Posts Tagged ‘horse care’

Caring for your Horse: Common Healthcare Issues

Horse Care | 5 Common Healthcare issues

Flies – Horseflies, deerflies and gnats bother horses with painful bites and the transmission of dangerous diseases. These flies commonly found in stables and barns live off the blood of animals and humans. Deer and horseflies deliver painful bites that mark a horse’s skin with a sore or scab. Gnats are very small and tend to gather near pools of water. Gnats most commonly bite sensitive areas such as inside of the ears, inner thighs, and the underside of the horse. Fly bites often go unnoticed, but should be treated as soon as a scab or wound is spotted by the caretaker. Fly bites can be treated by cleaning the scab and applying anti-bacterial cream to help prevent infection. Unfortunately, encephalomyelitis and swamp fever are common diseases carried by flies. Knowing the symptoms of these diseases will help caretakers catch and treat the disease before it harms the horse.

There are many different ways to limit the number of flies around the barn or stable:

  • Electric light and sticky traps
  • Avoid standing water
  • Fly repellant spray
  • Ear nets
  • Petroleum Jelly on sensitive areas

Colic – Colic is a common abdominal issues in horses. Colic can occur as a result of impact to the colon, lack of fresh water/dehydration, or eating fibrous foods. Treatment for colic depends on the cause of the colic, however medication or surgery are common in the correction of colic.

To reduce the risk of colic:

  • Feed your horse a consistent die
  • Keep a regular feeding schedule
  • Provide fresh water daily with an automatic horse waterer for the stall or pasture.
  • Keep horse food in a dry, clean area
  • Provide parasite control as needed

Dehydration – Excessive fluid loss, or dehydration, in horses is caused by a number of factors including: diarrhea, strenuous exercise, fever, severe heat, or renal failure.

Symptoms of dehydration:

  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Dullness in the eyes
  • Dry skin and mouth
  • Thick and sticky saliva
  • High level of protein in the blood

Nelson Mfg Automatic Horse Waterers

If you feel that your horse is dehydrated, talk to your veterinarian about the horse’s water and electrolyte needs. To keep your horse hydrated, make fresh water available to your horse at all times. An automatic horse watering system from Nelson Manufacturing is a great way to ensure your horse always has access to clean, fresh water.

Allergies – As odd as it may seem, horses are prone to allergies, in a way very similar to humans. Exposure to dust, pollen, mold and food and insect allergens can cause tearing eyes, coughing, fever or hives on the horse’s skin. If the horse is acting unusual, it may be a result of skin or respiratory allergies.

Skin allergies will often disappear with little to no treatment. Itch cream will relieve the horse’s irritation and prevent the horse from rubbing the affected area.

Repertory allergies are similar to asthma in humans and most commonly a result of exposure to dust, pollen, and mold. Fresh air and a clean stable will allow the horse to recover from a spell of respiratory allergies caused by environmental factors. Hay easily molds and should be replaced frequently to avoid polluting the air in the stable.

Heat Stress – During hot summer months, stress or stroke caused by excessive heat can harm or even kill horses. When overworked, horses bodies can struggle to regulate temperature on their own and lose important electrolytes through excessive sweating. An overheated horse may not want to eat or exercise, have uncommon behavior, or lose movement in muscles and tendons.

Keep your horse cool by:

  • Rinsing with cool water
  • Keeping a fan in the stable or barn
  • Applying rubbing alcohol on skin to increase evaporation of sweat
  • Providing fresh water daily with an automatic horse waterer for the stall or pasture
  • Avoiding over exhaustion or overworking the horse during extremely warm weather

Horse Care: Benefits of an Automatic Horse Waterer

Automatic Horse Waterers
The average adult horse can drink up to 10 gallons of water every day. As a horse owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your animal has an abundant and easily accessible supply of fresh, clean drinking water at all times.

Spring, summer, winter, or fall, horses require plenty of water during all seasons. Proper fluid intake keeps horses healthy, aids in their digestion, and helps them stay in peak physical condition for work and performance.

