5Ws+1H: How It's Done: Warmer weather means different care for horses

May 16—With warmer weather arriving, horse owners are adjusting how they care for their animals to ensure they're healthy and comfortable.

Jackie Parnell, Cherokee County Riders leader, said since horses sweat more during the summer, owners need to make sure salt blocks are available throughout the day, along with fresh, clean water.

"Ticks are so bad right now that people can use the yellow salt block that has sulphur in it, and that helps deter ticks," Parnell said.

To keep the ticks and flies at bay, Parnell said, owners should spray their horses every other day with a substance like Bronco Fly Spray, and they should deworm the animals during the summer.

Shade is vital to the well-being of horses. When storms pop up throughout the season, trees can be a target for lightening strikes. Parnell said it is up to the owner whether to put the animals in a barn or leave them out during a storm.

"I think it's everybody's individual choice whether to put them up. Of course, that would be the safest thing, but I don't know that many people who do that," Parnell said.

Parnell said tack and equipment should be fitted properly to a horse, as sores and injuries can result from ill-fitting tack.

Parnell said horses used mainly for leisure should be fed at least 2% of their weight. Parnell said she doesn't provide sweet feed to her horses, and she recommends a 12% protein. She said animals that consume a high amount of protein but aren't being worked enough can get "hyped up."

"To me, sweet feed and trying to train a horse is like giving a candy bar to a kid and asking them to be still and concentrate," Parnell said.

Food rations need to be watched, as overfeeding, and an abundance of fresh green grass, can cause a horse to founder. Parnell said "road foundering" can also take place if a horse is not conditioned properly before a hard ride.

Traveling with a horse also requires different care techniques, including vaccinations — especially for the West Nile Virus.

"I think anytime you're going to take your animal off property and they're around a bunch of other horses and they're not vaccinated, you're kind of setting yourself up for heartache," Parnell said.

A Coggins test — a blood test to determine Equine Infectious Anemia exposure — is required when a horse is traveling between states and to other facilities and events where it will be exposed to other animals.

Parnell said hooves require special care, but sometimes they need to be trimmed rather than shod. Shodding can be done depending on the horse's activity level and its environment.

You're invited

Parnell said those interested in learning more about horse care and other equine-related topics can attend a Cherokee County Riders meeting. The CC Riders meet the first Monday of each month at the Cherokee County OSU Extension Office.