Avoid Founder This Spring

Folks both new and familiar with horses have a lot to think about in spring when it comes to the health of their four-legged companions.

Cool, wet conditions late in the spring can be a problem for foals, explains Margaret Bojko, a veterinarian at the Wisconsin Equine Clinic and Hospital. Foals are born without an immune system, so Bojko emphasizes getting claustrum to those foals within the first 24 hours of life. She says the next step is to “baby-proof” the facility, such as having appropriate fencing and not having strangers come and go.

Greening grass can be a problem for the older horses, causing founder. The sugar content in grass in the early spring can lead to laminitis or founder, which is inflammation in the horse’s feet. Bojko says you don’t have to stop horses from eating grass, but introduce them to the grass slowly.

And keep those ponies out of the mud — thrush and mud fever are other top concerns. Standing in mud can give horses a skin bacterial infections or foot abscesses.

Wisconsin Equine Clinic and Hospital finds spring is their busiest time of year as foaling season ramps up, people start riding and going to shows, and the weather poses challenges.