Unfortunately, when a horse does not get enough water, he can develop colic. Colic—or abdominal pain— remains one of the leading causes of death in horses. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, found that 11 out of every 100 horses (or more than 10%) will develop colic per year. Left untreated, colic can be deadly.

Though there are several types of colic, most horses display the following symptoms:

  • Pawing at or rolling on the ground
  • Inability to defecate
  • Anxiety
  • Severe sweating
  • Dark mucous membranes
  • Lack of interest in eating

If you suspect your horse has colic, you should treat it as an emergency and immediately call your veterinarian.

Nelson Manufacturing makes it easy for you to provide water to reduce the risk of this life-threatening problem.

Our automatic horse waterers mean you no longer have to fill pails throughout the day or break up ice during the cold winter months. We offer a wide selection of automatic horse waterers to fit every budget, every need, and every space. You’ll appreciate all the advantages of these waterers, including:

Automatic Horse Waterers

  • Easy installation and easy access. You can install them on a fence line, in pastures, in stalls, in concrete pipes or on concrete pads.
  • Simple maintenance. The stainless steel drinking bowls can easily be removed and cleaned by hand. In fact, cleaning a bowl takes less than 30 seconds.
  • Smooth, round, animal-friendly design.
  • Rust-free, maintenance-free construction.
  • Actuated water valve to provide a steady stream of fresh drinking water.
  • Monitoring capabilities that let you see exactly how much water your horse is drinking.
  • Electric heating that keeps water fresh even during the most frigid winters. Our heaters carry a three-year guarantee.
  • Easy water shut-off for cleaning or to prevent an overheated horse from drinking.

Help protect your horse’s health and help make your life easier. Click here to receive a free quote from Nelson today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horse Care: Supplements for Horses

Horse Care

As the age-old saying has taught, the measure of true hunger is one’s ability to eat an entire horse. But what does a horse eat when it is starving? Well, hopefully your equine friend will never experience such need. If you are up on your horse care knowledge, then you can rest easy that your horse will be healthy and happy. And if you have any doubts, perhaps you can read a bit about how to supplement the diet so that your horse health knowledge is top-notch.

Horses are front digestive animals who must graze all day long in order to obtain the nutrients and calories for optimum performance and maintaining high health. You are certainly aware that your horse requires a specific diet. According to the University of Kentucky and the department of equine sciences, your horse requires a diet high in protein, minerals, vitamins, and fat. A horse’s diet is crucial for daily functions, a healthy appearance, and a strong immune system. Dr. Clair Thunes, an animal scientist who researches equine nutrition, claims that a horse’s dietary needs will be particular to the specific animal with large influences on the breed, size, and duties of the animal. She claims that forage should be sufficient (and is the best source of most nutritional requirements) for most horses. There are instances when horse supplements may be a necessary, or ideal, addition to your horse’s dietBrisbane.

When should I give my horse supplements?

Some horse owners may be unsure if or which supplements are ideal for horse health. The first step in diagnosing the appropriateness of horse supplements is to complete a dietary assessment of your animal. Horse supplements can be an ideal way to introduce particular deficiencies to your horse so that your horse’s diet can match the horse’s needs. (You do not want to rely on horse supplements to correct large dietary deficiencies.) In general, you want to add horse supplements after consulting an equine professional who can rule out alternative issues and match the correct horse supplements to your horse’s diet.

Are horse supplements safe?

The general consensus regard horse supplements as generally safe for horses as most of these dietary supplements mirror naturally occurring components of a horse’s diet and improve horse health. The National Academy of Science, the Institute of Medicine, the National Research Council, and the Food and Drug Administration have all conducted research on the safety of horse (and dog and cat) supplements and concluded that if used properly then these can be harmless (and beneficial) additions to your horse care.

The important consideration in the safety of horse supplements is in the proper introduction and selection of the particular type. Dr. Clair Thunes argues that you want to consult an expert because a horse supplement can mask or obscure additional or larger health concerns. For example, a hoof supplement will provide zinc while masking deficiencies with copper and Vitamin E that will sometimes accompany a diet low in zinc. An equine professional will be able to develop a proper dietary plan (with appropriate horse supplements) to improve horse health.

