Taking time to allow the horse’s intestinal flora to accommodate the rich
spring forage helps to minimize digestive upset. It’s also wise to keep horses off
pasture when it’s wet to avoid trampling the tender grass.
/ Hoof Care /
You may have kept your horse barefoot through the winter and are now ready
to have shoes put on him again. Make sure your horse is shod well in advance of
important training or events so your farrier can fine-tune the horse’s angles in time
for him to adapt to changes.
Wet ground tends to cause thrush or hoof abscesses in certain areas, so daily
cleaning and topical application of an anti-thrush product can be helpful.
/ Conditioning /
Bringing your horse back from a winter layoff relies on good common sense.
Start your training program slowly, with steady increases rather than asking
your horse for strong efforts right away. Your plan should take into account
whether he has enjoyed pasture turnout over the winter or has been confined to
a stall. Moving around in turnout keeps tendons and muscles toned, and provides
the foundation for a conditioning program.
A stalled or confined horse needs more time to leg up. A general rule is to
increase walking periods by five minutes every three days, working up to at least
an hour per day of walking.
Then trot can be added, and finally canter work. It’s always best to err on the
side of caution, especially if your horse has been idle over the winter.
/ The Bottom Line /
Every horse should be treated as an individual to achieve optimal wellness. The
best way to do this is to work closely with your vet.
Preventive care is key, including immunization. Dental care, hoof care and
good nutrition are all part of maximizing your horse’s health and performance.
NANCY S. LOVING, DVM, is a performance horse veterinarian based in Boulder, Colo., and is the
author of All Horse Systems Go.
March is not too early to start
thinking about insect control. Flies
and mosquitoes spread infection
and diseases, including potentially
fatal viruses. A smart strategy is to
stop the problem before it starts, and
Target mosquito breeding sites
by eliminating or frequently draining
containers that hold water: flower
pots, old tires, birdbaths, buckets, wading pools, and pet food
bowls, to name a few. Make sure
that gutters drain well and there is
good drainage around water tanks.
Weekly application of “dunks” or
“bits” in ponds and water tanks is a
good control strategy. The products
contain soil bacteria called Bacillus
thuringiensis israelensis (BTI) or
Bacillus sphaericus (BS), which
deter hatching of mosquito larvae,
blackflies and midges.
For fly control, there are
companies that sell packages of
non-stinging wasps called parasi-toids (commercially known as as Fly
Predators or Fly Eliminators). These
beneficial insects feed on fly larvae,
which reduces the number of flies
hatching to adult form. The company
mails you monthly (or weekly) shipments to release from spring until
the first killing frost. It’s best to start
releasing beneficial insects as early
as possible in order to keep adult fly
populations to a minimum.
Pictured above: If you are putting
shoes back on your horse this
spring, allow time for him to
adapt and for your farrier to
make any adjustments.