A veterinarian’s knowledge and experience can guide you in keeping healthy, happy horses. Seeking regular professional care from a licensed veterinarian is a responsibility you will have to commit to as a horse owner. While a yearly visit for vaccines, parasite control, and care for hooves and teeth will address for many horses’ needs, some will require professional care more often. Foals and geriatric horses usually visit their vets more frequently than adult horses, because they are prone to problems that are not normally seen in healthy adults. This does not mean adult horses will be healthy all the time; horses can become ill or suffer an injury at any age.
Each year, your horse will be due to receive vaccinations that are required, as well as some that may be recommended for your region of the country. Horses commonly receive a vaccine for influenza, rabies, and tetanus, among others. Farms with a high mosquito population or recurring health issues among animals may be recommended additional vaccines. It is normal for a veterinarian to administer the vaccines, but other individuals may be trained to do this in certain circumstances.
Foals will need a series of vaccines early in life. This is one reason why they must visit the vet more frequently than adult horses. While all horses typically follow a deworming regiment, foals often need treatment for parasite infestations. In preparation for your visit to the veterinarian, you may be instructed to bring along a sample of the horse’s feces so that the vet can check for this very issue. If parasites are present in the sample, your horse will be prescribed a wellness plan, and you may be given invaluable information about how to improve the quality of your horse’s environment.
Besides testing the horse’s stools, blood tests are normally performed during an annual check-up. Monitoring these results will help you and your vet plan for the wellbeing of your horse as it ages. Such tests are routinely done twice a year when a horse reaches the age of 20. This is because older horses are more susceptible to illnesses.
Your veterinarian is also trained to notice external problems in a horse. A physical exam generally includes weighing the horse, checking its teeth for sharp spots, and inspecting its hooves for damage or the need for shoes. Hoof trimming is a task that will need to be repeated nearly every 6 weeks. You may be able to have your vet perform this, but hiring a farrier is another option.
Circumstances are sure to arise that will make you question the need to take your horse to the veterinarian or possibly have the veterinarian come to your horse. Emergency situations can occur at any time. Horse owners have learned the hard way that rope can cause broken bones and that fence posts can pierce flesh. Whether the injury appears to be minor or catastrophic, make an emergency phone call to your vet to see what the professional recommends. The same goes for symptoms of illness. Your vet would rather you overreact with a late-night phone call than learn of your horse’s demise in the morning.
If your horse requires physical rehabilitation or long-term care following an illness or injury, your visits to the veterinarian may happen more frequently than in the past. Help the situation by becoming involved as much as possible in your horse’s treatment. Working at home with your horse may be most beneficial. Also consider bringing a partner along to any visits to the veterinarian, especially if it is someone with whom the horse is familiar. Extra assistance can be invaluable both at the veterinarian’s office and during the treatment at home.