Routine Care to Keep Your Right Horse Right as Rain

May 24, 2024

a Veterinarian listening to a horses chest

Congratulations! You’ve brought a new horse home or are looking to bring a horse home in the future, and now you may be wondering: What type of annual health care will my new horse need? 

We’ve got you covered. Here’s a breakdown of the basic procedures and treatments you can expect to provide on a yearly basis:

Hoof Maintenance 

Horse hooves grow continuously and must be cared for so your horse can move around comfortably whether or not they are ridden. Your horse will need to see a farrier, who specializes in taking care of hooves and shoeing horses, every six to eight weeks. Some horses may need to see their farrier even more frequently, while others can go a bit longer between visits. During an appointment, your farrier will trim and balance the hooves and apply horseshoes or therapeutic footwear if needed. 

Veterinary Care

Your horse should see their veterinarian at least once a year. During your horse’s annual visit, your veterinarian will do a general evaluation to ensure they are healthy. The vet will give your horse a nose to tail exam, potentially catching and addressing any health issues early. This is a great time to discuss nutrition and any health or behavior-related questions or concerns you have about your horse, and to take care of routine medical needs listed below.

Vaccines – The American Association of Equine Practitioners advises at least annual core vaccination against common diseases for all horses. In the United States, West Nile virus, Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis, rabies and tetanus pose serious risks but can be prevented. Talk to your veterinarian about additional risk-based vaccines that may be recommended based on your geography and your horse’s individual needs.

Coggins test – Horses must have a negative Coggins test to travel between states and enter equine facilities such as arenas, parks or trailheads. This is a blood test that checks for equine infectious anemia or EIA, a potentially fatal, viral disease. This is typically done every 6-12 months for traveling horses, depending on your state’s regulations. Check your state and local regulations for specific requirements. 

Parasite control – Your horse will likely need to be dewormed a few times a year to prevent problematic levels of parasites. Talk to your veterinarian for specific recommendations.

Dental care – Because horses’ teeth grow throughout their lives, most horses require a dental “float” annually to smooth down their teeth and prevent any sharp edges from causing sores on the sides of their mouth and tongue. Dental care is critical to ensuring your horse can eat comfortably, digest nutrients and wear a bridle and bit comfortably. In most cases, your regular veterinarian can perform this procedure. For complicated dental issues, your veterinarian may refer you to a veterinarian who specializes in dental procedures. 

Most farriers and many veterinarians are mobile and will come to your home or barn for your appointment. 

Check out these great tips to continue learning more about the care your new equine will need or head over to My Right Horse to find your #RightHorse!