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The Spring Survival Guide

Ticks are more than just a creepy, crawly nuisance—they can be hazardous to the health of your horse, transmitting a variety of serious diseases. Luckily, we’ve got three simple steps to help you avoid troublesome ticks.

Step 1: Protect your horse inside and out
Many of the products known for warding off flies can also help deter ticks. Make sure your horse has bug-busting coverage inside and out with an insect defense supplement and gear like fly sheets and fly masks.

Step 2: Consider topicals designed to beat ticks
Once your horse is covered from the inside, out, your next step is to spray those ticks away. OutSmart Fly Spray is a next-generation insect repellent effective against house flies, stable flies, mosquitoes, and ticks. Because it’s made from nontoxic, plant-based ingredients and designed for horse and rider, you can feel good about spraying it on both your horse and yourself.

OutSmart® Fly Spray

 $19.95 - $199.95
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Step 3: Talk to your veterinarian about your concern
Unfortunately, you can’t provide 100% coverage against ticks. Even with the best care and management, it’s possible that a tick will still find a way to latch onto your horse and transmit a disease. Depending on the species of ticks in your area of the country, the tickborne diseases that could affect your horse include Lyme disease, piroplasmosis, and anaplasmosis. If you’re concerned that your horse has been infected with a tick-borne disease, call your veterinarian to get a proper diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan for your horse.

Pasture is your horse’s natural feed source, but it has its downsides in certain seasons like spring. That’s because it can be especially rich at that time of year in non-structural carbohydrates likes sugars and starches. These not only contribute to weight gain, but also exacerbate certain muscle conditions as well as metabolic and endocrine disorders, all of which put your horse at risk for serious health and soundness issues. Fortunately, there’s more you can do than worry. Along with an appropriate diet and exercise program, the following steps may help ensure that your horse stays happy and healthy this spring.

Step 1: Talk to your veterinarian about your concerns
Your vet is your best resource for helping you understand the seasonal risk to your horse and how you can help. Overweight horses, “easy keepers,” and certain breeds are prone to developing metabolic issues, while endocrine dysfunction is prevalent in older horses. A physical exam and bloodwork can rule in or rule out both these conditions so that you can control access to spring grass appropriately and avoid triggering a laminitic episode or other serious health event.

Step 2: Don’t let your horse go graze-y
Using smart turnout practices is an important piece of the puzzle that helps horses prone to problems associated with grass stay healthy. If your horse is turned out on pasture, consider using a grazing muzzle like the Tough 1 Easy Breathe Grazing Muzzle so he can enjoy his turnout time without overindulging on grass.

In addition, it’s always best to reintroduce grazing slowly in the springtime. That’s because pasture overload is widely believed to be the leading cause of laminitis. Talk to your vet about the most appropriate grazing schedule for your horse, and remember that grass will most likely be lowest in sugar content from the middle of the night through the early morning. While that’s generally not the most convenient time to be turning horses out, it’s something to keep in mind when planning your horse’s turnout schedule.

Step 3: Support normal metabolic and pituitary function from the inside
Horses struggling with metabolic and/or endocrine issues may benefit from a few key ingredients. When choosing a metabolic health supplement for your horse, look for a formula that provides minerals like chromium and magnesium to support proper insulin function along with herbs such as cinnamon and bitter melon to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. When choosing a supplement to support healthy pituitary function, keep an eye out for products that contain chasteberry for proper endocrine function as well as amino acids for muscle development, adaptogens for normal immune function, and omega 3 fatty acids for resilient skin and coat.

Step 4: Support laminar health from the inside
If you’re concerned about the health of your horse’s lamina, consider a supplement designed specifically to help maintain the integrity and vitality of this tissue. When choosing a supplement in this category for your horse, look for a formula that provides hops and omega 3 fatty acids, which are both demonstrated by research to support healthy lamina. Other key ingredients to look for include antioxidants to combat oxidative stress as well as MSM and devil’s claw to promote a healthy inflammatory response and help manage discomfort.

If you’ve got a mare that misplaces her manners, there’s more you can do than cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Many mare owners dread the arrival of spring because it means that their mares’ heat cycles – and the crankiness and irritability that comes with them – are back. However, a mare that’s pinning her ears and kicking out doesn’t have to be a common sight in your barn this season. Instead of heading to the barn just wondering which attitude you’re going to get, follow these three steps to help bring your mare from moody to mellow.

Step 1: Talk to your veterinarian about your concerns
Remember that “naughty” behavior isn’t always an attitude problem. Your mare’s crankiness could be due to a variety of problems ranging from ulcers to arthritis to hormonal fluctuations from her heat cycles. If you’ve noticed a sudden change in your mare’s attitude, talk to your vet about what you’re seeing and schedule a visit to confirm there aren’t any underlying health problems that need to be addressed, possibly with a prescription.

Step 2: Keep track of your mare’s behavior
If your vet has checked your mare for issues and found no health problems requiring treatment, consider when your mare’s irritable, cranky behavior appears. If your sweet mare is turning into a moody monster during or around her heat cycles, her poor attitude could be related to hormonal fluctuations or discomfort in her reproductive tract.

Step 3: Support a balanced temperament from the inside.
The right care and support can help your mare show off her pleasant temperament even when she’s in heat. If you suspect your mare’s behavior is due to her heat cycles, consider trying a supplement designed to support normal hormone levels and help maintain a calm disposition. Look for a moody mare supplement that provides specialized ingredients like raspberry leaf, chamomile, passion flower, and chasteberry.

Top picks for moody mares

SmartMare® Harmony Pellets

As Low As: $21.95
(526 reviews)

Mare Magic

As Low As: $14.95
(500 reviews)

The wet environment that comes with spring doesn’t only impact your horse’s hoof health – it can also wreak havoc on your horse’s skin.

