Spring has sprung! With the longer and warmer days beckoning us to spend more time with our horses, it’s important to remember that your senior horse requires special care as we transition from season to season to ensure they remain happy and healthy.
After the health challenges of Winter and Autumn, Spring and Summer can bring new ones to the fore. Starting with a Spring health check for your senior horse is a fundamental step to help them prepare for the new season ahead.
Spring Health Check for Senior Horses
A Spring health check is the first step to support your senior horse during the change of seasons. Discuss your plans for Spring with your veterinarian, especially if you intend to train and compete more frequently.
Your veterinarian will be able to assess your horse’s physical health and fitness, and diagnose any problems that may affect their performance and soundness. They can also discuss feeding and training strategies with you to bring your senior horse back into work safely.
Spring and Senior Horse Health
The start of Spring is the perfect time to evaluate your senior horses’ general health and make sure that you’re following best practices to promote good health and wellbeing. The key aspects of their health that should be evaluated at this time of year include:
Let’s take a closer look at each of these in turn.
Your senior horse’s coat should be shiny and vibrant and regularly groomed. As you remove their Winter rugs, embrace the rich vitamin D found in sunlight and plants, which supports healthy bones, joints, and muscular function. However, remember to monitor for parasites, biting insects, and fungal infections.
Senior horses are at increased risk of joint problems due to their age. Speak with your veterinarian if you suspect any joint problems due to signs of pain, lameness, stiffness, swelling, or inflammation. Strong and supple joints are vital for your senior horse’s mobility and quality of life.
Senior horses may struggle to retain body condition during Winter and Autumn, so now’s your opportunity to promote weight gain, but be careful not to go too fast! A well-balanced, forage-first diet, with unlimited access to fresh, clean drinking water, is the foundation for good health this Spring.
However, despite the sunshine, Spring time can spell doom for owners of at-risk horses that are predisposed to pasture-induced health problems. Any drastic changes in pasture or feed must be managed carefully to avoid acute and chronic conditions, like colic and laminitis, that may arise at this time of year.
With warm Spring days ahead, many horse owners are breathing a sigh of relief from the cold and wet conditions. Your senior horse’s normal trimming routine every 6-8 weeks should continue year round, including in Spring, to keep them balanced and sound.
As your senior horse’s feeding regime changes with the arrival of Spring, you should consider a dental examination, especially if they’re due. Twice annual dental checks are paramount to ensure your senior horse is chewing, digesting, and absorbing the nutrients from their feed without pain, discomfort or disease.
Vaccination & De-Worming
Lastly, your senior horse should continue on a regular vaccination and de-worming schedule throughout the year. During your veterinarian’s visit, check your horse is up to date on all vaccinations and organise a faecal egg count to determine the best de-worming strategy for them this Spring.