Updated: Oct 7, 2020
In preparation for the winter season, Fall is an ideal time to arrange and plan out your horse's needs.
Just like we get our seasonal flu shot, your horse needs their seasonal vaccinations as well. It’s recommended that every fall your horse receives their equine influenza vaccine to ensure they stay healthy and can prevent other horses around them from getting sick. The fall is also the season where the tall summer grass weakens and becomes shorter. This means that parasite loads begin to increase. Utilize parasite-control programs like deworming to help prevent the risk of infections.
Together with veterinary check-ups, you should also schedule a fall dental check-up. Scheduling a dental appointment now will help avoid any dental emergencies that may occur in the winter. When your horse has healthy gums and teeth they are able to chew easier and make the most out of their nutritional intake.
As your horse will be spending more time in their stall and eating dry hay over wet grass, their digestive system may be weakened if they don’t drink enough water. This can cause equine colic. Take preventative measures with supplements for colic or by feeding your horse two tablespoons of salt each day to keep their gut healthy.
Assess Your Horse’s Condition
Assessing your horse’s physical condition and weight can help you decide whether or not you need to make adjustments to their diet. You want your horse to have an easy winter so ensuring they have the right caloric intake can make them as comfortable as possible. If you have a senior horse, we recommend increasing their food intake so they gain a few pounds to stay extra warm. Alfalfa is great for this as it has a higher protein content and encourages muscle development.
In the fall, the weather begins to cool down and it can be rainy. The rain causes the grass in the pasture to have higher sugar content. Too much sugar can put your horse at risk for fall laminitis. Try to reduce the number of turnout hours and consider using a grazing muzzle. At the same time, make sure that your horse isn’t losing their progress in training and conditioning. As long as the weather permits, you should still make sure that they are exercising regularly so that your horse can have the best start possible when spring comes back around.
Taking proper care of your pasture during the fall and winter will make sure that it’s plentiful for the riding season. A pasture needs to rest, so it's best to turn out your horse in a dry lot or paddock to strengthen your grass for the spring. When taking care of your pasture, always manage the mud-prone areas. You can do this by planting water-hungry trees, spreading wood chips, and overseeding. Muddy areas cause problems in high traffic areas and can even lead to health problems for your horse if you’re not careful. Mud can cause your horse to have skin issues and thrush. In addition, Fall is a great time to do any fencing repairs.
Ryerss Farm is a retirement sanctuary for older equines to be healthy and happy for the rest of their lives. We make sure that every horse is getting the right health care and maintenance all year round. This fall checklist was curated with our interest in making planning ahead for autumn easier.