Monday, April 18, 2011
6:26 pm gmt
Well, I'm not complaining about April so far. We've had a weekend of lovely weather, birds singing happily in the trees
and a visit from a family with two teenage girls who like riding our horses and ponies. The only blot on this idyllic
landscape is the lush, green grass shooting out of the earth. A sudden flush of grass is a major warning... Laminitis!
We've got a horse and a pony here who have both suffered bouts of laminitis, a crippling condition which is supposed
to be as painful for equines as it is for humans to walk around all day in shoes one size too small. The fructans (sugars)
in grass are particularly dangerous for native breeds and overweight horses and ponies. Equines who have suffered from laminitis
in the past will easily get it again, even if they don't look overweight, so be on the look out now. If the grass on your
lawn is growing rapidly, be extra vigilent.
Exercise and diet are very important. Restrict hours of grazing, avoiding
early morning when fructans in grass are high. Keep laminitis candidates in sand arenas to walk around or on bare fields.
Feed hay instead and high fibre chops to give them enough fibre. If at all possible, ride or loose lunge horses and ponies
to keep them exercised and fit as this really helps to keep the dreaded condition at bay.
Above all, if your horse
or pony looks at all stiff, bring him in immediately and keep off grass until he is able to move freely again. Laminitis is
a serious, life threatening condition. Don't worry unnecessarily as many of us hope well with it but always call the
vet if you haven't dealt with it before.
A big thank you to all who helped us with suggestions. You can read their
helpful hints here on our new page which is devoted to dealing with laminitis.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Warmer weather brings swallows and lice
2:38 pm gmt
First, a quick word on our Online Show: we were overwhelmed by entries with more than 550 which was amazing considering
we restricted people to one entry per class. With ten classes altogether, we were very busy for the last month creating photo
albums on Facebook where others could see the photos. We're publishing one result each day and to see the ones who have won
prizes and rosettes so far, click here.
Warmer weather and April signals the return of swallows from South
Africa to our stable yards in Ireland and the UK. We asked for first sightings to be recorded and so far we've had two on
Saturday, 2nd April in West Sussex and Leicestershire, one on Sunday, 3rd on the coast in Co. Wexford, two on Monday, 4th
in Aberdeenshire and Wrexham, North East Wales and another today in Co. Kildare. None yet at our own stables but we look forward
to seeing these little jet plane like birds who will hopefully bring spring and summer with them. My mother has an old saying
she often quotes: 'One swallow does not a summer make'. You never know what you're going to get in Ireland but it's always
heartening to see the swallows and house martins return.
We've had several
enquiries about coping with lice on horses and ponies. Unfortunately eggs hatch out in warmer weather and cause itching and
discomfort for equines and other animals like cattle. Lice are often common on horses which are run down or in need of worming.
Spring is always a good time to worm your horse as red worms also start multiplying. Use an ivermectin paste to worm or ask
your local stockist for advice.
It's a good idea to wash and disinfect your rugs and brushes also if your horse
or pony has lice to stop them spreading. Usually lice appear in the mane and at the top of the tail so have a good look if
your horse is scratching. Deosect was recommended on our Facebook page by one owner and she used it again one week later to
kill off any more lice that hatched since the first treatment. It is apparently available to buy on the internet. Another
owner recommended a lice treatment which is used by farmers for cows so it is worth asking about this in your local store
as agricultural items are often cheaper than equine ones.
If all else fails and you can't get rid of the lice,
consult your vet. The lice treatment we used some years ago on a pony which came into our yard from elsewhere crawling with
them is now only available through a vet. Unfortunately the powder you buy in tack shops, although less toxic, may not always
be strong enough.