Spring is in the air; the flowers are blooming and the trees and paddocks are turning a lovely shade of green. Sadly, it can also mean hidden dangers for your horse.
The gut bacteria is sensitive to changes in the diet, therefore we recommend a gradual introduction to grazing. This will help reduce the risk of laminitis and colic.
Please monitor your horse’s faeces for changes in consistency and frequency, and for any signs of lameness.
If you are at all worried, please contact your vet – PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN A CURE!
Excessive worming within the horse population has led to a growing resistance problem. It is essential that we tackle this problem through targeted worming by doing worm egg counts. Whether to treat or not can then be discussed with your vet.
Targeted worming can dramatically reduce your wormer use throughout the year as well as saving you money.
So, if you are thinking of worming your horse then STOP, collect a ball of faeces and have it assessed. Hopefully your horse will be one of the 80-90% of horses that don’t need worming regularly.
Sweet – Itch
Horses can be irritated by the bites of many types of flies. Proteins within the saliva of midges cause a localised allergic reaction within the skin, which is colloquially called ‘Sweet Itch’. Signs to watch out for are:
- Excessive itching and thickening of skin
- Hair loss over affected area (usually mane and tail)
- Rubbing on objects
- Biting and kicking themselves
- Restless behaviour
- Irritable behaviour
- Some horses can lose weight
The treatment options available to help sooth skin and itching are: Topical anti-itch shampoos, antihistamines or application of ice or cold water. Steroids can be used in some extreme cases. Your veterinary surgeon can advise you on the most appropriate treatment for your horse.
Equine Grass Sickness
As you get ready to turn your horses out to grass we thought it would be useful to give you some information on this disease.
Equine grass sickness is a life-threatening disease affecting the horse’s nervous system and intestinal tract. It is particularly prevalent in the UK. Grass sickness relates to signs of the degeneration of the nerves of the autonomic nervous system. There are two types:
- Acute grass sickness this happens suddenly, results in dullness, dropped eyelids, muscle tremoring, and reduced intestinal motility showing as colic. This type of grass sickness is not curable.
- Chronic grass sickness can take longer to show, signs include the inability to swallow properly (dysphagia), oesophageal obstruction (sometimes referred to as choke), impaction colic, dry, pelleted faecal balls (sometimes wrapped in dried mucus), dropped eyelids, muscle tremoring, an elevated temperature or heart rate and dullness.
No cause for this disease has been identified yet despite numerous theories. Please ring us for more information if you are at all concerned.
There are numerous plants which are poisonous to horses if eaten. Please keep a lookout for:
- Deadly nightshade
- Yew and Bracken
to name just a few. The most commonly discussed poisonous plant is Ragwort, which can be found from early Spring onwards.
If you think your horse has ingested any of these plants please don’t hesitate to ring us on 01306 628222 where a vet would be happy to discuss your concerns.
What you need to know about Ragwort:
- Ragwort is a common weed that is easy to identify due to its bright yellow flowers.
- The plant is highly toxic to horses, and if eaten can lead to liver failure. The damage it does is incurable and can be fatal.
- Clinical signs to look out for are: the horse may become lethargic, lose weight, show signs of colic, head pressing and they can even go blind.
- It is essential you remove the plant early as the young weed is less bitter and so more palatable for the horse.
- The best way to remove the plant is to pull the whole plant and roots up. Make sure you wear gloves as it can also be harmful to humans. You should then place the weed in a bag (feed bags are ideal) and burn it.