Spring Season Thoughts for Horse and Rider, by Jackie Brittain

Spring checklist for ranch and horsesSpring is around the corner and there are many horse related things to do before show or trail season.

Sometimes we spend more time in the saddle and we need to “step off” so to speak and examine all aspects of owning and caring for your horse. This will insure a safe and successful season for you and your horse, no matter what discipline you enjoy.

As a rider, one needs to look over all safety gear. Helmets should be looked at for cracks, lining or padding wear and rigging checked. A decision should be made to purchase a new one if the helmet is in poor condition. Plastic materials tend to become brittle in the sun and can crack during the impact of a fall.

A riders show clothes or riding gear should also be checked for fit and wear. It is a good idea to make a check list of your riding clothes to make travel preparation easier.

Spring is the time to check your horsesA rider should be vigilant with the care of riding tack. Repairs should be made promptly. The decision for replacement or upgrading ones tack can be addressed before show season. Cleaning and caring for your tack after every use can insure long lasting and safe riding. Sweat and dirt deteriorates leather and is unhealthy. A simple damp clean cloth can make a difference. Also, dirty tack sends out a poor impression to anyone involved in horsemanship, especially judges!

Spring is the time to check your horses’ general health and update veterinary needs. Your veterinarian can provide a program for your area and many boarding facilities have vaccination requirements.

Horses’ teeth should be checked and floated at least once a year. Preferably, young horses should be floated every six months and have their “wolf teeth” extracted as early in life as possible. Horses are shedding “tooth caps” this time of the year and some break or crack causing pain and therefore behavioral problems. Dental care is essential to a horses overall health since it affects eating and digestion and manners.

stables and paddocksThe stables and paddocks should get checked regularly for safety and cleanliness. Repairs need to be made year around to prevent injury to your horse. Wire fencing should be maintained properly and replaced when broken. Monitor grazing areas for poisonous weeds and remove by approved environmental methods.

Feeders and water fountains, troughs should be cleaned on a weekly basis and replaced when cracked or worn out. It is much easier to maintain feeders and water for cleanliness on a schedule. It is essential to insure that no mold or foreign animal material is contaminating the food and water for your horse.

Stall flooring should be level and corners cleaned of moldy hay and bedding. Clean under and replace floor mats as needed.

feed roomThe feed room should be thoroughly cleaned of old feed and dispose of empty containers. Rodents are vectors of disease. Mold and dust should be eliminated.

Check over your horse trailer beginning with the tires. Make sure treads are good and tires are properly inflated. Depending on use it is a good idea to do a professional brake inspection and service. Grease all latches and check lights. Replace floor mats as needed and clean underneath for moldy hay and feed and check trailer flooring for rust, cracks or if wood check for rotten boards.

I suggest you make a “spring list” of horse items as a yearly inventory to insure a safe and successful riding season.


Jackie Brittain
Merriewold Morgans Trainer