Dr. Vurgason had a horse show this past weekend, so all week long I had to hear her whine and complain about all the preparation she had to do in order to get her horse ready to show. I had no idea how much work was involved, all for a horse to run around in a circle for 3 minutes! Hopefully these tips I learned from listening to Dr. V can help you out before your next big competition.
As you probably know, most horse shows will want to see a current negative Coggins before you compete. This is by far the most common piece of paperwork we are asked to rush because someone didn’t realize their horse’s Coggins was expired and they have a competition this weekend. A RUSH Coggins will run you about $100… so make sure to plan ahead and update your horse’s Coggins before show season gears up!
In addition to a Coggins, all USEF-rated competitions are now requiring that your horse has proof of vaccination for Flu (Equine Influenza) and Rhino (Equine Herpes Virus 1 & 4) within the last 6 months. And don’t even get me started on FEI passports…what a hassle! This is another reason to make sure to not let your vaccines lapse beyond that 6 month mark. My minions are always happy to send you a USEF letter if we have vaccinated your horse for flu and rhino. If you are showing regularly, I would strongly recommend our Performance Wellness plan so your horse stays up-to-date with vaccines every 4 months.
USEF is now also requiring that all horses have a microchip before being allowed to compete. Microchips are a great idea here in Florida anyway, what with all the random hurricanes that tend to grace us with their presence. So, if your horse is not yet microchipped, be sure to call my office peeps to get that scheduled before you show!
The last piece of red tape you will need to get your horse to the show is a health certificate, provided you will be crossing state lines or passing Ag stations to get there. Remember that one of my docs needs to examine your horse within 10 days of writing a health certificate, so factor in a visit to us when planning for your trip! Also keep in mind that health certificates are only valid for 30 days, so be sure to check your dates before hauling out.
Preventing a problem
There is a lot of stuff that gets stuffed in a horse trailer in the name of preventing a problem at the show. Some of the stuff is worthwhile, other stuff not so much. Ulcergard? Go for it! Perfect Prep? Save your dollars. If you’d like to know what 3 veterinarians-who-also-ride-and-compete-regularly stock in their trailers, here’s the inside scoop:
Bell boots are their favorite shipping wraps. These can prevent your horse from pulling a shoe, while avoiding additional heat on the limbs when hauling in warm weather. I’ve written an entire blog on the topic of boots, so be sure to check that out for more details.
They always pack extra blankets and coolers for those chilly overnights at the show or that early morning walk up to the ring. Keeping your horse’s muscles warm can help prevent an injury. Keeping your horse warm can also encourage him to drink, which is an issue for many horses when traveling.
They feed extra alfalfa hay before and during a show weekend. This helps to slightly soften the manure and prevent colic. Not to mention the additional protein, calcium, and magnesium help your horse keep up with the demands of competition.
They wrap their horses’ legs after a hard ride, especially one with lots of jumping, or several hours standing around at a ring. Standing wraps can prevent stocking up, reducing swelling, pain and inflammation in tired limbs.
They give their horses some form of ulcer prevention when shipping. No matter who you talk to, they will agree that shipping stress leads to gastric ulcers. There are several products out there to decrease the incidence of ulcers, just make sure you are using them correctly. Remember that Ulcergard or Gastrogard must be given on an empty stomach and at least 30 minutes before a meal to be effective. Ranitidine doesn’t require the same feed restrictions, but it must be administered 2-3 times daily. Ulcer prevention supplements such as Nutrena Soothing Pink, Purina Outlast, and Legends GastroCare, are great options for your horse leading up to and during the show, too.
In case of emergency
So, let’s say you’ve done everything right. You have your Coggins, USEF letter, microchip, and health certificate in order. You packed your extra blankets, gave him Ulcergard and alfalfa, wrapped his legs and put on his bell boots. But now, despite your best efforts…he’s colicking! He came up lame in the warm-up ring! He broke out in hives from the horse show shavings! What do you do?
Well, this should go without saying, but first you should call your vet. Even if you are away from home, my docs are here to answer your questions and offer advice. If you have some Banamine, Bute, or Dexamethasone on hand, they may be able help you get your horse through a minor medical episode. It’s always good to know the right people. I myself like to get to know people who eat tuna for lunch…and are willing to share.
If for some reason you are one of those humans who likes to parade their horse around in circles in hopes that another human will give you a $1 silk ribbon, I hope this blog has been helpful for you. If not, you seem like my kind of human…let’s hang out. Keep it classy,