Category: Vets

Horse Chores For Your Springtime Checklist

Rex-Zeus-Feb2011It’s amazing how just a few weeks can impact the weather.  At the first of February, northern Oklahoma had it’s second ever blizzard warning.  Where I live, there was a record 25″ of snow.  Just a few miles north, there was a record setting 50″ and that area also set the record for the coldest temperature of -23°F.  There was snow for over 2 weeks, which is also out of the normal for Oklahoma.

Now, the temperature was close to 80°F today and the daffodils in my yard have been in bloom for about 2 weeks.  We had our first actual thunderstorm  just a few days ago.  Spring is officially around the corner!  So, it may be a good time for some spring chores.  Here are some chores that you may want to do.

At the barn:

  • Clean and condition your leather tack.  Make sure the leather is dry before applying a leather conditioner.
  • Inspect the leather for any cracks, cuts or splits.  Replace any leather that is damaged.
  • Go through your grooming kit.  Replace any tools that are broken.  This would probably also be a good time to wash your brushes.
  • Clean your clippers.  You can do this yourself or take them to a professional.  You can also have the blades sharpened at the same time.
  • Wash your winter blankets, if you are not going to need them anymore.  Store them in a dry place.  Most blankets come in a zippered plastic bag.  I have kept these to  store my blankets for the summer.  This makes for good dust free storage.
  • A warm dry spring day would be perfect to strip your stall completely (if you have one).  Let them air out for a few hours before you put bedding back in them.  If you have full board, this is probably done periodically through the year.
  • Give your trailer a good cleaning.  Do a thorough inspection and make note of any damage to floors/walls/ceiling/tackroom, worn tires, damaged lighting/wiring, etc.  Make a plan and time frame to get damage fixed.

For the vet:

  • Get vaccinations, if you haven’t already done so.  Check with your vet as to which basic vaccinations are recommended for your area.  Your vet may also have suggestions for additional vaccinations based on the age of your horse and also whether or not you show or trail ride.
  • Don’t forget to get the Coggins test.  A negative Coggins is required if you plan to show, trail Daffodils-Mar2011ride or take your horse to a riding clinic.  Most events want a Coggins that was done within a year, but a few require one that has been done within 6 months of the event.
  • Spring is also when I have my horses’ teeth checked and, if necessary, floated.
  • My gelding will have his sheath cleaned, if needed.

There is a multitude of chores that you can do in the spring.  This is just a small sample.  Plan a work day and make a list of what you want to accomplish that day.  If you don’t finish your list, add it to the next planned work day.  Don’t try to do everything all in one day . . . . your body won’t like it.

When To Schedule Vaccinations For Your Horse

This is just a reminder that as I write this in early April, show season is around the corner.  You can’t show your horse in even the smallest of shows without a coggins test, which must have a negative reading.  Coggins papers are good for one year and are accepted within this time line for most instances.  Some of the larger shows may require a coggins test that is no older than six months.  Check the show rules for what is required.   If you haven’t done so, schedule a visit to the vet to get your horse’s vaccinations & coggins.  Now is the time to do it.

There are basic shots you should give your horse.  Different areas may suggest different combinations of vaccinations.  For instance, I give my horses flu/rhino, West Nile/EE/WE/VE/tetanus, and rabies shots.  If you are unsure of what vaccinations your horse needs for your area, ask your vet.

I would also suggest that if you have a new horse, have the vet give the shots.   One reason is that you may not know how the horse acts around the vet.  The vet & the vet tech handle all temperaments of horses every day and are better equipped to handle a rowdy patient.  Also, in case the new horse has an allergic reaction to one of the shots, the vet is right there to handle the emergency.

Keep your horse’s vaccinations & wormings up to date.  I know this is not the “fun stuff” but vaccinations are not the place to skimp on your horse budget.

