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Saddle Up! Getting a Jump on Proper Horse Care

California Veterinary Medical Association Provides Tips on Caring for Your

First Horse

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Many children and teenagers love horses and often parents buy or lease a horse for their child to teach positive skills and responsibility.

"Grooming, feeding and taking caring of a horse can be wonderful but a time-consuming responsibility," said Dr. Jeff Smith, president of the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). "Caring for a horse's health is extremely important and should be taken very seriously."

Here are some CVMA tips on caring for your horse:

Keep Vaccinations Current: Be sure your horse receives all necessary immunizations, including West Nile virus, rhino/flu vaccine, tetanus, western and eastern encephalitis and influenza. Other vaccines, such as strangles and Potomac horse fever, should be given to horses at risk.

Put the Best Hoof Forward: Horses' hooves grow continually, so trimming should be performed every six to eight weeks. Excess growth can lead to added stress on bones, ligaments and joints potentially causing disease or injury. Overgrown and neglected hooves are more prone to hoof wall cracks, abscesses and thrush.

Keep Parasites Away: Parasites are the most common equine affliction with more than 150 varieties affecting horses. Telltale signs include a dull coat, tail rubbing and/or diarrhea. Because worms are typically ingested through food or water, avoid placing hay or grain on the ground. Most veterinarians advise de-worming horses at least four to six times per year depending on the type of pasture your horse grazes in and where the feed hay originates. Ask your veterinarian about the best de-worming program for your area.

Remember Dental Care: Horses' teeth should be examined regularly from birth, and "floated" by a veterinarian at least once per year beginning at age two. Horses' teeth grow continuously throughout their lives, which can cause painful points, hooks, ramps, waves, cheek lacerations and other problems.

Hitting the Trail: Exercise strengthens a horse's heart muscles, tendons and ligaments and improves motility of the digestive tract. Before beginning a regular, strenuous exercise routine, start with walking and slow trotting to accustom your horse to activity.

Observe Your Animal: Get to know your horse's routine behavior such as sleeping, eating and breathing patterns. Subtle changes can indicate a medical problem. Listen to your horse's heartbeat and take his or her temperature. At least once a week, run your hands over your horse's coat to check for skin problems. If your horse is "quidding" -- has food falling from his or her mouth when eating -- it usually indicates a dental problem that should be promptly addressed by your veterinarian. Apply fly repellents, treat minor wounds and use fly masks, sheets and blankets as needed to protect from the elements and parasites.

Take Notes: Keep accurate records of vaccinations, hoof care and other health information as well as feeding schedules and food sources. In the event of an illness, your records will provide valuable information for your veterinarian.

For more information or to interview an equine veterinarian, please contact Phil Boerner at 916-649-0599. To access past CVMA press releases, visit the CVMA Media Center in the News Room at

The California Veterinary Medical Association is the largest state veterinary medical association in the United States, with more than 6,000 members. Founded in 1888, its mission is to serve its membership and community through innovative leadership and to improve animal and human health in an ethically and socially responsible manner.

SOURCE The California Veterinary Medical Association
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