A properly designed wellness program will allow horses to enjoy good health well into their aged years, and also will ensure that the equine athlete can perform to the best of his or her ability.  The staff and veterinarians at Okanagan Equine can help design the right wellness program for your horse.
Components of a wellness program include the following:
  • Worming
  • Vaccination
  • Dental Care
  • Nutrition
  • Hoof Care
  • Physical Exam
  • Soundness Exam
  • Laboratory Testing Including Fecal Egg Counts
  • Sheath Cleaning
  • Geriatric Care
  • Exercise Program

For advice on Worming, Vaccination, and Dental Care, please see the articles on these subjects under the "Horse Care" menu.

Nutrition is of course extremely important both to maintain the health of your horse and to allow him to perform to the best of his ability.  Different athletic endeavors require different types of nutrition, for example the endurance horse, the show ring hunter, and the race horse are fed vastly different diets.  As well, various medical problems are fully or partially managed through a carefully designed diet.  Properly feeding the growing young horse is also extremely important and although the nutritional requirements for the different age groups are generally the same for all breeds, the diets can be quite different. For example, the young warmblood is fed quite differently than the young halter type Quarter Horse or the young Thoroughbred future race horse.  We can provide nutritional advice for your individual horse's needs.

Hoof care is the realm of your farrier as well as your veterinarian.  The old saying "no foot, no horse" has held true throughout the ages.  Most farriers are trained to recognize existing or impending hoof problems but do not have the knowledge or expertise to diagnose and treat many of the conditions that may lead to a lame horse.  Examination of your horse's feet should be part of the yearly general physical exam.

Most horse owners have a veterinarian perform their horse's vaccinations.  At this time, a general physical exam and a brief dental exam can be performed.  Please keep in mind that if you choose to share the veterinary call with other horse owners, it may not be possible to perform procedures such as power floats or full lameness work-ups at that visit.  Often we will schedule a second visit if more extensive procedures are required.  Other aspects of the general physical exam will include a hoof exam, exam of all four legs, checking the skin and mucous membranes, heart and lung check, eye exam, weight and condition assessment, and checking the back and neck.  Also any concerns can be discussed.

A soundness exam is more extensive and includes flexion tests and watching the horse move at different gaits and on different surfaces.  The horse may be observed under saddle as well.  For the higher level athlete, a yearly soundness exam is recommended.   Some horses which demonstrate a reduction in their performance level may have soundness issues which can be identified through the soundness exam.

Laboratory testing can be part of your horse's general physical and/or soundness exam.  Again, higher level athletes should have their blood tested to ensure that they are performing at their peak level.  It is recommended that a fecal egg count be performed on all horses at least once yearly.  Please refer to the section on worming for a more in depth discussion on this topic.

Proper sheath cleaning almost always requires sedation and thus is often done along with the annual dental float.  Geldings and stallions should have their sheaths checked at least once yearly, and some horses require a cleaning more often. Conditions such as an excessive build-up of "smegma" or the development of "beans" in the urethral fossa can cause considerable discomfort.

Geriatric care encompasses all of the above components of the wellness program, however the aged horse does have additional and different requirements.  Dental care becomes extremely important and changes to the diet can be very beneficial in maintaining health and preventing problems such as impaction colic.  Arthritis is common and the feet may be showing some wear and tear.  The modern horse is able to enjoy a much more prolonged and healthy old age due to attention to all these details.

Finally, a well planned and monitored exercise program is important for all horses, from the athlete to the aged horse.  In general, horses do not complain or let us know when they are stiff and sore so we must be diligent in protecting them from the effects of overuse or unaccustomed exercise.  Horses recovering from injury will benefit from a customized rehabilitation program.

Okanagan Equine Veterinary Horse Services is located in Kelowna, British Columbia, Central Okanagan. We offer an equine hospital, equine reproduction, breeding and stallion collection plus semen evaluation facility.