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Now that spring has arrived it's time to think about putting all those heavy winter rugs away and pulling out some lighter ones. It's also that time of the year when passionate horse owners all over the country start thinking about the show and events that are on the horizon. The great thing about springtime is the days start to stretch out which means there's a heap more daylight hours to get things done which is a welcome relief after those dull, dark winter days when you have to rush to get things done.
The better weather also encourages riders back into their saddles so they can start getting their mounts fitter and ready for those all-important summer shows. However, bringing horses back into consistent work takes a bit of thought and planning so they are fit, healthy and well prepared for any competitions you hope to take them to.
It's important to start the season well. Horses that get a good start to a busy season will be much better prepared for all that is going to be asked of them. If your horse is in tip-top condition at the start of the showing and competing season, they are much more likely to maintain condition throughout what is often a quite demanding and challenging time for them.
You need to make sure your horse is being fed top quality feed and that you go about bringing them back into work slowly. This allows them to get back into shape both physically and mentally. You can't rush things at this stage, you need to go through the process always taking your horse's condition into account when you consider the amount of work you are going to be asking of them.
Just because your horse is back in work does not mean they should not be given lots of “turnout” time too. The key is to let them be “a horse” as often as you can so they get to run with their buddies which is not only important for them mentally, but physically too!
Spring is the time of the year when you need to make sure all their shots are up to date and if they are not to arrange for the vet to come out and give your horse their boosters. If you are hoping to show or compete this coming season, your horse's shots need to be up to date or you may not be allowed to take them to the shows you want to.
When horses are bought back into work, it can mean they spend a lot more time in their boxes which can trigger a few vices, namely crib biting and weaving to name but two. It's important to bear this in mind and to take the necessary steps in preventing your horse from getting too bored when they are standing in. The best solution is to turn them out as often as you can when you are not exercising them so the boredom doesn't have time to set in!
If your horse does have to be kept in for longer periods of time, it's really important that you muck them out every day because a build up of ammonia in their environment can lead to all sorts of health issues which includes the following:
The ventilation in stables or barns has to be very good to prevent horses from developing any sort of respiratory disorder which could put them out of action for part or all of the season.
It's also time to worm your horse to avoid any sort of intestinal infestation which could lead to other health issues which includes colic. You can have a worm count done to see which if any worms are present. If there are none, you may get away with not having to worm your horse. However, if the worm count comes back positive, you need to make sure you use the correct wormer which should be the one set out in your pre-planned worming programme. If in doubt, talk to your vet.
When horses are bought into work after the winter months, it's time to have their teeth checked by a qualified equine dentist. This is very important because if there is a dental problem and you place a bit in your horses mouth, you may find they are harder to ride which is only natural because of the pain they may be feeling in their mouths.
Horses need to get their mouths checked at least twice a year, ideally this should be every 6 months. Once in the spring when they are bought back into work and then again in the autumn. You may find your horse's teeth are fine and they don't need any work done at all, but it's better to be safe than sorry!
After having spent the winter turned out or not being ridden, the chances are your horse's feet are not in very good condition. It's essential to get the farrier out even if you have kept an eye on your horse's hooves throughout the winter months. Springtime in the UK can be notoriously wet, so you need to know their feet are going to withstand all that mud and nasty soggy ground you are going to be riding over.
If there any signs of thrush or if your horse's frogs are sensitive, you need to make sure you find out the root cause and then treat the condition as soon as you can. The other thing to keep an eye out for is the beginning of an abscess which could be triggered by a stone bruise.
You need to work closely with your farrier when you first bring your horse in after the winter because if their feet are in good condition at the start of the season, they stand a much better chance of withstanding the testing times ahead!
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