Wellness visits from your veterinarian include performing a hands-on exam, giving immunizations as required and checking your horse’s teeth for potential issues, in addition to looking out for any reportable diseases.
Middle-aged horses may need their sharp enamel points floated to clear away retained deciduous (“baby”) teeth and caps; malocclusions that misalign molars; and any other dental problems affecting comfort and nutrient utilization in their mouth.
1. Feed a Balanced Diet
An effective nutrition program for your horse’s wellbeing is vitally important. Working closely with an equine nutritionist, devise a tailored plan to address their individual requirements. Make sure they’re not getting too many carbs and are getting enough fats for joint support.
Fresh pasture grass and hay are an integral component of a horse’s diet, providing protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals essential for their wellbeing. If the pasture does not meet all their nutrient requirements, vitamin and mineral supplements along with ration balancers may also be required. It is also crucial that their weight be monitored according to their BCS (body condition score) score to prevent obesity in their horses.
Vaccines work by stimulating a horse’s natural immune system in order to safely prepare it to fight germs that could make him sick. While vaccines are effective, they do not prevent all diseases.
Your veterinarian can help you develop an appropriate vaccination program for your horses. This may include core vaccines (rabies, West Nile virus, Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis (EWE), and tetanus) as well as risk-based ones tailored to individual diseases that pose risks to them.
Monitoring your horse after vaccination for any reactions, such as local reactions such as heat and swelling at the injection site are common, however severe systemic reactions are rare.
Internal parasites (worms) are silent killers who cause extensive internal damage while draining vital nutrients from horses’ bodies. As part of a horse’s health care regime, regular deworming programs should be an integral component.
An effective deworming program should include regular quantitative fecal egg counts to assess each horse’s individual parasite load and to establish which deworming schedule they should follow.
Lungworms and stomach bots require the larval stage for life cycle completion; as such, their best method of control involves regularly harrowing pastures in springtime before cutting hay on those same fields during summer.
4. Dental Care
Your horse’s teeth work like a gristmill, constantly grinding their food for easy swallowing and digestion. Due to this action, horses often develop sharp points within their mouth that may cause irritation to soft tissues in their mouth.
Foals should receive their initial dental examination soon after birth and again periodically throughout their first year to detect and address abnormalities such as hooks or misalignments. Yearlings should have their teeth floated to remove sharp points and any retained caps so they can chew comfortably during training sessions.
An annual dental exam by your New Ulm equine and large animal veterinarian is essential to early detection of dental issues in horses, in order to thwart potential issues before they worsen. They’ll use a metal speculum under sedate in order to examine your horse’s mouth, teeth and molar arcades while performing routine flotation (filing down sharp points if necessary).
Horses require daily exercise to stay in good condition and reduce the risk of ulcers and intussusceptions. Exercising can also boost gastrointestinal motility and thus reduce ulcer risk and intussusceptions.
Specificity in training programs is of critical importance: horses destined to race should include racing as part of their conditioning, while horses intended for jumping must incorporate jumping as an essential part of their preparation.
Exercise sessions play an integral part in building the strength and resilience of bone. Younger horses tire more quickly than their elders and will require shorter exercise bouts. Engaging in structured post-exercise cooling down routines helps minimize injury risk and speed recovery time.
6. Clean Stalls
Clean stalls are essential components of a comprehensive horse health program. A dirty stall can become a breeding ground for bacteria that cause disease in horses.
Thoroughly cleaning stalls is key to protecting horses against painful conditions like hock sores, foot ankle abrasions and other ailments that can affect them. Stalls that previously housed sick horses should be thoroughly disinfected before being returned back into use until any signs of infectious illness have fully subsided.
Investment in thick rubber stall mats can help lower bedding costs and maintain cleanliness, not to mention being easy to sanitize.
8. Get a Veterinarian
Equine vets specialize in large animal care and offer services like vaccinations, parasite control and general healthcare for horses, ponies, donkeys and even zebras.
Veterinarians conduct thorough physical exams, administer vaccinations and perform preventative procedures such as dental care for animals under their care. They also monitor coggins test results and report diseases to state agencies.
Healthy horses tend to be friendly, alert creatures who show interest in both humans and other horses. Although they do lay down occasionally, they always get up again quickly after lying down to shake off any dust particles before returning to activity. When in illness they may exhibit reduced appetite, squinted eyes, dry or dull coat, coughing/sneezing noises or excessive sweating as symptoms.
9. Keep Your Horse Healthy
An active horse is vital to human health and reducing the spread of infectious zoonotic diseases, as well as providing livelihood support in low income countries and serving as an invaluable leisure partner.
Healthy horses should exhibit a glossy coat, reflecting proper nutrition, grooming and overall well-being. A dry and dull coat may indicate inadequate nourishment, parasite infestation or illness.
Eyes should be clear with no discharge; nose free of excess mucus; gums a healthy pink hue. If your horse shows any sign of gum or dental health problems, schedule a dental checkup appointment right away.