Spring Tips For Horse Owners
Spring can bring around a change of routine for many horses. Horses are routine animals and thrive on structure so sudden changes to their routine can have negative implications on both health and behaviour. Here are our top tips for supporting your horse through the change in season:
Take care when grazing on Spring pasture. The grass at this time of year is lush and high in sugar. Over-indulging in rich Spring grass can lead to health problems such as laminitis and colic. The sudden introduction of grass to the diet can also affect the microbiome, disturbing the pH of the hind gut and resulting in digestive upset. Always introduce horses to grass gradually and limit grazing if necessary; particularly if your horse is a good do-er or at a higher risk of metabolic complications.
Skin & coat support
As the weather gets warmer and daylight hours increase, your horse will begin to shed their winter coat in preparation for the Summer months ahead. During shedding season your horse may become itchy and uncomfortable. You can help speed up the shedding process by giving your horse a daily thorough groom, using a rubber curry comb in circular motions to help loosen any dead hair. Daily turn out and rug-free time is also advised to help speed up the shedding process.
A supplement such as Revive 'n' Shine added to the diet can support the skin and coat to remain free from irritation and looking glossy and healthy.
Spring also marks the start of sweet itch season so now is the perfect time to start taking preventative measures to protect your horse from insect bites.
There is no better time to have a clear out than in Spring (it is called Spring cleaning after all)! You will be surprised by how much 'stuff' you can gather. Now is the perfect time to get your winter rugs washed, repaired and stored away ready for next year.
If decluttering it is likely you will find tack and equipment you no longer need. This can be passed on to other horsey friends or sold second hand to save it from going to waste - also much better for the environment!
After shedding season it is also a good idea to thoroughly clean and disinfect all your grooming brushes to rid them of any bacteria. They can become surprisingly dirty very quickly at this time of year.
Before being turned out to pasture it is important that horses are wormed correctly to minimise the spread of parasites. Wormer resistance is becoming more common and can be attributed to the overuse of commercial worming products. For this reason, worm testing is becoming increasingly popular among horse owners. There are two main methods used for testing for worms.
1. Having a fecal egg count carried out, which is a great way to determine whether or not your horse has an intestinal worm burden. For a small charge many vets will carry out this procedure. All they require from you is a small sample of your horse’s droppings.
2. A fecal egg count will not determine a tape worm burden, the best way to test for tapeworm is to use a saliva test. Worm testing minimises the need for blanket worming and can also help horse owners save money by eliminating the need to worm unnecessarily.
Many horses who have had a break over Winter will now be coming back into work in preparation for the upcoming competition season. Now is a good time to ensure that your horse is up to date with all routine care including farriery, dentistry and vaccinations.
Any increases in your horse’s workload should be done gradually as this will allow their fitness levels to rise whilst minimising the risk of injury. Suddenly increasing your horse’s workload to a level that exceeds their fitness can lead to fatigue, stress, injury and reduced performance.
Dietary changes often coincide with changes in workload. If making any changes to your horse’s diet it is important that these are done gradually over a period of three weeks as this will allow the good bacteria in the hind gut to adapt. Sudden changes to the diet can upset the microbiome and lead to other digestive issues.
If you have any concerns about your horse’s diet, we recommend consulting a vet or nutritionist who will be able to advise further. We are always more than happy to offer nutritional advice to owners. Send any queries to firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of our expert team will be on hand to help.