Health care for the driving horse is more than an issue of preserving a horse's well-being.
For a safe journey on the roads through our modern traffic we need a healthy horse able to pull a carriage and feeling fit and comfortable enough to do so.
There are a few things you should routinely have an eye on to provide good health care to your horse.
If you do this regularly, you can prevent a lot of health related problems, which, if not detected early, could become more severe and need a time consuming recovery break.
Regular hoof care through a professional farrier or hoofcarer
Annual health check through a veterinary surgeon
Regular grooming sessions
Healthy, balanced diet
A driving horse may suffer from slightly different health problems compared to a riding horse, due to the harness covering different bodyparts than a saddle does.
Health Care for the Skin
Harness galls and skin sores
at point of shoulder
on the neck
around the belly underneath the girth
both sides of wither
regular grooming: no dirt should be left between skin and harness parts
good fitting harness
careful exercise to get skin used to work and hardened up
WARNING: ALLWAYS TRY FIRST ON A SMALL AREA OF SKIN WHICH IS NOT GETTING IN CONTACT WITH THE HARNESS AND WAIT A DAY OR TWO, IN CASE YOUR HORSE S HOWS SYMPTOMS OF AN ALLERGY !!! Hardening up certain areas of skin:
If your horse is prone to skin sores in areas you know, but especially under the girth and on the point of the shoulder
you can rub these areas first with toilet soap, then surgical spirit and finally sprinkle some talcum powder over it.
Older drivers might still remember this one:
Dab human urine onto proned skin areas. Urine contents urea and lots of other different metabolised chemicals, which will
harden up the skin.
If your horse already has developed a skin sore, dab it with salty warm water, keep it clean.
In case an infection settled in, let a vet make a proper diagnose and a prescription of an appropriate therapy and drug.
These injuries are caused by ill fitting harness parts or in an unfit, untrained horse, if it was asked to work too much before the skin has hardened adequately.
Collar too wide:
Collar will rock from side to side and chafe the skin until injured.
Sores are usually three quarters down the shoulder on both sides.
Collar, too narrow:
Collar will pinch and rub the skin in areas one third down the shoulder on both sides.
Lack of breeching:
Pressure injury occurs on top of the neck, if the pole straps press down- and forwards because the vehicle is held entirely on the neck.
Collar, too short:
Collar will pipe and bruise the skin of the neck at the windpipe area.
A short collar can cause a horse to choke, if the pressure onto the windpipe gets too much.
rest the neck
apply a lotion and ointment to heal up sores and harden up the skin
replace the ill-fitting collar with a properly fitting harness or collar
temporarily use a breast collar, but only if the injured area is avoided and not covered with harness parts.
add breeching straps in case of an injury at the top of the neck.
well fitting harness and collar
Lameness and hoof problems can be classified as followed:
splints (mainly in young horses)
lameness in different locations by variuos causes
increased hoof horn abrasion
driving on hard surface most of the time (roads)
horse is not warmed up carefully enough
horse is not used to amount of exercise
if shod, make sure shoes fit well
growth growth raterate of hoof horn slower than grade of abrasion
if not shod might need hoof shoes or hoof boots. Check with a farrier or hoofcarer!
regular hoof care and check ups through a farrier or hoofcarer
regular health care check ups through your vet
careful exercise and training
Respiratory problems in wintertime?
Some horses are suffering from winter allergy or stable allergy.
Read about cause, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this rather common health problem.