As we are all preparing for the upcoming new season if you haven’t already maybe you should consider giving your horse and yourself a pre-season MOT.
For your horse you should already be well on your way to returning them to peak fitness but there are some checks that can be done to ensure they are in peak health and condition coming into your first event being namely:
– Teeth. Hopefully your horse will be on a schedule already but if it is approaching or over 12 months since the last check call in the equine dentist. You may find that dressage issue annoying you recently actually stems from teeth in need of a rasp.
– Saddle. Horses regularly change shape especially if given significant time off. Also flocking will bed down meaning you should have your saddles checked regularly. You wouldn’t wear a pair of trainers that didn’t fit so don’t expect your horse to perform in a saddle that doesn’t!
– Vaccinations. Double check they are not due and if they are make sure they are not within 7 days of a competition as if a spot check occurs you could be stopped from competing under BE rules.
– Shoes . Some will have already started having stud holes put in but if not remember to ask your farrier for them next time your horse is shod. It is a potential unnecessary expensive mistake if you forget and then need to get your horse reshod earlier than normal to have them in time for your first event.
– Back. Just like human athletes, horses can benefit from regular massages even if there is no specific problem. This could be in the form of a massage unit or rug or alternatively bringing in an equine qualified masseur. There are different levels of treatment available that effectively work at different depths. At one end of the scale are treatments such as Bowen and Shiatsu whereas Osteopathy and Physiotherapy would sit at the other. The different depths of treatment can be beneficial in different ways for different horses so it is important to find a treatment or combination of treatments that suits your horse.
Other pre-season checks that are beneficial:
– Tack. In addition to checking your saddle’s fit it is also important that all stitching is in order. Obviously you should be doing this on a regular basis when cleaning but often things aren’t used over the winter meaning stitching can deteriorate and leather can dry up. Give all your tack a thorough clean preferably with a good leather feeder which will replace any lost moisture and nutrients to reduce the likelihood of any part of the leather snapping unexpectedly.
– First aid. You should carry both a human and a horsey first aid kit in your lorry/ car as you never know when you might need them. Large empty supplement tubs are perfect as you will often be surprised just how much you need. Mine includes everything from hoof testers to vetwrap to poultices to scissors and many other things. Make sure to clearly mark that it is a first aid kit as well in the event you need to send someone else into your lorry/car to find it in a hurry.
– Stock up on essentials. It’s normally the day before the first event of the season when you realise you can’t find a hairnet or sufficient plaiting bands and then you have to make a mad dash to find some. Instead take the time now and pretend you have an event next weekend to check you have everything in order and ready to go.
– Lorry. I don’t know about the rest of you but my lorry MOT no matter which lorry I actually have always coincides with the start of the season. If you haven’t already get your service and test booked in so that it is off the road for the shortest possible time. If you leave it to the last minute and you may find you can’t get a test appointment for several weeks leaving you trying to work out how to get to an event you’ve already entered without transport. Even if your MOT isn’t due if your trailer or lorry has been standing about not doing much over the winter a service would be advisable to check everything is in order especially the tyres, last thing you want is a blowout on a motorway. Trust me I’ve been there done that and it isn’t fun!
– You! Yes you have had your horse, lorry, tack and equipment checked over but you have probably forgotten about yourself. If you have back issues (like me!) make sure you are looking after yourself and seeing your osteo/physio/chiro to put yourself in tip top condition ahead of your first event.