Basic Horse Needs


A horse should have access to a paddock of around three acres, which should have some natural shelter, good grass cover and adequate drainage.

The paddock should be:

  • Properly fenced (not barbed wire) and free from all rubbish and debris; especially old wire and iron;
  • Close enough to home to permit daily visits;
  • A minimum of three acres as a rough guide.


Horses need shelter from extremes of weather including temperature, wind andHorses need shelter from extremes of weather including temperature, wind and rain. Natural shelter such as a group of trees or a hedge is good. A shed or stable may either supplement or substitute natural shelter. Old horses need special care and should have a warm waterproof rug in winter in addition to other protection from the elements, although care must be taken to avoid overheating when temperatures rise.


Depending on the level of work and exercise you are giving your horse, you may need to supply supplementary feeding to maintain body condition. When good pasture is available and your horse is not ridden regularly, there is probably no need for supplementary feeding. Whilst it is not acceptable for your horse to be too thin, overfeeding is a common problem and many horses are too fat.

When pasture declines, that is, when there is little grass available, supplementary feeding will be required to maintain bodyweight. Good quality lucerne or legume/grass hay is adequate for adult horses which are idle or ridden infrequently. Pelleted rations and concentrate feeds may be more suitable if grass is plentiful but of poor quality or your horse is getting a lot of work or exercise.

Young growing animals, lactating mares and hard working horses require more energy. This can be supplied by feeding concentrate supplements such as grain or a complete pellet.


Horses may drink as much as 45 litres of water or more per day, especially if it is being ridden or is working. It is essential that a horse has access to a constant supply of fresh, clean water at all times.