Types of horse supplements:

There a number of different horse supplements on the market. You will want to study the conditions (or more ideally consult a professional before altering your horse’s diet) for the use of any of these horse supplements with your horse. Below is a brief description of just some of the horse supplements available to improve horse health:

Horse Joint Supplements. This is the most controversial class of horse supplements so you will want to consult a professional before introducing a horse joint supplement to your horse’s diet. (Particularly because these supplements can contain substances banned from some equine competitions.) Horse joint supplements typically rely on a mix of naturally occurring sources (e.g., Yucca or devil’s claw) with targeted ingredients (e.g., glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, or Methylsulfonylmethane). Horse joint supplements are also controversial in terms of the extent to which they are effective. You will want to consult an expert when deciding if and which horse joint supplement to use.

Horse Hoof Supplements. This can be an ideal supplement if your horse is experiencing hoof issues even on an optimal diet. These supplements are typically a blend of zinc (for keratin formation…the protein responsible for hoof hardness), Methionine (or some other idea sulfur containing amino acid to help with water content and hoof pliability), and biotin (a long-term supplement for hoof care). You will need to be patient as most horse hoof supplements take a considerable amount of time before improvements will be observable.

Iron Horse Supplements. If correctly diagnosed, horse supplements for iron deficiencies (such as anemia) can be quite effective. You will want to consult an equine expert because anemia is more often misdiagnosed than properly concluded according to experts at the Rutgers University Equine Science Center. A diagnosis of anemia can actually be any number of alternative issues, including parasites, poor exercise regimen, or improper testing. Iron horse supplements pose no danger when taken unnecessary, but in order to save money and energy, you will want to consult with a veterinarian before adding this horse supplement to your horse’s diet.

Horse Vitamin Supplements. In most instances, a horse will receive all of the necessary vitamins in normal grazing. There are instances when a particular horse vitamin may be needed. Because vitamins and minerals are so crucial to your horse’s daily functions, you do not want to assume that your horse is getting all of the recommended in-take of vitamins. For example, Dr. Frederick Harper identifies that your horse may have seasonal declines in vitamin A which can be linked to night blindness, respiratory infections, poor growth, and rough hair coats. A seasonal horse vitamin supplement could be the fix for this problem.

Biotin Horse Supplements. The addition of biotin to your horse’s diet (to supplement the naturally produced biotin in the stomach of the animal) can be important beyond hoof repair. Extensive research shows that biotin can also help with Vitamin B deficiencies and the improvement of a horse’s coat. Rutgers University’s Equine Science Center argues that biotin poses no threat for a horse, even in surplus, because biotin is water soluble and any excess is flushed from the body. An equine expert can help you identify the appropriate type and amount of biotin for your animal.

Horse Calming Supplements. This is an increasingly common horse supplement typically made of: magnesium, tryptophan, and thiamin. There also herbal substitutes for the traditional horse calming supplements, such as valerian or red raspberry. These supplements are good (when they do not other caloric inputs in the horse’s diet) for combatting nervousness or anxiety. You would want to consult a professional or veterinarian before using one of these horse supplements to make sure that the addition is appropriate for the diet and to rule out alternative anxiety appearing issues such as poorly fitting tack, joint pain, or ulcers.

Horse supplements can be the ideal ingredient to your horse’s diet to improve horse health and guarantee strong horse care. You care about your animal. You care about your investment. And you care about your equine friend. For all of those reasons, you should consult a professional about which horse supplements are ideal for your horse…so that he or she does not get so hungry that (s)he could eat a whole horse.

Horse Care: Winter Care for Your Horse

For horse owners, winter is often a time of hibernation. Apart from keeping an abundant hay supply available for your horse (digestion of hay is what keeps up the animal’s internal temperature), there really is very little maintenance involved in winter care. After all, the show season has stopped, the diet and exercise routine is scaled back, and riding loses its appeal (I, for one, can rarely motivate myself to put on the eight layers of clothing it takes to keep comfortable on a winter ride!).

