February is a good month to take care of some health essentials for horses. With the trail ride and horse show season fast approaching, it is a good time to have a Coggins test done. The Coggins test checks a horse for the presence of Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) antibodies. Of course, we want those tests to come back negative, and 99% of them do. Those test results are important to anyone who will be taking their horses off the farm to locations where horses form several areas will be comingled – places like horse shows and trail rides. Those negative Coggins papers must accompany each horse wherever they go. As mentioned, February is a great time to get the Coggins test done and get the results back before transporting horses. The Coggins papers are good for one year, and the process must be repeated.
Some counties hold Coggins Clinics in cooperation with a veterinarian to help folks with just a few horses get the test done. Check with your county’s NC Cooperative Extension center to see if any of these clinics are scheduled. There will be two of these held in Granville County this year. One is on Saturday, February 15, and the second will be on Friday afternoon, February 21. Call the Granville County NC Cooperative Extension Center at (919) 603-1350 for details.
These clinics also offer vaccinations for the common equine diseases. The ones most often made available in this area include eastern/western equine encephalitis + tetanus, rabies, West Nile Virus, flu + rhinovirus, and strangles. Check with your veterinarian to make sure that any additional vaccination needs are met as the core vaccines vary across the country.
While at a clinic, or when the veterinarian visits your farm, it is a good idea to get a routine health check for the horse. Most veterinarians will include this if done in conjunction with a Coggins test or when providing vaccinations. They will also check teeth and make sure that there are no issues there. If teeth need to be floated, that will likely be a separate appointment at the veterinarian’s clinic.
One last item – be sure to keep a check on your horse’s hooves. We are experiencing a long period of mud, so be sure to check feet frequently. Keep them cleaned out and make sure that no infections develop. Common things to check for are obsesses, thrush, fungus growing on the lower legs, heat in the hoof wall or sole, general lameness, or sensitivity. If some work needs to be done on the feet, be sure to call the farrier sooner than later. Before riding the trail or entering the ring at a horse show, be sure that the feet are good to go.