Tag Archives: horse winter health check

10 Winter Health Tips

Take advantage of the quieter winter months to give your horse a full health check, make sure your horses vaccines are up to date, get their teeth checked and rasped, review your worming protocol and get any little niggles / concerns checked out before it’s too late.

Milbourn Equine offer a WINTER HEALTH CHECK for £97.50 which covers a full clinical examination, dental check and blood sample to test your horses internal organs as well as a faecal worm egg count to check for worms and allow us to advise on worming. This a great opportunity to ensure your horse is in peak condition and discuss any concerns with one of our vets.

Other things to check include;

Regularly assess your horse’s weight/condition and feed accordingly
It is important to critically assess your horse’s body condition regularly and this can be neglected in the cold, wet winter months when they are fully rugged the whole time. Despite the lack of good grass at this time of year forage should form the bulk of their ration in the form of hay/haylage. Hard feed should be fed according to workload and body condition not just because someone else is feeding it. Some horses will need nothing other than good hay and a balancer. As work levels increase/decrease keep an eye on condition and again adjust if necessary, then once the spring grass comes through you may need to make further changes.

Regular grooming and hoof care
A thorough daily/weekly groom can help to prevent skin problems and allows you to spot any cuts/scrapes, mud fever or lumps and bumps so you can deal with them straight away. Hairy winter coats can hide things if you aren’t thorough! Pick out your horses feet daily and be on the lookout for thrush which is so common in this wet weather.

Saddle fit
Don’t assume that the saddle you used all last year will still fit; your horse will change shape throughout the year and as they grow and mature. Get a qualified saddler out to check it at least yearly (and more regularly if needed) rather than once the horse has a sore back or is bucking you off! It can also be useful to have your horse checked over regularly by a qualified physiotherapist to keep them in top shape & feeling well.

Turnout regardless of weather
Ideally turn your horses out every day regardless of weather or field conditions. It is good for their health helping prevent respiratory problems and colic, as well as keeping them sane and helping to prevent boredom. If field turnout is totally impossible try turning out in the arena for a few hours, or at the very least ride/lunge them daily.

Stable ventilation
With the inevitable increase in time spent stabled over the winter it is vital to make sure the stable is well ventilated, regularly mucked out and hay and bedding is not dusty. Whilst the thought of a cosy stable with the windows all shut up might appeal to us good ventilation is key to respiratory health and reducing spread of viruses.

Ensure your horse is warm and dry but don’t over rug
Invest in a good waterproof rug and make sure your horse is dry underneath after even the heaviest of rain. Take care that your horse doesn’t become too hot though when the weather is mild, being sweaty under the rug is as bad as being wet and can result in skin problems. Often a waterproof lightweight is enough, especially if your horse isn’t clipped. If your horse is overweight take advantage of the cold weather to allow him to lose some weight!!

Water
It might sound obvious but check your horse has water that is clean, not frozen over and not surrounded by a bottomless sea of mud! Some horses prefer slightly warm water and if they are very fussy it can help to put apples in the buckets to encourage drinking and prevent dehydration and possible impaction colic.

Keep their routine varied
It can be hard with all the wet and icy weather but it is very important to avoid just spending your whole time trotting endless circles in the arena. Incorporate weekly sessions of pole work/jumping and go to the beach or the gallops as much as possible, which not only helps fitness levels but keeps horses fresh and interested.

Personal fitness
As you concentrate on your horse’s fitness don’t forget about your own! Pilates is great for core strength in riders, regular running (or even walking) is very beneficial to make sure that when out riding you don’t end up more tired than your horse!

Caring For Older Horses

More and more horses and ponies are living for longer and becoming geriatrics (defined as aged 20 years and over). As a horse ages it is important to monitor for certain health problems which are commonly seen in an ageing population.

Dental problems– These are common and may manifest as difficulty with the bit, reduced appetite, weight loss or headshaking. Six monthly dental checks are recommended for horses over 15 years old. Milbourn Equine can check teeth as part of the health check at your horse’s annual vaccination and we are happy to perform any dental work required.

