Perhaps no other domestic animal embodies the romance of the
Rocky Mountain West than the horse. Tall, powerful, sleek in
shape, graceful in stride and the subject of legends, myths,
stories and very real history, horses are as much a part of
western Montana today as they have always been.
Horses are magical creatures that are at once mysterious
and humble. They can be understood and trained, but on their
terms and based on their temperament. They are herbivores and
lack a hunting instinct present in other mammals, but they have
a strong sense of self-preservation and powerful bodies. Once
you build trust with an animal, you can train the horses, creating
a lasting bond.
Caring for horses is a challenge — though rewarding. If you're
up for it, there are a few things you should know. The animals
need a good deal of food, fresh water and room to graze. They
also require veterinary care and human contact.
On the home front, it’s important to remember that horses
need quite a bit of space. Some say 20 acres per horse. So two
horses on a three-acre plot is not sufficient. And horses need
an average of 20 pounds of food and about 10 gallons of water
a day. Horses can often find what they need grazing a pasture,
but the animals are selective eaters, and you may need to plant
seeds and rotate the animals around different pastures so the
horses can meet their nutritional needs and you can sustain
the health of your pasture.
Other feeding options include hay — perhaps the most common
forms of food for horses. Hay types vary depending on the area
and the supplier, but make sure it is quality hay, whatever
you buy. Avoid dusty hay or hay that is moldy. Green hay is
best. If yours is a working or pregnant horse, you may want
to supplement your horse’s diet with concentrates, which should
be added to a horse’s diet. And don’t forget to put out a mineral
salt block, especially in the summer.
Horses also need regular veterinary care. Because they eat
from the ground, they are constantly exposed to intestinal worms
and should be “dewormed” about every two months. Also, you’ll
want to have a blacksmith provide routine hoof care and trimming
about every couple of months. And once a year, you should have
your horse vaccinated against tetanus and other common horse
So what happens if your horse is not well? Because horses
are prey animals in the wild, they show no outward or obvious
sign of pain or weakness, but an observant owner can tell when
a horse is lame, which is when a horse will stand or trot differently
to compensate for pain somewhere. It is up to the owner to figure
out where the source of pain is based on examining the animal,
and then take the appropriate measure to help the animal heal.
Your horses need exercise and human care. They are no longer
wild creatures. So, rustle up the gang, saddle up the horses
and hit the trail. Giddy up!
Bitterroot Valley Montana Activities, Sports and Things
Skiing | Downhill
Skiing | Farmers
Fly Fishing |
Horse Care |
Look Outs |