1. Check blanketing:

If your horse has been wearing a blanket all winter, keep an eye on daytime temperatures as heat fluctuation can cause your horse to sweat. Blankets may still be needed overnight, but monitor their need during the days as they get warmer (this can’t come soon enough!!) This is also a good time to thoroughly check your horse’s skin as they shed their heavy winter coat (or lack of shedding) for any blemishes or abnormalities not noticed over the winter months.

2. Schedule a farrier visit: 

Your horse should have a solid and sturdy hoof as they enter spring season. Whether your horse had shoes on or was barefoot over the winter, it’s always a good idea to trim or shod your horse appropriately before their use and exercise increase. Discuss any concerns or past hoof issues with your farrier and bring your trusted Badger veterinarian in on these conversations for added advice if needed!

3.  Spring vaccines:  

Defer to your Badger veterinarian for what spring vaccines your horse needs. The standard “core” vaccines include Eastern and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis, Rabies, Tetanus and West Nile Virus. Additional risk-based vaccines will be administered if determined necessary by your vet due to your horse’s age, geographic location, and travel schedule. Such vaccines include Equine Herpesvirus, Equine Influenza, Potomac Horse Fever, and Strangles to name a few.

4.  Check for parasites:

Fecal samples are commonly collected at time of spring vaccines with your veterinarian, but don’t be afraid to submit a sample prior to your appointment after the first defrost! Fecal egg counts are necessary as not every horse is known as a “high shedder”, meaning higher parasite burden and passing into the environment for herd contamination. On average, ~60-80% of the heard may be “low shedders” and do not need multiple dewormings. Not only is this is a money saver for you, it also decreases drug resistance to our few deworming drugs. Work with your Badger veterinarian to determine how often your horse needs to be dewormed.

5. Check teeth/schedule dental:

Checking teeth should be done twice yearly, so why not during the spring exam?! Preventative oral health will certainly improve your horse’s overall health. It can help prevent or treat and training problems like head tossing or chewing on the bit. Oral exams and proper teeth floating will also ensure your horse is able to fully and efficiently utilize the energy from their diet.

6. Re-evaluate diet: 

Did you cut back on your horse’s grain due to decreased work, or increase his amount of hay to help keep him warm? Time to reexamine these modifications caused by the winter months. Changes should be made based on current body condition, increasing amount of work and current metabolic/health concerns. Work with your Badger veterinarian to come up with a well balanced diet to ensure your horse is getting all of their needed macro and micro nutrients. As always, any change in diet should be done gradually, over 7-10 days, slowly blending feeds to allow your horse to adjust to the new regimen.

7. Monitor grazing time:

April showers bring May lush pastures! Grass contains much less fiber than hay so it’s wise to continue to offer hay for the 1st few weeks of grazing to aid in this transition. Overweight or cresty-necked horses are at increased risk of lamanitis due to the natural fructans or sugars in rapidly growing grass. Be sure to use grazing muzzles and/or dry lots to avoid any metabolic flare-ups. As always, direct specific questions or concerns about your horse’s grazing time to your Badger veterinarian.

**Stay tuned for future blog posts about grazing and metabolic issues**

8. Check your fences, gates, pastures and water troughs:  

Walk the perimeter of your property/pastures to ensure secure and sturdy boundaries coming out of the harsh winter months. Repair any holes or weak points and remove low or broken tree limbs. Monitor water troughs for any sharp edges or new holes. Hammer down any dislodged nails or screws that may have become exposed due to shrinking/expanding materials with the temperature changes. **All T-posts should be capped YEAR ROUND to avoid any harm to your horse.**

9. Evaluate tack and equipment:

Time to dust off the leathers and clean up your tack and equipment! Thoroughly examine halters, bridles, saddles, girths and repair or replace before using. Clean and condition leather to remove any film or debris that could otherwise irritate your horse’s skin. Clean and store winter blankets for the fall.

10. Update Coggins & other health forms:

Historically, Coggins were pulled in January as the results were only valid through January of the following year. Newer changes deem Coggins results valid for a firm 364 days from the time of collection. By law, each horse must have a current Coggins on file in order to travel. Other forms that may be needed include a Health Certificate or CVI (certificate of veterinary inspection, needed if crossing state lines), horse passports and other breed specific documentation.