Hoof health, however, is a recurring concern in the wintertime. In colder temperatures, the animal’s hooves can become bruised and dry, while warmer temperatures bring lots of moisture that can lead to hoof infection. Both conditions should be watched for, as they can produce lameness and lasting damage to your horse’s anatomy. jumping castles

Dry, bruised hooves

For my family living in Iowa, winter brings sub-zero temperatures that freeze everything over and make the ground hard as concrete. Hard ground and lack of moisture produces two problems: bruised hooves and dry, cracked, brittle hooves.

When your horse has bruised hooves, his movements will be ginger and he may try to lay down more than usual. The remedy for this is simple: move your horse indoors to an amply-bedded stall, and do not ride him until he appears to be moving around better.buy inflatable water slide

When your horse’s hooves are too dry, they will begin to peel back layer by layer much like a dry, brittle human nail. In general this condition will not affect the health or movement of your horse, but there is the risk that your horse will move suddenly and a huge section of hoof will break off, leading to lameness and poor hoof growth. To treat dry hooves, soak them with warm water once or twice a day and apply petroleum jelly or a commercial hoof dressing to lock in the moisture.

If these topical treatments do not yield results in a week or two, you may need to adjust your horse’s diet. Weak, brittle hooves are caused by a lack of of biotin and methionine, so look for supplements that carry these ingredients such as Farrier’s Formula. In general, though, a good all-around mineral block (which your horse should always have available anyways) should do the trick.

Wet, infected hooves

Winter in Iowa isn’t always predictable, and some years we experience mild, wet weather or a lot of fluctuation between freezing and above-freezing temperatures. Wet environments increase the risk for the bacterial infection known as thrush, and an alternating dry/wet environment can create an opportunity for a hoof abscess.

Thrush
Thrush is a foul-smelling infection of the hoof caused by the anaerobic bacterium spherophorus necrophorus. In addition to the smell (similar to athlete’s foot), thrush breaks down the tissue of the frog, turning it into a cheesy, crumbly mess that is often accompanied by a slimy black discharge. Thrush doesn’t usually cause lameness, so the only way to watch for it is with regular hoof cleaning.

“Anaerobic” means the bacteria that causes thrush lives without oxygen, so simply moving your horse to a dry environment is sometimes enough to kill off a mild infection. Often, however, this is not the case. To begin the treatment routine, dig out the crumbling parts of the frog with a hoofpick. Then sponge the frog with an antibacterial solution (we always used a 1 part bleach/1 part water solution, but a diluted Lysol solution, antibacterial soaps, and iodine all work well), and repeat this process once or twice a day until the infection is cleared up. Application of a commercial thrush-killing ointment often helps to speed up the disinfection process.

Abscess
Hoof abscesses are bacterial infections that result from a breach in the hoof tissue, often caused by a puncture wound or a nefarious, wheedling rock. However, alternating dry-wet conditions (as caused by fluctuation between freezing and above-freezing temperatures), means that the hoof is constantly expanding and contracting, and this can lead to a breakdown in the hoof tissue and an opportunity for bacteria to enter and infect.

Abscesses are easily noticeable because your horse will suddenly be horribly lame. The hoof will be warm to the touch and and the animal’s digital pulse (taken from right above the coronary band or higher up on the pastern) will be noticeably strong. Like thrush, abscesses also produce a nasty smell. If you notice these symptoms in your horse, please be advised that THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. Abscesses usually must be drained, requiring cutting of the tissue that only a professional is truly equipped to handle. After the drainage cut is made, an epsom salt poultice is used to draw the wound. The hoof is then packed and wrapped with an antibacterial dressing, and this process is repeated for some weeks until the infection is gone. Every abscess is a little different, however, and your veterinarian will know the most appropriate method of treatment.

Abscesses are not to be taken lightly, and they are often far worse than the untrained eye can see. My dad, ever the self-relying man, once attempted to treat an abscess in a prized Appaloosa gelding. What he didn’t realize was that the infection had traveled clear up into the poor animal’s leg, so that even after the abscess was superficially gone, the infection raged on. The horse’s hoof degenerated into a crippling stub, and the animal had to eventually be put down. Learn from our mistake and CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN if you believe your horse has a hoof abscess.

