Worming horses and ponies on a regular basis is very
important. Ask your local stockist for advice on the most effective wormers and change type (not brand name) every six months
to help prevent parasites building up resistance to the chemicals in the wormers.
Strongylids or redworm are dangerous for foals so worm regularly
Regular worming of horses and ponies is the key to controlling internal parasites. Work out a worming schedule for
the year or ask your vet to help you. Staff in stores selling wormers should know the correct chemical pastes to use at certain
times of the year.
Red worms or blood worms (Strongylids)
These are the most dangerous of all parasites found in horses and appear a reddish
colour due to the blood which they suck. Redworms can be up to 1cm long and there are large and small redworms. It is the
small redworms which cause the most damage to intestinal organs. These worms build up in areas where many horses are grazing
together. If they are left untreated, the horse will eventually become so thin and debilitated that it will be unable to stand.
Impaction from redworms can also cause serious colic. Regular worming
with a suitable worm dose is essential. Foals are particularly at risk so need to be wormed regularly.
Round worms (Ascarids)
Round worms can be up to 30cms in length and
are thick and white. Large numbers of them can cause loss of condition and bouts of colic. Foals are most at risk.
Pinworms are long and thin, up to 4.5cm in length. The horse will rub his tail
and there may be an anal discharge.
in horses are much smaller than one would imagine, up to 3 cm in length, and are white and flat. They attach themselves to
the lining of the intestines. Sometimes there are no symptoms of tapeworms or the horse may lose weight or suffer bouts of
colic. A double dose (twice the normal dose) of Strongid or another suitable wormer is recommended once a year.
Gadflys lay small yellow
eggs which stick to the skin of horses in summer. The horse licks them off his coat and they pass into his digestive system
and end up in the stomach and intestine where they can stay for almost a year before being passed out with the droppings.
Adult gadflys then emerge from the pupal cases in the soil and the whole cycle starts over again. Ask your vet for the latest
chemical pastes used against bots or use ivermectin in the Autumn after the first frost (around November) to stop the bots
staying inside horses over the winter. The yellow eggs laid on horses in Summer can be picked off or rubbed off with a cloth.
Sprays recommended by Readers
Commercial Fly Repellents:
Power Phaser Fly Spray (approx €16.50 or £15 for
Coopers Fly RepellentPlus (approx €25 or £23)
Deet Fly Repellent
Avon Skin So Soft (blue one) (approx €3 to €7 or £5 for 250ml)
Lincoln Fly Stoppa
Lincoln Ditch the Itch
Barrier Super Plus Fly Spray
(from €10 or £8.50)
Deosect Fly Repellent (approx €36 or £34) (recommended also for fleas and lice).
Homemade fly sprays
1 cup of cold tea, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 20ish drops of citronella (can be brought cheaply from your local chemist)
top up with water. Apply with garden spray bottle.
Cider, Tea Tree and vinegar
Garlic in feed may help but not everyone agreed this works.
Baby oil, tea, fairy liquid
and citronella oil (not advised on grey horses as tea stains)
10 drops of Tea Tree oil, 10 drops of Lavender oil,
10 drops of Eucalyptus oil and 20 drops of Citronella oil in 100mls of Sweet Almond oil. Brush this onto
the body and apply extra into the tail and mane. Wash the horse first time round and apply when the horse is dry. This
mixture can also be used to kill fleas.
Vinegar and water, i.e. 2 parts vinegar to one part water. Add vanilla essence
to make it smell better. Also works as an anti-inflammatory on fly bites.
Marmite in feed.
(Contributors: Fiona Forbes, Rosie Allen, Emmalene
Knowles, Ashleigh Thornton, Emma Wade, Megan Rogers, Melissa Lawrence,Nell-Elizabeth Best Power, Justine
Gallagher,Laura McCann, Anna Palmer, Annie Worsley, Amber Coleman, Nic Evans,Sally Nicholson, Claire Blenkinsop, Emma Louise French, Bernice Wade , Lindsay Carthy, Mandy Sampson.)
Taking off rugs in Spring
One of the easiest ways to deal with hardening off horses at this time of year is to have a lightweight turn out
rug which can be put on during the day time to protect against wind and rain but will not make the horse sweat like he would
in the winter heavyweight rug. You can put the heavier rug back on at night. This is also a great help if your horse has been
clipped over the winter and you want to harden him off to go out to grass, i.e. hunters. Continue this for about a week and
then start taking the lighter rug off. Allow 10 to 14 days to let the horse get used to not having a rug during the day before
taking off altogether, depending on the weather.
