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Spring is Here! (well, it will be soon!)

Top Nutritionists Healthspan have announced the top 10 tips for Spring for Horse owners...

Immunisations are essential
It is important to make sure that you keep a record of all vaccinations and boosters and your vet will be able to tell you what and when they are due. Remember ‘prevention is always better than cure’.

Nutrition is more than just diet
Making sure that your horse gets the right nutrients to stay in good condition can be a tricky balancing act. Especially as grass may not be all it's cracked up to be at this early stage after a long, hard winter and slow spring. Chat to the feed store people or an experienced owner, watch his weight using a weight tape and monitor your horse’s condition by looking at him from side and above.

Check coat and skin
A full winter coat may disguise a number of skin problems, from simple scale to something more deep seated. So it's best to deal with it now. Twice a month fluff up the coat with your hand or brush and get down to the skin to give it a good looking over.

Check teeth are for chewing!
Not an easy task for you, but your vet will have the right instruments to check for sharp edges at the back and take the right action to 'float’ (to smooth or contour the teeth). However, don’t wait until he/she is 'quidding' (dropping food out of the mouth) as it may take longer to rectify. It will make a big difference to cheek and tongue injuries and thus condition.

Check hooves are fast
Hooves are all too often neglected. Picking up the hoof and thorough cleaning daily for stabled horses or weekly for pastured animals may be hard work but it's worth it. Because hoof horn grows faster in warmer weather now’s the time to ensure the new structure is sound. If you have doubts about hoof condition check with your farrier.

Parasites be gone
Get the worming programme worked out in the diary and stick to it. Horses don't just get one type of worm – they get four types! So worm at least four times a year and if you aren't picking up after them or if they are densely stocked then worm every two months and foals from one year of age, monthly.

Start the exercise program
After being a 'stable potato' for months don’t expect instant fitness of your horse or even you come the first fine day! You will both need to build up strength and suppleness with a programme of increasing mobility over three weeks or so.

Training is a must
Training and trust go hand in hand, so if you've got doubts search out advice from your vet or stable owner. When looking to buy a new horse, make sure that you get full medical and behavioural histories.

Get the important tests done
There are a lot of acronyms that cover a bewildering array of potential contagious diseases such as EVA – equine viral arthritis and EIA – equine infectious anaemia. Strangles can now be tested for. If breeding, then additionally EHV – equine herpes virus in its three guises, and CEM – contagious equine metritis. Ask your vet for more information.

The non-animal bits
Last but by no means least… check the tack, spring clean the tack room, look for vermin – assume they’re there and deal with them, and don't forget the soundness of the horsebox or trailer!