As the cooler days wind down, horse owners need to plan for the warmer months of spring and summer. There is not a significant temperature change from season to season in Florida, but insects and allergies definitely increase in the warmer days. Here are a few tips to keep your horses healthy and comfortable during the changing seasons.
Spring brings rain, which means your horse may be spending more time standing on wet ground. Daily hoof cleaning is the best way to avoid thrush, a common bacterial infection that tends to increase with wet ground or stalls. Giving your horse a clean, dry stall to spend time in will help the hooves dry out.
Limit Pasture Grazing
Spring rain also means that the grass will start growing at an accelerated rate. To better acclimate your horses to the fresh grass, gradually increase the amount of time your horse is out on pasture. Horses that are continuously on pasture will adjust on their own if kept in the same pasture. If your horse has not been out on pasture or you are switching pastures, adding an hour turnout every 3-4 days is a good rule of thumb to follow. Continue to feed them hay for the first few weeks of spring as they adjust.
Schedule a veterinary appointment in the spring for vaccinations to protect against mosquito-transmitted viruses, dental exams, and a deworming plan. Skin and bug allergies are very common in the summer. Treating at the first signs of a problem makes the issue easier to treat and keeps your horse comfortable.
A horse may drink more than 10 gallons of water a day, so having a source of fresh, clean water is a must. A horse can quickly become dehydrated, lethargic, and sick without enough water. Check your water trough every day to ensure it is clean and full.
If your horse is sensitive to flies, removing the dirt/sweat with a water rinse each day will remove scents that attract them. You can also use a lightweight mesh sheet and a fly mask, which also can work as sun barriers to protect their skin. Applying sunblock is also an excellent way to protect sensitive areas.
Strenuous exercise in extreme heat can cause heat exhaustion for your horse and rapid dehydration. Schedule rides for the early morning or evening when it has cooled down.