It doesn’t matter if your horse is a racehorse, workhorse, or a pet horse. You want them to have a long, fulfilling life. With proper care and love, your horse can live for 30 years or more! Part of a horse’s general health lies in their strength—their legs are the most important part of their body, and if they can’t support themselves, they may struggle. Follow these helpful tips for keeping your horse healthy and strong to ensure that your horse enjoys every moment of their life.

Schedule at Least Two Vet Appointments a Year

People need to see their general practitioner or dentist once or twice a year, and your animals need to see their vet. Even if you don’t see any issues with their overall health, scheduling doctor visits for your beloved horse will ensure that you can take care of every health issue. You don’t want your horse to stress themselves out by working through an injury or health condition, so the vet assistance will set them up for success.

Watch Your Horse’s Behavior

The smallest change in your horse’s behavior can signal a huge change in their health. Watch how your horse normally behaves around their enclosure and pasture—watch how they eat, drink, and play. Obviously, you can’t catch everything that your horse does, but picking up on distressing behaviors immediately after they happen can help you make necessary changes as soon as possible.

Some horse behaviors to look out for include:

Horse Isn’t Drinking Water

Horses typically turn their noses up at water when it’s cold and the weather’s cold to match. When you notice this happening, you may need to use alternate ways to encourage your horse to drink water or get a water heater for their enclosure. If they still refuse to drink, have a vet come and check them out.

Horse Is Chewing or Sucking on Wood

It may look funny when your horse starts sucking on wood for fun, but it’s actually one of the most dangerous behaviors they can exhibit. When a horse braces its upper teeth against the top of a fence or fence post and begins inhaling with a grunt, it’s called “cribbing.”

This behavior can cause stomach ulcers and usually happens due to stress in their life. Though stopping the behavior with collars or surgery may help, finding the origin of the behavior is a better tip for keeping your horse healthy and strong, especially if they’re stressed.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.