09: Colic Prevention

Action Point: Identify any colic risk factors of current management practices.

Rationale: While colic isn’t entirely preventable, minimizing a horse’s risk of experiencing colic will have benefits for overall health and welfare. A great tool to assess current risks is the Equine Guelph Colic Risk Rater Healthcare Tool.

In just a few minutes, the quiz will assess a number of key factors in colic prevention, including turnout, activity level, feed, water, dental care, and parasite management, and provide helpful tips to improve areas of concern.


08: Recognizing Signs of a Heavy Parasite Load

Action: Be aware of the physical signs associated with common parasites.

Rationale: Despite the best monitoring and management, a horse may still be subject to a heavy parasite load at some point in it’s life. Being able to recognize the signs will enable prompt intervention and treatment.

Signs Caused by Common Parasites of Horses




Anemia, dry coat, diarrhea, general loss of condition


Loss of condition, bowel problems, or colic when present in large numbers; migrating roundworm larvae can also injure the lungs in young horses


Horse rubs its tail; itching and irritation around anus; discharge and worms visible around anus


Loss of condition and colic from large numbers in the gut; occasional diarrhea or constipation


Mild diarrhea, colic, failure to grow or put on weight as expected

Routine Health Care of Horses

08: Parasite Control

Action Point: Develop and implement an evidence-based parasite control program.

Rationale: Given increased parasite resistance to worming medications (anthelmintics), one should strive to manage parasite loads in as natural and preemptive a manner as possible. After all, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’!

The best place to start is with prudent manure and pasture management, followed by a balance of treatment and surveillance, including routine fecal egg counts. Deworming plans should be specific to each horse in coordination with fecal egg count reduction tests to determine the effectiveness of the anthelmintic administered on the highest shedders in a population. Dosage directions according to horse weight must be followed for best chances at effectiveness and to minimize increasing parasite resistance (i.e. too low of a dose of a particular anthelmintic may increase parasite resistance to that class of drugs).

Effective management of manure is key in preventing heavy parasite loads in horses. Manure should be removed from stalls and small paddocks every day, and from larger paddocks and fields twice per week.  If possible, pasture rotation is recommended to further limit parasite loads.

AAEP Parasite Control Guidelines

Creating a Parasite Control Program

Diagnosteq - Solutions to Worm Control

Integrated Parasite Control: How to Strike a Balance

Pasture Management for Parasite Control

14 Up-to-Date Equine Parasite Control Facts