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There’s no questioning the fact that we all love our equine family and would do anything to keep them happy and safe.
Here are our top 5 horse health tips to help you keep your horse in perfect health.
One of the best ways that you can keep your horse healthy is to maintain their weight at a good level.
When your horse is at a healthy weight you will be able to feel their ribs when you run your fingers lightly along their side. The last couple of ribs may even be visible, but if you can see all of the ribs the horse is underweight.
Keep an eye out for weight fluctuations, paying particular attention to the top of the neck which can become hard and cresty when overweight.
An overweight horse is at high risk of obesity related disorders and laminitis. If your horse gets any of these it will be a time consuming and costly process as you rehabilitate your beloved friend back to health.
Regular grooming sessions are a good way to know what is going on with your horses waistline, as well as excellent bonding time.
Just like you, your horse needs an annual visit with the dentist. You should have a vet or qualified equine dentist out at least every twelve months to check your horses teeth are functioning properly and causing no pain.
Your horses teeth continue to grow throughout their life, getting ground down slowly as they chew. However, often the outside edges of the teeth will not wear down properly, creating sharp edges.
If these sharp edges are not filed regularly by a dentist they will start to cause health issues, including pain to the cheeks and possibly ulceration.
If your horse suddenly becomes evasive to the bit or starts dropping food it could indicate teeth issues. They should be examined by a vet or dentist straight away.
An overburden of worms is always a concern. However, we need to be careful not to over medicate as poor worming practices worldwide are creating chemical resilience in the worm populations.
To avoid this issue getting worse horses should only be wormed when necessary and grazing carefully managed to prevent overgrazing and overstocking.
When you would normally worm have a faecal egg count done to determine if your horses worm burden is low, moderate or high. This will help to determine if your horse needs a wormer or not.
Remember that it is normal and healthy for your horse to have some worms in their system.
Your local rural vet will be able to complete faecal egg counts for you and advise on when to worm and which wormer is most suited to your horse.
Horses are grazing animals designed to graze on high fibre forage for the majority of the day. The average horse that is not competing at the highest levels of competition does not require grain in their diet.
Fibre supplies your horse with all of their nutrition and energy requirements. It also helps to keep your horse warm in the cold weather as a large amount of heat is produced from the fibre being slowly fermented in the hind gut and releasing energy.
A horse that is eating adequate amounts of fibre at regular intervals throughout the night and day will have a healthy stomach with reduced risk of gastric ulcers, as well as keep their teeth ground down from chewing.
Grain can safely be fed to horses in a high workload to provide extra energy, but only in small quantities at a time. Grain is digested in the foregut which cannot process large amounts of food at a time. Any grain that is not digested passes into the hindgut causing a digestive imbalance which can lead to ulcers and even colic.
It can be hard to tell when our horses are a bit under the weather as they are stoic creatures who hide their discomfort and pain well.
Therefore, it is a good idea to know what is normal for your horse in terms of temperature, pulse and respiration rate. When you suspect that something might not be right with your hoofed friend you can take their measurements and have something to compare it to.
If your horses vital signs are off you will know that you need to phone your vet and discuss whether or not a visit is necessary. In an emergency being able to pass on these measurements over the phone can be crucial to your horses immediate well-being.