Every season has the potential for health problems for your horse. During the spring-time (March to May) there are particular hazards to look out for, and early treatment can prevent long-term problems from occurring.
This is a painful condition, characterized by inflammation of the blood vessel-filled laminae that attach the coffin bone to the inside of the hoof.
There are many causes but during spring horses with unlimited access to lush grass are vulnerable to carbohydrate overload. Excess sugar and starch overflow into the hindgut where they are digested by the bacteria already present, and ferment into excess lactic acid. Research shows that the reduced blood flow to the sensitive laminae causes the attachment between the coffin bone and the inner hoof wall to fail.
The front feet are often the first to show signs. Hooves may feel hot, and the horse may shift weight or be reluctant to move. In severe cases the horse will lie down, have a temperature and be sweating.
If you suspect your horse is developing laminitis, seek immediate veterinary advice.
Spring colic can be associated with ingestion of lush spring grass. Signs include restlessness, pawing the ground, sweating, kicking the stomach, stretching as if to urinate and rolling.
Seek early veterinary treatment for colic and monitor closely.
Occurs when a horse takes in more calories than he can burn off. Horses with access to lush spring grass, rich in carbohydrates, are likely to put on weight. A horse with a condition score of over four is considered fat and vulnerable to associated health problems including colic, heat stress, loss of fitness and laminitis.
Head shaking involves recurrent, sudden involuntary bouts of head tossing, sneezing, snorting and irritation. Because it often starts in spring it was associated with allergic rhinitis but although allergy may be a contributory factor recent research now shows this is unlikely to be the main cause.
Treatment is difficult, as identifying the trigger factor is so complicated. Distressing as headshaking is, it is often seasonal and should improve later in the year.
Author: Andrea McHugh