How to Best Care for Your Horse During Spring
Spring is now in full swing, and as you prepare yourself and your home for the upcoming season, you should also ready your horse for the warmer weather. After a long winter cooped up in the stables, your horse will likely be eager to get back out into the sunshine and fresh air. Horse care can look quite different from winter to spring, especially as the days grow longer and the weather warmer. Taking the necessary precautions early in the season will help set you and your horse up for success throughout the entirety of spring. This brief guide on how to best care for your horse during spring will provide you the necessary feeding, exercise, and grooming information for your horse.
Schedule a vet visit
One of the most important things to do at spring’s onset is to schedule a visit with your veterinarian. This is the best time to schedule a yearly visit because it allows the vet to assess your horse’s condition after a long winter. Some horses lose weight during winter, while others may put on a few pounds. Scheduling a visit with your veterinarian is the best way to ensure your horse enters the spring season at a healthy weight. During this time, the veterinarian will likely also administer several vaccinations to your horse in preparation of mosquito season. Mosquitoes can carry harmful diseases to horses, including West Nile Virus. While mosquito season will likely not be in full swing until summer, it’s best to vaccinate your horse sooner rather than later. Your veterinarian can also assess your horse for any injuries or muscle loss they may have sustained from lack of exercise during the recent winter.
Deep clean equipment
Warm weather and spring cleaning often go hand-in-hand. Don’t limit your cleaning efforts to your house, however. Spend the first few days of spring tidying up your stables and cleaning your riding equipment. Check your tack for any noticeable signs of wear, taking special care to note any rotting, breakages, or potential weak areas. You should also be on the lookout for any rusted hardware, as this can pose a significant health risk to both you and your horse if not properly tended to. Also, take this time to clean your horse’s blankets and wraps. These items may not seem necessary, given the warming weather, but the first few weeks of spring can sometimes be quite chilly. Give your blankets and horse wraps a thorough cleaning to help wash away the winter woes and prepare your horse for a wonderful spring.
Focus on feed
As we’ve stated, it’s common for horses to gain or lose a little bit of weight during winter. The amount of weight gained or lost will depend on various factors, including your horse’s physique and the amount of exercise they received throughout the winter. While minimal weight gain or loss is no cause for immediate alarm, you will likely need to adjust their springtime eating schedule to return them to a healthy base weight. Begin by adjusting your horse’s daily grain intake incrementally. Whether you increase or decrease their daily grain intake, be sure that they still receive the necessary amino acids, vitamins, and minerals in their diet. It’s also important to monitor the type of food your horse will eat when put out to graze. New grass is high in sugar, so be sure to monitor your horse’s condition when put out to pasture, as eating this grass in too high a quantity may negatively impact your horse’s health.
Be mindful of turnout time
Turnout time is one of the most eagerly awaited springtime activities for many horses and horse owners. It provides a horse a bit of independence in which they can exercise or graze at their leisure. While this time does allow your horse their much-needed me-time, it’s important that you still monitor their time while out to pasture. Be sure that your horse is not overindulging on sweet spring grass, as the high sugar count can lead to serious health concerns. Horses with Cushing’s disease, laminitis, or an insulin resistance should be monitored quite closely, as extreme sugar intake may worsen their condition. It’s also important to monitor your horse’s exercise level when turning them out to pasture. Like many of us, horses can become over-excited by the spring sunshine, warmer weather, and budding plants. They may also be eager to stretch their legs after a long winter. While a bit of exercise is necessary for your horse, it’s important that they don’t overexert themselves. Your horse may become overexcited at the chance to frolic in the springtime sun and may injure themselves in their excitement. If necessary, consider first embarking on an easy ride with your horse. This will acquaint them with the changing seasons and they will be calmer when turned out to pasture.
Be aware of the weather
In many parts of the world, spring is a time for foggy mornings and drizzly days. As a horse owner, you must be aware of how this springtime weather may affect your horse. First, consider the condition of your pasture and paddock. Extensive rain can cause your paddock to become slick and muddy, which will make it much more difficult for your horse to navigate. Turning your horse out into a pasture or paddock that’s muddy or poorly kept may increase an injury’s likelihood. Keep your paddock well maintained and don’t turn out your horse if conditions are adverse. Additionally, temperature can fluctuate greatly during the spring. A day that begins foggy and cool can quickly turn into quite a scorcher. Equip your horse with blankets when necessary and be sure to provide adequate shade for your horse to cool down in on warmer days.
Ease into exercise
This tip is as much for your benefit as it is your horse’s. After a long winter, both you and your horse will likely be a bit out of shape. As such, it’s important that you ease back into your exercise routine, rather than diving in headfirst. Begin with a light ride on a daily basis. From there, you can increase the length or difficulty of the ride until you can both ride at your normal pace once again.