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Spring prep for your performance horse

It is important to take care of your horse well before the start of competition.
DC vet spring
Regular hoof care year-round cannot be recommended enough.

It is that time of year again when the days are getting longer the weather is getting warmer and with it brings shedding horses, frisky horses (coming in for wound exams or emergency castrations) and the anticipation of competition/clinics/training with our horses.

1. Dental care – Dental care is important in young horses going into training and to make sure our equine athletes do not have any dental issues that will affect their performance. We recommend getting your horse’s teeth examined and floated, if needed, in spring before the start of the season. You never know what is going on inside your horse’s mouth until you have a get a good exam done.

2. Deworming - We typically recommend deworming horses prior to turn out on summer grass to prevent parasites from being shed onto summer grass. However, deworming protocols have changed over the past few years and we now recommend getting a fecal egg count to determine if your horse is a shedder (some horses will typically harbor and shed a lot more parasites than others). 3

. Vaccinations – We typically recommend vaccinating horses in spring. Most of us in the Peace Country are likely travelling/competing with our horses during the summer months therefore vaccines in spring will provide the best protection during this high-risk time. Depending on where you travel and what you are doing helps dictate which vaccines/disease coverage is best for your individual horse. Your veterinarian can work with you to tailor an ideal vaccination program for your horse.

4. Coggins testing – Some equine facilities or crossing the American border require a negative coggins test. A coggins test is valid for 6 months therefore if you know you will be traveling, plan ahead and get your coggins test done early.

5. Hoof care – Regular hoof care year-round cannot be recommended enough. Horse’s hooves don’t grow as fast in the cold winter months, but growth will accelerate now with the spring weather so make sure to have your farrier out to have your horse’s hooves trimmed or shod (which should be regularly performed every 6-8 weeks).

6. Soundness exam – Lameness is one of the biggest reasons we are not able to compete with our horses or compete at the level we hoped. It is always a good idea to have a thorough veterinary exam at the beginning of the competition/working season to make sure your horse does not have some underlying lameness concern that should be addressed now. If we have a baseline for how your horse is doing we can work with you to create a plan for your horse’s soundness.

7. Reproductive health – Young stallions will start feeling fresh this time of year so make sure to book your castrations in promptly before they are jumping through the fence trying to breed your mare and it becomes an “emergency castration”. Mares will be starting to actively cycling this time of year. If you are planning to breed your mare start tracking your mare’s cycle and contact us early if you are planning to breed your mare at the clinic with fresh or frozen semen. Some performance horse mares also have strong heat cycles that dramatically affects their performance.

8. Check your fences/social order in your horse groups – Horses start feeling energetic and frisky this time of year to run around and play which sometimes results in some nasty wounds. As satisfying it is for us vets to suture up a nasty wound, we don’t want to see your horse out of commission for the summer due to a bad wound from running through a fence.

9. Fitness – Even though our horses are usually outside running around, it is still important to get them into shape well before the start of competition. Start the season with walking and long trotting, progressively increasing in time and distance every week.

We wish you a healthy, safe, and successful competition season with your horses. Please contact us at the clinic for more information on preparation and maintenance of our equine athlete.