Horse Owner’s Spring Note­book

Vet-Exam Check­list

Trail Rider - - CONTENTS -

A roundup of sea­sonal tips, check­lists, and guides — in­clud­ing in­for­ma­tion on health care, groom­ing, foot­ing, pest con­trol, and trailer prep — to help you keep your horse healthy and safe this spring.

Spring­time means sched­ul­ing a ve­teri­nary ex­am­i­na­tion for your horse.

The time and money you spend on equine-vet­eri­nar­ian vis­its are well worth it. Here’s a check­list of what you can ex­pect.

■ Hands-on care. By see­ing your horse in the flesh, your vet can bet­ter de­tect and ad­dress any prob­lems. He or she can also of­fer you management ad­vice (in­clud­ing op­ti­mal nu­tri­tion and ex­er­cise pro­grams) for your horse’s par­tic­u­lar needs.

■ Com­plete phys­i­cal exam. Your vet will give your horse a com­plete phys­i­cal exam, in­clud­ing a lame­ness check. Any prob­lems can then be ad­dressed im­me­di­ately. He or she will also likely take your horse’s vi­tal signs (tem­per­a­ture, heart rate, res­pi­ra­tion, gut sounds, gum color, and cap­il­lary re­fill time). Know­ing your healthy horse’s vi­tal signs will help alert you to any de­vi­a­tions from the norm — and thus help you and your vet de­tect po­ten­tial prob­lems down the road.

■ Vac­ci­na­tions. Your vet will give your horse the nec­es­sary vac­ci­na­tions and boost­ers to help ward off in­fec­tious dis­eases. He or she will de­sign an upto-date vac­ci­na­tion pro­gram spe­cific to your horse, your equine ac­tiv­i­ties, and where you live.

■ De­worm­ing. Your vet will place your horse on an op­ti­mal de­worm­ing pro­gram. He or she will take into ac­count your horse’s age, over­all health, health his­tory, en­vi­ron­ment, ac­tiv­i­ties (such as travel), and where you live. By min­i­miz­ing the par­a­sites in your horse’s sys­tem, you’ll en­hance his over­all health and re­duce the chance that he’ll suf­fer colic (a po­ten­tially life-threat­en­ing di­ges­tive dis­or­der).

■ Test­ing. As part of your horse’s phys­i­cal exam, your vet will likely draw blood for a Cog­gins test to check for equine in­fec­tious ane­mia, a highly con­ta­gious, po­ten­tially fa­tal blood-borne vi­ral dis­ease for which there’s no vac­cine or treat­ment. You’ll need proof of a neg­a­tive Cog­gins test to take your horse to most equine events, overnight-sta­bling fa­cil­i­ties, and or­ga­nized trail rides, as well as across state lines. Your vet might rec­om­mend other di­ag­nos­tic tests.

■ Den­tal care. Also as part of the phys­i­cal exam, your vet will ex­am­ine your horse’s teeth — and again, take care of any prob­lems im­me­di­ately. Proper den­tal care en­hances your horse’s health and com­fort. For in­stance, the bet­ter he can chew, the bet­ter he’ll de­rive op­ti­mal nu­tri­tion from his feed. He’ll also be hap­pier on trail rides if his mouth can hold a bit with­out pain.

■ Se­nior care. Do you have an older horse? With twice-yearly vis­its, your vet can fill you in on the lat­est se­nior-horse re­search, management, and prod­ucts. Such ad­vice can help you en­hance your horse’s qual­ity of life and ex­tend your time in the sad­dle. Your vet can also rec­om­mend the best diet for your horse, such as easy-to-chew pel­lets de­signed for older horses, rather than hay. — Jes­sica Jahiel, PhD (www.jes­si­ca­jahiel.com), an in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized clin­i­cian and lec­turer, and an award­win­ning au­thor of books on horses, rid­ing, and train­ing. Her e-mail newsletter (www.horse-sense.org) is a pop­u­lar world­wide re­source.

A roundup of sea­sonal tips, check­lists, and guides — on health care, groom­ing, foot­ing, pest con­trol, and trailer prep — to help you keep your horse healthy and safe this spring.

The time and money you spend on equine-vet­eri­nar­ian vis­its are well worth it. By see­ing your horse in the flesh, your vet can bet­ter de­tect and ad­dress any prob­lems.

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