Resources for New Horse Owners

Interested in getting a horse, but don’t know how to care for one? Or have you recently acquired one and find that horse care is more complicated than you thought? Fortunately, there are some resources available to help out the new horse owner. Here’s a list of current publications, seminars and courses.

Horses 101

Horses 101 is the name of a half-day seminar put on by the Horse Industry Association of Alberta. Held in various locations around the province, topics include Buying the Right Horse, Basic Care & Nutrition, Stable Selection and Understanding Equipment. While primarily meant for new or would-be horse owners, experienced horse owners have also enriched their knowledge of horse care through the seminars. To find out how to host a seminar, visit the Alberta Horse Industry website or call 403-420-5949.

If you can’t get to a seminar, the Association has published a booklet by the same name. The Horses 101 booklet (now in its second edition) has numerous articles like Horse Health Essentials, What’s in Your Feed, Understanding West Nile Virus and Do’s and Don’ts of Horse Safety. The Alberta SPCA has a limited number of these useful booklets; if you want one, call the Alberta SPCA’s Education Department at 780-447-3600 or email education@albertaspca.org.

Green Certificate Equine Technician Program

The Green Certificate Agricultural Training Program has developed a brand new Equine Technician course. This course is offered in some high schools, as well as presented as adult education for those involved in the horse industry.

The course is organized in three sections. The first, Equine Operation and Care, includes topics such as identifying breeds, understanding horse body language, safe haltering, leading and tying procedures, and safety around equipment. The other two sections, Equine Processes and Practices and Equine Husbandry & Systems, include topics such as animal welfare concerns, understanding horse psychology and disease control programs.

If you’d rather not take the course, you can get the manual and study it at home - and if desired take an exam for credit. For more information, call 780-427-4183 or visit the Green Certificate Program website.

Humane Handling Guidelines

Humane Handling Guidelines for Horses is a publication available from the Alberta Equine Welfare Group. Subtitled Standards for the Care of Unfit Animals, this 26-page booklet provides horse owners and handlers with decision-making tools to identify when – and how – horses should be transported. It contains photographs to help identify various ailments and other problems in horses, and a discussion on euthanasia and disposal options. To obtain copies contact the Alberta Equestrian Federation or download it in PDF format from the Alberta Farm Animal Care Association.

Code of Practice

The Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Horses is a comprehensive document that covers an array of topics that include facilities, feed and water, handling, health management, transportation and other important topics. This 48-page PDF book can be downloaded from the National Farm Animal Care Council website.

Be Prepared

If you’re thinking of getting a horse, the Alberta SPCA strongly urges you to learn all you can about their care and requirements. Horses can provide a lot of pleasure to their owners, but if not cared for properly these noble animals can suffer immeasurably at the hands of those who are responsible for their well-being. Caring for a horse is a responsibility for life. Make sure you’re able to meet its needs before taking on such a responsibility.