With all those shows, trail rides, play days, clinics and other events, summer is the busiest season for most equestrians. This flurry of activity, however, has the potential to leave a horse tired, lame or injured. If your next few weeks are fully booked with riding plans you’ll want to take some precautions to make sure your horse stays sound and happy through that period and for the rest of the season.
Establish a sensible schedule. Sit down with a calendar and fill in each event you’d like to do, allowing for days of rest, as well as lighter riding to keep your horse limber, between major activities.
Make sure your tack and trailer are in good shape. A saddle that doesn’t fit quite right or a trailer with a bone-shaking rattle is never good for a horse, but on top of a heavy workload, a minor problem can turn into a major issue.
Keep his hooves in good shape. Schedule a visit from your farrier before your schedule fills up. If you have trimming or shoeing done before your busy period, you may avoid some of the potential riding-limiting post-farriery work soreness. Of course, if your horse has a hoof issue during your peak riding time, such as a loose shoe or developing crack, have it addressed immediately.
Consider starting a supplement or upping his dose. With a packed schedule ahead, now may be the time to start a supplement designed to help keep your horse limber. If your horse is already on a joint or other soundness-related supplement, talk to your veterinarian about returning to the higher “loading” dose during your busy time. This extra boost may help keep him comfortable.
Be ready to change your plans. Even if you’ve carefully mapped out your horse’s schedule, be ready and willing to change it as needed. Even if it’s disappointing to miss an event, it’s the right thing to do if there’s any chance your horse can’t physically handle it with ease.
This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #443.