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Recent questions

  • How do I take care of my horse during the winter season?

    While we are lucky that in most parts of Australia our winter is quite temperate, it is still a good idea to spare a thought for our horses to ensure that they make it through the cold season happy and healthy.



    Supply of fresh clean water is always the most important part of horse care. Impaction colic in horses during the winter months can be a big worry. This form of colic is mainly due to the horse becoming dehydrated because it consumes less water, and eats dry hay, rather than pasture. You should keep a close eye on your horse’s water intake, and maybe add water to his feeds.

    • Did you know? - Horses do not like to drink cold water! Research has shown that horses drink the most water when the water temperature is between 7 and 20º C. Optimum water consumption will keep the horse’s digestive system hydrated, allowing food to be broken down efficiently and not create a blockage.


    Body Condition

    the best way to keep our horses well and comfortable is to ensure that they are at a healthy weight going into winter. You should aim for a body condition score of 3 or moderate (see chart at end).

    Not only will this weight be optimal for your horse, it will also save you money – as it is much more economical to maintain his weight than to have to feed for weight gain in the cold.


    To rug or not to rug? – this is the question…

    While it is tempting to pop a rug on as soon as YOU feel cold, this really is not in the best interest of the horse. Owners in many European countries (snow and ice in winter) put less rugs on their horses than we do in Australia!! We must remember that the horse has a great way of keeping warm naturally – pilo-erection – it can make it’s hair stand on end trapping air next to the body which creates insulation from the cold.
    Of course, if it is really cold or wet, or you have clipped your horse, it will definitely appreciate being rugged.
    A rugged horse should be checked daily to ensure that the rug has not slipped, and the rug should be removed a few times a week so that you can check it is not rubbing the horse and take a look at your horse’s weight (and give him a nice grooming too!)


    Wormy weather

    In Australia, it is the autumn and spring when worm larvae survive for the longest period on the pastures – so make sure that your horse has been wormed coming into the cold months. Small strongyles are the most pathogenic worms affecting adult horses worldwide, so you need to be sure that you choose a wormer that will effectively target all stages of these nasty parasites.
    Equest Plus Tape® is the only wormer approved to kill all stages of the small strongyle in a single dose.


    “Open up and say Ahhh”

    Many people choose winter as a great time to have their vet perform a full dental exam. This is a great idea as it can make it easier for your horse to eat – so that they will get more benefit from their feed. An equine vet is the only dental practitioner who can sedate your horse for the dental check and float, this means that they can do a very thorough job, and your horse will not mind at all!


    The gift of good health

    August 1 is the date that horses celebrate their birthday. Many people use this date as a handy way to remember when their horse is due for its annual vaccinations. All horses should be protected against Tetanus with an annual vaccination. Your vet will be able to recommend what other vaccinations are most suitable for your horse. We are fortunate that we can protect our horses in Australia against Hendra, Strangles, Equine Herpes and more.


    Common winter ailments

    Just like us, our horses can get a variety of respiratory illnesses over the winter, if you notice your horse coughing, sneezing or with a runny nose, it is best to call your vet so that they can advise the best treatment.
    We also commonly see things like seedy toe and thrush over the winter months – as the horse may be standing in mud more frequently. For this reason it is very important to keep your farrier visiting regularly to keep those hoofs in tip top shape.

    Enjoy the cooler weather and keep those horses healthy.

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  • What should you do if you suspect, or know your horse has a splint developing?

    A splint occurs when the ligament between the splint bones and the cannon bone becomes inflamed. This leads to proliferative bone growth and a hard lump to the side of the cannon bone. The position and size of this lump (or exostosis) determines the level of disability imposed onto the horse.

    Treatment for splints can vary and in most cases is successful when veterinary advice is sought.  Often anti-inflammatories and rest can mean simple cases are better in 4-6 weeks.  Massage, cold therapy and support bandaging can also be recommended.

    In more severe cases surgery may be recommended, either to remove the lump or repair fractures that can occur in older horses.

    Since not all splint injuries are the same, when a horse develops a splint, veterinary advice is essential and if followed then prognosis for being sound is good. 

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  • What are the causes and treatment of Lamnitis?

    Laminitis is a complex condition in horses that has been associated with numerous potential causes including metabolic abnormalities, toxins, infections, dietary changes and excessive weight-bearing.

