A WINNING SHOW SEASON STARTS AT HOME
So, you have big plans for the summer show season. You’ve been working all winter on refining those spins, finding the perfect take off in front of every jump, molding a seamless partnership of dance steps, and now you’re almost ready to strut your stuff. Almost ready…except for a little nagging feeling that despite your winter diligence, the spin to the left is stiffer than it should be, your horse occasionally and inexplicably puts on the brakes in a “naughty” stop and that “perfect” partnership remains inches shy of, well, perfection. Now is a good time to pay attention to those instincts that tell you all is not right with your horse’s performance. Now, before show season is in full swing, is the time to include your veterinary team in your show preparations.
What can a pre-season veterinary wellness exam do for you and your horse? Quite a lot actually, Here’s a top ten list of what we do.
1. Historical review of behavioral and athletic issues and how to pro-actively minimize
recurring problems including seasonal hormonal issues in mares and stallions and
GI ulcers in all show horses
2. Physical evaluation; hands on, head to hoof, with emphasis on performance
3. including Dental / oral evaluation and bit issues (see #5)
4. Lameness evaluation and flexion testing, fresh eyes attending to gait and performance inconsistencies
5. Observation of the horse in motion, with and without a rider
6. Evaluation of tack fit, saddle, bridle, harness
7. Nutritional consultation; negotiating the marketing maze of supplements and health
rules (For example, did you know that lavender is a forbidden substance?)
8. Insure that all vaccinations are up to date and make recommendations based on
where you may be traveling and on current outbreaks of communicable diseases
(ie. Influenza, equine herpes virus etc.)
9. Establish a pro-active plan for avoiding potential work/show related problems, both
lameness and behavioral issues.
10. Establish a plan for treatment, if necessary, that will interfere as little as possible
with your show schedule while optimizing your horse’s well being.
We all want our horses ready, willing and able to perform at their best. They should look like the winners they are (or going to be). Is your horse’s weight ideal and what’s your plan to keep it there as the season changes and work and travel demands increase? Is your horse fit enough for the job, is his/her coat shining and healthy, are his/her feet regularly trimmed, balanced and in good shape? Is your horse sound and comfortable enough to give you his/her best performance in the show ring? We can help you answer these questions and, most importantly, help you work out what to do to get your horse in show shape and keep him/her there throughout the season.
To survive the horse show circuit it’s important to think forward and plan backward. Many horse shows require certain vaccinations and current health certificates. If you’ll be hauling out of state, you’ll also need travel papers. Exactly what travel papers depends on the state or province you’re heading to, but may include Coggins testing (a test for equine infectious anemia performed on a blood sample from your horse) and a current health certificate. “Current” will also be defined by each state but it often means a veterinary examination within 6 months of the event. It takes time to complete these tests (plan for 1-2 weeks) and it’s your responsibility to schedule the veterinary exam in plenty of time to process the paperwork prior to your departure. While it is your responsibility, we are here to help you with all that, so if you’re unsure about timing an exam give us a call so we can get you on the schedule in plenty of time to avoid a preventable last minute travel headache. We’ll discuss a bit more about travel documents in our next newsletter.