With Fall finally settling over most of the United States, it’s time to consider what the season means for our horse’s health care. With some preparation for colder temperatures, horses can be assisted with the transition from Summer to Winter without compromising their health.
Check with your veterinarian for recommended Fall vaccination protocol in your area. Typically, all horses are vaccinated annually for Venezuelan, Eastern and Western Encephalitis, Tetanus, West Nile, Influenza, Rhinopneumonitis and Rabies. This is also a great time to consider your deworming program and schedule a fecal count or check in with your veterinarian to make sure your rotational deworming plan is effective.
As temperatures begin to cool, drinking water becomes less appealing, and horses are more likely to suffer from dehydration, which can lead to several problems, including life-threatening colic. Though some parts of the country don’t see freezing temperatures until later in the year, getting accustomed to managing your horse’s hydration in the fall prepares for winter and can also make sure any unexpected freezes don’t provide an issue.
Adding electrolytes to each horse’s daily grain ration can encourage him to drink. Water heaters for buckets and troughs to keep water at a more appealing temperature may also be an option.
If you blanket your horses, Fall is a great time to organize their wardrobe while checking the fit of blankets and get started on any repairs. If you don’t blanket, it can also be a good time to check on your horses’ shelter and make sure their housing is safe and substantial to give them an escape from the harsher elements of winter.
The horse’s usual caloric demands increase during winter as they work to stay warm. Hard keepers who struggle to maintain weight may require extra feed throughout the colder months making Fall the perfect time to check with your veterinarian and begin the transition. Equally, in order to consume enough forage, as well as grain, to stay warm and maintain their body condition, a horses’ teeth need to be in order. A dental exam, and float if necessary, can provide peace of mind that the horse is properly able to chew and digest his food.
Fall preparation and consulting with your veterinarian to set plans into motion early can help your horse thrive through the colder weather.