    Once a horse has laminitis, it is more likely to have recurrent episodes.  It is very important to closely monitor these horses and have regular vet checks.  The treatment and management of laminitis in horses varies depending on the stage and severity of the condition as well as the initial cause, if identified.  Treated early and in partnership with a vet and farrier team, often laminitis can resolve and be managed for the life of the horse.

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  • What would you recommend for an older horse with continual loose, dark bowels and no other symptoms?

    Continual loose, dark bowels are indeed a concern. There can be many things to consider in regards to causes, such as worms, ulcers, malabsorption issues, infection, inflammation, nutrition and even cancer. Figuring out the cause is the best way to fix the problem and this is best done in partnership with your vet, who can run diagnostic testing on your horse.

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  • When a horse is a grazing all day, can they get all the required nutrition from grass alone, and do they have to be grazing all day to avoid stomach ulcers?

    For the grass to be a complete nutritional source, several factors should be considered, including; the age and use of the horse, season, species of pasture grass, pasture management practices, and the time available to the horse for grazing activity.

    The general principle in avoiding stomach ulcers is to avoid large infrequent meals and try to encourage grazing eating behaviour. It doesn’t necessarily mean your horse has to eat continuously. It is a spectrum and the more they graze the better, as a general rule. However, horses rarely follow the rules in textbooks, which is why individual advice tailored to you by your vet becomes the best approach. 

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  • What are the symptoms of a snake bite and what should be done immediately while awaiting a vet’s assessment and treatment?

    Snakes bites can be nasty. Immediate signs of a snake bit can include swelling at the bite site, pain, profuse sweating, muscular weakness or paralysis trembling, dilated pupils, and staggering. After calling a vet, the most important thing to do when waiting for them to arrive is to keep your horse as calm as possible, as movement will speed up the spread of the venom. It is important to keep yourself safe, being careful of both the snake and of your horse.

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  • Has anyone had anything to do with string halt in a pony? At first i thought he'd foundered again but it's different to founder this time.

    Stringhalt is a condition that presents with involuntary flexion of one or both hind limbs. It is a neurological condition that may be caused by ingestion of toxic plants. If it does not resolve on its own when the suspected toxin is removed from the diet then a surgical procedure may be successful in many cases. It is best to consult your veterinarian regarding diagnosis and possible treatments.

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  • I recently wormed my 24yr old horse, 10 days later I am still finding a couple of dead worms in each poo. What does this mean and what should my next steps be regarding her worming program?

    It is not uncommon for stray dead and dying worms to continue to appear in the faeces for some days after worming, especially if there has been an apparent heavy burden. It sounds like the worms you are seeing are strongyle worms which are the most common and most dangerous in modern adult horses. I would worm her with Equest every 3 months for the next year and then check her faecal egg count 4 months after the final worming. If she looks really healthy and has a faecal egg count under 200 then worming in early spring and early autumn each year with Equest should be adequate. If her egg count is higher than 200 then continue worming 3 or 4 times a year with Equest.

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  • I would really like some hints for my horse who has Cushings. What can I do for her? Please help, she looks awful.

    The best course of action to take if you suspect your horse has Equine Cushings Disease (also known as PPID) is to contact your local veterinarian. Your veterinarian can discuss the history of your horse, perform a clinical exam and discuss blood tests to diagnose Equine Cushings disease. The common clinical signs of Equine Cushings Disease include a hairy coat (i.e. hirsutism), increased drinking and urination, and laminitis.  Once a diagnosis has been made based on the history, clinical signs and blood results, treatment for Equine Cushings Disease can be started. 

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  • Just wondering about Cushings disease in horses. It didn’t show up in my horse’s blood test, but the horse responded to treatment. Have you heard of this before?

    Yes it is possible. With any blood test it is possible to have a false negative result. A false negative result means that the horse actually has the disease, but the blood test did not identify it. When talking about Cushing's Disease, we are typically testing the blood for levels of ACTH (Adrenocorticotrophic Hormone). ACTH levels vary with the different seasons throughout the year. For example during Autumn the results are typically much higher compared to non-Autumn months. ACTH is also a very unstable hormone once it has been collected, therefore when it is transported long distances it needs to be frozen to improve its stability. If your horse has all the classic signs of Cushings Disease such as hairy coat, drinking large quantities of water, urinating frequently and laminitis, and has tested negative to Cushings Disease it may be worth while re-testing.

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