Managing Young Horses

Care for horses under the age of 4 with their future health and performance in mind.

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Managing Young Horses
For youngsters, the gold standard for exercise management is 24 hours a day of pasture time in a large field with other horses. | Photo: iStock

Care for your young horse with his future health and performance in mind

He’s your baby. Your pride and joy. A youngster so full of promise, on the path to becoming everything you dreamed he could be. But how you care for him during this formative time can make or break his potential—there are crucial management aspects to consider, ranging from activity to diet. We’ve gone to equine veterinarians and researchers to get the most up-to-date science-based recommendations possible for managing horses under age 4. So if you want to give your baby every chance of developing into the athlete he’s capable of becoming, read on.

A (Fun) Place to Grow

All horses—especially young ones—need plenty of free exercise in a large pasture where they can roam and explore, says Paul René van Weeren, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ECVS, professor in the department of equine sciences at Utrecht University, in the Netherlands. Exercise is natural for horses; they love it, and they need it. For youngsters, the “gold standard” for exercise management is 24 hours a day of pasture time in a large field with other horses.

But not just any field, van Weeren cautions. Most modern horse pastures are too nutrient-rich—and too boring—for young equids. “These flat, lush prairies are better meant for high-producing dairy cattle, not horses,” he says, adding that the more varied the terrain and grasses in foals’ pastures, the better, for both their physical and mental well-being

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Written by:

Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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