Thinking about Purchasing a horse? 
Here are some suggestions to think about…

We would like to purchase a horse for our daughter to start riding lessons, do you have any

Answer: I would suggest prior to buying a horse that your daughter try riding lessons at a local barn so that you can learn more about what kind of horse she will need. This will also help you to determine that your daughter will enjoy the sport well enough to make a financial commitment as big as buying a horse.
The first step in buying a horse is to think about what you want the horse to be able to do. The second step would be to go out and do a “trial ride” where your daughter will try riding the horse to make sure your expectations are met. Before buying a horse, a pre-purchase exam is recommended if there is a question of whether the horse is potentially painful in a leg (lame) in a way that will make the horse unable to perform the job you are asking for it to do. In this process, often your local veterinarian will perform the pre-purchase exam to help advise you on the health of the horse. This is a very thorough exam where the veterinarian will perform a physical exam to make sure the horse is healthy, followed by a lameness exam where they will watch the horse move to determine if there is any pain that will make the horse limp. Sometimes more tests will be done if the horse is painful. The pre-purchase exam will depend mainly on what you want out of the exam. I advise that you contact your local equine veterinarian to learn what they would recommend for you and your daughter.
It is important to understand that buying a horse is a significant commitment because it takes a lot to keep and maintain a horse properly. After the financial commitment of buying the horse, there are costs in finding a barn to keep (“board”) the horse. In order to keep the horse healthy, regular hoof trimmings
by a farrier are recommended. Also, veterinary check-ups are recommended so that your horse can receive the recommended vaccines, get a dental exam and regular dentals, and have a general overall health assessment. The frequency of visits varies with your horse’s needs, your location, and what your horse does for a living. Once you purchase your horse, consult with your local veterinarian about services they offer and what they recommend for routine maintenance your horse.

What vaccines does my horse need?
Answer: There are a ton of different vaccines that your horse could receive, but your vet will narrow it down based on what they know about your horse and what you do with it. Some things your vet will consider when developing your vaccine protocol include your horse’s age, where you live, how much your horse travels, whether your horse is healthy, as well as how much money you’re willing to spend on vaccines. Some vaccines, like Influenza or Strangles, are only recommended for horses at risk, such as those with weakened immune systems or those that travel and are exposed to a lot of other horses. There is no harm in giving these vaccines, but if you’re on a budget these may be vaccines that you may opt not to give. Other vaccines may be required if you want to take your horse to certain horse shows or events, and your veterinarian will be able advise you of these. There are also specific vaccine protocols that are highly recommended for pregnant mares. These protocols ensure that the mare does not contract diseases that could compromise her pregnancy, and that she can provide her foal with immunity to certain diseases when it drinks her milk after it’s born. There are some vaccines that are recommended for all horses (of the appropriate age) because if the disease is contracted, it’s often fatal. Others may be recommended because they can be transmitted to humans as well. This category is often called “core vaccines” and includes vaccines for diseases such as Eastern/Western Equine Encephalitis, Tetanus, West Nile, and Rabies. Other vaccines may be highly recommended based on whether a disease is prevalent in the region that you live. To find a plan that is right for you and your horse, contact your local veterinarian and ask to talk about your vaccination options.

Who should I contact to have my horse’s teeth floated?
Answer: There are two available options for teeth floating: equine dentists and vets with an interest in dentistry. Equine dentists are laypeople who have received training to be able to float and place bit seats in your horse’s mouth. Some of these people are very competent at what they do, but be aware that just
because they are ‘certified’ doesn’t mean that they are the best option. There are several benefits to using a veterinarian or a dental technician under the direct supervision of a vet. First, a veterinarian is trained to recognize signs pointing to an underlying disease in your horse. In fact, before every dental exam, a vet should do a thorough physical exam on your horse. Also, a veterinarian has been trained to perform advanced dental techniques (such as tooth extractions). Second, vets are able to use and prescribe drugs. Some horses require sedation to have their teeth floated. Sedation makes the procedure less stressful and dangerous for both the practitioner and the horse. Vets can also prescribe antibiotics after the procedure if they think there is a risk of infection. To complicate matters, some states have passed laws limiting all equine dental procedures to veterinarians or requiring a veterinarian is present when a layperson floats your horse’s teeth. When deciding who to hire to float your horse’s teeth, it is important to look up your state’s laws regarding who can legally perform dental procedures on your horse. The best person to contact for information would be your equine vet. Your vet should be able to recommend the best option in regard to someone who is comfortable and competent with equine dentistry.

