Annual Preventative Care Planning for Your Horse

Updated July 27, 2023
A girl standing next to a bay horse.

Keeping up to date and on top of those important-but-not-as-frequent horse owner preventative care can be challenging! Most of us have too much going on to depend on our memory alone. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep track of these less frequent tasks that keep your horse in the best of health throughout the year. 

Getting organized early in the new year by reviewing your horse’s most important annual health needs. Plus, this usually only takes about 15 - 20 minutes. 

Make a quick list of the following when planning your horse’s annual preventative care:

Vaccines and Annual Wellness Exams for Horses

A veterinarian examining a horse's eyes.

Scheduling general wellness examinations, vaccines, dental, and other veterinary care can vary greatly from horse to horse. Work closely with your vet to determine the best plan for your unique horse. Most horses need certain vaccines in the spring or fall, and typically you can ask your veterinarian for a comprehensive physical exam during the vaccination visit. This saves everyone time and keeps you up to date. Many vets are also great at sending reminder emails, texts, or calls. 

Some barns make annual vaccination appointments for multiple horses at a time to save on trip charges, so it might be wise to coordinate with your barn manager and other boarders. 

After discussing the best schedule for your horse with your veterinarian, it's time to put it on the calendar. Start by outlining each annual task in a physical or digital calendar. Putting reminders in multiple locations works well for some people but can be redundant for others. Just do what works best for your organizational style. If you need to submit time off requests to work for vet appointments, now is a good time to do so. You're planning far enough ahead that schedule adjustments should be simpler.

Often, it is hard to schedule too far in advance, which we can all completely understand! Only some people can schedule a September 18th wellness exam in January. Instead of planning specific dates many months in advance, try to create a reminder in a physical calendar or on your phone approximately six weeks before those wellness items should be scheduled. This system allows you to set those appointments up without locking in dates a year to six months in advance.

Dental Check

An equine veterinarian examining the mouth, gums, and lips of a horse.

Routine dental checks for your horse are essential. Some horses need floating performed once a year, while others need it twice or more yearly. Your vet will provide a recommendation based on your horse’s age and dental health. Many horses get their teeth done at the same time as theirspring or fall vaccines. 

Fecal Tests for Deworming

Deworming is variable, as grazing season depends on geography, the horse’s health, and fecal test results. Fecal tests can be done through your veterinarian, who will advise on the best timing, or from Smartpak, which can be ordered on an annual auto-shipment.

Plan for Supplement Adjustments

The great thing about SmartPaks is that they are completely customizable for each horse’s needs! Two supplement categories that you can adjust twice a year, depending on where you are located and what support your horse needs, including insect control and electrolyte supplements. 

Insect control and growth regulator supplements can help deter those biting bugs in warmer climates, but are not necessary to feed year-round. If your horse is enrolled in the Equinox 365 Program, they automatically are provided with SmartBug-Off Ultra or SmartItch-Ease in their Smartpaks during warmer months. Then, it switches to providing SmartOmega 3 & E Ultra in the colder months. The Equinox helps knock one more thing off your to-do listbecause you won't have to remember to add or remove supplements when the seasons change. 

In addition to this switch, ensure your horse receives electrolytes when he is sweating, along with his daily required amount of salt year-round. Remember to always check with your vet regarding supplement adjustments, as they may or may not be a good fit for your horse.

The information provided in the Horsemanship Library is based solely on our SmartPak authors' opinions. SmartPak strongly encourages you to consult your veterinarian or equine professionals regarding specific questions about your horse's health, care, or training. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or behavior and is purely educational.