After a long and harsh winter I think that everyone is ready for warm weather. But the warm weather can pose challenges as well so I'll help you prepare with a few of my summer essentials. Delta and Quincy both love their new Shires Sweet-Itch Combo Sheets. With an spf 30 rating they help to keep the light skinned horses protected and darker horses from bleaching out. The great elastic ear piece keeps the neck fully covered so that along with the belly guard there is barely a place for bugs to get to them. And those with sensitive skin can rest a little easier as well.
This time of year is also a time when I pay close attention to the constantly changing footing. At least in Virginia I know the ground can go from deep mud to feeling like concrete in a matter of days. Many horses end up suffering from abcesses and bruising in their feet due to the inconsistency in the footing. When it's wet and sloppy my horses get iodine sprayed over the bottom of the foot as well as over the nail holes to keep bacteria from building up in any cracks and to help prevent soft feet. You do have to be careful to keep the iodine away from the hair line... For the other extreme we use a small amount of hoof packing on the sole to help keep the natural pliability in the hoof. But most important is that the rider stays very aware to limit how much the horse works in the extreme footing. I can't tell you how often I've already had to alter my daily riding/ conditioning plans due to extreme footing...
I tend to keep how the horses are feeling on changing footing and terrain at the forefront of my mind because I try to keep running as part of my own personal fitness routine. Meaning that I am not always consistent so know the effects of trying to do more than the limbs are ready for... During my prep for Rolex I got back in to running as well as other cross-training exercises and used those as my initial testing of the new Kerrits IceFil tights. These tights are the ultimate in crossover apparel. Whether you're into yoga, pilates, running, cross-fit, or just riding you will be so cool and comfortable! And the cute little kerrits on the seat make sure you have just enough traction in the saddle :). Personally I love being able to go straight from a morning work-out to the barn to ride. I've not yet had to endure the scorching temperatures that summer is sure to bring but the breeches have IceFil technology that helps to cool you as they wick away perspiration... and yes there are plenty of shirt styles to keep your whole body happy!
There are so many things that go on day to day in many barns that can create annoying challenges. I thought I'd share our easy and fairly fool-proof way of dealing with one challenge... making sure medications are eaten. Every now and then we have a horse that doesn't care what we add to their feed but most are much to finicky. I turn to applesauce to make life a little easier. Applesauce has the perfect consistency to mix with any powdered medication and then given directly to the horse via a dose syringe. Plus the horses don't seem to be as offended since they like the taste. A win win in my book.
The horses that head South to train and compete at the beginning of the year get their dentistry done and spring vaccines taken care of either in late December or early January. We trust the expertise of Old Dominion Equine's Dr. Gallaspy to keep my horses' teeth in order. Even with our easy access to fantastic vets I find that it's easy to get caught up in our travels and to lose track of where we are in our routine care. So the beginning of March is a good time to get caught up on vaccines with the horses that stay home for the winter as well as to deworm all of the horses with a double dose of strongid.