Out of work horses

There are many different reasons for horses being out of work, from recovering from injury, being retired, or being roughed off over winter. Out of work horses still require a great deal of care and management from ensuring they are on the correct diet to routine hoof trimming. Whilst many tend to take their horse off hard feed when not in work, it is still important to ensure they have a nutritionally balanced diet.

Feeding a balancer at recommended rates is still important, as deficiencies of vitamins and minerals can cause serious health issues. The most common symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiency include poor coat quality, loss of musculature, weight loss, vision problems, and poor hoof growth/quality. More severe issues caused by long-term vitamin and mineral deficiencies include severe weight loss and chronic conditions such as chronic diarrhoea.

Top tips

  • Ensure they are getting all their vitamins, minerals and nutrients - out of work horses will not need the same calorie content from the feed as when they are in work, but this does not mean they do not need any feed. It is important for their day-to-day health that they receive a complete vitamin, mineral, and nutrient package.
  • Routine trims - out of work horses will often have their shoes off, however, it is still essential that the hoofs are maintained. Having their feet trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks is recommended, however, this depends on each individual horse so ask your farrier which timescale suits your horse.
  • Regular worming - most out of work horses live out and are more at risk of worms. To help prevent this it is important to follow a worming or worm egg count routine. Worms can cause weight loss, colic, diarrhoea or constipation, poor coat quality, and respiratory problems. To ensure the correct wormer is being given, it is always advisable to do a worm egg count at least twice a year.