Shoeing in winter

I would like to offer a final thought on shoeing in wintertime. Because your horse will most likely be off his performance schedule, the hooves are not wearing down as quickly and there is no immediate need for shoes. Shoes might help to prevent bruising on hard ground, but they are more likely to increase the risk of slipping and falling. Furthermore, the hoof contracts in freezing winters, meaning that the shoe nails are likely to fall out or halfway out. Loose shoes are EXTREMELY dangerous, for the horse can trip and fall or get the loose shoe stuck somewhere, panic, and then rip the shoe out along with a large part of the hoof (this is exactly what befell our poor Appaloosa). Since there is not a huge need for shoes in winter, I encourage you to allow your animal to go barefoot, get fat, and enjoy his season off.

Horse Care: Treats for Horses

Horse Care | Treats for Horses

Christmas is right around the corner, and maybe you’re thinking about giving your favorite equine an extra-special treat on Christmas morning. Or maybe you just want to give treats as a way to bond with your horse through the long, riding-less winter months. In any case, there are some things all horseowners should know about treat etiquette and safety.Disney Princess Schlag-Haus

Treat Etiquette

While treats ARE a great way to pamper your horse and share a special moment with him, horseowners run into danger when they give treats too often. Horses can become nosey and ill-mannered, pushing their owners around or even knocking them down looking for the expected treat. Some horseowners believe strictly in placing treats in the horse feeder, though this approach circumvents the bonding experience that comes with hand-to-mouth feeding. It’s generally ok to feed treats from the hand, but do it on an irregular basis and/or after a good workout, when the horse has earned a special something (plus, horses may come to enjoy workouts more and handle better, knowing that a reward awaits them). When feeding from the hand, always be sure to hold the hand flat so that the horse does not chomp down on a finger! This safety precaution is especially important to teach youngsters, who often love rc super cobra for sale to feed horses treats.

Horse Treat Safety

Horses have extremely sensitive digestive tracts and are very prone to colic, so it is important to know what does and does not constitute a safe treat.

Generally, safe treats are fibrous fruits and vegetables, such as apples and carrots, and minimal amounts of sugar, such as a few whole sugar cubes. Hard candy peppermints have long been a popular horse treat, but these are hard to digest and carry a choking hazard. The following is a list of safe treats:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Melon
  • Dates
  • Sugar cubes
  • Cereal
  • Bread crusts
  • Granola bars

The last few items on the list are high in sugar and should be fed sparingly to avoid health complications. Also remember to cut up large fruits and vegetables to prevent choking and aid digestion.

Horse Treat Beware

High-fiber food items that induce gas and bloating in humans can be fatal to the colic-prone horse. Stay away from what are known as “cruciferous” vegetables – vegetables that carry extremely high fiber contents and are hard to digest, such as:

  • Cabbage
  • Collard greens
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Rutabagas
  • Turnips
  • Radishes
  • Watercress

Also beware of foods that belong to the nightshade family – they contain alkaloids, which impact nerve-muscle function and digestive function. These foods include:

  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Peppers

With all these things to watch out for, you may think it makes more sense to buy pre-made horse treats from the feed store. But in addition to being absurdly expensive, pre-made treats are often heavily-formulated and tightly packed with a range of things that your horse’s sensitive stomach may not be prepared for. If you do feed pre-made treats, feed them much more sparingly than you would fresh, natura  treats.

The holidays are a time for giving, and in the middle of winter there’s no better gift for a horse than a delicious treat. We hope that with our help you find the perfect treat for your equine friend this holiday season! <a href=http://www.helicoptergamesale.com/Buy-4750-450-Ah-1-Cobra-RC-Helicopter.html>rc super cobra for sale</a>

To Blanket or Not to Blanket? Keeping your horse comfortable this winter

Horse Care

If you’re a member of the horse world, you were probably bombarded this fall with catalogs advertising all manner of winter turn-out blankets. There would have been scores of warmth options, from the basic shell to the literal horse parka (triple-quilted!).With many of these blankets priced at well over $100, keeping your horse warm this winter may seem like a considerable investment. I’m here to assure you that, in the majority of cases, you don’t need to spend a dime.

