New Year’s res­o­lu­tions fo­cused on horse­keep­ing are a great al­ter­na­tive to tra­di­tional prom­ises you make (then break) about go­ing to the gym more of­ten. If you’ll be mak­ing horse-re­lated res­o­lu­tions this year, how­ever, think be­yond tack clean­ing or com­pe­ti­tion goals. Here are three horse-re­lated res­o­lu­tions that are def­i­nitely worth mak­ing and keep­ing.

1. Get a jump on your horse’s spring vac­ci­na­tions. Your horse is best pro­tected from in­sect-borne ill­nesses if he has time to build up an­ti­bod­ies af­ter in­oc­u­la­tion. Ide­ally, the final in­jec­tion will be ad­min­is­tered three or four weeks be­fore in­sects emerge in the spring. In many ar­eas of the coun­try, this means vac­cine pro­to­cols be­gun in late April are too late---think late February or early March in­stead.

2. De­velop an emer­gency care plan for your horse. If you couldn’t be reached when an emer­gency arose, who would make im­por­tant de­ci­sions re­gard­ing your horse’s care? Pin­ning up a note with a friend’s num­ber in the tack room when you’re away on va­ca­tion is a good start, but you can do bet­ter. Com­pile a list of peo­ple who have agreed to help you out in a cri­sis and post it in a prom­i­nent place at the barn. Make sure at least one or two of your emer­gency con­tacts have ac­cess to a trailer that could be used for trans­porta­tion to an equine clinic. Also, email your list to your vet­eri­nar­ian to be kept on­file in his of­fice. Then, when you plan to be away, touch base with the peo­ple on the list to en­sure they will be avail­able if need be.

3. Move to a fe­cal-egg count de­worm­ing sys­tem. You’ve un­doubt­edly heard by now that de­worm­ing based on the cal­en­dar alone con­trib­utes to par­a­site re­sis­tance. It also can lead to wasted money if you ad­min­is­ter an­thelmintic­s to horses who do not ac­tu­ally need treat­ment. Shift­ing to a sys­tem that takes into ac­count each horse’s par­a­site load and calls for de­worm­ing only when nec­es­sary is bet­ter for your horses and the equine com­mu­nity as a whole. Chang­ing your de­worm­ing pro­gram may seem daunt­ing at first, but it’s not dif­fi­cult. Talk to your vet­eri­nar­ian about how to get started.

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