Keeping your horse in the best possible condition is time-consuming and sometimes costly. However, not keeping on top of their health can lead to injury and illness. A regular annual routine will keep you on point with the seasonal training and medical needs for your horse.
Where to start? Before you venture back into the competing ring, get your vet to give your horse a full medical work up. Your horse may have had a break over winter or due to injury/ illness and will need a clean bill of health before going back to doing what they love best – competing.
Keep a record
Health records are a way to manage illness patterns, drugs taken and an indication if the drugs were received with positive or negative effects, vaccines, dental checkups, farrier visits and training programs. Regardless if you are a one horse owner or you manage a stable of horses and staff, no one memory quite remembers all the little details. By having adequate record management, you will save yourself time in the long run and minimise disruption to your horse. Sometimes it’s the little things that make life easier. Does your horse prefer their medication in granular form, paste or tablet? Trying to give medication to a horse that isn’t interested can be challenging at the best of times. Keeping a record will save you time and. Ensure you also keep results of past tests and x-rays. Then, if anything crops up you have that information on hand for your vet or even a potential buyer / trainer.
Prevention better than cure – Vaccinations
Spring has been the time associated with annual vaccinations. As the days warm up, mosquitoes become more present. Vaccinating against the four core illnesses of West Nile Virus, Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis, tetanus and rabies will give your horse a great start to the warmer months and hopefully prevent illness. Your veterinarian can provide you with a thorough workup of vaccines dependant on your horses travel needs for competing.
Immune stimulants are widely used as a way to protect your horse from disease and virus. In the likelihood that they contract an illness will reduce the clinical severity of this illness, and the long term effects on your horse. Immune boosters are safe, reliable and a consistent method of proactive health management for your horse and is managed and by your treating veterinarian. Ask them for more information when you next get the chance.
Do you floss every time you brush your teeth? We are all guilty of taking the odd dental hygiene shortcut. Horses can, unfortunately, suffer the same pitfall. Veterinarians recommend that horses undergo a biannual dental check until your horse is at least five years of age. Then you can reduce this down to an annual check up until the horse is at least 15 years of age. Once they move into their senior years, you will need to revert to the bi-annual check up to avoid complications as your horse ages. Your vet should be able to give your horse a dental check up but should they not be comfortable with this, or if further examination is required you may be referred to an equine dentist.
Learn the skill of reading your horses hoofs. Developing a good working relationship with your farrier, your can assist in providing the most continuous care for your horses greatest asset. Take the time to inspect and evaluate your horses hoofs you can determine how their feet are coping on the ground that they reside and train, how any old injuries are healing and anything that may be developing.
Ask questions when your farrier is visiting and get a better understanding of your horse hoof health. Your farrier has probably seen it all in their client list so don’t be afraid to ask advice.
Ensure your vet keeps a look out for laminitis. In this very modern world scans and x-rays can help diagnose, determine the severity and assist in treatment with ease.
While these topics aren’t the be all end all of horse health, they are a great starting point. As each year passes, your education and knowledge will increase. Your stables may be affected by something new that you have no previous experience. Arm yourself with information and maintain a good relationship with the care providers for your horse. Like anything health related, prevention is better than cure. If you have any concerns or doubts, then pick up the phone and call your vet.