Happy horses depend on a caring and responsible owner and a great owner vet relationship

I live in Ireland with my husband and two children (a third on the way!), next door to my husband’s parents who own and run a dairy farm. Set in the rolling hills of County Galway this is the perfect terrain for happy horses.

Luso (14 years old) and his stable partner Rocky (19 years old) are both thoroughbred ex-racehorses and live on my parents-in-law’s farm. Having them live so close makes my life much easier, by saving stable fees and making 6:30 am wakeup calls less harsh as I only have to trudge next door!

When the alarm goes off at 6:30 am I get up and leave via the back door accompanied by my two dogs scampering around my legs – ‘Floss’ the very excitable boxer and ‘Push’ a slightly more laid back terrier cross. The dogs always enjoy our morning routine, they love to run ahead of me over the field picking up scent trails from the farm’s nocturnal visitors. Luso is always ready and waiting for us. I go into the store to prepare their food and then I fill their hay nets.

Nutrition has become a vital part of their care, especially for Luso who has suffered previously with a nasty bout of colic. I was already aware of the predisposal of thoroughbreds to colic so I was already prepared for Luso’s susceptibility, this meant that I was able to work quickly with my vet to minimise Luso’s discomfort and we now have a programme of preventative treatment. This involves diet monitoring and moderate exercise. I use bran mash combined with horse and pony mix to ensure Luso gets adequate fibre and both horses have Biotin (for hoof health) combined with seaweed for a good dose of general vitamins. For Rocky, I use a slightly different approach as he requires conditioning (he loses weight easily). As with any animals, their health needs vary so, using my training and background in equine and racing I work with our vet to ensure the right care management plans are implemented.

Once the pampered duo have dined like kings, if time permits and their food has digested, I will ride them out or exercise them lightly before I have to go home and get the children ready for school and nursery. Luso and Rocky are then turned out into the field and I hang out the hay nets I have prepared. Preparing the hay nets is especially important in the winter as the grass is much slower to grow and is not always a sufficient snack for them. Finally, I make sure there is plenty of fresh water available for them to drink.

With the morning routine nearly done, I walk back to my house and wake the children. I give them breakfast and get them ready for school whilst also getting myself ready for work. By 8:30 am, this part of my morning is complete.

It is usually 6 pm by the time I bring in the horses from grazing and begin their bedtime routine. I start by checking their rugs, picking their hooves and brushing their legs if they are particularly muddy. I then give them their dinner and close the stable doors behind me ready to start all over again tomorrow. As I walk away, I hear them gently munching on their evening meal and I smile, realising I wouldn’t have my life any other way.

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