Spring Tune-Up for Your Horse

By Travis McKinzie, DVM, Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital

Now that we have the longer days and spring upon us, we have the time and the weather to ride more. Whatever the discipline, we always wind up with less riding during those winter months. As we put our horses back to work, there are a few things to think about to save down time later.

First of all are the feet. Be sure that your horse’s feet are properly trimmed/shod before taking him or her out for the day. Have someone else trot your horse so you can watch for lameness. Also, be sure the hooves are maintaining proper condition and treat them accordingly if not.

Dental issues should be evaluated before we get into our peak riding. If your horse’s teeth have not been checked since last spring, they should be checked now. Proper dentistry allows for better feed utilization and better response to the bit. Because the sedatives and dental work will mean at least one down day, it is important to do this before it is a problem. That way you can select the off day.

Vaccinations and deworming are best done now as well. Discuss your horse’s risks with your veterinarian. Respiratory vaccinations should be done prior to peak exposure and thus now is a good time. Because mosquitos will soon be active, we should be vaccinating for West Nile virus and sleeping sickness now also. The latter are usually in combination with tetanus, which is very important as well. We do not want to be dealing with parasite issues during the peak season. Therefore, proper deworming is important at this time.

Something commonly forgotten is the trailer. Now is the time to check the floors, lights, tires, brakes, bearings, etc. We want everyone and their horses to be able to get where they are going safely. Always check the hitch attachments to be sure everything is solid.

By checking all of this now, problems can be addressed before they become urgent. This will allow for a less troublesome riding season. Let’s all have fun and be safe.

Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital offers equine ambulatory care, referral hospital services and 24/7 emergency. Call 360.568.3111 to schedule a consultation with one of our equine practitioners.

Article added 3.24.15