Horse Owners - Are You Ready For Spring?
Believe it or not, it is almost spring after most of us had a rough, long winter. With the oncoming nice weather, it is time to start a "spring check-up". This involves inspecting your pastures, fencing, barn, tack and facilities for maintenance and repair.
Every spring, horse owners should get in the habit of preparing the pastures, equipment and horses to be enjoyed during the warmer weather.
The first thing would be to check the fencing and pastures. Winter storms can bring down trees onto fences, or deer can run through, breaking the fencing. If wire or electric fencing is used, check to make sure it is property working and not shorted out. Horses will know when the fence is shorted at which point will decide to go exploring on their own. Fencing should be checked at least once a week, thereafter.
Since horses have not been out to pasture during the cold winter months, and have been eating mostly hay, they will need to be introduced to the fresh green grasses. The horses digestive system will need to be introduced slowly to the lush grass since their systems are not used to it. Start our by limiting their time on the grass, usually starting out at about 15-20 minutes or so at a time. Then slowly increase the grazing time period to about 10-15 minutes every few days. This way, after about a month's time, the horse's digestive system will have acclimated to several hours of grazing time.
Spring is also a good time for the annual visit from your veterinarian for vaccinations and yearly exam. (Consult your veterinarian as to which inoculations are required and necessary for your area.) This is also the time to include the negative Coggins testing, which is required to participate in horse shows and various horse events.
This is also a good time to have your farrier come out. If the horse's shoes were pulled, now would be a good time to have them put back on prior to starting their heavy work schedule. Also, many owners tend to somewhat neglect the hoof health of their horses during the winter months. Good time to have them checked out.
Daily grooming is necessary during the spring months to help the horses shed their winter coats. This is also a good way to check the condition of their skin as well as helping in finding parasites. Spring and fall are the times when ticks are most prevalent.
Lastly, the spring months are a good time to do spring barn cleaning, by removing the cob webs, dead insects, dirt and dust, sweeping out the barn, plus checking throughout the barn for any repairs that may need to be done. This is also the time to check and clean equipment and tack. If repairs are needed, get it done before the riding begins.