The Effect of the Economy on My Horses

a good horse for the noviceThe floundering economy has touched the horse industry in so many ways.  My own personal concession is I had to sell one of my horses.  I did this last November (before Iggette passed) to try to cut the rising cost of my board bill as well as the vet bill.  I didn’t want to sell Princess (pictured) and it was a hard decsison to make.  Actually I was supposed to sell one when I purchased my gelding over 2 years ago.  I just didn’t ever get around to it.  Quite honestly if we lived on our acreage instead of in town, I wouldn’t have sold her.  But she has a very nice owner who decided to stay at the barn where I am, so I get to see her all the time.  After Iggette passed away, I was left with 2 horses.  Even with my board bill being reduced by 2 horses, the money crunch can still be felt.  I have made some small adjustments in my horse keeping to save some money.  Here are a few of the ways that I chosen to save money.  Please keep in mind that my choices may not work for you.  Make your decisions wisely.

1.  My boarding has fluctuated over the years.  For 4 horses, I changed all of them to pasture board only.   After selling Princess & Iggette’s death, I changed my board to pasture with stall rights for inclement weather.  This is cheaper than full board in a stall.  Not all barns offer this option, but a good choice might be a paddock with a run-in shed.

2.  My horses are school horses.  I receive a small payment each time one of them is used for a lesson.  This pays my farrier bill most of the time.  There are times when it’s been too cold or too wet to have lessons.  On those times, I have to supplement the difference from my pocket.

3.  Since I don’t actively show or ride the trails, I have my farrier trim my horses hooves.  I am lucky to have horses that have good feet and  I’m a big believer in barefoot is better.  Trimming costs less than shoeing your horse.  This is a truly personal choice.  You, with the help of your farrier & your vet, have to make your decision based on your horse’s needs.

4.  I worm my horses myself.  I use a paste wormer and shop around for sales.  Sometimes I buy from the catalogs or on-line and sometimes I buy from the local co-op.  When buying from the catalog or on-line, be sure to compare the cost + shipping versus the cost + local sales tax.  You may be suprised how close these can turn out to be.  Try to find free shipping specials.

5.  I give my own shots.  I have bought shots from both the local co-op & from my vet.  If you don’t use the vet, make sure to tell his office what vaccinations you have given your horse.  This is to keep your records up to date.  I do not recommend this for the true novice.  You need to be trained on how to give shots.  Next time the vet is out, ask him to show you.  Also, check to see what shots are recommended for your particular area.

6.  If you have a trailer, haul your horse to the vet whenever possible.  This saves the farm call.  With the ever increasing fuel costs, the farm call fee is only going to go up.  Keep in mind that some vets also charge a mileage fee as well as the farm call fee.

7. I have owned mares for years.  I also don’t breed my mares.  I don’t have the added costs of  a pregnant mare or the cost of trying to raise a foal.  There are just wwwaaayyyyyy to many horses out there to consider breeding for one.  I can always find a good horse.

There are lots of ways you can cut your horse keeping costs.  The one thing to remember is to keep your horse’s well being in mind.

The Pre-Purchase Exam


If you’ve been reading my blog, you  know  I’ve  talked  about  riding  lessons, checking the stable for possible flooding problems and  what  and  what  not  to consider for your first horse.  Now let’s talk about whether or not a pre-purchase exam is necessary.

First let me say, you need to get the March issue of EQUUS.  If you don’t have a subcription and would like to subscribe to EQUUS, just click on the EQUUS picture at the right.  This issue has a 14 page article on the pre-purchase exam.  It tells what the process is, takes you through an exam and gives you a few stories about different outcomes based on the findings of the pre-purchase exam.  This is another MUST read article for the novice.  I really can’t tell you any more than what is in this article. 

I have only had 2 full pre-purchase exams on horses that I either own or was considering.  I had a partial exam on a horse that had an eye defect.  One horse failed the exam because of arthritis that I would not have found without the vet check.  The horse with the eye defect was cleared because it was a birth defect and it was determined the defect shouldn’t bother her.  I still have the eye checked every year though.  The other horse passed the exam and then I had x-rays done on the knees.  I wanted these x-rays because the horse was just a 2 year old and I wanted to see if the knees had finished developing.  My decision for just knee x-rays was based on what the cost of the exam would be with full leg x-rays.  I simply couldn’t afford all of the x-rays.