We don't have lightweight rugs for all our horses and ponies
so will wait a little longer until temperatures are in the early teens (13 degrees or over) before removing the winter rugs
for the day. You need to harden the horse or pony off gradually to give him time to adjust to not having a rug. It's difficult
to say how long this will take as it depends on the weather. In Ireland we have snow or heat waves in April so one never knows
what's coming next.
The most important thing is not to allow horses to sweat under rugs because this
can cause a lot more problems than coping without a rug. Skin infections and itching with rashes are caused by overheating
under rugs. If you ask your vet about this, he or she will be more likely to advise you not to molly coddle the horse too
Parrot mouth - why you need to look in a horse's mouth
Parrot mouth can't be spotted in a newborn foal but appears between one and six
months of age. It is definitely something to look out for if you are buying a horse or pony as a parrot mouth can affect the
way an equine eats and it is also considered a defect when you come to sell the horse. Like windsucking, cribbing, weaving
and sweet itch, it affects the price.
So what is parrot mouth exactly? It is when the top incisor teeth of a horse
come out over the bottom incisors, much the same as buck teeth in humans. Apparently it is relatively common and occurs in
2-3% of horses, so 2 or 3 in every hundred horses have this defect. The reason why parrot mouth is a bad thing in a horse
is because it affects the way the horse grinds his food and how he digests it. A severe case will prevent the horse putting
on condition and also cause problems with a bit in his mouth. It can make it hard for him to graze.
are easy enough to treat with dental floating (rasping) and severe cases benefit from dental procedures, such as
braces, believe it or not! Mild cases are where the top teeth protrude slightly over the bottom incisors but still meet the
bottom ones and a severe case is where the top teeth protrude so far over the bottom ones that they do not meet. In all cases
of parrot mouth, consult your equine dentist for advice.
Worm every two to three months. Worm foals more often. Ask your vet or local equestrian
suppliers for advice on the correct wormers to use during the year.
Building up a foal or young horse after a worm infestation
Always speak to an expert about this first, such as your vet or a nutritionist attached to
a reputable feed company. They will be only too happy to help you. A redworm infestation is very serious and needs to be treated
correctly. Specialists in this area will advise you on what feed and supplements to use.
A sarcoid is the most
common form of skin cancer in equines and is often not malignant. Three of my horses and ponies have had a sarcoid at some
stage. In all three cases they were non maligant and, I'm glad to report, have now gone. Some sarcoids can be difficult to
treat and can spread. They are also very nasty when near a vulnerable part of the body, such as the eye, and I would recommend
veterinary advice early on. Different horses react in different ways to them and they are a worldwide problem affecting all
types of breeds.
My first experience of a sarcoid was many years ago when a thoroughbred developed one on his
sheath. It was a small, hard lump and grew quite quickly to about the size of a cherry. I called the vet and she suggested
surgery. She removed the sarcoid and sent it to the Equine Laboratory where they examined it and prepared a vaccine which
was then given to the horse in two stages. I have read more recently that vaccines against sarcoids are not supposed to work
but something worked in this thoroughbred's case as the sarcoid never regrew. The horse lived to be 30 and never had
An Irish Sports Horse had an enormous sarcoid under his hind leg when a young horse, before I bought
him. I know this because I got him from a neighbour next door. This sarcoid was about the size of a tennis ball and was
raw and bleeding at times. I don't know whether the sarcoid was removed by a vet or whether it fell off but it was gone by
the time he came to my stables. There is, however, still a scar where it used to be so perhaps it was surgically removed.
I've had the horse 14 years and he still hasn't produced another one.
My third sarcoid case was last year when
one appeared on a 24 year old pony. At first I thought it might be a melanoma because he is a grey and greys are particularly
prone to melanomas but the round hard lump on his sheath grew very rapidly over the summer months and became raw in one place
where he rubbed it when lying down. It was about the size of a cherry when I asked the vet about it and she did not recommend
surgery because of his age. Vets are reluctant to put older horses and ponies under general anaesthetic unless absolutely
necessary. She suggested leaving it alone and said it might fall off. The sarcoid was still there in the winter but not so
raw because the flies weren't irritating it. One day after the winter was over I noticed that it had gone. I was lucky in
this case because the sarcoid had fallen off and his sheath is now perfect with no scarring.
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