Horse health and welfare

Make sure your horse or pony is protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

Farrier shoeing a horse © IStock Photos / Doubtfulneddy
  • Check your horse for signs of injury and illness daily. Make sure someone does this if you're away.
  • Consult a vet if you suspect that your horse is in pain, ill or injured. A change in the way a horse behaves can be an early sign.
  • Worm and vaccinate your horse against equine influenza and tetanus regularly. You may also consider vaccinating against equine herpes virus.
  • Learn to recognise lameness. If your horse becomes lame it should not be worked and you should consult your vet.
  • Inspect hooves daily, including the underside of the foot. Overgrown or unbalanced hooves can cause severe discomfort and damage to the internal structure of the feet, legs and back.
  • Your horse should be seen by a farrier registered with the Farriers' Registration Council every four to six weeks, even if they are unshod.
  • Horses' teeth erupt through the gums continuously. They can develop hooks and sharp edges which can cause painful injuries inside the mouth. Get them  checked by an equine vet or qualified equine dental technician at least annually.
  • Poorly fitting tack can cause injury and pain, as can poor riding technique or riding by people too heavy for the horse. All tack should be checked regularly for proper fit and properly maintained.
  • Before allowing horses to breed, check with your vet. Ensure provisions have been made to care for both parents and offspring. There is currently an overpopulation crisis. We would encourage/ask you not to breed.
  • Before buying a horse, find out what health and behaviour problems it has or may be prone to. Always check with your vet if you are unsure about anything.
  • Only use medicines and feed additives recommended for your horse by experts; they can be dangerous if given to the wrong animal. Use and store them according to the instructions.
  • Insure your horse to help cover the cost of veterinary treatment.

Find out more about the needs of horses and ponies: Environment, Diet, Behaviour, Company.

Equine Health and Welfare Checklist (PDF 1.98 MB)

Weeds and Plants Toxic to Equines (PDF 432 KB)

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