Sunday, October 28, 2012

So you bought a horse - now what?! #2

Vet and farrier care are givens for those of us who have been doing this for a while, but it's not always intuitive to those who have been taking lessons, but haven't had the experience of leasing or owning before. While I'm sure there are horse owners out there who are able to do the absolute minimum in horse care, I am a firm believer in proper horse care. As a competitive athlete, how can I expect my horse to perform at her best when she isn't at her best?

First of all, de-worming regularly is a important factor to your horse's health. If he hasn't been de-wormed in a while, or you don't know his history, start with something gentle like ivermectin or pyrantel paomate (ask your vet!). Wormer is dispensed by weight - unless your horse has been on a scale lately (Foxie goes on every time we go for lameness checks, but most horses aren't seen in-clinic),I would suggest using a weight tape to determine the proper dosage.

Again, if you are unsure of your horse's worming past, be a little conservative, as it shocks the system to remove the worms all at once. Thus, we use gentler products that work on one type at a time, and give them a few weeks between doses, and don't give them too much.

What many new horse owners don't know if they do know how and why we worm, is the rotation schedule. I like to use the three way, as it's most effective on a wide variety. Fecal tests can be done by your vet, and they can advise you as to the best worming schedule for your area. My vet suggested the three way schedule from Smartpak, and I managed to have a copy of it when they stopped having it online.

This is my schedule, copied from Smartpak Equine (who no longer has this posted, Sad!)
Two Way

Ivermectin or Ivermectin and Praziquantel
Equimax, Zimectrin gold, Rotectin 1.87%, Ivercare



Pyrantel Paomatat
Strongid paste, Rotectin P, Strongyle Care



Three Way

Safe-guard, Panacur, Anthelcide EQ


Ivermectin/Iv. Praziquantel mix
Equimax, Zimecterin Gold, Rotectin 1.87%, Ivercare



Pyrantel Paomate

Strongid paste, Rotectin P, Strongyle Care


From, a wonderful resource for all things horse care:
"Based on our studies at Texas Tech, we recommend a 4-way rotation for many farms and ranches. Some conditions may warrant a six way rotation only if needed. The quarterly rotation includes dewormers targeting adult parasites, larval parasites, tapeworms and bots. We believe it is important to consider the range of parasites including ascarids, and not be based only on small strongyle control. Several very recent studies have documented resistance of equine ascarids to the ivermectin class of parasites. This is very alarming due to the serious consequences ascarids can pose to foals. In high numbers, blockage of the gut can occur with fatal results.
Because there is no new class of dewormer on the horizon, we believe it is very important to preserve all of the current classes of dewormers, which have different applications in parasite control in the horse. [...]
The bottom line is that many types of deworming regimens are being proposed. There need to be further research studies on the effectiveness of these programs throughout the US as well as around the globe. In addition, remember that each farm needs to be considered individually and decisions need to be made based on testing and management information."
Moral of the story? Worming is important to your horse's health, and should be a part of your horse's routine.

Regular vet care, like regular doctor's visits for you, are a necessary evil for your horse. Make sure your horse is up to date on all vaccinations, including West Nile and Strangles. Why risk losing your beloved horse to a horrible disease when you can easily prevent it? on West Nile: "horses of all ages have succumbed to the disease [unlike humans, who are rarely effected]. Symptoms of WNV are similar to other neurological conditions including rear limb buckling, knuckling over and ataxia. As of the first part of this month 33 states had reported 186 equine cases of WNV. Horses doing poorly rarely recover--the fatality rate for horses with WNV is about 33%--but fortunately there are steps that we can take that can help reduce our risk and the risk of our horses for exposure."

Make sure the vet checks your horse's teeth, as horses need floats almost every year, sometimes more. Horses don't graze constantly like they are meant to in the wild, and thus we need to help them keep their teeth (that grow constantly) in check. If you don't keep your horse floated, they can have extreme discomfort wearing a bit or bridle and can struggle to eat properly, and endanger their own health.

Beyond the two biggest reasons for vet visits, my vet also checks the horse's condition (I love having the fittest, healthiest horse in the barn! I work hard!), temperature, does a fecal test for worming (see above) and in the winter (January, for us) pulls a coggins for the coming year. Coggins tests are important, as they are what allows us to travel off site. All of the places I have taken Foxie have required you to have a negative coggins test to prove that your horse is disease free and won't infect the large group of horses at the show or event. Vets can also furnish  you with proper health certificates if you are planning on trailering out of state - make sure to check if you need a health certificate before you travel or the state patrol can send you back home and give you a fine.

Remember the ugly foot from my last post? That foot needs some love! A good farrier is intensely important to your horse's comfort and soundness. By a "good" farrier I mean, in my experience, a CF or JF - certified, or journeyman farrier, who has gone to farrier school rather than learned the trade from another farrier (trained or untrained). These farriers are able to focus on the horse's anatomical structure and cut their feet to  help the horse move in the most comfortable way possible - or work to correct problems of conformation or bad trimmings in the past to help the hoof grow in the best way.

Is your horse tender on the rocks, or feels like he's going "hot sand, hot sand!" when you ride? He may need horse shoes, or a few days off. Your farrier should be able to tell you if your horse needs shoes all the time, some of the time, or not at all. This is factored in by the horse's genetics, how much and what you do when you ride, the surfaces you ride on and environmental factors.

For example:
Foxie is a pasture puff. While she is tender on the large rocks, she is comfortable with out shoes, and the farrier is able to put a "bare foot" style rolled trim on her feet to prevent cracking and breaking. Thus, even though she sometimes experiences discomfort, she is barefoot. When she was eventing, she wore shoes with clips and often was hot shod, as keeping her shod was very important. My farrier laughed at me because I could wear through a pair of aluminum eventers in 6 weeks. Apparently he didn't get that I was BUSY!

Talk with your farrier about shoe options, or alternatives like hoof boots. Shoes come in all shapes and sizes, as well as materials, and a trained farrier can advise the best option for your specific needs. A good farrier is worth his or her weight in gold; I was happy to spend 140$ on shoes every 7 weeks knowing that my girl was making amazing changes to her troubled and generally written off feet.

The things we do for our horses, right?

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