Caring for a draft horse is not unlike caring for other types of horses; however, many seasoned draft horse handlers recommend paying special attention to such things as feeding. Draft horses are those that require a diet that will fully support their muscle mass. Many times, individuals new to the care of draft horses opt for feeds that bulk up their horse right away. A draft horse needs a feeding regimen that is good for long term feeding. This means some grains with quality grass hay and salt will be a requirement. However, a diet composed of only alfalfa can result in problems in both the kidneys and bone structure of a draft horse. A varied diet will always be necessary for this breed of horse.
Where a draft horse cannot seem to gain or subsist off of a daily diet of grains, a high fat diet can be of help. The most uncomplicated diet regimen typically consists of substituting a certain fraction of grains with alfalfa and vegetable oil. The exact ratios and proportions would need to be devised by a veterinarian or equine veterinary nutritionist. As they are a large animal, they will simply need more energy to help all body organs function properly. Excellent nutrition not helps keep the draft horse healthy but keeps many problems at bay. It also ensures a better quality of life. Unless recommended by a vet, many handlers avoid giving supplements except to females during pregnancy. Diet therapy is also plays a part when a draft horse has been diagnosed with Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy. EPSM is a disease that causes muscles to waste.
Extra care must also be taken when breeding and caring for pregnant mares. Draft horses have a frequent occurrence of reproductive problems which can be anything from infertility to multiple ovulations that lead to twinning. Many of these problems sometimes require the watchful eye of a veterinarian in order to keep health risks down to a minimum. Draft horse breeds generally take longer to mature than the average horse breed and are therefore known to have sperm counts that are of low quality. Foaling can be difficult as well due to a lack of muscle tone in a female's uterine walls. This usually means delivery will require some sort of assistance.
It is important for a handler to have regular contact with their draft horse via grooming sessions or similar activities. Because of their laid back, stoic nature the draft horse is well known for coming down with an illness or injury that goes undetermined for weeks at a time. A handler that is unfamiliar with his or her horse can not only end up with a very sick and injured animal but astronomical vet bills as well. A wormer every six to eight weeks and inoculations are required for the draft horse, just as they would be with any other horse breed. Proof of these inoculations are typically required whenever using a draft horse to participate in competitions.