Preventive care excerptHow much time do you really spend with your horse? Would a few more minutes of grooming and awareness each day save you money farther down the road? According to vets and farriers, it will.
 
Preventive care includes everything from monitoring your horse’s behavior and doing a run-down of his feet and body to maintaining a safe living environment and reading up on basic equine health care. (Check out Understanding Equine Preventive Medicine on Exclusively Equine, or read through the TheHorse.com’s preventive care newsletter archives.) As a boarder, I think I’ve always put too much faith into the barn staff that they will take care of some of these preventive measures themselves – until I received a few wake-up calls such as finding wire cutters in my horse’s paddock, or watching a groom lead a horse that was suddenly “three-legged” in from the pasture without even noticing something was amiss. Of course, I’m just as guilty of racing home from the barn without really grooming my horse or giving him a thorough once-over. Because afterall, these critical practices do cost us something: Time. Every now and then I just have to remind myself that it’s worth it – for both my horses and my wallet. What preventive steps do you take with your horse’s care, and when has it saved you money?
 
On another note, I’ve recently rediscovered an often-overlooked preventive practice that could save you from spending more money on medications, injections, and training: Sportsmassage therapy. And yes, you can easily learn to do it yourself. Jo-Ann Wilson M.Ed, a nationally certified, licensed massage therapist and clinician, author, and director of Wilson Meagher Sportstherapy Practice, emphasizes the proven effects of massage on horse’s muscles, joints, and performance. We’re often too quick to jump to injecting a horse if its joints are sore or getting professional help for performance faults such as high head carriage, when in reality a technique as simple as massage could help prevent or fix the problem. The full Thrifty Horsekeeping health care chapter offered next week will include a section on sportsmassage therapy. Read an excerpt on preventive care here.