Getting Horses Ready for Spring

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Recent warm temperatures probably have you looking forward to spring and all the activities that come with it. As an equine owner, that probably includes the onset of show season and lots of riding time. It’s important to make sure your horse is ready for all of that!

The first thing to be sure your horse is spring ready is to check their hooves. We’ve probably all heard the cliché “no foot, no horse” and while it sounds a little funny, it’s very true. The farrier should attend to your horses hooves regularly, regardless of season. Stalled horses should have their hooves cleaned each day to prevent bacterial buildup. Horses kept outside should have theirs examined and cleaned at least one a week.

Parasites are another thing that people sometimes forget about in winter. The cold weather often keeps parasites at bay but that doesn’t mean your horse doesn’t need to be dewormed. The deworming advice may vary from place to place, so it’s important to discuss with your veterinarian. Most deworming programs should begin in early fall and continue through February or March, but again, this is something to talk with your vet about. It’s important to find the best schedule for you and your horses.

If you’re excited about the upcoming show season, it would be a huge disappointment to get all ready to go, your horse prepared, only to find out that your paperwork and vaccines are not up to date. This is the perfect time of year to be sure your horse is up to date on all vaccines and has a negative Coggins test. Some vaccines you may want to consider include West Nile Virus (WNV), Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE), Equine Herpesvirus (EHV), tetanus, and rabies to name a few. Consult with your vet for other vaccines that may be specific to your area and make sure you meet all health requirements for out of state shows as well.

Nutrition and exercise are key in making sure your horse goes into the spring at the top of their game. Make sure your horse is regularly exercised and if coming back from a long break, add the exercise gradually. Just because you’ve ridden your trail horse for 16 miles before, doesn’t mean he can do that right away after a long winter break. Nutrition is also important for the general health of your horse. Examining the body condition of your horse is key to having the best horse you can have, the system ranges from 1 (emaciated) to 9 (extremely fat). Keeping a body score of 5 throughout the year is ideal, a weight tape is the perfect tool for getting an idea of your horse’s weight.

This is just some general information about getting your horse ready for spring and all the activities the season includes! As always, call your local extension office with any general horse question and consult your veterinarian about vaccine and deworming schedules.

Written By

Photo of Stefani SykesStefani SykesExtension Agent, Agriculture - Livestock (919) 731-1525 stefani_sykes@ncsu.eduWayne County, North Carolina
Posted on Mar 6, 2017
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