Whether your horse lives on your property or at a boarding stable, it’s important to lay eyes on your horse at least once a day – and preferably more often than that. We’ve all got those hectic days where an extra five minutes on top of feeding time is all we can spare for our best friends, but don’t underestimate the value of the daily check. A daily check of your horse and barn can help you to spot injuries, medical conditions, and maintenance problems early, before they have a chance to become serious issues. If you have full board with your horse, you may be able to skip a daily visit here and there. But remember this: no one knows your horse like you do. You are most likely to spot when your horse is “off” – so stay vigilant!
To help new and experienced horse owners alike, we’ve put together an easy list of reminders for your daily check! Print and laminate, then hang the list in a prominent place at the barn or save it to your phone for easy reference. That way, you’ll always have a handy reminder of what to check at the barn even on your most hectic days.
YOUR DAILY CHECKLIST FOR HORSE & BARN
- Evaluate attitude/demeanor. Is your horse moving easily? Did she nicker like usual when you came by? This is your chance to observe whether your horse is feeling well.
- Start at the head. Eye conditions and injuries can quickly become serious, so start every visit with a quick once-over of your horse’s eyes. Look for drainage, cloudiness, obvious wounds or swelling. Then check your horse’s nostrils for drainage and his ears for burrs or pieces of hay.
- Feel the legs and belly. Run your hands gently over your horse’s legs, checking for swelling, heat, injuries or spots that may be missing hair. While you’re down there, carefully slide a hand along the belly and barrel to check for hot spots or insect bites.
- Pick out hooves. Pick out your horse’s hooves. It may take a little extra time, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
- Finger-comb the mane and tail. Check that there are no burrs, sticks or other debris tangled in your horse’s mane and tail. This is more likely to occur if your horse is out on pasture with other horses.
- Keep an eye on input and output. If your horse is stalled, check his water and hay consumption. Did he finish all his grain from his last meal? How does his manure look? If your horse is pastured, now is the time to check the water troughs and feeders. Check his hind legs and under his tail to make sure he hasn’t had diarrhea or watery manure recently.
- Blanket check. If you blanket, remove the blanket at least once per day to check for skin conditions, mud, burrs or other irritants. Concerned about chafing? Look for broken hair shafts or ruffed up patches of fur. Those are early indicators of blanket rubs.
- Repel flies. If it’s fly season, use a fly mask and apply fresh fly spray to keep your horse comfortable.
- Peek at your water tanks. Are they full and clean? If it’s winter, be sure to break and remove the ice. Better yet, invest in a water tank heater.
- Check the hay racks and feeders. Are the feeders full or in need of refreshing?
- How’s the stall? If your horse is stalled, make sure it’s clean or that it’s on the schedule for the barn staff to clean it. If you self-board and you don’t have time to clean it yourself, consider turning your horse out into a paddock for the day.
- Turn off your water faucets.
- Check your fences at a glance. You may not have time for a full fence walk (tip: make sure to schedule one at least once a month!) but you can check all visible fences at a glance for missing or broken boards.
- Did you close the gate? Double-check that all gates are securely latched before you leave!