By Colorado state law, a Brand Inspection Certificate is needed as proof of ownership at the time of sale. Proof of ownership is necessary if a horse is transported on any public highway in the state of Colorado. Anytime a horse is transported more than 75 miles from home, a Brand Inspection is needed.

Space & Shelter

Horses need a large exercise area, such as a corral or pasture. They also need natural or man-made shelter from the elements, both hot and cold. This can vary from a protective stand of trees to a 3-sided shed to a complete stable with box stalls. A man-made shelter should be clean and well ventilated with no drafts.


Whether using a traditional board fence, a rail fence, or electric wire fencing (wide ribbon wire is best), the most important thing is that the fence must be visible to the horse


An average saddle horse that weighs 1000 lbs. will eat approximately 17 to 22 lbs of feed per day (total ration). The total ration is a combination of hay, grain and pasture. Grain is usually only required for working and older horses.  Salt should always be available to the horse.

CAUTION:   Before turning a horse out to pasture for the first time, you must condition it to a change of diet. Turning the horse out on green, lush pasture is DANGEROUS and can result in sickness and death. Start out slowly by letting the horse graze for a few hours each day.


A major component of a horse's diet is good forage such as hay (see below for details) or pasture. A horse weighing 1000 lbs. will eat about 500 lbs. of forage each month. How much land will you need to feed one horse for a year? If this is the only source of forage, your horse will need about 28 acres of dryland (non-irrigated pasture) a year. To keep pasture grass healthy, DO NOT let the horse over graze. Over-grazed dryland pasture may never recover. Irrigated pastures with adequate moisture will grow more forage than dryland pasture.  For good quality regrowth, leave about 1/3 of the grass uneaten. Manage your pasture as a crop by soil testing, fertilizing, clipping weeds and managing manure.


Horses need supplemental hay during periods of snow cover or other times when pasture forage is not available. Feeding hay will also extend the grazing season with properties with small acreage. A small rectangular bale of hay can weigh between 45 and 85 lbs. How much hay to buy and feed to your horse should be based upon the weight of the bales and the nutrient value of the hay.  It is best to have your hay analyzed to determine the nutrient value. An average 1000 lb. horse will eat 20 lbs. of medium quality hay per day.

Quick Facts About Hay: Legume (alfalfa and clover) hay is higher in protein than grass hay.  Grass hay will keep the horse busy eating and prevent boredom. Horses need only 10% - 12% protein in their feed.  Alfalfa hay that averages 18% - 24% protein is more than the horse needs. Hay for horses must be mold and dust free or serious complications can arise. Weeds have limited nutritional value. Weed seeds can be passed through the manure and infest your pasture. Another reason to always buy hay that is free of weeds is that some are poisonous to horses.


Your horse must have plenty of clean, “unfrozen” fresh water available at ALL times. A horse will drink 10 to 12 gallons of water each day, depending upon temperature, humidity levels, ration content and work load. In the winter months, stock tank heaters will help stop ice buildup so that water is ALWAYS available to the horse.

Water versus Snow: A horse needs 8-10 gallons of water per day.  It takes about 80 lbs of snow to make 5 gallons of water.

Minimum Health-Care Requirements

It is critical that you develop a partnership with a veterinarian prior to an emergency situation. This can be done by consulting your veterinarian for your horse's routine and preventive health care.


All horses should be vaccinated at least once a year.  A vaccination program is determined by age, use and overall health of your horse. Contact your veterinarian for recommendations.

Internal Parasite Control

Your horse may need to be de-wormed several times each year. The frequency of treatment varies with your horse's management.  It is best to have the manure tested so you know what is necessary and can create a plan with your veterinarian's assistance.

Dental Care

Horses teeth should be checked by a veterinarian at least once a year. The teeth may need to be floated (filed) due to the grinding motion used while eating.

First Aid

Consult your veterinarian about an appropriate first aid kit. It should contain bandage material, a thermometer, ointments and other related items. Contact a veterinarian any time your horse appears sick, or disoriented, or has been injured.

Foot Care

Clean hooves before and after you ride. Examine them regularly for problems. Hooves should be trimmed every 6-8 weeks.. The need for hoof care varies with the use and age of your horse. Contact a qualified farrier for recommendations for your horse.

Disaster Preparedness

Call us or attend one of our meetings for specific information.

Caring for a horse takes time, effort and planning.  Having a horse is a joy, but also shouldn't be thought of lightly. There are certain steps to be taken before you decide to buy or adopt a horse.

We would like to provide you the following information to help you be as prepared as possible for having a horse. If you have any questions, or if you feel any information is missing from this page, please do not hesitate to contact us.


LASSO Horse Rescue & Equine Therapy

Large Animal Support Southwestern Organization

LASSO Horse Rescue

P.O. Box 2291

Pagosa Springs, CO. 81147

(970) 946-0891

(214) 668-1605