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
Schedule routine dental exams for your horse based on age and lifestyle.
Routine dental care is essential for your horses health and longevity. Horses of different ages/life stages/lifestyles should be checked for different dental problems. Below is a timetable for routine exams and what you should be looking for.
Routine Dental Care Timetable and Checklist
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.
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
Know signs of lameness before they get to far.
Knowing signs of initial lameness can help you to get a quick diagnosis before the lameness becomes a permanent of debilitating problem for your horse. Some signs of lameness include:
- stiff movement
- sore muscles
- head bobbing
- reluctance to move/lift legs
- inflammation and heat
- digital pulses
Create a medical and lameness history chart for your horse.
Having a medical history chart for your horse makes it quick and easy for you to relay this information to your veterinarian in a case of emergency and for lameness. Knowing your horses history can lead to a quicker and more accurate diagnosis. Below is an example of a medical history/lameness chart for your horse.
Create a hoof care schedule with your farrier and begin photo documentation of the changes in your horses feet.
A regular hoof trim schedule goes a long way in the health of your horses hooves. Four to six weeks is the recommended trim schedule for most horses. Creating photo documentation of your horses hooves allows you to be aware of changes that you may not other wise notice (contracted heels, club feet, etc). Also making sure your horses hooves are cleaned daily with drastically help with hoof health (prevention of thrush, white line disease).
Prepare and equine first aid kit that is easily accessible in your facility.
In preparing and equine first aid kit that is easily accessible in your barn is a big help during emergencies. A first aid kit that is prepared is easy to take to your horse if they are unable to be moved from the location where you found the trauma. Also it helps to keep handler calm as they have everything they need in one easy spot. A prepared first aid kit is only useful if everyone knows where it is kept; tack room or feed rooms are easily accessible to all and easy to remember.
Here are examples of some essentials for your first aid kit:
Equine First Aid Kit
New arrivals and sick horses should be quarantined/isolated for a minimum of 14 days, ideally 30 days.
Isolating new arrivals and sick horses allows you to properly monitor said horse while keeping the others in your herd safe. While horse is isolated you should monitor his manure, feed/water intake, for any signs of sickness/disease and make sure to do a daily health check. By keeping new arrivals and sick horses in quarantine you are preventing the spread of sickness and disease to your main herd as well as making sure these new arrivals don’t catch anything for the residing herd as well.
The number one disease prevention rule is cleaning.
Disinfection is key to preventing the spread of disease and unwanted sickness on your farm. There is a three step process to proper disinfection. Step One: remove loose material. Step Two: wash with warm soapy water, rinse thoroughly and dry. Step Three: Disinfect (Skelding, 2013)