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A Guide to Good Horsekeeping

E. Moench

A wealth of knowledge exists regarding management of agricultural livestock, a category that includes horses in Texas. However, horses for the most part, are in a category that is neither livestock nor companion animal. Therefore, owners are left without access to the educational library traditional livestock operations use and they turn to companion animal information sources. While important, these sources tend to focus on management of the horse itself and not the land on which they are kept. This guide is intended to highlight issues often overlooked by horse owners (from breeding operations to horses kept for pleasure) and give them a choice of best management practices to decrease their impact on natural resources. For those interested in any particular best management practice, additional internet resources are listed at the end of each chapter with more detailed information on implementation.

A good percentage of people who involve themselves with horses do not start as professional horsemen and horsewomen. They start as parents granting the wish of their children, as adults who have access to discretionary income, or as absentee owners who invest in the industry. Horse ownership mandates a unique set of management solutions of which people who just loaded their first purchase in the trailer may not be aware.

Horse owners need to become proficient in the following list to do the best they can for their animals and the land they manage. Knowledge of these topics is important because horses kept for work or pleasure are not always the "free ranging" animal of the plains where they evolved. They are often kept in a restricted area, pasture, or pen where they can develop digestive and behavioral disorders, concentrate manure, degrade pasture quality, and can impact surrounding ecological areas and watersheds if care is not taken.

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