by Jesse Bussard
Well are you? It may only be March, but in a few short weeks the show circuit will be heating up. In many southern states it already has. Along with this wonderful season, comes a lot of travel and stress. To help manage this there are a few tips that will help to lighten the load and make matters more manageable for horse owners.
Maintaining biosecurity measures should by far be the number one priority during before, during, and after show season. Make sure trailers are cleaned and disinfected between haulings, especially if someone else used your trailer or you hauled strange horses in it. When at the show some commonsense things you can do are not letting your horse touch noses with other horses, not sharing equipment with strange horses, and washing your hands after helping with other horses.
Probably one of the most important aspects of biosecurity and show season preparation is an effective vaccination program for your horses. Horse shows pose one of the greatest biosecurity risks because horses are exposed to new environments and other equines that they may never have been around before. This exposure can lead to your horse bringing home germs and sharing them with his pasture mates. By having a vaccination program in place you are doing yourself and your horses a favor by greatly reducing their risk of infectious disease and lessening your veterinary expenses. Consult with your veterinarian to find out what vaccinations would be the best for your horses in your area.
Once the horse is taken care of, the next thing to consider is the horse trailer. It’s a good idea to annually inspect your trailer and this yearly checkup could potentially save you a lot of money and headaches in the long haul. Not to mention, it might just help your trailer last a few more years. The important areas to look at during a trailer inspection include the overall trailer structure, the undercarriage, the floor, tires, lights and brakes.
For trailers with living quarters it’s important to remember to “unwinterize” the living quarters. This includes checking the water pump, air conditioner, and hot water heater to make sure they’re in good working order. Also don’t forget to check the awnings for any wear and tear if your trailer has one. The last thing you can do is give your trailer a good wash and wax. If your trailer has sits outside all winter long this will help to extend the exterior finish and make it look good in the process.
Having a horse first aid kit in your trailer can be a lifesaver in the incident of an unexpected injury or illness. We all hope and pray that we won’t have to deal with something like that, but it’s always good to be prepared for those “what-ifs” in life. The items in your first aid kit should help you to take care fo the most common problems you can deal with yourself, and help you cope with and injury until the veterinarian can get there.
A good first aid kit will include several key items. A mercury or digital thermometer is a must and will quickly tell you if your horse is running an elevated temperature, which is a sure sign something is wrong. Antiseptic wound cleaner and ointment are useful for washing and treating nicks, cuts, and scrapes. Gamgee cloth, guaze diapers, cottons, or other forms of absorbent padding are useful for padding under leg wraps or wound dressing. Self-sticking bandages, like Vetwrap or Coflex, are useful to hold wound dressings in place and work well as temporary leg wraps. Clean leg wraps should also be included as they may be more suitable for some wrapping in some instances versus temporary bandages. Don’t forget the scissors to cut bandages and wound dressing! Lastly a good veterinary first aid book might be good to keep handy in case you encounter an issue you’re not sure how to deal with.
These are just a few of the many important things to consider when preparing for the upcoming horse show season. My hope though is that by reading this you’ll think a little more intently about the things you need to do to do to be prepared when it comes time to load up the horse and head off to the show and being a little less stressed in the process.