Horses are hardy, outdoor animals with various ways of keeping their body temperature up in cold weather. Most obviously, they grow out those fluffy winter coats that turn them into hooved teddy bears. They also increase their roughage intake in cold weather; digestion of the proteins in hay is a critical factor in maintaining body temperature (be sure to adjust your horse’s diet accordingly). And lastly, horses are herd animals – in cold weather they bunch together, not only increasing each others’ body temperatures but also the social cohesion of the group.

Blankets thwart these natural processes and carry additional risks to your horse’s health and safety. The horse’s winter coat will not grow out as fully, and sores may even result from the constant friction of the blanket. Furthermore, the horse’s coat acts as a thermostat whereas a blanket does not – in a cold snap, the blanket may not be enough and the ill-adapted horse will be dangerously cold, or a heat wave may strike and the horse can become dangerously hot (not to mention that sweating beneath a blanket very quickly leads to sores). Most blankets are fastened with surcingles criss-crossing beneath the horse’s body, which frequently become undone, banging against the horse’s legs and putting the animal at extreme risk for becoming caught up in something. And finally, all that money you spent on a blanket will ultimately not go very far, as most horses rip, tear, and generally wear out blankets within a season or two.

There are, however, several scenarios in which blankets are not only helpful, but necessary for the animal to successfully weather the cold:

Foals – Unlike other baby mammals, who stay behind in a warm nest while their mother is out foraging, foals accompany their mothers everywhere. It is best, therefore, to keep dam and foal in a warm barn, but if this isn’t possible, blanket the foal. Generally, foals require a very warm, heavily-quilted blanket for the first few weeks or until their winter coat grows out and they appear to be handling the weather (look for frolicking and increased distance from the mother). Experiment with taking the blanket on and off to encourage coat growth and hardiness.
Ailing horses – Ideally, ailing horses should also be kept in a barn, not only to ward off the cold but also disease. Sometimes, however, this isn’t enough to keep them warm, particularly if the ailing animal has a poor appetite and can’t keep up his temperature through digestion. In such cases a light blanket is necessary but should be used with extreme discretion. Ailing horses are more likely to lay down, and this can be very dangerous with a blanket. The criss-crossing surcingles can very easily entangle the animal, and bedsores are a big risk. Ailing horses should be carefully monitored and blankets should be used only in extreme cases.

Recently re-located horses – Perhaps you’ve just transported a horse from warmer climates, and in this case a blanket is very necessary. The animal does not have its natural winter defenses built up yet, and a sudden shock to the system can result in sickness and even death. Keep the horse in a barn and blanket him on an on-again, off-again routine until his winter coat comes in and his energy is up.

Horses that get turned out – This last case is a rare example, as most of us don’t have heated or insulated barns. If you do have this luxury, however, and your horse gets turned for a few hours each day, make sure he is blanketed – horses are not naturally equipped to deal with regular, sudden changes in temperature.

As a final note, blanketing should always err on the side of too little, rather than too much. A thick, triple-quilted horse “parka” is not only expensive, but more prone to being caught and torn and, most critically, prevents the horse’s natural defenses from developing. In general, blanketing is not an end in itself but a means to better allow the horse to naturally handle cold weather.

 

Winter Hoof Health

For horse owners, winter is often a time of hibernation. Apart from keeping an abundant hay supply available for your horse (digestion of hay is what keeps up the animal’s internal temperature), there really is very little maintenance involved in winter care. After all, the show season has stopped, the diet and exercise routine is scaled back, and riding loses its appeal (I, for one, can rarely motivate myself to put on the eight layers of clothing it takes to keep comfortable on a winter ride!).

Hoof health, however, is a recurring concern in the wintertime. In colder temperatures, the animal’s hooves can become bruised and dry, while warmer temperatures bring lots of moisture that can lead to hoof infection. Both conditions should be watched for, as they can produce lameness and lasting damage to your horse’s anatomy.

Dry, Bruised Hooves

For my family living in Iowa, winter brings sub-zero temperatures that freeze everything over and make the ground hard as concrete. Hard ground and lack of moisture produces two problems: bruised hooves and dry, cracked, brittle hooves.

