Through our years of leading trail rides, we’ve discovered that many people have common questions about horses and riding. We love answering these questions, but also thought that we would share the answers with you here, since a lot of the information is really interesting. Here are some frequently asked questions about horses, and their corresponding answers.
What are those masks covering the horses’ heads? Are they blindfolds?
Nope, those aren’t blindfolds. The masks that you see on the horses’ heads are fly masks. They’re made of a very fine mesh and are used to help keep the flies out of the horse’s eyes and ears. Up close, you can see right through the mesh. Though we put fly spray on the horses to help reduce the flies that bite at their legs and sides, we can’t spray the chemicals near the horses’ eyes. These fly masks give them protection from these biting flies.
Do horses need to wear blankets during the winter?
It depends. In the wild, horses are able to survive harsh winters without blankets – their thick coats protect them, and they generate body heat as they eat grass, hay, or other types of forage. But as we’ve domesticated horses, we’ve changed their environments. Some domesticated horses are still fine without blankets, but others need blankets to stay comfortable in the snow or low temperatures.
Generally, horses that need blankets are old or are breeds which don’t typically grow thick coats, like the Thoroughbred or the Arabian. Some horse owners blanket their horses to keep them from growing thick coats, so that they don’t work up such a sweat when they’re ridden in the winter. When it comes to blanketing, the right solution really depends on the horse.
Does saddling up/cinching up hurt the horse?
Nope, not if the process is done correctly. When saddling a horse, it’s important that the saddle fits the horse correctly and that we use a saddle pad to help cushion the horse’s back. When we tighten the girth, we do so slowly – just yanking up on the girth can be uncomfortable for the horse. We tighten the girth up when we saddle, and then we tighten the girth again just before it’s time to mount up. Most horses don’t mind the process.
What and how much do horses eat?
Our horses eat a number of different kinds of feed. In the wild, horses would survive entirely on grass. Our horses still love to graze, but we also provide them with additional feed to meet their nutritional needs. Our horses eat hay on a daily basis, and they also receive a grain which is rich in protein and nutrients to give them the energy they need to go out on trail rides.
Every horse eats a different amount, but in general, an adult horse can eat between 10 and 20 pounds of hay per day. Depending on the horse’s activity level and nutritional needs, he may eat between two and six pounds of grain in addition to the hay.
You may find the answers to some of your questions about horses in the responses above, but if your question isn’t included in this post, please feel free to ask us. At Happy on Hooves we’re always happy to answer questions about horses, riding, and our trail rides.