At Little Charingworth we tend to routinely ensure all of the horses are regularly checked over, I liken it to checking the oil, water and tyre pressure on the car on an ongoing basis. As a basic rule of thumb we will get a horse’s:
· Teeth checked every six months.
· The physio to look over the horse every six to eight weeks, note this may vary depending on the intensity of a horse’s programme, or where it is at in its physical development, or if it has had a previous weakness or injury. For example many of our horses have at different times been given stretching exercises to do and/or are strapped as, like humans, horses often tend to favour a particular side or leg and it’s important to try and ensure muscles are developed and strengthened equally.
· Feet shod every 4 or 5 weeks, some occasionally are shod at 3 weeks depending on their needs.
· Weight assessed every 1 to 2 weeks. We will get together as a team to discuss what a horse looks like, how it feels, what it has coming up in its programme and adjust its feeding accordingly, always operating under the principle that feeding is not a quick fix and that it needs frequent reevaluation.
During the year we all tend to be very conscious of ensuring our horses are in good shape. However it’s also important to make sure that at the end of the season, or whenever you choose to give them some time off, that they go on their holiday with all in order. Here at Little Charingworth before a horse is turned away we always make sure it is checked out by Maggie our physio to ensure they go on their break without any aches and pains. We will also ensure the horses feet have been done; if the horse is being roughed off we will usually pull off its back shoes, but most of the time continue to shoe them in front to maintain foot balance and ensure the hoof wall doesn’t break up.
When a horse comes back in to work after a break, once it’s done a few weeks of hacking and light schooling, we will then tend to have it checked by Maggie again to ensure all is in order as the work load begins to build.
The bottom line is that, as with most things in life, little and often is a good motto in terms of thinking about how a horse feels and looks, but it is also important in my view to regularly do a few things as described here in order to avoid problems, and this kind of simple maintenance can help in avoiding many issues ever setting in.