The bond between a horse and its rider is unique and special. However, along with the joy it brings, it also brings responsibility. Today, our vets in South Lebanon will discuss how you can take proactive steps to ensure your horse's health and provide you with a practical checklist for proper equine routine care.
Creating a Happy & Healthy Life for Your Horse
At Little Miami Veterinary Services, our vets understand the profound joy of owning and caring for your horse. The bond between a horse and its rider is undeniably special, but it also brings a great deal of responsibility.
You are responsible for ensuring that your horse remains pain-free, healthy, and safe. Below, we outline some key aspects of routine horse care.
Housing & Socializing
Horses thrive when they roam freely and interact with other horses. However, not all horses are suited for 24/7 turnout. Many horses are stalled at night and allowed to socialize during the day. If you stall your horse, make sure to provide ample exercise, socialization, and enrichment opportunities, including daily turnout. If your horse lives outdoors, ensure they always have access to safe shelter.
Extreme Weather Precautions
Horses generally handle cold weather better than hot and humid conditions.
If it's hot and humid, make sure your horse has access to ample shade and clean, fresh water. Also, limit their exercise.
On cold days, ensure your horse has sufficient shelter to shield them from the cold, check that their water supply isn't frozen, and provide them with a heavy or waterproof blanket for protection.
Consult your vet for guidance on selecting the appropriate blankets for the prevailing weather conditions in your area.
Quality sleep is crucial for all creatures, including humans and horses. Although horses can doze while standing, achieving deep REM sleep necessitates that your horse lies flat. Ensure your horse's stall remains clean and fresh, providing an ideal sleeping environment.
Exercise plays a crucial role in maintaining your horse's health. However, like people, you should gradually increase the amount of exercise your horse receives. While horses can walk long distances with occasional trotting, they seldom canter or gallop. If you aim to enhance your horse's strength and conditioning, follow a sensible and gradual plan.
Diet & Nutrition
To ensure proper horse care, provide a high-quality diet that fulfills your equine friend's nutritional requirements. While each horse is unique, it's essential to consult your vet for your horse's precise hay and feed combination. As a general guideline, your horse should consume approximately 2-2.5% of its body weight in hay and high-quality feed daily.
While grains can serve as a beneficial supplement for nutrients, the majority of your equine friend's diet should consist of roughage. Consult your vet for detailed information on incorporating grains into your horse's diet.
Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to prevent injuries and illnesses in your horse. Therefore, monitor your horse's weight closely and promptly contact your vet if you observe any weight fluctuations.
Just as with any other animal in your home, your horse will also require routine veterinary care. Our equine vets in South Lebanon recommend that healthy adult horses have routine exams. In contrast, horses with medical conditions or older horses are seen twice a year to stay on top of any potential concerns.
The vaccinations that your horse needs will be based on several factors, including the age of your horse, where you live, and whether your horse will be traveling. Your vet will be able to recommend the vaccinations that best suit your horse's needs.
Some of the conditions that horse vaccines protect against include:
- West Nile Virus
- Equine Herpes Virus Rhinopneumonitis
- Equine Distemper 'Strangles'
Worms can significantly harm your equine companion's health, causing issues such as weight loss, a deteriorated coat, and potential colic.
Schedule regular fecal egg count tests with your vet to safeguard your horse from worm-related illnesses. This test will determine the precise dewormers necessary for your horse throughout the year.
Additionally, you can protect your horse from parasites by avoiding overcrowding on limited pasture space, implementing pasture rotation when feasible, and consistently removing manure.
To ensure your horse's comfort and peak performance, schedule a farrier to trim your horse's hooves every 6-8 weeks. Some factors, such as the environment, body type, and activity level, may necessitate shoeing for certain horses.
Your farrier can provide expert guidance on maintaining your horse's hoof balance and strength.
Did you know that a horse's teeth continuously grow? Uneven wear can cause sharp points to form, making chewing painful and difficult. To prevent painful dental issues, your horse should undergo dental checkups and filing ('floating') once or twice a year. Annual dental checkups enable your vet to identify various dental problems, such as decayed or broken teeth.
Signs that your horse may have a dental health condition include:
- Food falling from mouth while chewing
- Bad breath
- Undigested happy in stools
- Signs of discomfort around the bit or noseband/refusal to take a bit.
- Weight loss.
"Coggins" refers to an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) blood test that screens horses, donkeys, and mules for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease.
Regular Coggins testing is crucial because no vaccine is available to protect against EIA.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets or other animals. For an accurate diagnosis of your animal's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.