As horse owners, it’s our job to stay on top of our horses’ health. Here are six ways to check into your horse’s health – make sure you do all of them on a regular basis to avoid problems down the road.
1. Have Bloodwork Done
Make it a point to have a bloodwork panel done on your horse once every few years. Pulling bloodwork when your horse is healthy and “normal” can give you a good baseline for comparison in the event that your horse is ever seriously injured or sick. Bloodwork can also give you insight to potential health issues that might not be evident from the outside.
2. Run a Fecal Egg Count
Intestinal parasites can negatively affect your horse’s health, and if they’re left untreated, they can cause major problems like weight loss and colic. As more and more barns steer away from the traditional rotational deworming because of parasite resistance, it’s important to run a fecal egg count on your horse at least once a year. The results of this test can give you an idea of whether your horse may need to be dewormed.
3. Check Your Horse’s Vital Signs
It’s important to establish a baseline of your horse’s normal vital signs. Take your horse’s temperature, pulse, and respiration rate a few times over the course of a few days. Record the results and find the average rates. Knowing these standard specific vital signs for your horse will give you something to compare rates to during a medical emergency.
4. Analyze Your Horse’s Feed
Did you know that the quality of your hay can change with each batch that you receive? Have your hay analyzed for its nutritional content, and then compare it with the analysis from the grain that you are feeding. If you’re not sure if your horse is receiving what he needs in terms of nutrition, talk with your vet or with an equine nutritionist.
5. Check In with Your Vet
Your vet should be out at least once a year to administer vaccines. This appointment is a good time to check in with him on your horse’s overall health. Ask about any concerns that you have, and get his assessment of your horse’s body condition.
6. Check In with Your Farrier
We’ve all heard the saying, “No hoof, no horse.” It’s very true, and hoof issues can have serious implications on your horse’s health. It’s easier to stay ahead of hoof issues than it is to fix them, so make a point of checking in with your farrier. Your farrier will have a good sense of what is normal for your horse’s hooves, and can help alert you to troublesome changes such as flares, unusual cracks, or different wear patterns.
The more that you can check into your horse’s health, the better a chance you have of being able to avoid more serious problems later on.