Your horse’s skin is his first line of defense against injury, insects, infections, and more, but keeping it healthy can be a challenge, especially during spring. Some skin conditions, like rain rot and scratches, are caused by wet conditions, which are often unavoidable in the springtime. Others, like sweet itch, are caused by bugs that arrive with the warm weather of spring. Luckily, by following these simple steps, you can fight the funk and support healthy skin this season.

Step 1: Monitor your horse’s skin health daily
When it comes to managing skin issues, identifying them when they start is key. Make evaluating your horse’s skin health a part of your daily grooming routine so that you’ll know right away if things start to get “funky.”

Step 2: Talk to your veterinarian if you have concerns
If you’re concerned that your horse may be developing a skin condition, talk to your vet to get a diagnosis and design the appropriate treatment plan.

Step 3: Support healthy skin from the inside
Skin and coat supplements provide fatty acids like omega 3s and omega 6s from sources like flaxseed, rice bran, and fish oil to promote skin health and a soft, shiny coat.

Top picks for healthy skin

SmartShine® Ultra Original

As Low As: $22.95
(351 reviews)

Omega Horseshine

As Low As: $22.95
(757 reviews)

What is that on my horse’s skin!?
Even with the best care, sometimes skin issues are unavoidable. But what are they, and what can you do about them? Visit to find a list of the usual suspects for funky skin, and some helpful hints on how to handle them.

April showers don’t only bring May flowers – they also bring mushy grass, muddy rings and trails, and weak, cracking hooves.

Environmental shifts can take a toll on your horse’s hoof health. Though your horse’s hooves are equipped to manage natural, gradual fluctuations in moisture, a typical spring day for the modern horse includes more frequent, dramatic shifts between wet and dry environments. Those frequent shifts from one environment to the other can cause the hoof wall to rapidly expand and contract, which, over time, may lead to cracks and other structural problems. Luckily, there are ways you can help your horse survive spring with his hoof health intact.

Step 1: Ensure your horse’s hooves get regular, professional maintenance
Whether your horse is barefoot or shod, working with a knowledgeable hoof care professional is essential to maintaining healthy, well-balanced hooves. And like most things in your horse’s life, consistency is key. That’s why the first step to supporting optimal hoof health is finding a hoof care professional you trust, setting up a regular maintenance schedule, and sticking to it!

Step 2: Limit the wet-to-dry shifts your horse’s hooves goes through
Between the barn, the pasture, the ring, and the trails, you’d be surprised at how many times your horse’s hooves go from wet to dry and dry to wet every day. In order to help your horse put his best foot forward, try to limit those shifts from one environment to the other as much as possible.

Step 3: Support healthy hooves from the inside
Proper nutrition plays a vital role in helping your horse maintain healthy, resilient hooves, which is why daily support from a supplement is a smart way to support healthy hooves no matter what season it is. Research has shown that supplementing with 10–30 mg of biotin per day may help promote growth rate and quality hoof wall. Other ingredients to look for include essential amino acids like lysine, methionine, and threonine, and minerals like copper, and zinc.

Step 4: Protect your horse’s hooves from the outside
Instead of turning to a standard hoof moisturizer, consider a topical that will help stabilize moisture levels in the hoof. Keratex Hoof Hardener prevents the horn from taking in excess moisture, helping ensure that the moisture balance is properly maintained.

Top picks for healthy hooves

Farrier's Formula® Double Strength

As Low As: $24.05
(840 reviews)

SmartHoof® Pellets

As Low As: $19.95
(619 reviews)

SmartHoof® Ultra Pellets

As Low As: $34.95
(401 reviews)

We’ve demystified deworming so you can develop a targeted plan for your horse in three easy steps.

Preventing parasite infection is crucial to maintaining your horse’s health. If left untreated, a higher parasite load can lead to poor quality coat, weight loss, or even colic. Horse owners have long relied on a simple rotational deworming calendar, but we’re understanding more and more that it’s important to deworm your horse as an individual. Luckily, building a targeted deworming plan for your horse is easier than it sounds!

Step 1: Perform a fecal egg count test
Having your veterinarian perform a fecal egg count (FEC) test will help you understand if your horse is a low, medium, or high shedder, which will help you understand how to develop your horse’s deworming plan. If your vet doesn’t do FECs, we offer a mail-away Equine Fecal Test Kit (#20409, $29.95).

Step 2: Determine whether your horse is a low, medium, or high shedder
Your horse’s “egg-shedding score” isn’t an indication of how many parasites your horse has currently. It’s simply reflective of how likely your horse is to shed parasite eggs in his manure, which will help you and your vet determine how often your horse needs to be dewormed in the future. If your horse’s fecal test comes back less than about 200 eggs per gram (of feces), then your horse is likely a low egg-shedder. If the results show more than 500 eggs per gram, then your horse is likely a high egg-shedder. If the results come in between 200 and 500 eggs per gram, then your horse is likely a medium egg-shedder.

Step 3: Decide on a deworming plan with your veterinarian
Your veterinarian is your best resource for developing your horse’s individual deworming plan because he or she will be able to help you understand your horse’s fecal egg count test results, and vets are familiar with the seasonality of parasites in your area.

To give you a rough idea of how your horse’s “egg-shedding score” can impact your deworming decisions, a low shedder may only need to be dewormed twice a year, because his manure doesn’t pose a high risk for re-infection. On the other hand, a horse classified as a high shedder would likely require more frequent dewormings to help reduce the parasite egg load in his manure, which will help reduce the rate of re-infection for him and his pasture mates!

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