Getting you and your horse summer ready.
May finally signals summer time is here. We’ve formulated a blog to help you keep on top of summer related issues to unsure you and your horse are summer ready!
- De-worming – Hopefully, you’ve kept a record of what dewormer you’ve administered during winter and spring but more importantly what type of worms that the wormer you’ve used targets. Summer is a time for ascarids -Roundworm, Small redworm and bots (&eggs/larvae) later in the summer. Therefore, de-wormers to use are Ivermectin or Moxidectin. As the popular Moxidectin wormer has a 13 week cover I find this is a good choice as it’ll act on larvae and the bots that will emerge later in the summer.
FWEC or FEC (faecal worm egg count) spring and autumn are arguably the best time to take a FWEC, however it was be done all year round. It’s a cheap way of identifying if a horse has a worm burden. However, encysted small redworm and tapeworm will not show up. Therefore, good management is key to keeping on top of worms.
Bots – if you notice yellow dots on your horse, legs or abdomen (where they are most commonly found) chances are they are bot fly eggs and need to be addressed before causing a more serious complaint. First step de-worming than address the eggs which are the primary issue. Although bot fly knifes are on the market there are other ways of killing these parasites such as suffocating and smothering the eggs using Vaseline, baby oil or liquid paraffin. This may need to be done frequently until the eggs fall off. Some claim vinegar will in fact make the eggs drop off the horse and my opinion, you should use whatever is readily available.
- Summer grass – Introduce your horse onto fresh pasture slowly, this will help reduce the risk of a ‘grass’ related colic. Sudden changes in the grass can induce a flatulent (gas type) colic, as the high nutritional content puts a strain on your horse’s digestive system. Too much too fast could overload his body and lead to a potentially dangerous bout of gassy colic. For the horse this is painful, damaging, and even fatal in some cases but fear not, good husbandry means that this type of colic is easily avoided, provided you understand the dangers and take steps to protect your horse’s gut.
- Summer weight – In theory a little extra condition on a horse may not be a big of a deal, but overweight horses and ponies are more likely to suffer from insulin resistance and therefore more inclined to develop laminitis (inflammation of the tissues, laminae attaching the hoof to the coffin bone). When on lush green pastures blood glucose levels can rise. If the insulin levels get too high it might lead in turn to laminitis. It’s not always solely about the weight but the sugar and blood glucose levels which is a common misconception attached to laminitis. Our advice is to introduce lush pasture slowly, and extra hour a day and work up to your end goal, possibly strip graze using electric tape. During the transition or if you just want to limit weight gain, when your horse or pony is not out on the lush pasture try soaking their hay (minimum 1 hour submerged in cold water) to wash out and remove sugars.
- Limiting weight – If you’re struggling to keep the weight off your horse or pony in summer as well as increasing exercise, soaking hay and limiting grazing time is a better option than limiting food. Hay should be soaked for 1 hour this washes away sugars and if soaked longer can wash away other nutritional values leaving the soaked hay nothing more than fibrous material. Limiting food will in fact teach the horse or pony to store fat so you are better off to feed little and often but feeds that are low fat and sugar. It is worth mentioning if you’re limiting your horse or ponies grazing insure the animal isn’t getting deprived of vitamins and minerals, licks can be beneficial in that case. Your vet, an equine nutritionist can help you in this matter. Their gums, coat and hooves will show signs of deficiencies’ to pay attention to any changes.
- Summer hoof care – If your horse or pony is un-shod the summer can be a time where they are more prone to cracks in the hoof wall, this can lead to lameness, pain and abscesses to form from dirt, mud and grass lodging in the cracks. To try to eliminate this keep your horse regularly dressed, different ages and types of horses grow their hooves faster. With young stock you may need to dress their hooves every 4 – 6 weeks but an older horse you might get 6 – 10 weeks between dress’s. It is important not to let the toe get too long especially if your horse is prone to Laminitis, watch how the hoof is growing and speak to your farrier regarding your concern. Some horses’ hooves can get brittle during the summer in the dry conditions, it’s a personal choice whether you address that issue from the inside out (by feeding supplements) or outside in by using hoof care products. I’d recommended consulting your farrier or vet on this matter. Again, good husbandry is key.
Enjoy summer – don’t forget the sunscreen!