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    Home stretch of the show season

    By Daniel H. Grove, DVM - October 4th, 2018 - Ask the Vet

    wordpress_column_groveFor most people, we are rounding the last corner and headed to the finish line for show season. Many equine athletes have been going hard all spring and summer. Keeping our horses sound and performing at their peaks takes some extra efforts on our part. I will try to touch on some key points that can be beneficial to keeping our horses happy and performing.

    First off is nutrition. When traveling, I would recommend keeping your horses diet as close to normal as possible. Take at least the supplements and concentrate feeds that you feed at home. If you can, take the same hay also. Changing diets on the road can lead to colic and lost competition days. While we are on nutrition, I feel it is really important to keep a performance horse on a good quality joint supplement and vitamin mineral supplement. You want their joints as comfortable as possible. You also want their metabolism working at its peak to give them the energy they need.

    With all of the traveling that occurs, you really need to pay special attention to your method of transportation. If you are traveling by trailer, it is highly recommended to have frequent stops and breaks. This gives your horse a chance to relax. It also allows for some fresh air and water.

    Respiratory disease is a big issue when traveling and showing. I would highly recommend discussing with your veterinarian how frequently you should be doing your vaccines. Many of the larger shows have specific requirements. They are there to keep your horse and everyone else’s as safe as possible. Also, I would highly recommend monitoring your horse’s temperature and respiratory rate once or twice daily. Any changes out of the normal and I would recommend having your horse evaluated ASAP in an attempt to ward off any impending illness. As mentioned above, taking breaks for rest and fresh air is important. The longer a horse rides in a trailer, the greater the risk of shipping fever, which is a serious respiratory infection.

    Do not ignore small changes in your horse. If you detect any change in your horse’s gait, tail or head carriage, or leg appearance, have it evaluated immediately. A small issue may be correctable or dealt with and keep you going. If you let it go or cover it up, it may lead to a much bigger problem that could end your show season, or even worse, your horse’s show career. Prevention of these types of issues is paramount. There are all kinds of special blankets, wraps, and preventative therapies. You do not need to do everything, but given your discipline, choose some that focus on the more used areas of your horse.

    I saved what I think is the most important for last, inflammation. With a high performance horse, you are constantly going to be producing inflammation. The stress on the joints, soft tissue structures, and bone will be causing micro-damage and this leads to inflammation. This can lead to the minor aches and pains that can make an athlete perform just a little bit less. There are many things we can do to help to alleviate this inflammation. Some examples are cold therapy (ice, cold water compression devices, cold hosing), poultice, liniments and various magnetic covers or wraps. You can use the modalities on the various areas you know will be strained or over all of the limbs.

    Hopefully this overview gives you some ideas on how to help your horses maintain their peak performance. If nothing else, it can give you some ideas to discuss with your veterinarian to best fit your program. You do not necessarily have to do everything here we have mentioned. There are quite a few options out there and you need to find the best fit for you and your horse.

    –Dan

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