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Does your pony need a health check?

Posted in Health

A handy guide to your pony’s annual health check


Regular health checks by your pony’s vet are a key part of maintaining his good health and welfare, but why are they so important? Let’s find out more with the help of an expert. 

Top tip

Older ponies or those with underlying health conditions might need more frequent health checks, so speak to your vet for advice on how often you should get them done. 

Why, oh why!

Scheduling in an annual health check for your pony can help your vet spot early signs of disease. As well as this, your vet might be able to identify potential issues based on his age, breed, workload and management. 

It’s also a really good chance for you to discuss how to prevent illnesses and injuries, talk about things to look out for, form a specific management routine and plan for a fun-filled year ahead!

Part of the plan

Your vet will perform a thorough physical examination of your pony, including…

  • listening to his heart and lungs at rest
  • checking his eyes, skin and  his feet
  • watching him trot up to check for lameness
  • assessing his weight and body condition

Top tip

Keep a log of all the info that’s provided by your vet to remind you of what’s normal or when he might have had a specific problem. Doing this can play a part in helping you to prevent your pony becoming ill and it means you can act quickly if you notice he’s not right.

Added extras

Some vets will also carry out other checks and tests on your pony. You vet will be able to tell you what’s involved as part of their annual health check, but extras might include…

  • teeth check – and rasp if needed
  • routine vaccinations – if they’re due
  • worm egg count – your vet can formulate a worming plan to suit your pony and offer advice on which wormer to use, if any. They might carry out blood or saliva tests to check for specific types of worms, too
  • weight management advice – your vet might discuss a feeding plan with you to help keep your pony in good shape
  • performance assessment – if you have any concerns about your pony’s health or performance, your vet can start to investigate these further
  • blood tests – to assess your pony’s general health. Routine blood tests involve red and white blood cell counts and checking the function of his organs (such as liver and kidneys), or more specific blood tests are used to check for diseases (such as Cushings and equine metabolic syndrome)

Whatever checks and tests your vet carries out on your pony, they’ll be able to offer you plenty of advice on treatment required and changes to your management regime that will be beneficial to his wellbeing.

Time is ticking

Health checks can be done at any time of year, but most vets advise to have it in winter. Doing it during the colder season means your vet can make sure he’s in top condition before his workload increases as the sunny weather arrives. He’s most likely to go through a dietary change at this time of year, too – he’ll be eating more hay or haylage in winter, and more grass in summer.

Our expert – Georgie Hodson is an equine vet at Haven Vet Group

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