Here at Red Horse Mountain Dude Ranch we put a great deal of work into making sure our horses are happy and healthy, after all, what would a dude ranch be without its wonderful equines? Many people come to the ranch with a wide base of horse knowledge, but many guests that come here for vacation are here to learn and experience a dude ranch for the first time, and understanding horses can make riding them more enjoyable!
Horses are a unique animal, just like humans, and require extensive care. There are a few important things to know about taking care of horses at a dude ranch. First, they eat a ton of hay! Literally, here at Red Horse Mountain Ranch our horses consume 320 + tons of hay per year. In general, the average 1,000 lb horse will consume around 20 lbs of hay per day, however just like humans, caloric intake also depends on outside temps and exercise. It is also important to understand that each individual horse has its own distinctive personality, and this plays an important role in training, as well as matching them to the right rider.
The little cowboys and cowgirls that come to the ranch are always excited to collect a horse shoe near the ferrying shed, but why so many shoes? Over 400 years ago, horses were brought to North America, and many ended up roaming the plains in wild herds. This toughened up their hooves naturally, so there was no need for horseshoes. Today, horses at ranches walk mostly on soft ground for feeding and grazing, so when they go out for that fun trail ride they need some protection for their hooves in case they step on sharp rocks or other tough surfaces- just like we wouldn’t go for a hike barefoot! For this reason, we have the ferrier come for a visit every 5-8 weeks to make sure our horses can hit the trails safely!
Horse vision is another important thing to understand, did you know that horses have among the largest eyes of all land-mammals? Horses have ‘monocular vision’, which means they can see separately on each side of their body with their right and left eyes. This enables them to have excellent peripheral vision and detect slight movements in a circular range as they turn their heads. This amazing peripheral capability is offset by the fact that the eyes are located on either side of the head, making it more difficult for them to focus on the movement they have sighted, which is why you may see your horses moving its head up and down in order to focus! They truly have a unique way of seeing the world, and understanding this can make riders feel more comfortable in the saddle when they come to a dude ranch to ride!
Thanks for reading and more to come on horses and our wranglers here at Red Horse Mountain Ranch!