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Fall horse care

- September 28th, 2020 - Ask the Vet

By Daniel H. Grove, DVM

Fall is upon us, and what a crazy year it has been. Many people were negatively affected by the pandemic.

The horse industry, at least in Southern California seems to be going strong. Due to the natural social distancing practiced while riding horses, many trainers have been busier than usual with lessons due to parents looking for something their children can do. Pre-purchase exams seem to be more numerous than normal. With so many new horse owners, let’s review some of the recommendations for veterinary care for your horses in the fall.

Fall vaccines are very important. It will vary on what your horse needs by geography and recommendations, but most people are getting at least an influenza and rhinopneumonitis booster. The antibodies developed after vaccination for these two diseases wane after seven or so months, so a booster every six months is often times recommended. You will need to discuss your vaccine strategy with your veterinarian to see what is best for your horses.

Fecal testing and deworming is recommended every six months for adult horses. For deworming, either ivermectin or moxidectin are the drugs recommended. The fecal testing with help guide whether or not your horse is doing well with that minimal strategy or if you need to alter it to decrease parasite shedding. Going into winter time, you do not want to be behind on body condition. Let your horse get the most possible out of its feed by decreasing the parasite burden on its system.

Dentistry is another great item to check off your list in the fall. An exam to determine if the teeth need to be addressed should be done. Abnormalities caught early are much more likely to be correctable than things let go. This is no different than dentistry in yourselves. Hay in many areas is expensive and just as with lowering the parasite load, ensuring proper digestion by addressing the teeth is cheap insurance.

Lastly, a general wellness exam. It is a good idea to get your veterinarian eyes, ears, and hands on your horse. This gives us the opportunity to look for small things that may need attention. We may have certain tests we might recommend based on age and what we see to determine the overall health of your horse.

All of these items can easily be done in a single visit by your veterinarian. It really is important to maintain optimum health to keep up on these easy maintenance items. I find owners usually have questions they have been sitting on to ask us when we visit. Get your horse checked out and get your questions answered, and most importantly, stay safe during this pandemic!


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