Spring And Your Horse

Here in North Carolina, spring is approaching, intermittantly. It is 80 degrees F on day and 30 degrees F the next. Humans seem to be acutely aware of the temperature. What do I wear? Can get out of my driveway or do I need to park at the top of the hill tonight? It would be nice if the forecast were somewhere close to what I see when I open the door.

Interestingly enough, animals are acutely aware of photoperiod – in a 24 hour length, how many hours were daylight. It has an effect on when they lose their winter coat. It has an effect on when they are ready to breed. Horses are seasonally polyestrus. That means that they cycle in the spring and summer and, generally, do not in the winter. Seems like a good plan. Have a baby when it is warm for a newborn and when there is abundant food available for a lactating mare to magically change from grass to milk (water to wine).

Other creatures have a similar gestation plan. Have babies in the spring when it is warm and food is available. In North Carolina, Rabies is a problem. Raccoons, an excellent vector for Rabies, have their babies in the spring.

Other vectors, insects, appear it seems from nowhere. Birds follow their migration back northward. All natures’ wonderful cycles blossom in the spring.

Your horse is at risk for many diseases carried by these vectors. Those raccoons (rabies) travel through your horses’ pasture while you are at work. Those migrating birds (west nile virus) land on trees in your horses’ pasture. Those nasty horseflies (EEE/WEE) land on your horse and will drive that poor soul crazy. Horsefly stingers have made it through my bluejeans and left a remarkable welt.

The point of this discussion is that now is the time to make sure to call your veterinarian and schedule spring vaccinations. The good news is that there are wonderful vaccinations for horses that work, keep the horse safe from that pathogen. But, they need to get into the horse. Your veterinarian knows which ones, where to put it (not as easy as it looks), how often they need each individual vaccine. I have found that work is always easier when you watch someone else do it. I urge you, have the veterinarian do this. There is a lot going on determining what, when, how, how often, what could go wrong.

And, while she’s there, talk to your veterinarian about deworming. The schedule and products used are different here in North Carolina than would be recommended in Montana, or even South Carolina for that matter.