep it nice and fresh.
Horses can poop a lot – up to 12 times a day! You’ll need to make sure you’re cleaning up after your horse regularly.
Otherwise, your horse’s home will become dirty and smelly very fast!
Too much mess can attract flies and spread worms, both of which can bother your horse and make your horse sick.
An adult can show you how to shovel up your horse’s mess and where to dispose of it.