What to do in spring for your horses
I recently read this article by Professional Equine Grooms (as you may know by now, my favorite horse care go-to website). It talked about all the things you can do to get your horse ready for spring.
The first thing I always did, and which is first on PEG's list as well, is spring vaccinations. Luckily my Sophie and Udo where always very chill about them. Sophie had the obligatory evil mare stare but nothing more, Udo was your typical gelding: "Whuut?".
Anyway, there are a few core vaccinations that all horse should receive: Eastern/Western/Venezuelan Equine Encephalomyelitis, rabies, tetanus and West Nile virus. More info about these can be found here. But then there are also non-core vaccinations and whether or not you have these administered should be determined, not by financial reasons, but by your horse's potential risks, based on the location you are at and also based on the general management practices of the barn you keep your horse. I also found a lot of useful information on the MSU Extension - Horse page. You can check that out here.
While you have your veterinarian with you, you should also have your horse's teeth checked out. It only takes a minute and they can quickly assess whether there are matters that need to be addressed. Your horse's teeth grow and change by chewing, creating sharp, painful edges. Your veterinarian can float your horse's teeth to remove these sharp points, ans they will check if there are wolf teeth that need to be removed (my Sophie had one of those).
And don't let your veterinarian leave without offering them a parting gift! Make sure to have a manure sample for them for each of your horses. It is widely accepted that the standard deworming routine is not as effective as a personalized plan. Your veterinarian will have a fecal egg count done and can advise you on a deworming plan, specifically for your horse(s). I had a separate plan for both Udo and Sophie, as they had different egg counts. You can find a very good article on this here.
Too much hair
Oh gosh, the shedding! And to clip or not to clip?! In any case, you need a good pair of grooming gloves. There are many good ones out there. I've noticed that preferences are mostly personal. PEG has a good article on clipping as well. I have never bothered but I also only ever rode for pleasure, never competition. And Sophie never had much of a winter coat either.
Feet, body and dietary restrictions
What else in spring? Right! The Dreaded Grass. Some horses can handle it, some can not. If your horse belongs to the latter group, make sure to very regularly check their hooves for heat and tenderness, which are the first signs of laminitis. Check out this article and this one, which is a little more elaborate. You can never know enough about this!
For those with horses prone to laminitis, have your grazing muzzle ready. This is also a good tool to have for those with "easy keepers", as the grass might add a few unhealthy pounds.
While we are on the dietary topic, go over your horse's feeding plan. Assess your horse's body score and talk to your veterinarian about making appropriate changes if necessary.
If you live in regions with hard winters, you activity level might have been like Sophies and mine. All bundled up and not inclined to any at all. Even though we had an indoor arena, winters here in Michigan are so brutal sometimes that even that doesn't do it. We might have done some light groundwork from to time, or maybe some bareback riding but that was it.
So if you and your horse were idle during the winter, make sure to start slow. Don't barge into a strenuous exercise routine but create a gradual plan. We all need to warm those muscles before throwing ourselves at it.
Maybe you won't need this in early springs, but don't forget about fly gear. Check for holes, faulty velcro closings, ... Buy new if you have to. My Sophie needed new fly boots every year. For some reason, she kept tearing them. And buy fly spray. And then some more.
I have tried using natural sprays. I am sad to say, they do not work. I did use fly predators for two years and I really think they made a difference. And of course, manure management.
Something else Professional Equine Grooms had on their list is ticks. I never really thought about that in relation to horses. We use prevention for our dogs and cats, but I didn't even know they had it for horses. I also never found one on any of our horses. I assume this might again depend on your location. In any case, check out their article here.
I guess that is it. Be sure to let me know if you think of anything that I should add!