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The Top 10 Things Your Vet Wants You to Know

We asked our staff veterinarian, Dr. Lydia Gray, for a list of the top ten things your vet wants you to know, but doesn’t always have time to tell you.

#10 Your horse’s body condition score

A healthy weight is critical to overall wellness — visit for more details (and fun!).

#9 Teeth matter!

Your horse’s dental health can impact his weight, attitude, performance, and more! There’s no substitute for having your vet look and feel inside your horse’s mouth (after all, you can’t get in there!).

#8 The risk factors and signs of colic:

Visit to see 10 proven colic risk factors and how you can help your horse. Then head to to learn the signs of colic and what you should do to help your horse.

#7 What is an emergency

From eye injuries to colic, we’ve listed 11 common horse emergencies that always require immediate veterinary attention. See the list at

#6 What should be in your first aid kit

Visit for a detailed list of suggested items to have on hand. (And don’t forget to replace anything you use!)

#5 Deworming has changed

Rotational deworming is out, and fecal egg counts are in!

#4 Not all vaccines are created equal

Having your vet administer vaccines is your best bet for your horse’s health. You’ll be assured of proper storage and handling, plus vaccines administered by your vet may be backed by a guarantee from the pharmaceutical company.

#3 Don’t skip your annual

The more your vet sees your horse when he’s healthy, the better they’ll be able to help him when he’s unwell. An annual physical is a great way to establish a baseline for what’s “normal” in your horse.

#2 Your horse’s “daily schedule”

Knowing about how much your horse eats (hay, grain, supplements, and medications!), drinks, urinates, and defecates every day will help you have an early warning when things might be amiss.

#1 How to take your horse’s vital signs.

Visit for step-by-step info on how to measure your horse’s temperature, pulse, and respiration.



Lydia F. Gray, DVM, MA SmartPak Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director Dr. Lydia Gray has earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and a Master of Arts focusing on interpersonal and organizational communication. After “retiring” from private practice, she put her experience and education to work as the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s first-ever Director of Owner Education. Dr. Gray continues to provide health and nutrition information to horse owners through her position at SmartPak, through publication in more than a dozen general and trade publications, and through presentations around the country. She is the very proud owner of a Trakehner named Newman that she actively competes with in dressage and combined driving. In addition to memberships in the USDF and USEF, Dr. Gray is also a member of the Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Association (IDCTA). She is a USDF “L” Program Graduate and is currently working on her Bronze Medal. Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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11 comments on “The Top 10 Things Your Vet Wants You to Know
  1. teresaponziani says:

    Wonderful article. Thanks for posting. More horse owners need to take this level of responsibility.

  2. judy ptacek says:

    I have 3 mares, they are not show horses, or fancy, or
    expensive. They are just horses-farm pets. But I want them to be healthy and happy too. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
    Doesn’t anyone out there just have horses for fun because they love them?

    • lindsay hanna says:

      yes id do i share two horses with my friend Tiffany the oldest is 4 years old it is a mare her name is Bella but we call her bell bells the youngest is sissy another mare shes 4 too but we didn’t get her till a year ago so i say shes younger i want to do barrel racing but they r meant for pets mostly.p.s. i still love them no matter what!!!!!!

    • Trudy Mclellan says:

      Hi Judy
      I do , have them just for fun that is. None of them are rideable. They are all in their 20’s & I just enjoy them. I like to photograph them in all seasons. They are pets that just happen to live in the barn. Yes most sights are about people who do this sport or that with them & when they change interests, they just sell the horse & buy another. I never understand that philosophy. Even if any of mine could be ridden, I would only do trail riding or pasture riding at a nice easy pace. There should be a sight just for people who love their horses & keep them & just enjoy their beauty. There have to be others out there in cyber space.

    • Ann Briggs says:

      Yeah, I do. I do like to just ride back in the woods, just slow and easy. Most of all I get great joy at seeing them run free and frolic around the field.

      Standing and looking around, thinking boy this is a great life.

    • Susan says:

      Hi Judy, we have the opposite; two very expensive show horses that were not happy showing so we chose to retire them at ages 5 & 6, and now we all just enjoy each other. They still have to exercise to stay fit but there’s no pressure to perform and everyone’s happy 🙂 

    • Trish Haden says:

      Oh yes. I’ve had him for 16 years and still have as much fun with him as on the first day.

  3. Ellen says:

    What a TERRIFIC! Article! Thanks so much Smartpak!

  4. Diane Ernst says:

    We have two mares that foal every year. We gentle the foals, train them to lead, back, and just be great horses. Then we wean and sell the babies and start over. I could ride one of the mares, but choose not to do so. Most people think it’s strange to “not ride” but I totally agree that just watching these incredibly graceful, beautiful animals is all I need. They lower my blood pressure.

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