The best horse riding requires a happy healthy trail horse. In preparation of our trail riding season beginning, it's time to give our trail horses extra love and care, kind of like going for a "horse spa day". We call this the annual equine spring tune up.
Our Annual Equine Spring Tune-Up consists of five key ingredients
- Equine Manicure –The Trim and the Shoe
- Equine Massage – The lucky Horses
- Vet Check – Floating the Teeth
- Worming – Getting rid of pesky critters
- Spring turn out
Equine Pedicure - Trim and Shoeing of the Trail Horse
Prior to spring turn out, it is important to trim all the horses’ hooves. After the long winter feeding on very good hay, they need it. Our trail horses are comfortable getting a pedicure. Maybe not as excited as me when I get one, but they are pretty happy to get their toes trimmed.
Our Trail Horses are working animals. Just like us, it's important for them to have a natural balanced stride. A unbalanced trim is comparable to you walking in a high heel and a tennis shoe. After a couple of miles, pain and discomfort. A certified and experienced farrier who cares about the quality of their work, is the best place to start.
The foundation of the horse starts with the trim. If the trim isn’t right, nothing is right. A bad trim can show up as a sore back, lame leg, a cranky disposition, or in the worst case scenario permanent damage to joints or spine.
Equine Massage –The Lucky Trail Horses
Horses, like people can have their body get out of alignment. This can be caused by an old injury, tight muscles, and muscle memory. Getting a massage or going to the chiropractor can put our muscles and frame back in balance and alignment.
We have been blessed to discover a very gifted Equine massage therapist by the name of Amanda Miller. She is a gifted healer of horses and does an excellent job. It has been amazing to watch her, learn, and the biggest surprise was how the horses respond to it. They love what she does and they seem to know that she is helping them.
Vet Check – Floating the Teeth
Horses require even teeth in order to grind their teeth properly. As they age their teeth can become uneven causing weight loss, or pain. If not fixed, it will eventually cause death from a lack of nutrition. Every couple of years we have the vet come out to check teeth. If needed, they get their teeth floated. Meaning, the vet files their teeth so they have an even surface to chew properly.
Our horses spend their off season on the range. Range horses require less filing than a stalled horse. The patterns of grazing on pasture and picking up sand naturally keeps their teeth ground down. As they get older they will still need their teeth floated, usually starting around 15 years of age.
Worming – Getting rid of pesky critters
Prior to turning out for spring grazing, our horses are dewormed giving them a digestive tune-up. Those pesky unwanted critters can be stealing their nutrition. During the year we deworm spring, summer, and fall.
Wild horses have learned to use a natural wormer that grows on the side hills called Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). Unfortunately for us once you use a man-made wormer, natural wormers don’t work anymore.
Spring Turn Out
It's spring time at Chilko Lake and right now it's hard to contain the trail horses at the lodge. They are ready for their spring turn out. It is important for horses to have down time and just be a horse. Down time provides a physical and mental break for the horses which improves their overall health and emotional well being. There is nothing healthier for a horse than being out on the open range or pasture. Horses need lots of space to move and other horses to bond and socialize with. During this time they are free and wild. They feed on fresh spring grass, drink from cool clear springs, nap under shaded trees, take dust baths in fine dirt, and take both leisurely walks as well as flat-out runs with the herd.
A happy, healthy trail horse, makes for a happy ride, and a fine riding companion. That's what I love.
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