As we settle into spring and temperatures rise, elements of wildlife become more active, including those that can spread disease. As we dust off our riding boots, it’s important to ensure our horses are protected and prepared for the increase in potential dangers that warmer weather brings. For many risks, equine owners can take preventive measures, such as vaccination, insect control and wellness exams, among others.
According to the Indiana Board of Animal Health (IBOAH), updating your horse’s vaccinations should be done sooner rather than later, as many vaccines require four to six weeks to become effective. For example, insect-borne diseases such as eastern and western equine encephalitis (EEE and WEE) and West Nile virus (WNV) require the first vaccination in two doses, four to six weeks apart, before providing immunity. Often, horse owners will schedule EEE and WNV vaccinations in April or May to ensure rising immunity in June and July, when mosquitos are most active.
Action should be taken to control mosquito populations. The IBOAH suggests draining standing water from birdbaths, troughs and other containers throughout the year as well as circulating water in water troughs to prevent mosquito larva or other dangerous bacteria from thriving. Another area where mosquitos can congregate is in tall grass or weeds, so it is important to mow regularly to eliminate mosquito hotspots. Stabling your horse overnight will provide added protection, as dawn and dusk are peak hours for insect activity.
While wellness exams should be administered year-round, they are particularly important this time of year before riding season begins. Galloping into the riding season before your horse receives a proper checkup is – well – putting the cart before the horse. Wellness exams allow veterinarians to monitor dental care, hoof care, nutrition and overall well-being. Riders communicate with their horses through a horse’s mouth, so it is important to maintain your tack and ensure your bridle or bit isn’t damaging your horse’s teeth.
Additionally, check your winter hay storage as it starts to dwindle. Depending on storage conditions, the bottom bales may develop mold, causing sickness if ingested. If you have a spring load of hay coming in, give your storage a thorough cleaning before stacking a new load.
While steps can be taken to prevent illness or injury to your equine, unforeseen circumstances can still pose a risk and cause emotional and financial hardships. At James Allen Insurance, we provide insurance policies for equine that can offset the risks horse owners face. Learn more about protection for your horse by reviewing our equine policy today.