While at a horse show, I was approached by a horse chiropractor. Is there such a professional?
Answer: Equine chiropractor is a legitimate profession. The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) certifies veterinarians in Chiropractics through an eight-week course. The practice of Chiropractics is a form of holistic medicine with its basis in adjusting the musculoskeletal system, including the spinal
column, to improve its relationship between the nervous system and biomechanics of movement. The point of adjusting the spine is to any relieve pain that may be causing a lameness or unsoundness or to alleviate an asymmetry in spinal column. Because chiropractors are manipulating the spinal column and other areas of the musculoskeletal system, it is important that the professional is properly trained in anatomy, physiology, and actual techniques for adjustments. The AVCA certifies Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) or Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) who complete the appropriate coursework. In order to legally practice on animals, a veterinarian needs to be performing the adjustment or a veterinarian needs to be supervising the person performing the adjustment. It is best to have a chiropractic adjustment performed by a licensed DVM who is certified by the AVCA. Many veterinarians may not be willing to be responsible for the
actions of a DC who is certified by the AVCA who may be adjusting their client’s animals. It is important to know the credentials of anyone performing a chiropractic adjustment on your animals because many lay people call themselves equine chiropractors and have not had any proper training. Chiropractics can be an important adjunct to regular veterinary care to maintain the health and soundness of your horse if it is performed by the appropriate professional. If you have questions whether your horse needs a chiropractic adjustment, contact your regular veterinarian for a physical examination. Your regular veterinarian may perform the adjustment if they are AVCA certified, or they may refer you to another AVCA certified veterinarian if an adjustment is needed.

My neighbor told me her horse had colic. What is “colic”?
Answer: Colic, in its simplest form means abdominal pain. Abdominal pain can have many areas of origin including the digestive tract, urinary system, or the inner or outer layers of the horse’s body wall. However, the most common disturbance is usually localized to the digestive tract. There are many signs you may notice when your horse has colic including restlessness, pawing, lying down and getting up repeatedly, sweating, stretching as if they are going to urinate but then do not, rolling, looking at their sides, and/or kicking at their belly. Some common causes of colic are that the horse’s intestines get blocked so gas and fluid accumulate, and their digested food can no longer pass through, or the intestines can become twisted, which depending on the direction of the twist, is commonly called a torsion or a volvulus. The majority of colic cases will respond well to medical therapy, but they may also develop into medical emergencies and require surgery. Whenever an owner or handler notices signs of colic as noted above, a veterinarian should be called to ensure the best possible prognosis for the animal’s situation. However, some signs that your horse may require surgery instead of only medical therapy include that the pain is continuous and had a rapid onset, the abdomen appears swollen or distended, or the pain does not respond to only medical therapy. As stated before, surgical colics are an EMERGENCY and require immediate attention. Not all colics are preventable, but there are actions that can be taken to lessen the chances your horse will become “colicky.” Parasites can block the digestive tract when present in high numbers, so it is imperative to have your horse on a good parasite control program. It is also important to minimize stress in your animal, while providing a good, healthy diet and always having fresh water available. Also, when horses have bad teeth, they don’t chew their food properly and this can cause problems in the digestion process, which could also lead to colic. Make sure there is nothing in the horse’s pasture or stall that it shouldn’t eat. Sand can also cause problems if eaten while the animal is trying to graze on pasture. The keys to colic cases are prevention, early recognition, and action upon realizing your horse has colic. Your veterinarian will then evaluate the horse and determine the most appropriate method of action to help your horse recover.

My neighbor has horses, and they live outside and sleep outside all year round.
Answer: Shouldn’t they be in a barn in the very hot and the very cold weather? I can understand your concern about your neighbor’s horses being outside. Afterall, we would be quite miserable without central heating and air conditioning. Horses have a few rather efficient ways of regulating their body temperature. Horses use their hair coat, fat under their skin, sweating and basic behavioral habits to stay comfortable. A comfortable temperature range for horses is 18-59 degrees Fahrenheit. In the late fall, horses grow extremely thick winter hair, that stands up when it gets cold and traps air next to the skin. This is the
exact same idea as adding layers of clothing. The hair coat is also a barrier to ice and keeps their skin dry. You may have noticed her horses standing with their rear ends to the wind in snowstorms, this helps protect the areas of their body without much hair from cold damage. The fat under horses’ skin acts as
an insulator to heat loss much like an insulated mug for your morning coffee. They may crowd together to keep each other warm, so individual horses in a pasture may struggle to keep warm on very cold days. As long as horses have some sort of shelter from the wind, ice and rain, keeping warm should not be a
problem. One other consideration is that the horses have free access to unfrozen water and plenty of feed as their need for energy is greatly increased in the winter. Horses are not as tolerant of hot weather. They can sweat quite effectively which helps to cool the body. Overweight horses struggle more with keeping cool as their body fat is acting as an insulation. Barns on very hot days are often hotter than it is outside. Not all barns have a good breeze inside to
keep air moving, so putting a horse in a barn may make them more uncomfortable. As long as the horses have some shade from the sun and fresh water at all times, being out on hot days should not be a problem for them. I hope that I helped answer your question. If you have other concerns about the welfare of the animals and do not think they are being taken care of humanely it is best to contact a local veterinarian and address your concerns with them. They can help you take the right steps to solving your problem.