Getting ready for spring!
The end of February start of March always rings home that spring is almost here. Below, I’ve some tips to make sure you, well more importantly – your horse is spring ready!
- Rugs – we all hope the weather will start to improve so before your horse ‘goes naked’ it’s a good idea to swap the rug for a lighter gram fill or to a zero fill. If your horse is wearing a medium weight, try swap to a zero fill during the day. Please see our previous blog ‘rugging the horse’.
- Lice – (& nits) lice are notorious in winter and again in early spring. There are 2 types of lice, ones that bite (lice appear brownish) and ones that suck the horse’s blood (lice appear grey in colour). Although some people think lice only appear on poorly cared for horses this isn’t the case. However, horses that are run down can be more susceptible and in dire cases can become quiet anaemic.
Symptoms – Increasingly itchy, particularly chest, neck mane and tail. You might even find bald patches where horses itch them selves bald or bite them selves bald and sore.
Treatment – include washes, topical powder or oils (believed to suffocate lice) veterinarian medication (even an injection). If you want a quick fix, ask your vet for assistance. Do take care if the skin is broken or looking aggravated if your using washes or powers, this could cause a secondary issue. Brushes and rugs should be washed at a high heat to eradicate the lice. Lice hate sun so as your horse loses its winter coat the sun should kill the lice off. De-worming will help (ivermectin and or moxidectin).
Prevention – Keep up to date with de-worming (see below) and sulphur is a very useful deterrent for lice. Sprinkle it in suspected area (can be used as a treatment but can take a lot of time to apply regularly). Brushing your horse regularly and cleaning rugs and brushed can help eliminate the possibility of lice.
- De-worming – Hopefully, you’ve kept a record of what de-wormer you’ve administered during winter and more importantly what type of worms that wormer targets. But common winter de-worming tips is to target redworm, including encysted redworm, small strongyles, larvae and bots and you can get a moxidectin & praziquantel combo that gives your horse 13-week cover. in summary, de-wormers to think about in spring are Ivermectin & Praziquantel or a ( double dose) Pyrantel Embonate. Tapeworm and bots are your enemy in spring and the ivermectin will help eliminate lice too.
FWEC or FEC (faecal worm egg count). March is a good time to take a FWEC, your vet may test your sample, or they might ask you to take it to a laboratory. It’s a cheap way of identifying if a horse has a worm burden. However, encysted small redworm and tapeworm will not show up for example. Therefore, good management id key to keeping on top of worms.
- Vaccinations – Insure flu/tet vaccinations are up to date and the horse or pony has its 1st primary, followed by its second primary than its booster and annual vaccine from them on unless competing under FEI rules. It may be worth dropping an e-mail to your club or organisation following the recent influenza outbreak regarding booster requirements for the coming competition season.
Now, there should be no stopping the spring fun!