When your horse has bruised hooves, his movements will be ginger and he may try to lay down more than usual. The remedy for this is simple: move your horse indoors to an amply-bedded stall, and do not ride him until he appears to be moving around better.

When your horse’s hooves are too dry, they will begin to peel back layer by layer much like a dry, brittle human nail. In general this condition will not affect the health or movement of your horse, but there is the risk that your horse will move suddenly and a huge section of hoof will break off, leading to lameness and poor hoof growth. To treat dry hooves, soak them with warm water once or twice a day and apply petroleum jelly or a commercial hoof dressing to lock in the moisture.

If these topical treatments do not yield results in a week or two, you may need to adjust your horse’s diet. Weak, brittle hooves are caused by a lack of of biotin and methionine, so look for supplements that carry these ingredients such as Farrier’s Formula. In general, though, a good all-around mineral block (which your horse should always have available anyways) should do the trick.

Wet, Infected Hooves

Winter in Iowa isn’t always predictable, and some years we experience mild, wet weather or a lot of fluctuation between freezing and above-freezing temperatures. Wet environments increase the risk for the bacterial infection known as thrush, and an alternating dry/wet environment can create an opportunity for a hoof abscess.

Thrush

Thrush is a foul-smelling infection of the hoof caused by the anaerobic bacterium spherophorus necrophorus. In addition to the smell (similar to athlete’s foot), thrush breaks down the tissue of the frog, turning it into a cheesy, crumbly mess that is often accompanied by a slimy black discharge. Thrush doesn’t usually cause lameness, so the only way to watch for it is with regular hoof cleaning.

“Anaerobic” means the bacteria that causes thrush lives without oxygen, so simply moving your horse to a dry environment is sometimes enough to kill off a mild infection. Often, however, this is not the case. To begin the treatment routine, dig out the crumbling parts of the frog with a hoofpick. Then sponge the frog with an antibacterial solution (we always used a 1 part bleach/1 part water solution, but a diluted Lysol solution, antibacterial soaps, and iodine all work well), and repeat this process once or twice a day until the infection is cleared up. Application of a commercial thrush-killing ointment often helps to speed up the disinfection process.

Abscess

Hoof abscesses are bacterial infections that result from a breach in the hoof tissue, often caused by a puncture wound or a nefarious, wheedling rock. However, alternating dry-wet conditions (as caused by fluctuation between freezing and above-freezing temperatures), means that the hoof is constantly expanding and contracting, and this can lead to a breakdown in the hoof tissue and an opportunity for bacteria to enter and infect.

Abscesses are easily noticeable because your horse will suddenly become lame. The hoof will be warm to the touch and and the animal’s digital pulse (taken from right above the coronary band or higher up on the pastern) will be noticeably strong. Like thrush, abscesses also produce a bad smell. If you notice these symptoms in your horse, please be advised that this is an emergency. Abscesses usually must be drained, requiring cutting of the tissue that only a professional is truly equipped to handle. After the drainage cut is made, an epsom salt poultice is used to draw the wound. The hoof is then packed and wrapped with an antibacterial dressing, and this process is repeated for some weeks until the infection is gone. Every abscess is a little different, however, and your veterinarian will know the most appropriate method of treatment.

Shoeing in Winter
I would like to offer a final thought on shoeing in wintertime. Because your horse will most likely be off his performance schedule, the hooves are not wearing down as quickly and there is no immediate need for shoes. Shoes might help to prevent bruising on hard ground, but they are more likely to increase the risk of slipping and falling. Furthermore, the hoof contracts in freezing winters, meaning that the shoe nails are likely to fall out or halfway out. Loose shoes are extremely dangerous, for the horse can trip and fall or get the loose shoe stuck somewhere, panic, and then rip the shoe out along with a large part of the hoof. Since there is not a huge need for shoes in winter, I encourage you to allow your animal to go barefoot, get fat, and enjoy his season off.

Horse Health: Hydration During Long-Distance Shipping

Hydration for horses during shipping is extremely important, especially on long trips. Many people in the Northeast ship their horses to Florida for the winter months. On a drive that is typically more than 24 hours long, it is crucial to make your horse as comfortable as possible. Horses can easily become dehydrated while traveling long distances so there are certain measures you can take before and during shipping to help avoid this problem.

