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Benefits of Preventative Care

One of the obvious benefits of adopting a preventative care approach is to allow early identification of any problems your horse may be experiencing. This can help prevent minor problems escalating into potentially serious (and potentially costly) health issues.

One of the other benefits is that the program can be tailored to your needs and those of your horse. You and your vet can discuss what's important in maintaining your horse's health, because every horse is different. As you can imagine, the health needs of a 15-year-old horse on a small acreage used for local trail riding are likely to be quite different from those of a 4-year-old performance horse kept at a busy training facility and travelling to events each week.

What's involved in a preventative care program?

In a typical preventative care program, your vet makes scheduled visits to your property (or where your horse is kept) to perform a number of routine procedures. Depending on your horse and your needs, your vet may recommend yearly (or more frequent) visits.

At each visit your vet may:

  • Perform a thorough physical examination – This will involve your vet closely examining your horse to gather important about his or her health. Your vet will take your horse's temperature, pulse and respiration and use a stethoscope to listen for normal intestinal sounds.
  • Recommend blood samples – Taking blood samples at the first preventative care check-up establishes a baseline of what's “normal” for your horse, to allow comparisons further down the track. If your horse is older, or based on its medical history, other blood tests might be recommended.
  • Assess body weight – Your vet will need to know your horse's weight, so if you have access to horse scales, weigh your horse on a regular basis. If scales aren't available, your vet may use a "weight tape" which estimates your horse's weight based on its girth.
  • Assess body condition score – Body condition scoring evaluates your horse’s condition by looking and feeling the amount of fat in certain areas under the skin. Assessing your horse's body condition every year (or more frequently) helps identify gradual changes in your horse's health that might otherwise be missed. If body condition is increasing or decreasing, then a plan can be developed to address this (e.g. changing the amount of exercise and/or feed).