Schedule spring examination.
Call your veterinarian to schedule your horse's spring wellness exam.
Understand changing senior horse health.
Do you have a horse older than 15? One significant change in senior horses is their immune system, as they can become more susceptible to disease because of their immune system's inability to work as well as it did earlier in life. Prioritize vaccinations to help prevent disease. Additionally, to help him properly process feed and prevent colic risk, look to Command Senior Vitality supplements.
Evaluate your horse's diet.
Snow, freezing rain and below-freezing temperatures increase a horse's energy requirements, especially if he's kept in a pasture or outdoor paddock. Maintaining core body temperature can often result in weight loss over winter. Command Coat and Hoof provides calories to help horses cope with cold weather demands. Plus, this supplement will shine their coats and build healthy hoof tissue.
Ensure adequate water intake.
Fresh water is critical for total nutrition. Help ensure your horse's adequate intake during cold weather with automatic waterers for a reliable, ice-free water source.
Prioritize horse health.
Spring is the time to think of equine wellness, including annual vaccinations against Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis, tetanus, equine influenza, equine herpesvirus and West Nile. Rabies protection is also strongly recommended. Based on your horse's lifestyle, your horse may need additional risk-based vaccinations, such as leptospirosis or strangles.
Prepare for travel.
If you plan to travel with your horse in the coming months, check your files to see whether it's time for an updated Coggins test or health certificate. Also, make sure you-re ready for the haul with shipping boots and any trailering items needed.
Schedule your horse's annual dental examination.
Horses require an annual dental examination, at a minimum, to help maintain a healthy weight and perform at their best.
Request a fecal egg count (FEC) exam.
Ask your veterinarian about conducting an FEC exam for a quantitative assessment of your horse's parasite burden to identify the frequency of treatment needed.
Have fewer flies, less stress.
Gear up for fly control with sprays, wipes and feed-through control to help remove misery from both you and your mounts!
Deworm your horse in spring.
Parasite levels can be at their highest during the spring and fall, and spring is the ideal time to treat for encysted small strongyles (strongyles in the larval stage). Quest Gel treats and controls encysted small strongyles, bots and roundworms.
Follow biosecurity best practices.
In the heat of competition and riding season, make sure you are following biosecurity best practices to help keep your horse healthy while traveling. Bring your own equipment, including buckets, and do not retrieve water from a communal source. Also limit exposure to other horses, especially direct nose-to-nose contact, as strangles and equine herpesvirus can be passed on to your horse from passive carriers. Use caution in communal areas, like grazing areas, as bacterial infections and parasites can live outside of the host.
Prep for a long day's ride.
If you're hitting the trails or planning on a lengthy ride, make sure your horse is comfortably equipped for potentially rocky surfaces with the Easyboot Trail Horse Hoof Boot. For long hours in the saddle, you may also enjoy added comfort from a gel seat saddle pad for shock absorption and relieved pressure points.
Help prevent injury.
Fireworks displays can cause not only great disruption to lives of horses but also grave danger and injury due to fireworks-related anxiety. Maintain your horse's health and safety and, before celebrating July Fourth, ask your veterinarian about prescribing Dormosedan Gel (detomidine hydrochloride), which provides mild sedation lasting up to three hours.
Know signs of heat stress.
Without taking proper steps, heat stress can be a dangerous reality for your horse. Familiarize yourself with the signs of heat stress, which include weakness, stumbling, and increased respiration and temperature. Help ensure your horse's safety by providing all-day access to fresh water, free choice salt or mineral blocks, and properly ventilated barns. Your horse will also benefit from electrolytes to help prevent dehydration in hot weather.
Prepare for winter.
Winter is soon approaching: make sure your barn and the horses stabled within it are prepared. Do you have a plan for snow removal or have hoof-friendly salt to help prevent injury in the paddocks? Is the roof able to handle extra weight from snow and precipitation? Make sure your horse is comfy-grey-sweater ready for the winter season.
Administer booster vaccinations.
Now is a good time to administer booster vaccinations to help protect your horse's health. While annual spring vaccinations help offer disease protection and can activate an immune response, the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) vaccination guidelines recommend at-risk horses be vaccinated for equine influenza and equine herpesvirus, also called rhinopneumonitis, every six months. Fluvac Innovator vaccines are the most trusted equine influenza vaccines and help provide your horse with broad protection against newly emerging and conventional equine influenza virus strains as well as equine herpesvirus (EHV-1 and EHV-4).
Deworm your horse in fall.
The AAEP recommends tapeworm treatment once a year, in the late fall or early winter. Quest Plus Gel is the ideal deworming choice for late fall as it treats and controls bots, encysted small strongyles and roundworms in a single dose. Quest Plus also contains an additional active ingredient - praziquantel - that specifically targets tapeworms. Horses may harbor tapeworm infections without showing signs of discomfort; however, the parasite can cause colic, reports the AAEP, from mild to severe colic episodes requiring surgical treatment.
Keep close watch on blankets.
Make sure your horse has a comfortable turnout blanket for the winter season. As winter is in full swing, keep a close watch on your horse's blankets for both fit and condition.
Prioritize tack cleaning and conditioning.
If not conditioned regularly, the winter air can quickly form cracks in your saddles and tack. Stock up on saddle soap and leather conditioner, and remember to take a few minutes of your day to protect your investment. Additionally, to prevent conditions such as rain rot, wash your horse's blankets and saddle pads as needed.
About the author: This article was originally provided by Zoetis, with content additions included from Valley Vet Supply.