A couple weeks ago, I posted some info on horses, this continues that thread. Below are some bits of information on the care of horses during the summer.
HORSES IN SUMMER
From the beginning of the spring work until the sowing of turnip-seed has been completed, the farm-horses have enjoyed no rest; and in the long hours of labour during a period from 15 to 18 weeks, they require a liberal allowance of good food to maintain their strength and condition. A little green food may be obtained for them before the sowing of the root crops is finished; but with this exception, the farm-horses, until the completion of the hard work of root-sowing, are fed just as they were fed while working hard in winter and spring.
Summer Leisure.-—With the conclusion of the root-sowing comes the summer holiday for the horses. In some parts they spend this time of leisure in the cattle-courts and in others on the pasture fields.
Pasturing Work-horses.—On many farms, especially in Scotland, the rule is still to graze the horses. As soon as the warm weather of summer has fully set in, the horses lie out in a pasture field all night, and get cut grass between the yokings in the stable. When the first yoking is over, they are put on pasture until taken up for the afternoon yoking at 1 o'clock, which saves the trouble of cutting grass. Work - horses are liable to suffer much from chilly nights, cold often laying the foundation of diseases—such as rheumatism, costiveness, stiffness of the limbs. The aftermath is good pasture in the interval of work at noon, and the second cutting of clover may last for suppers until the time to betake to the stable altogether.
Soiling Horses.—Many farmers disapprove of pasturing farm-horses, and support them at the steading upon forage. Where there are hammels or courts which could be easily divided, we would adopt this plan at once, but we are doubtful of its advantage in a stable. The heat of a stable in summer—and the doors cannot be left open — with the evaporation of the increased issue of urine from the green food, cannot fail to vitiate the air. The cattle - courts are more open; and if they can be divided so that each pair of horses may have a compartment to themselves, they will thrive admirably here. In the tillage districts of England this system of summering horses in the cattle-courts is extensively pursued. Many farmers, indeed, maintain that there is no better or cheaper method of keeping draughthorses in summer than in the courts, fed with green vetches or other similar succulent food, and dry hay, with perhaps a littlo bruised oats. Very often the grain is omitted. Still it is a good plan to give the horses a week or two of the fresh air in an open pasture field.
Pasturing Young Horses.—Young horses are put to pasture during the day as soon as they can obtain a bite. They should be brought at night into their hammels until the grass has passed through them; after which they should lie out all night in a field which offers them the protection of a shed or other shelter. Work-horses do not care for a shed on pasture, being too much occupied with eating during night to mind it. In rainy weather young horses should be kept in the hammel on cut grass, and not exposed to rain in the field overnight.
The farmer's saddle-horse should have grass in summer, as the best course of physic it can have. But it is more convenient to give it cut grass in a court or hammel than to send it to pasture, in which it may be with considerable difficulty caught when wanted.
Peculiarities of the Horse in Grazing.— It is surprising with what constancy a work-horse will eat at pasture. His stomach being small in proportion to the bulk of his body, the food requires to be well masticated before it is swallowed; and as long as that process is proceeded with while the grass is cropped, no large quantity can pass into the stomach at a time. The horse, like all herbivorous animals, grazes with a progressive motion onwards, and smells the grass before he crops it. His mobile lips seize and gather the stems and leaves of the grass, which the incisors in both jaws bite through with the assistance of a lateral twitch of the head. When grass is rank, he crops the upper part first; and when short, bites very close to the ground. Horses should not graze amongst sheep, as both bite close to the ground; and work-horses often injure sheep that come in their way, either by a sly kick or by seizing the wool with their teeth.
It is proverbial that horses do not graze well upon many of the very best bullock pastures. Horses often do better on rough pasture than on land which has been altered in its herbage by thorough drainage.
Horses Injured by Green Food.— Care must be exercised in beginning horses with green food every year. If allowed to gorge themselves too freely at the outset, serious illness may follow. Begin them sparingly with it, and if it should be wet or very succulent at any time during the season, it will be all the better to be accompanied or mixed with a little dry food such as hay.
Source: The Book of the Farm ©1891