Spring arrives this week (according to the calendar) and, for many people across the country, it feels like the answer to all our problems.
It’s been a long cold winter, especially in sections of the Midwest and Northeastern United States. All we want is to take off our coats and get our horses out in the sunshine, right?
Of course, spring comes with its own problems. Mud. Lush new grass. Bugs. Parasites. Sounds exciting, right?
The only thing worse than a frozen-over riding arena is a mud-filled lake of a riding arena. And let’s not even get into the boot-sucking quagmire that the walk to the pasture can become after a good thaw and a spring storm. At least it’s not hard when you fall down in it.
Horses with muddy legs are just waiting for skin infections, some of which could cause lameness. Be sure you’re cleaning and drying legs well, especially if they’re coming into stalls with wood shavings for bedding. Dust settling into wet skin can be a serious irritant.
If you are looking for an alternative solution to conventional or traditional methods in solving your drainage and mud control issues? Equine Facility Design can help and proudly recommends the HoofGrid footing and flooring system (https://www.facebook.com/HoofGrid).
Green pasture looks like the best thing you could do for your horse. But in reality, high sugar levels in lush green grass can spell disaster for your horse’s body, especially in the hooves and digestive tracts. If your horses haven’t been out on grass, make sure you acclimate them to new pasture slowly. If you can, turn them out before sunrise as the sun’s rays will make sugar production highest by mid-morning.
The bugs are back, and they’re biting. From mosquitos to flies, the sun’s warm is waking up the nasty things, and they’re bringing their diseases with them. Controlling these bugs is a multifaceted task. One way is to install an automatic fly control system like AutoMist (http://www.automist.com/livestock.html). Like most fly control systems they use Permethrin/pyrethroids which is a synthetic, residual insecticide. Used in conjunction with PBO, which is a resistance additive used to prevent insects from becoming immune to the insecticide, Permethrin is an effective solution for eliminating flying insects and other annoying and potentially disease-carrying bugs.
New to the industry, and especially exciting for individuals with chemical sensitivities or those who want a “green” barn, is Essentria (http://www.biconet.com/botanicals/essentria-IC3.html), which is a 100% natural insecticide made from food grade rosemary, cinnamon leaf, and lemongrass oils. This insecticide can be used in any of the fly misting systems, but you should consult with the manufacturer before trying it out.
Spring isn’t just fly spray season, it’s vaccination season. Consult with your veterinarian for the infections and viruses your region is susceptible to, and get those ponies jabbed.
Worms, too? Yes, parasites love spring as much as deer flies and mud fever do. Spring is a great time to do a fecal exam with your vet and make sure you have your horses on the right deworming routine heading into the warmer months, when the parasite threat really ramps up.
Spring. It sounds magical, but like most nice things it comes with its own host of worries for horse-people. But after this winter, I think most people are willing to risk it!