Nearly every horse owner has experienced an equine medical emergency. Certain kinds of colic, lameness, some foaling conditions and nearly all common equine diseases are examples of "potential" emergencies. Many crises, however, can be prevented with twice-a-year wellness exams, routine vaccinations, and year-round parasite control.

Semi-annual wellness exams allow a veterinarian to tailor season-specific vaccinations and parasite control treatments at the time of year when they are most beneficial. By scheduling exams in the spring and fall, horse owners also have the opportunity to consult with their veterinarian about nutrition, behavior, emerging disease threats in the area, and other horse health issues.

"While there’s no way to completely eliminate emergency situations, a comprehensive health program, complete with spring and fall wellness exams, will minimize the chance of unexpected, life threatening, and costly illness," says Robert Magnus, DVM, founder and partner of the Wisconsin Equine Clinic and Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wisc. "Wellness exams are the best way to detect, treat, and, ideally, prevent health problems before they become serious or result in a prolonged setback."

According to Magnus, whose clinic has offered a twice-a-year wellness exam program for the past six years, a typical equine wellness exam includes:

  • Evaluation of the horse’s diet, level of activity, behavior and any changes since the last veterinary visit
  • Assessment of the horse’s overall conditioning
  • Analysis of posture and gait
  • Examination of hair, coat, and skin