You should consider your budget for horse expenses.  Pre-purchase exams are not cheap.  The cost will probably vary depending on which part of the country you live in.  Are they worth the money?  If it prevents you from buying an unhealthy or injured horse obviously the answer is YES!  If the pre-purchase exam proves that the horse is sound, then you not only have piece of mind, but now have a better idea what the horse can do.  Also, the more expensive the horse, the more obvious it is that you should have the pre-purchase exam done.  And if you are considering a less expensive horse, that shouldn’t keep you from considering the pre-purchase exam.  If you are trying to save money & buy a cheap horse that costs you a ton in vet bills, well . . . it wasn’t a cheap horse.  You, with the help of your trainer and/or vet, should make the decision of whether or not to have the pre-purchase exam or at least how much of the exam you can afford.

Like I said above, I had 2 full exams done and only came home with 1 horse.  One exam ABSOLUTELY saved me from buying a gorgeous palomino I really wanted but had unseen problems.  If you are actively looking for a horse, maybe you should consider a pre-purchase exam for the top candidate.  If the horse passes, you have a new equine friend.  If the horse fails, you are only out the cost of the exam instead of the price of an unsuitable horse plus whatever else it will take to keep the horse sound and healthy.

Read the article.  Be informed.  Consider the costs.  Ultimately, the decision for the pre-purchase exam is yours.



Magazine Must Haves For The Novice Horseman

I just received my Horse & Rider magazine.  This is just one of my magazines that I read front to back.  There is an article in this issue that you, as a novice looking to buy a horse, MUST read!!  The article is “7 SIGNS YOU SHOULD WALK AWAY FROM A HORSE FOR SALE (OR SELLER)” by Bob Avila.

This article tells you what bad habits to look for.  The article goes into bad attitude, this would be cranky, rude or impatient.  It tells you about being barn sour and also about not respecting your space.  There is a small section of information about lameness.  There are also signs to look for in the seller.  This article is only 4 pages long, but it does give you information that you will need when you go to look for that dream horse.  READ IT!! & READ IT again!!

And when you are done with this article, read the one from Clinton Anderson on getting your foot shy horse  to let you handle those ticklish feet.  Oh and don’t miss YOUR HORSE YOUR LIFE for a few pointers.  There are some really good common sense things a novice horse owner may not know.  There are also on going articles on conformation, riding & horsemanship.  AND THIS IS JUST 1 ISSUE!!!

If you don’t have this magazine . . .  go out now & get it at your local bookstore, drug store or grocery store.  It is well worth your time and effort for this one.  This is just one MUST HAVE magazine for any novice.  It is just full of information.  There is also EQUUS.  I highly recommend this magazine for the latest in  horse health.  Practical Horseman & Dressage Today are outstanding magazines for the owner who leans more towards English riding.

These are the magazines that I subscribe to for the latest information in health, riding and horse related products.  Over the years, I have gotten an enormous amount of information from these magazines.  There have been articles on legislations that effect the horse world.  There have been articles on which hay may be better for your horse, oats vs sweet feed and which plants in your pasture are deadly to your horse.

If you don’t have a subscription for any of these, check out the MUST HAVE MAGAZINES in the right column of my blog.  Just click on the magazine that you would like to subscribe to.

Subscribe today, don’t miss another issue!

What Horse To Look For – Part 1


Have you done your homework?  Have you figured out your budget?  I truly hope you didn’t skip that assignment.  You are finding out that even if you have your own place, owning a horse is NOT CHEAP!  It’s better to find out the cost of horse ownership on the front end of this process.  You don’t want to find out in a couple of months that you have to sell your dream horse because you under estimated the cost of upkeep.  It is far more important for you to make your mortgage payment and feed your family. 


