Horse Spring Tips: Warmer Days Are Coming!
Spring Into Action: Things to consider during spring to keep your horse happy and healthy with our horse spring tips.
As the winter frosts grow fewer and the sun begins to shine more often, we welcome the delights of spring: longer evenings, colourful flowers and lambs bounding across the field. However, we must remember not get too carried away just yet; while we are one step closer to the warm balmy evenings, springtime weather can change daily as the world around us is coming alive, this calls for us to be more observant in terms of our horses’ health and care. There are many elements of this changeable season which can throw our routines and patterns off balance, here we will suggest ideas to keep you on the right track to summer.
How to keep horses comfortable when allergies kick in.
Pollen count is already on the rise and the midges are starting to appear, with spring comes a plethora of seasonal allergies. Horses can be allergic to a whole range of things, such as, mould, dust and insect bites- by far the best approach is to plan ahead; prevention is always better than cure! Keep an eye out for any signs of irritation in your horse: Coughing, runny nose, or itching can all be signs of an allergy. It would certainly be wise to have a few products to hand should you need them. We would recommend something like Equi Allergy, this fast acting liquid contains Huang Qin which is a natural inhibitor of histamine and it also has anti inflammatory properties, perfect for soothing and calming irritations caused by allergies.
Aloe Vera and Manuka Honey Gel is also great to have on standby. This soothing topical gel will provide fast relief for hotspots and is easy to apply. Manuka honey has a great reputation for its anti-fungal and anti- bacterial properties, not only reducing itchiness associated with allergies, but it also encourages hair re-growth too.
How to keep up appearances and dress for the weather
For those of us who keep our horses au naturel, it may feel as though our scruffy, fluffy urchins are never going to stop shedding hair- it just gets everywhere, doesn’t it? As part of our horse spring tips blog, we thought we’d share our top picks for shedding brushes and products that are available to help make the job a little more manageable.
Using a shedding blade followed by a rubber curry comb will make it easier to lift the hair and dirt, this will help prevent skin irritations as the loose hair can become matted which will trap dirt and sweat close to the skin. Take time to tame those wild manes and tails- Our ‘Mane and Tail Oil’ is great for conditioning and can help calm any itchiness- perfect for horses who rub their manes and tails.
With regards to clipping, theoretically, the last clip happens in January to avoid compromising the summer coat which is starting to come through; however, sometimes we have to consider what is best for our horses and when. Some horses, such as our golden oldies and those with Cushing’s disease, may need a full or partial clip according to the weather conditions to keep them comfortable throughout the year.
Whilst most horses tend to be shedding now; some may not lose their coat until the weather really warms up and may struggle to regulate their temperature. If we do need to clip at this changeable time of year, we are fortunate that there are a wide range of water resistant rugs available now and by keeping a close eye on the weather we can make more informed choices. Thankfully there are many lightweight and breathable options available for those mild showery days too. Whilst we are on the subject of rugs, now would also be a good time to take your heavy winter rugs to be cleaned, repaired and re- proofed before storing them away.
Aim to build strength and stamina for the season ahead
It is easy for us to get a little overzealous as the days lengthen and we often have the urge to seize the moment and spend as long as possible out and about. Although we know all about the health benefits of being fit and healthy, we must also be careful not to get too carried away. Like us, your horse may have done less real work over the winter
and the process of getting them fit takes time and patience. A gradual increase is a sensible idea. It is well worth taking a moment to think about what we are asking of our horses and whether they are physically ready for the longer pleasure rides and more frequent trips to shows and clinics. As with most things, slow and steady wins the race.
You and your horse will both get far more enjoyment from your outing if you are fit enough and it does not become too much like hard work. Overdoing things at this stage may well lead to injury which might put a stop to all those wonderful summer adventures, be sure to take it steady and increase you horse’s workload over a number of weeks.
Adjust and adapt to keep on top of Springtime feeding
We can’t do a blog post on horse spring tips and not mention feed! One of the most important factors for the springtime has got to be consideration of diet.
As the temperature rises, so do the sugar levels in grass as it begins to grow. It is vitally important for us to monitor our horse’s weight and overall condition at this time of year.
Even though there still looks to be little grass out on the paddocks, the nutritional value of what is there is changing rapidly. The high sugar level can affect horses prone to laminitis relatively quickly. There are several options for restricting grazing depending on facilities and the space available where you keep your horses. Starvation paddocks have always been seen as a safe bet to restrict grazing; however, with very little more time and effort, it is simple enough to set up a track around the perimeter of an existing paddock. The advantage of this kind of set up is that ponies prone to laminitis and Equine Metabolic Syndrome will be more inclined to keep moving, particularly if forage and water are kept at separate ends of the paddock so horses have more reason to move from one end to the other.
Remember to keep your horse’s gut in tiptop condition too. Parasite burden is usually at its highest in spring and, if unchecked, parasites can cause internal damage to your horse’s intestinal tract. If you are unsure, it would be a wise idea to send a faecal sample off for an egg count, this will give you a more realistic idea of what you are dealing with. We can recommend Westgate Labs who provide a fast and reliable service.
Prepare pastures this spring for better grazing all year round
Ensuring good pasture management now will set you up for the year ahead. As the ground is now drying out and frosts less prevalent, it would be good idea to repair some of the damage caused over winter. Rolling and harrowing can both be done during the springtime. Consider whether there are poached or overgrazed areas which may benefit from overseeding.
There a several different grass seed mixes available for horse’s pastures, each contain different ratios of grass seeds depending on the nutritional requirements of your horse, some grass varieties are better suited to horses prone to laminitis and wight gain. If your fields are looking a little tired and worn, perhaps you could send a soil sample off for testing to ascertain whether your pastures would benefit from additional nutrients. There are several fertilisers available which are beneficial and safe to use on equine pastureland whilst it is being rested.