Horse Care Calendar Part 2
- April 28, 2017
- Heather Smith Thomas
Continuing with our horse care calendar, spring and summer are when many people are enjoying their horses the most.
MAY – JUNE – “Horse owners know that horses need annual vaccinations, and might assume they can do it early and chalk it off their list of things to do, but that is not the best time,” says Nelson. “Many vaccines are only effective for 4 to 6 months, so you need to do annual vaccinations 3 to 6 weeks before the height of exposure. Then your horse will have the best protection. If you want to protect horses from West Nile, eastern and western encephalitis through August and September, these vaccines should be given in May,” says Nelson. In a mild climate where mosquitoes are active through more of the year, it may be necessary to vaccinate earlier and give the horse a booster in late summer.
All of her adult horses get their annual vaccinations in late May or early June. “In our area, the mosquitoes that carry West Nile show up in July and start showing a viral load by late July or August. I like to have horses vaccinated at least a month before that, for peak immunity. To find out when the most dangerous time for that mosquito will be in your area, talk with your veterinarian or county extension agent,” Nelson says.
“Influenza is another story. It’s a moving target regarding when to vaccinate and what to use. Immunity doesn’t last very long. I generally don’t recommend influenza vaccination unless you have a horse traveling to shows/competitions, coming into contact with other horses. Biosecurity is more effective for disease protection than rhino and flu vaccines. I never let another horse share my horse’s drinking bucket, I don’t let my horse drink from a water trough used by other horses, and always avoid nose-to- nose contact with other horses.” says Nelson.
“Regarding deworming in early summer, if fecal floats were clean in January I don’t usually check again until later, and deworm individual horses if needed. Studies have shown that in groups of horses, there may be only one or two shedding worm eggs,” she says. Some individuals seem more vulnerable to worms, and they are the ones that need to be re-treated, rather than deworming the whole group. “If you target your deworming program to just the ones that need it, you reduce the risk of worms developing resistance to products you are using,” she says. Resistance problems have been cropping up because many people deworm all their horses whether they need it or not. If you use a product over and over again, there will be a few hardy worms that don’t die and they are the ones that survive to produce hardy offspring.
Fly control may be necessary in early summer, starting when the various types of flies appear. This could mean April or May for stable flies and horn flies, and June for horse flies—or whenever the weather turns really hot.
JULY-AUGUST – If you are traveling with horses, showing, etc. during summer, good biosecurity precautions are hugely important for preventing communicable diseases (flu, rhino and strangles).
“If your horse was shod in late April or early May, you need to schedule the next shoeing for late June or early July,” says Nelson. Each horse needs its own schedule, however, depending on how fast the hoof grows or how quickly shoes wear out. Your farrier will help you figure out the best shoeing and trimming schedule for your horse.
Fly control is an issue during summer. “Some horse owners use a feed-through product for fly control, and some use the tiny predator wasps. Some people use topical sprays and wipes on their horses,” she says. Horse flies come out on hot days, and stable flies and horn flies are pesky throughout warm weather.
Horses at pasture should be monitored through summer, especially if they are not being ridden and handled daily. If a horse is getting too fat, you can use a grazing muzzle. “I have one gelding that stays fat on pasture even when he is being ridden, so we have to limit his calories,” Nelson says.