If you’ve found that your finances are in order and you can afford the maintenance of a horse, you are going to ask what horse is best for me?  For a novice owner, there are sooo many choices.  There are also some that you should steer away from for now.  I’m going to break this down into several posts.  This way I don’t have to try to condense the information too much.


In my Jan 9 2008 post, I suggested a mature horse.  By this I mean a horse that is an 8-15 year old, I would even go as far as a 20 year old for the right horse.  Why?  Because these guys have been around a bit.  They probably have years of training/riding and unless they are the nervous type, they are well out of that fidgety young horse mentality.  Beside this, there are a few other manners that they probably have learned with age.  They should have good ground manners, they have probably learned not to lean on the farrier, and they shouldn’t try to hurt the vet at shot time.  If the horse has been shown or was a ranch horse, it will probably load in a trailer easily.  I absolutely can’t emphasize enough just how much that is worth.


You want to find a horse that has a kind soft eye, not one that only shows the whites and has that wild scared look all of time.  You want a horse that stands quietly no matter if it is tied to a fence, on crossties or tied to your trailer.  You want a horse that respects you, your space and your authority.  You don’t need a horse that strikes at you, tries to walk over you, or challenges your leadership.  You want a horse that is reasonably trained.  While it doesn’t have to be a "push button" horse, it should be a well broke horse.  You want a horse that is healthy in both body & mind.  You and the horse should have mutual trust for each.  Without trust, you will never develop a rewarding relationship, you will never become a team.


Where do you find a horse like this?  Like in the post mentioned above, your riding instructor may know of a prospect.  Try your horse friends.  They may know a youth or amateur who has outgrown their current horse and is looking for more of a challenge.  Horse shows, especially the big breed shows, always have horses for sale.  Use caution here though.  You may find a good prospect.  But if the owner is from out of town, they may want to sell while at the show.  This could make it more difficult to test ride the horse a couple of times.  It would also make it very hard to get a pre-purchase exam (I’ll discuss this more later).  Working ranches will also have dispersal sales.  This would be a good place to pick a nice ranch horse.  This is also an instance where you need to be careful and taking a knowledgeable horse person with you would be best.  They could help steer you away from a horse that may not be right for you.  There are the classified ads in both the paper and on the internet.  And finally, there are the bulletin boards at feed stores, tack stores and livestock sales.


Remember what I said about being in too much of a hurry.  You don’t want your dream horse to turn out to be your worst nightmare.

I Have Money To Buy My Horse

You’re so excitied. You’ve scrimped and saved until you finally have enough money for the purchase price for your new horse. Congratulations should be in order. But wait!! Have you thoroughly researched the cost of keeping a horse? If you haven’t, you’ve missed a VERY important step. Relatively speaking, buying the horse probably is the least expensive part of horse ownership.

Let’s start at the begining. You have a lot of homework to do. The first step is look at your monthly expenses. I don’t want to discourage anyone, but you have to be brutally honest here. Sit down & figure out what you have as far as expenses. This includes utility bills, insurance, daycare, car payments, food and any other type of expense that applies to you. If you are only living paycheck to paycheck, you can’t afford a horse. If you only have a little left over at the end of each month for a few extras, you can’t afford a horse. If you don’t have enough left over at the end of each month to cover one of those life’s gotchas, you can’t afford a horse.

Now here is your homework. You have to research costs for each of these, because prices vary in every part of the country. Have you found a stable? Are you going to do self service or full board? Are you bringing the horse back to your own property? Have you found a hay supplier? Which feed is right and where is the feed store? Have you decided on a vet, found a farrier or trainer? These are just a few fundamentals for horse ownership and if you don’t have an answer for even one of them, you are not ready to buy.

As a novice horse owner, it is your responsibility to make yourself as edcuated as possible. As a horse owner, it is your responsibility to make sure the horse is cared for properly. Doing your research on the costs of keeping a horse is the first step in making sure it is healthy and happy.