If you've had a lazy winter it's time to wake up and smell the roses (or rather, the winning rosettes!). You and your horse need to get into tip top condition so you can saddle up for summer with a smile.
Here's a checklist of some of the most important preparations you can make while you wait for the mud to dry off from those spring showers, so you'll be raring to swing into show/competition season:
Your Horse's Health:
- Purchase a horse worm egg count kit which can be sent off to the laboratory for results to come back in 24 hours, so if there are any problems they can be rectified with targeted worming as soon as possible.
- Use a weight tape to measure the girth, weight and height of your horse. This is an excellent way to check condition - if he's overweight he will find the going tough in the hot weather.
- Consult with your vet about vaccinations, deworming if indicated, possible dental problems and if necessary a diet analysis - an equine MOT!
- You may want to increase the schedule of farrier visits for the coming months, because hooves tend to grow quicker in the summer. Make sure his feet are fit and healthy with no sign of thrush or abscess. There are many helpful hoof products available to condition and protect dry hooves.
- Get ready to do battle with the bugs! Make sure your fly rugs and fly masks and veils are clean, in good repair and that they fit well to provide maximum protection. Review your yard management to minimise the chances of flies hatching, and prepare a fly control regimen. Lay in a stock of your preferred fly repellants. You might like to try a new approach to keeping your horse free of the fly plague: Brinicombe Equine have brought out "Think Fly" granules, which can be added to your horse's feed, entering the body's system and acting as a fly shield.
- Horses and ponies, particularly those with light skin pigmentation, can suffer from sunburn on exposed areas like the nose and ears. You can be ready to prevent this discomfort by having a fly mask with long nose and ears built in, and keeping some good quality, high factor equine sunblock on hand, like Equus Health Ozvet Sun-Off.
- Both you and your horse need to get back to peak fitness, but start working slowly for both your sakes! On warm days exercise early, and make sure there is an ample supply of shade, water and electrolyte supplements as the weather warms up.
Shaping up for Summer:
We wish you and your horses a super summer!
- As he sheds for summer you will be keen to start primping that shaggy coat into sleek, shiny show condition. Make sure the horse has a balanced diet including sufficient protein and fatty acids, perhaps with the addition of skin supplements that contain Vitamin A, B, Biotin, Methioine, Lysine, Zinc and Vitamin E. Oils added to the diet also improve coat condition. Don't feed supplements willy-nilly; if your horse has a dull coat seek professional advice on supplementing. There could be underlying medical problems. We particularly recommend natural pure herbal supplements such as Equus Health's Superskin.
- Some riders - particularly those who take part in competitions or shows during the season - prefer to keep their horse body-clipped through the summer (especially if they struggle in the heat). Even if you leave his summer coat natural, its a good idea to clip bridle paths, ears, muzzles and legs.
- Shorten the mane and bang the tail ready for show season. Practice your plaiting. Try out some of the latest mane and tail grooming tools and detanglers.
- Check and update your grooming kit, making sure everything is intact and clean. Likewise get stuck into your tack cleaning and repairing. A gleaming horse deserves to be smartly tacked up.
- Set aside a fine day to spring-clean your stable, not only to ensure you have a neat and tidy summer season, but also to eradicate any nasties that may be lurking after the winter that could make your horse ill. For deep cleaning its best to remove the horse from the stable, well away from the dust and dirt, while you scrub and disinfect everything from feed buckets to mats.
- If you are going to be travelling around the eventing or showing circuits this summer, make sure your horsebox/trailer is serviced and ready for the road.