ChatGPT—the all-knowing artificial intelligence superbot—is taking over the news lately. I’ve even asked it a few questions myself: What should I make for dinner? What’s the perfect Instagram profile quote? Are you going to take my job? How hard is it to become a doctor at age 38? Are you also going to take all the doctors’ jobs? How hard is it to become a ChatGPT server maintainer?
But it never occurred to me to ask it anything horse related, so I was inspired to see the FEI recently interviewed it about equestrian sports, and it did a decent job.
Since the biggest mystery in any horseperson’s life is often how to best care for our equines—a topic that is surely more complicated than passing the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination, which ChatGPT just did—I turned to the bot with a few questions in that area. Its answers turned to be more informative, and honestly more practical and better, than I expected. (As always, take any advice you read on the internet—especially advice that came from a free chatbot—with a grain of salt.)
(ChatGPT’s answers have been lightly edited for length, mostly because it types way too much and uses Oxford commas.)
First things first: How much do you know about horses?
As an AI language model, I have been trained on a diverse range of text, and I have knowledge about horses. I can answer questions about different breeds, care, behavior, history and other related topics.
OK, good enough. What should I feed my horse?
The diet of a horse depends on several factors such as age, activity level and health conditions. In general, a healthy adult horse’s diet should consist of:
• Forage: This includes hay or pasture grasses, which should make up the bulk of a horse’s diet. Good-quality hay is an important source of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.
• Concentrates: This includes grains such as oats, corn and barley, and can be fed to provide additional energy. However, it’s important to feed concentrates in moderation, as too much can lead to weight gain and other health problems.
• Water: Fresh, clean water should be available to horses at all times, as they need to drink frequently to maintain their health.
• Vitamins and minerals: A balanced diet should provide all the vitamins and minerals a horse needs, but in some cases, a vitamin and mineral supplement may be required.
It’s important to remember that not all horses are the same, and their diets may vary. If you have concerns about your horse’s diet, it’s best to consult a veterinarian or an equine nutritionist.
Good answer! But now I have a few more specific questions. I want to turn out my horse regularly, but I’m worried he’ll get hurt. What is the best way to do this?
Turning your horse out in a pasture or field can be a great way to provide exercise and mental stimulation, but it can also carry some risks. Here are some steps you can take to minimize the risk of injury when turning your horse out:
• Check the pasture: Make sure the pasture is free from hazards, such as broken fences, sharp objects or poisonous plants.
• Monitor the weather: Avoid turning your horse out in extreme weather conditions, such as heavy rain or high winds, as this can increase the risk of injury.
• Use caution with other horses: If your horse is turned out with other horses, be cautious about the potential for horseplay (Editor’s note: good pun), which can result in injury. If necessary, separate horses that are known to be aggressive or prone to horseplay.
• Provide proper fencing: Use sturdy, well-maintained fencing to contain your horse and minimize the risk of escape or injury.
• Keep an eye on your horse: Regularly check on your horse while it is turned out to make sure it is healthy and safe.
By taking these steps, you can help to minimize the risk of injury when turning your horse out. However, it’s always important to be vigilant and to act quickly if you notice any signs of injury or illness. If you have any concerns, it’s best to consult a veterinarian.
It’s cold outside, and I’m wearing my heaviest jacket. Should my horse be wearing his heaviest blanket?
The type of blanket your horse should wear will depend on several factors, including the temperature, humidity, wind and your horse’s individual needs.
In general, horses have a natural ability to regulate their body temperature, and their heavy winter coat provides them with some insulation from the cold. However, if the temperature is extremely cold or windy, or if your horse is clipped, a blanket can help to keep them warm and comfortable.
Noted: Will put on my horse’s heaviest blanket. Maybe two! Next question: Shoes are expensive. Does my horse really need them?
Whether or not your horse needs shoes depends on several factors, including the type of work they do, the conditions they work in and their individual hoof characteristics.
In general, horses that are used for light work or are turned out in pasture and are not working on hard or rocky surfaces do not typically need shoes. However, if your horse is used for heavy work, such as jumping or if they work on hard or rocky terrain, shoes may be necessary to protect their hooves and prevent injury.
Shoes can also be used to correct hoof problems, such as imbalances or cracks, or to provide additional support for horses with specific hoof-related conditions.
It’s best to consult with a veterinarian or farrier to determine if shoes are necessary for your horse based on their individual needs and the conditions in which they will be working. Keep in mind that shoes do require regular maintenance and replacement, so the cost should be factored in when making the decision about whether or not to shoe your horse.
Once again, that’s pretty solid advice. This next one is a bit of a loaded question, but do you think The Chronicle of the Horse website is a good place to find horse care information?
The Chronicle of the Horse is a well-respected and widely-used [sic] website for information and news on the equestrian community. It covers a wide range of topics, including horse care, riding, training and competition. They often publish articles written by industry experts and professionals, so the information provided on the website is generally trustworthy.
Well, thank you! We like to think we do a good jo… wait, you’re still typing.
However, as with any online source, it’s important to verify the information you find on the Chronicle of the Horse and to seek advice from a professional, such as a veterinarian or an experienced riding instructor, when making decisions about your horse’s care and health. It’s also a good idea to consult multiple sources to ensure that you have a well-rounded understanding of the information and advice you’re receiving.
OK, fine, fair answer. Well, you’ve been helpful, but I must say you have a very dry sense of humor. Can you give me a joke my horse might find funny?
Here’s a joke that your horse might appreciate:
Why did the horse go to the doctor?
Because he was a little horsepital!
I don’t think you told that joke quite right, but good effort. Last topic for today: How do I know if my horse likes me?
Horses communicate their emotions and feelings through body language and behavior, so paying attention to these cues is a good way to determine if your horse likes you. Here are some signs that your horse might be fond of you:
• Relaxed body language: If your horse is relaxed and loose in their movements when you’re around, it’s a good sign that they feel comfortable and trust you.
• Nostril flare: Horses will often flare their nostrils when they are interested in something or someone. If your horse does this when you approach them, it could be a sign that they enjoy your company. (Editor’s note: Or that they’re preparing to leap into the air, but I appreciate your optimism.)
• Ears forward: Horses will often point their ears forward when they are paying attention to something or someone. If your horse has their ears forward when they are near you, it’s a sign that they are interested in you and may like you.
• Nuzzling: If your horse nuzzles you, either with their nose or their neck, it’s a sign of affection and a good indication that they like you.
• Following you around: If your horse follows you around or seeks out your attention, it’s a good sign that they enjoy your company and like you.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that every horse is unique and may have their own individual preferences and comfort levels. By building trust and developing a positive relationship with your horse, you can foster a strong bond and encourage them to like you.
Uh oh, my horse doesn’t seem to like me. Can I buy his love?
No, you cannot buy a horse’s love. Horses are living beings with their own emotions and personalities, and building a strong bond and relationship with them takes time, patience and effort.