All posts by hickmanb

Cardiovascular Health

As a horse owner we should know our horses ‘norms’ when it comes to cardiovascular health, normal resting heart rate, normal working heart rate and how long it takes our horse to recover and bring heart rate back to ‘normal resting rate’.

Knowing our horses norms can help us detect if there is a cardiovascular issue such as, atrial fibrillation, atrial premature contractions, ventricular premature contractions, etc. Many heart murmurs and changes in arrhythmias is common in horses and are usually not clinically significant, but knowing these things about your horse can help you to condition them better as athletes and make you aware of their specific needs.

Equine Influenza Virus Prevention

Vaccinate your horse for EIV to help prevent contraction.

EIV can be difficult to control by management practices alone as often horses travel and are mixed with other horses in her situations. The EIV vaccine can help control EIV contraction. An EIV vaccine schedule is as follows:

1st Vaccine

2nd Vaccine (21-92 days after the first)

3rd Vaccine (150-215 days after second)

Booster Vaccine given 365+ days from last vaccination.


Create a conditioning program for your horse to gradually move them up to higher intensity work.

Quick and sudden increase in intensity and amount of work is often a trigger for rhabdomyolysis.  Make sure to properly condition your horse to the level of work expected of them, feed accordingly and make sure to always properly warm up and cool down your horse. For example you would not expect a horse that has been sitting for two months to properly complete a jumping course without proper conditioning, this would out them at risk of rhabdomyolysis as well as muscle strains, stain to respiratory and cardiovascular system.

Nursing Dermatophilus

Dermatophilus is a very common skin condition in horses, as a horse owner/ barn manager we must know the clinical signs and how to nurse these conditions.


  • shallow skin erosion under scabs
  • painful lesions
  • swelling of legs
  • exudation and thick crust formations with hair protruding through


  • remove all scabbing
  • remove hair
  • cleanse area with cholorhexidine shampoo to reveal fresh pink skin
  • topical antibiotics
  • systemic antibiotics

Know the Warning Signs

Familiarize yourself with the warning signs and symptoms of colic.

Knowing signs and symptoms of colic and familiarizing yourself/ barn workers with them will help you to be ready for a colic situation and for preventing it. Keeping a ‘Colic Chart’ in your barn can help to know the signs and also what to do if/when you see a horse demonstrating these symptoms.

Colic Chart

Colic Prevention

Create a daily routine for your horses.

By creating a daily routine for your horses it allows for better monitoring, controlled feeding, and reduces drastic change in your horses life style from a day to day basis. Creating a routine includes feeding time (hay, supplements), turnout times and for some horses exercise (school horses, horse athletes).


Parasite Control

Create a parasite control plan to help your horse stay parasite free and healthy.

A routine parasite control plan should be in place to help you horse to stay parasite free and healthy. Parasites can be prevented and controlled in various ways. Some keys to preventing parasites and treating them:

  • clean paddocks (no build up of manure, stagnant water, moldy/old hay)
  • clean sheds (clean fresh sheds will help diminish insects as well as better air quality for your horses)
  • clean fresh water (tank should be algae free, fresh cold water in summer months)
  • Fecal Egg Count Reduction Test
  • treating only for which parasites your horse has and rotating products to diminish parasite resiliency
  • knowing more prominent parasites in your area/environment

Lameness Exam

Have your veterinarian perform a lameness exam to aid in diagnosing cause of lameness.

A lameness exam is a great way to get the diagnosis of your horses lameness started. The lameness exam is often broken up in to multiple steps:

Physical Examination: visually examining the horse of any visible signs of lameness, conformation defects, palpation and manipulation to view heat, pain or swelling.

Examination in Motion: examining the horse in its 3 gaits (if horse is capable of doing more then a walk). Often done in hand or ridden.

Flexion Tests: stress particular areas and structures in the horse to see if they show any lameness or worsened lameness. Flexion of a joint is often performed and horse is immediately asked to trot away.

Horses in Casts

Check your horses cast at least twice daily.

A horse with a cast should be checked frequently. We check them frequently to make sure no cast sores; cast sores can become very problematic in your horses recovery. Checking your horses cast involves:

  • checking for heat or discharge
  • checking for an increase in lameness
  • checking the bottom of the cast for ware marks or splitting
  • checking/replacing bandage around top/bottom of cast to prevent dirt and debris from entering
  • checking for pain or swelling above/below cast