Spring horse health awareness roundup: What to know…

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… (and what not to let grow)

While it might be all too tempting to let your horses out to graze to their heart’s content this Spring, there’s a few crucial things to keep in check. To help you and your horse get the most out of the winning combination of warmer weather and longer days, we at www.horse-insurance.co.uk have been consulting with our equine specialist to round-up a few seasonal risks, field checks and tips to keep your horse healthy and in good condition. Get riding, stay safe and enjoy the British Springtime!

Laminitis and Equine Metabolic Syndrome

The Spring months are crucial for closely monitoring your horse’s weight gain and guarding against laminitis and EMS. In both cases, a poor diet with excessive intakes and insufficient or inappropriate exercise increases the risk of these conditions; however, taking an approach that looks at both their feed and their lifestyle can help combat these conditions:

• It can be difficult to notice any increase in weight when you see your horse daily, and it’s worth investing in a weigh tape in order to check your horse’s weight fortnightly. Also, regular body condition scoring is a useful way to evaluate your horse’s condition.

• Manage your pastures carefully to regulate your horse’s grass intake, (remember, grass grows five times faster in May when compared to September). Avoid grazing them on land that has been excessively fertilised and consider having  your pasture analysed prior to the application of fertilisers. Introduce them gradually to new pasture, and where necessary consider strip grazing them or (if appropriate) fitting them with a grazing muzzle for periods of time. Any excess grazing could be sectioned off for hay. Depending upon the individual, your horse may require restricted turnout and a need to be stabled for periods of time.

• Equine Metabolic Syndrome is caused by insulin resistance and is similar to Type || diabetes in people. There is a strong link between obesity and EMS and it occurs more frequently in overweight horses. Exercise increases the body’s cells sensitivity to insulin, which in turn reduces blood sugar levels; therefore, try to increase the amount of work your horse does even if it is a brisk half an hour walk each day. Horses/ponies with laminitis should not be exercised, if you are in any doubt speak to your Vet.

• If your horse/pony is prone to weight gain during Spring and Summer months ensure that they are on an appropriate low calorie-high fibre diet. Their calorie-restricted diet must still contain vital vitamins and minerals and they will often require a feed balancer or supplement to make up for any deficit. Soaking hay has been proven to reduce soluble carbohydrates and is recommended for horses prone to laminitis.

Field checks

Your horse may spend a considerable amount of time in their field depending upon their routine. It’s essential to take good care of your grazing to optimise the benefits it can bring for your horse. Overgrazing and poor management can result in paddocks becoming horse sick with lawns and roughs developing, and can lead to the development of a poor quality sward. Improving field safety may also help to keep the vet away!

• Check the boundaries, secure all gates and make sure fences are in good condition.

• Be sure there’s a good supply of fresh water.

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