Before shipping, you can give your horse electrolytes in their food to help with proper hydration. You can also add mineral oil to their food to ensure regular bowel movements. These two nutritional additives plus plenty of water will help keep your horse properly hydrated even if they tend to get stressed out during long trips. It is also a good idea to take your horse’s temperature before the trip so you can monitor it throughout the long journey.

During shipping, it is important to check on your horse. You should look to see how much water they have been drinking, and how many bowel movements they have had. You should also look to see how their overall attitude is. If a typically calm horse seems stressed, then you should monitor them closely in order to avoid the chance of colic.

Upon arrival, allow your horse to get off the trailer and stretch. Also consider taking your horse’s temperature so you can gauge how much stress the trip may have caused your horse. Make sure when you put your horse in their stall that they have a bucket filled with fresh water.

Giving your horse water, before, during, and after shipping is essential to good hydration. By hydrating your horse, you avoid dangerous conditions, such as colic. Hydration throughout a long trip will ensure you a happy and healthy horse when you arrive at your destination.

 

Horse Health: Hydrating Your Horse after Running or Racing

It is important to properly cool down your horse after a hard workout such as jumping or racing. Like all athletes, horses need to cool down to avoid getting sick. A horse could start to colic without enough cool down time between a workout and going back in their stall. To ensure your horse is completely cooled down, here are a few tips to remember:

After working your horse, feel their chest to see how hot they are and look to see how heavy they are breathing. If your horse is hot or breathing heavy, they need to walk around until they cool down. You can either get off your horse and remove their tack and walk them or you can stay on them and leisurely walk around until they feel cool and their heavy breathing subsides.

When you get off your horse and they are still sweaty, consider putting a cooler over them. Depending on how sweaty they are, you may want to hose them off first. Once they dry, give them a good brushing. Your horse’s coat should look like it did before you started riding them and their breathing should be back to normal.

Once your horse is cooled out, allow them to go in their stall and have a drink from their waterer. They can drink as much as they want after they are cool, it is when they are still hot and take a long drink that problems may occur. Hydration is essential to the well-being of any athlete, including horses. Always take the time to cool out and hydrate your horse.

Effects of Horse Dehydration

Horse Drinking from Nelson's Automatic Waterer

Good hydration is crucial to your horse’s health year round (yes – wintertime too). When well hydrated, your horse performs better and digests easier. So a lack of fluid, as you can guess, has adverse effects. Muscle damage, colic, laminitis and exhaustion are all common issues that can stem from dehydration. Left too long and it can threaten the life of your horse. When the weather’s hot or your horse is running, it’s easy for their fluid levels to deplete quickly. As many as 10 gallons of fluid can be sweated out on a good run – that’s a full days-worth of drinking (and that takes time to replenish). Just the same, winter may not seem like an important time to worry about hydration (to you or your horse) but it is. Your horse may not like drinking as much during the winter but it’s crucial to their digestive tract.

Providing your horse with frequent opportunities to hydrate is important. Here are a few insights:

  • A horse’s normal body temperature is 99-101 degrees Farenheit. Because horses have larger bodies but less areas to sweat, it’s harder for them to cool down once they’ve heated up.
  • Horse’s heat faster than humans in part because their body is designed with 40% contracting muscles (used for running) as opposed to a human’s 20%.
  • Horses won’t always drink when they should. Unlike humans, horses sweat equal parts salt and water and therefore do not have the spike in salt levels to trigger their thirst for water.
  • Dehydration can set in with a loss of more than 5 percent of a horse’s body fluid. 12-15% can be life threatening.

Be proactive. Minimize the chances of serious dehydration by learning to recognize and check for these behaviors or symptoms:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased manure production or dryer manure
  • Changes in behavior
  • Depressed or Lethargic
  • Loss of energy
  • Sticky Saliva
  • Impaction colic

On average, a horse should drink a minimum of 10 gallons of water per day. This can double or triple on hot days or with heavy activity. Check out Nelson’s Automatic Horse Waterer with optional water consumption meter to keep your horse hydrated and track their intake.