Be a Good Mother—To Your Horse
Whether your horse hits the trails, travels to shows, works on the ranch, or is retired on pasture, the following basics should be performed to keep your horse’s quality of life at its highest and to help prevent disease or injury.
(1) Vaccinations-- There are quite a few out there, but the following are the “core” vaccines every horse should receive:
· Rabies annually
· West Nile Virus and Rhino/Flu vaccine in the Spring and Fall
· 4-way (Tetanus, Eastern & Western Encephalitis, Influenza) annually
Other vaccines, such as Strangles and Potomac Horse Fever should be given to horses at risk. Discuss with your veterinarian the vaccines best for your horse.
(2) Dental Care – To keep your horse comfortable, from dropping feed, properly nourished, and responsive to the bit and cues, it is extremely important to have their teeth “floated”. Your horse’s teeth are different than ours: They continually grow and food is ground in an elliptical motion. Sharp points develop on the edges of the teeth, which create ulcers on their cheeks and tongue. Waves, hooks, and ramps may also be present, each of which inhibit your horse from correctly chewing and getting all of the hay’s nutrients and calories. Beginning at birth, every horse should have their teeth examined regularly. Their teeth should be tended to annually starting around year two.
(3) Hoof Trimming – Like their teeth, a horse’s hooves also grow continually, requiring them to be trimmed regularly. Ideally, trimming should be performed every 6-8 weeks to keep up with the growth rate of the hoof. Excess growth can lead to added stress on the bones, ligaments, and joints, potentially causing disease or injury. Overgrown and neglected hooves are more prone to hoof wall cracks, abscesses, and thrush.
(4) Deworming– Horses always carry a parasite load in their gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, deworming them every two months decreases that burden. To be most effective your dewormer should alternate between different medications,such as ivermectin, fenbendazole, oxibendazole, moxidectin, and pyrantel. Annually, a dewormer with the ingredient praziquantal should be given to take care of tapeworms. Alternatively, Strongid C, a pelleted daily dewormer can be given for forty-five days in a row to kill tapeworms. It is necessary to keep your horse’s parasite load down to prevent malnutrition, diarrhea, colic, anemia, and even lung disease.
(5) Grooming—Spend time brushing, bathing, cleaning, and trimming your horse. Apply fly repellents, treat minor wounds, and use fly masks, sheets, and blankets as needed to protect from the elements and parasites. Get to know your horse closely so you can detect problems early and know when there is something wrong. Learn to listen to your horses heartbeat and gut sounds, as well as how to take his temperature.
Our horses are important to us. They take a lot of time and care, but also give us much back in return. Keep up with the above tasks and your horse will spend less time sick or injured and more quality time with you. Don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian to get more detailed information on the above topics.