Lameness – Low grade lameness is to be expected as osteoarthritis sets in; this is often put down to ‘stiffness’. Most of these conditions can be improved with treatment after the lameness is localised to a particular joint or area.

PPID/Cushings – Older horses (especially ponies) commonly develop PPID (Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction) also known as Equine Cushing’s disease. The clinical signs include a curly coat, recurrent laminitis, a ‘pot bellied’ appearance, lethargy and recurrent infections. This condition is treatable once it has been definitively diagnosed with a blood test. More information can be found at www.talkaboutlaminitis.co.uk.

Condition– Many older horses struggle to maintain their condition, especially over the winter months. If weight loss is sudden or dramatic we will investigate to rule out concurrent disease. However often a change in diet is all that is necessary. Horses become less efficient at extracting nutrients from their feed as they age. It is important to maintain fibre content even if the horse is struggling to eat hay or haylage. A hay replacement diet can be created with chaff, sugar beet and soaked pony nuts. We can advise you or put you in touch with nutritionist if you feel your horse would benefit from a dietary change.
Older horses and ponies struggle more with extremes of weather than their younger friends. However they generally benefit from the low grade exercise that turnout provides and would stiffen up if kept indoors for long periods. Therefore we recommend that they remain turned out but with the benefit of good rugs and a field shelter, in all but the most extreme weather conditions.

This time of year you should also be on the lookout for Mud Fever and Colic in horses of any age.

Mud Fever– Is a condition of the skin on the lower legs which typically occurs during wet weather in horses who are turned out. It is a bacterial infection caused by a particular bacteria called Dermatophilus which live within the mud. As with many things, prevention is better than cure! Removing mud from the horse’s legs is important. The best way to remove mud is to allow the legs to dry and then to brush the mud away with a dandy brush. An oil based barrier cream such as Vaseline can be applied to legs before turn out. Checking your horse’s legs on a daily basis can allow you to intervene and instigate treatment of mud fever at the first sign.

Colic-At this time of year colic signs are common, especially when there is snow on the ground and the horses are suddenly exposed to a dramatic change in management. Prevention is not always possible however trying to keep the horses management similar regardless of weather conditions helps. Making a gradual change to hay or haylage in the autumn and maintaining the horse on the same brand or batch of long stem forage is helpful.  If snow curtails your exercise plans be sure to reduce the hard food that you are providing to the horse, continuing on high levels of hard feed when the horse is doing no exercise will often lead to tying up.
Don’t forget Worming! – Every horse should receive a larvicidal dose of roundwormer such as moxidectin in the late autumn/early winter. Most other wormers will not kill encysted roundworms and therefore the horse can colic as a result of encysted larvae despite having received a wormer. Please contact us for advice. Our Equine Healthcare Plan includes our worming programme as standard.

Make sure your horse is in tip top condition this winter. Winter Healthchecks – Only £97.50 inc VAT

Winter Health Checks

winter-horse-healthcare_clip_image002Milbourn Equine can offer a winter health check for your horse.  This covers a full clinical examination of heart, lungs, skin, eyes and action, a blood sample is taken to test your horse’s internal organs and a faecal sample is also taken and tested for worms. Whilst there, the vet can also take a look inside your horse’s mouth and check to see if any dental work is needed. This is also a great opportunity to discuss any queries you have about your horse’s health or performance.

Our winter health checks are especially useful if you have a veteran horse who may struggle with the changing weather and are also advisable for competition horses to resolve any issues quickly and ensure they are in peak condition ready for the competition season ahead. Only £95.00 including VAT, call now to book an appointment. More details

Winter Health Checks For Your Horse

winter-horse-healthcare_clip_image002With Winter fast approaching now is the time to start thinking about preparing your horse for the winter ahead. Why not take advantage of Milbourn Equine Winter Health Checks.
They are especially useful if you have a veteran horse who may struggle with the changing weather and are also advisable for competition horses to resolve any issues quickly and ensure they are in peak condition ready for the competition season ahead.

Call us now to book or find out more