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Horse Health

Hints & Tips

You should know the normal behaviour and disposition of your horse, so that you can easily tell if something is not right. Checking your horse daily for signs of injury and ill health will put your mind at rest that he is well, and early detection of any injury or ill health will mean that appropriate care or treatment can be quickly applied.

Vaccinations

Vaccinating your horse against common infections, including against tetanus and equine influenza, will help reduce the risk of ill health. Routine hygiene procedures should form an essential part of looking after your horse which will help prevent disease and minimise the potential spread of infection.

Horses can suffer from numerous health problems as a result of bacterial, viral or fungal infections. Ensuring that your horse is healthy and has the right vaccinations will help to protect him against these kinds of infections. He will also have a higher chance of being able to fight and minimise the effects of an infection if he has the right protection.

Hygiene

Routine hygiene measures are important in your horse's stable, and combined with your daily check of your horse's health, he should remain happy and healthy.

Storing horse feed in vermin-proof containers will help to reduce any flies or mice that may venture into the stable looking for a tasty snack. This will reduce the risk of these vermin breeding and causing health problems for your horse.

Don't let muck accumulate in or around the stable, or any shelter your horse has out in the field. This is especially important during the summer months when flies are more abundant. You can also further protect your horse by using fly sheets and fringes.

Colic

Colic is the term used to describe abdominal pain. Immediate veterinary advice should be sought if you think your horse may have colic. Colic can be caused by simple indigestion or even a serious twisted gut. It is important to have it treated as soon as possible.

There are a number of signs of colic to look out for:

  • If your horse is restless and pawing at the ground or trying to roll over excessively.
  • If he has unexplained sweating or his breathing is noticeably fast or he is finding it difficult to breathe.
  • If he is irritable and trying to kick his stomach.
  • If he is stretching as if to urinate or pass dung but without result.
  • If his pulse rate or temperature is elevated.

Laminitis

Laminitis is a painful and debilitating condition. It can cause permanent damage, which may result in euthanasia, so it is important to watch out for the signs of laminitis, as prevention is better than cure.

Signs of acute laminitis include:

  • Increased digital pulse in the lower limb.
  • Lame with an inability or reluctance to walk or move.
  • Anxiety and visible trembling.
  • Sweating.
  • Flared nostrils.
  • Lying down and displaying an unwillingness to get up.
  • Rocking back onto heels when standing, with limbs outstretched.
  • Leaning back onto hind feet to relieve pressure from the front feet, or walking very tenderly, as if on egg shells.

A horse can live with laminitis for many years, and although a single episode means they are more likely to have further episodes, with good management and prompt treatment, it doesn't have to be the catastrophe that many think it will be.