Spring Ready: Preparing Your Horse For Spring Season

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Spring Ready:

Preparing Your Horse For Spring Season

The long, cold winter is drawing to a conclusion. Soon, the grass will grow, new seedlings will sprout out of the ground, and the skies will be clear and blue. As equestrians and horse owners, this will be a perfect time for you and your horse to take a nice stroll out in the pasture and enjoy the new opportunity that spring brings.

 

But before you can take full advantage of the glory of springtime, you have to take into consideration that your horse needs time to adjust to the new demands of seasonal change. In this article, we’ll discover how your horse is affected by the change that spring brings and how you can help him with his health and comfort as he prepares for this transition season.

 

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get your boots out, oil your saddle, and get ready for the hopeful days that are about to start. Yes! Spring, the season of new beginnings, is finally here!

How Spring
Affects Your Horse

The changing of seasons can affect your horse in various ways.

With Spring, you can expect a massive growth of grass brought by an increase in rain and temperature. With this comes a very high spike in potassium and nitrates. Equine Laminitis, a common, extremely painful, and recurrent condition that affects the tissues (laminae) responsible for bonding the hoof wall to pedal bone in the hoof, is often seen in horses during the spring and autumn seasons when pastures are lush and growing rapidly.

The warmer temperature and damp conditions of spring are also perfect for fungus to produce mycotoxins. With the presence of mycotoxins, horse owners and carers should watch out for Ryegrass staggers (grass tetany), a disorder wherein horses exhibit stagger-like symptoms ranging from sore behind or stepping short in mild cases, to the lack of coordination, tremors, and muscle spasms and tremors in severe cases. It’s really important to make sure your horse gets a seasonally adjusted dietary intake of calcium, magnesium, and sodium. This will ensure that the stored and circulating levels in his body are kept at an optimum level.

With the increased production of grass, your horse can gain weight. Unhealthy weight gain may put your horse at high risk for Equine Metabolic Resistance (EMS), which is often compared with type 2 diabetes in humans. It is characterized by insulin resistance and obesity. To combat this, closely monitor your horse’s body condition, and communicate your concerns to your veterinarian. The ‌goal here is early detection that will prevent health-threatening diseases from occurring.

How to
prepare
your horse
for the
spring
season

As you welcome the fresh spring season, we’ve curated a to-do list that you can use. Here are some spring management tips for your horses:

Health

Confident female vet checking horse health at stable
Evaluate your horse’s health records
  • Vaccinations, dental assessment, and deworming should be routine for health maintenance.
  • Oral evaluation is also a must. Check your horse’s gums for soreness and inflammation and his teeth for uneven wear and sharp edges.

Note: Dental issues, when not prioritized, contribute to chewing difficulties, weight loss, and colic.

Confident female vet checking horse health at stable
Evaluate your horse’s body condition score (BCS)
  • Before you begin a new spring riding schedule, check your horse’s body condition first. Determine whether he needs to lose, maintain, or gain weight.
  • The Body Condition Score and its evaluation methods assess whether your horse is in the right weight category and if his muscle base is appropriate. Understanding and keeping track of your horse’s body condition can help you keep him in good health and guide you in devising an appropriate spring training schedule.
Confident female vet checking horse health at stable
Check your horse’s hooves
  • Hopefully, before spring, your horse’s shoes were left off, giving his hooves an opportunity to be strengthened without restrictions.
  • Make sure his hooves are trimmed every eight weeks and that they are trimmed correctly, before starting any spring training.
  • Some hoof problems are related to shoeing. Consult with your veterinarian about your options.

NUTRITION & DIET

Three horses feeding on a ranch in Colorado with more in the background.
Adjust your horse’s feeding portions relative to
his BCS and activity level
  • It’s important that as equestrians, you keep track of your horse’s feeding schedule. Make sure your horse is getting enough grain or high-fat rations to meet his new work requirements.
  • If you need to make any modifications to your horse’s feed, be sure to apply the changes slowly. When in doubt, it’s always best to ask your vet about your horse’s weight, body condition, and feeding schedule.
Ration-balancer
Use a ration balancer for your horse’s diet

If you are preparing for show season, you need to adjust your horse’s feed through a ration balancer, in order to ensure that he’s getting sufficient nutrients, electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals. Remember, high sugar grains (sweet feeds, senior grains) can do more damage than good. Excessive starch and sugar can cause inflammation, which leads to serious conditions like laminitis or founder. Consider adding free range access to quality hay.

Balance feeding formulas planned to complement the forage portion of your horse’s diet relative to their activities.

SPRING CLEANING

saddles bridles and other tack resting on gate after riding with horse standing in background
Clean up Tack and Equipment
  • Spring is often associated with “spring cleaning”. So, ‌do a thorough cleaning on your horse tack and equipment. Months of low temperature can cause leather tack to dry out and crack. Now is a great time to clean winter crust with some warm saddle soap and massage it with mink or Neatsfoot oil, or Lexol conditioner. Clean and sanitize your saddle pads and armory of any leftover winter bacteria and fungi.
Fenced horse pasture with tall trees, puffy white clouds and blue sky on a sunny day.
Clean stalls and pasture areas
  • Cleaning your horse’s stalls should be prioritized regularly, especially during the active season. Make sure that the stable area is well-ventilated and sanitized. Remove ammonia buildup in the enclosed areas that can damage the lungs and increase the risk of respiratory infections in your horse.
horse pasture
Workload
  • After a hard winter’s time, give your horse adequate time to cope and adjust to the new routine.
  • If you haven’t been riding your horse regularly during winter, he won’t be conditioned for a long trail ride or any other strenuous physical activities. To prevent muscle soreness, horses should be gradually reintroduced to work. Start with slow, easy work and workouts. Then, gradually increase the duration and intensity of the activities until he becomes adequately conditioned. This will help decrease the risk of problems and injuries.
  • When your horse’s nutritional and workload management are addressed, and your horse is already conditioned, he’s ready to head out and enjoy the fresh, warm weather.

There you have it. Just a few reminders and insights on how to take care of your lovely horse during this spring season. There are other ways and steps that you can take to protect and care for your horses. But in whatever trail you travel with your horse, know that you are not alone in this endeavor, for you have people who are readily available to help.

Cave Creek Equine is a forefront institution in giving you the best possible care for your horses. We are here to help take care of your lovely horses with our high-caliber team using our top-of-line equipment and technology.

We offer our equine veterinary services to horse owners in Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Carefree, Desert Hills, New River, the greater Phoenix area, and all the Westside area (including Wickenburg, Wittman, etc). Get to know more about Cave Creek Equine and our services.

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