Hopefully you and your horse have both enjoyed all your favorite riding activities during the long days of summer. As fall approaches, your riding habits and your horse’s diet and exercise needs will probably change a bit, which makes it an important time to reassess your horse’s health and their environment. Doesn’t it seem like there are always improvements to be made in the barn or pasture? Have you been putting off scheduling some equine veterinary services? Now is the time to knock out that chore list and book appointments! We’ve put together some of the most important fall horse health issues you should remember to address.
Once the intense heat of summer subsides, the number of infective parasite larvae in pastures rises dramatically. In most areas, counts are highest during the fall months. Your horse may start eating grass in areas it would normally avoid if the quality forage becomes more scarce. If they graze near manure piles, the risk of parasite infection rises. Contact your vet to discuss potentially adjusting your horse’s deworming schedule. The added protection during this critical season could have a big impact on your horse’s health.
As pasture grass begins to dwindle, horses often snack on foliage they normally would not eat. This can lead to plant poisonings, so it is important that you walk the pasture, noting any suspicious plants you find. Research questionable plants and remove any that are dangerous to your horse.
Adjusting Feed/Exercise Ratios
Whether you have been mostly trail riding with your buddies on the weekends or actively competing, if the amount of riding you do is beginning to decrease, it’s time to make changes to your horse’s management. One of the most important changes is to reduce the calories your horse is eating each day. If you continue to feed your horse the same way but they aren’t getting the same exercise, your horse may become overweight.
Routine Physical Maintenance
If for some reason you skipped any of the routine health maintenance chores for your horse during the humid summer season, be sure to catch up on them now. The more comfortable weather means your horse won’t be miserable standing around during an appointment, or attract as many flies. Fall weather is usually the perfect temperature for your horse’s float and sheath cleaning appointment.
Prevent Acorn Overindulgence
Many horses love to munch on acorns, and may eat them without any side effects for years, but acorns can sometimes cause problems. Symptoms of toxicity may include loss of appetite, abdominal pain/colic, diarrhea or laminitis. It may be that affected horses simply eat more of them, or there may be some chemical changes in the nuts related to the weather that season. Regardless, do your best to keep your horse away from acorns by blocking off areas that have them or by raking them up and discarding them.
Miscellaneous Fall Chores
Now is the time to inspect your property and buildings with winter conditions in mind. Think about problems you may have encountered last winter. You may have had a lot of good ideas for how to improve things then, but put things off as the weather got nicer. Are any faucets leaking? Do all of the barn doors latch correctly? Fix anything that looks like it could become a problem in the next few months when it’s too cold to work outside for longer periods of time. It’s better to do it now than be faced with a problem you can’t avoid any longer in freezing weather!
Equine Veterinary Services in the Piedmont Triad of NC
Enjoy these last days of summer riding with your horse, but don’t neglect these essential health assessments. It’s always easy to put off chores when there is fun to be had, or the weather is hot, but the fall is a critical time to manage your horse’s care. If you are looking for a horse vet in the Piedmont Triad, the team at Carolina Equine Hospital has a comprehensive catalog of equine veterinary services. You can fill out our convenient online form or call us at 336.349.4080 to schedule an appointment today.