Spring Ahead: Horse Management Strategies for a New Season

Houses get a spring cleaning, cars gets a spring tune-up ... why shouldn't horses receive the same extra attention when the weather turns warm and their duties change?

Schedule spring visits from your veterinarian, farrier, dentist and local nutritionist, and maximize this "quality time" by getting involved:

  • Learn how to body condition score and weight tape your horse properly
  • Determine if the type or amount of hay, grain and supplements you feed needs to change based on these results
  • Take a core sample of your hay and submit it for analysis
  • Inspect your horse's skin, coat and hooves for poor quality or disease conditions
  • Discuss parasite control and submit a fecal sample
  • Learn what new diseases might be occurring in your area and request specific vaccinations (such as equine herpesvirus-1)
  • With assistance, examine your horse's mouth and develop a dental plan, having any necessary floating or corrections performed that day
  • Explain your riding and showing plans for the season and ask your veterinarian's opinion on proper conditioning
  • Evaluate your horse's risk for conditions like colic, laminitis and ulcers by sharing a turnout strategy: how much time will he been in a stall versus turned out and will he have access to pasture?
  • Find out if your horse might benefit from electrolytes, antioxidants, joint supplements or other products if you plan to travel or show.

For detailed instructions on how to prepare your horse for a specific discipline, such as dressage, three-day eventing, or reining, read Conditioning Sport Horses by Hilary M. Clayton, BVMS, PhD.

This is a summary of Dr. Gray's presentation on springtime equine management, part of the SmartPak GetSmart series. GetSmart discussions with Gray will continue April 25, with "Joint Supplements: What's Hip and what's Hype?" Discussions are hosted at the SmartPak Store in Natick, Mass. For more information see www.smartpakequine.com/store.aspx.  


About the Author

Lydia Gray, DVM, MA

Lydia Gray, DVM, is Medical Director and Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak Equine. She was previously the executive director of the Hooved Animal Humane Society in Woodstock, IL, and an Owner Education Director for the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

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