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Shake off the Winter Doldrums and Get Back in the Saddle
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Shake off the Winter Doldrums and Get Back in the Saddle

Winter is gradually, but surely, fading away in preparation for spring. For horse owners, getting over the winter despondency and switching their horse’s regimen can take time but it is always sage not to rush this process. Dr. Scott Hancock is an equine professional veterinarian, at Boehringer Ingelheim, with the sole intention of helping horse owners and their horses get back on their feet by providing some useful tips on how to ready the horses for the warmer season.

Conditioning Your Horse

Just like human beings, horses too need adequate preparation before riding, especially after a lengthy winter without training. After such a long winter, horses need to begin the spring season with a gradual conditioning program, especially if they were only working lightly. Hancock suggests that horse owners begin with light exercises and develop a spring conditioning program that is healthy and which suits the horse’s needs.

Supplementing the Feed

There is always a temptation among horse owners to feed extra concentrates, supplements and grain before resuming riding in spring. Such a decision should only be made on the basis of the horse’s current diet. Hancock acknowledges that excessive intake of one vitamin or mineral might negatively affect the absorption process of another. He further advises horse owners to seek guidance from an equine nutritionist who would analyze the horse’s hay to determine the nutrients taken and point out dietary deficiencies (if any).

Spring Shoeing

There are horse owners who prefer pulling off the horse’s shoes and simply trimming the hooves. Spring often comes with frequent training and riding, forcing many horse owners to put these shoes back on for protection. According to Dr. Hancock, a shoeing decision oftentimes depends on the horse in question, its use and the foot’s condition.

General Health Checkup

Spring is typically an opportune season for an extensive physical exam. Additionally, it is a chance for horse owners to discuss health issues that usually arise in spring. Dr. Hancock admits that he has always been an advocate of thorough oral exams for horses, twice a year. During spring, many veterinarians prefer a fecal exam to determine the parasite load and determine the need for intervention, if any. Moreover, Dr. Hancock emphasizes on early vaccination and also keeping an eye out for any delay in coat shedding.

Image source: flickr.com

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