Keep you veteran horse in good health all year round with this advice designed to help you ensure he stays full of life for longer.
The longer you own your horse, the more they become part of the family especially as we do our best to look after them and give them the best future possible. But as your horse ages and reaches his twenties or even thirties, you need to give him that extra TLC to keep him happy and healthy.
Feeding your veteran horse fibre
As your horse ages his digestive tract become less efficient and his teeth become shorter, smoother or are lost altogether. This means he’ll find it harder to chew hay so to keep his fibre intake up, by offering fibre in an easy to chew form such as short chop feeds or chaff. To also make sure he has all the essential nutrients to keep him in optimum health, provide him with balanced veteran cubes that can be soaked to help with his digestion. To read more about forage http://bit.ly/2ghtB5S
Condition concerns in the older horse
It’s important to watch how his body changes as he ages. Of course his shape will alter as his muscle mass reduces with less exercise, but what you have to be aware of is his weight. To help you see if theres any subtle changes to his shape keep a regularly record of his weight by using a measuring tape and if concerned contact your vet.
Worming your veteran horse
Veteran horses have a reduced resistance to worm infections, so keeping on top of your horse’s worm burden is important. This involves worming for encysted larvae in December or January, and covering or testing for tapeworm in spring and autumn. For the rest of the year use regular worm egg counts and only worm when an active burden is present. This will ensure your horse is worm-free, without overdosing on anthelmintics drugs, when they’re not required.
Just like his teeth, your horse’s immune system starts to weaken as he ages, making it less efficient at fighting off infections. To try to minimise the risk of serious infection it’s important to keep an older horse’s vaccinations up to date, even if he’s not going to be travelling anywhere. Also don’t forget about tetanus as this is in the environment such as soil, meaning infection can occur, even through minor cuts and abrasions when he’s turned out in the field.
Horses as they age can become more prone to dental problems. Loose teeth can shift, causing ulceration in the mouth and may eventually fall out, leaving a gap behind. Diastema (gaps in between the teeth) can become packed with feed and cause painful gum disease. It’s therefore really important that teeth are checked and routine dental care is undertaken regularly to pick these problems up early.
Think about your horse's feet
Even if your horse isn’t still in work it’s important to keep an eye on his hooves and to maintain regular foot trimming to keep his feet in good condition and avoid putting extra strain on joints and tendons which are less elastic when your horse is older. A well cared for foot is also less likely to crack, which reduces the risk of foot abscesses and lameness problems.
Keep your horse's joints supple
To prevent his joints becoming stiff and creaky, exercise is key. It doesn't have to be ridden work, as simple in-hand walking or daily turnout will help. Exercise will also keep his mind active and give him a purpose. To boost his mobility try adding a joint supplement to his daily feed.
Give him an MOT
To confirm he's fit and well or to spot any issues, ask your vet to give your horse a regular check-up. In some cases, this may include a blood sample to screen for underlying conditions that might not obvious until later.
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All year round
ROUNDWORM Routine roundworm control, once the preserve of the grazingseason, should now be
undertaken all year round, even if your horse is only at grass for short periods of time during the winter months. This is due to climate changes, with milder and wetter winters meaning horses are at risk of accidentally eating infected larvae late into the year. The most common roundworm, andmost common and harmful parasite to infect horses today, is the small redworm.
Treatment Dosing intervals for roundworm are based on the active ingredient of wormer: moxidectin every 13 weeks, ivermectin every eight to 10 weeks, pyrantel every four to eight weeks, fenbendazole every six to eight weeks, or mebendazole every six weeks. When planning your routine roundworm worm control, it’s important to not use wormers against which there is known resistance. With resistance inhorses to benzimidazole-, pyrantel- and ivermectin-based wormers, you may want to seek guidance from your vet prior to their use.
Suggested treatment time - all year round. Depending on the active ingredient used for routine roundworm control, additional treatments may be needed at certain times of the year if not covered as part of routine treatment.
TAPEWORM With treatment for tapeworm recommended every six months, treatment should be repeated in the spring.
Treatment Single dose of praziquantel-based wormer or double dose of pyrantel-based wormer.
Suggested treatment time March, April or May.
TAPEWORM Exposure to tapeworm is greater during periods of prolonged grazing, so treatment should be undertaken in the autumn following summer turnout. Treatment for tapeworm is recommended every six months.
Treatment Single dose of praziquantelbased wormer or double dose of pyrantelbased wormer.
Suggested treatment time September, October or November.
ENCYSTED SMALL REDWORM Treat your horse against encysted small redworm larvae to reduce the burden of these lifethreatening encysted larvae that have accumulated in his gut wall as he grazes.
Treatment A single dose of a moxidectin based wormer or five-day course of fenbendazolebased wormer.
Suggested treatment time November.
BOTS Treat your horse after the first frost when the adultflies die off, and prior to the larvae maturing and emerging from your horse in the spring.
Treatment A single dose of a moxidectin or ivermectin-based wormer.
Suggested treatment time November, December or January.
ENCYSTED SMALL REDWORM Treat your horse in late winter against encysted small redworm, which are hidden in the horse’s gut wall. These will typically emerge from your horse’s gut wall in late winter or early spring. This mass emergence of encysted small redworm, known as larval cyathostominosis, is potentially fatal.
Treatment A single dose of moxidectinbased wormer or five-day course of fenbendazole based wormer.
Suggested treatment time February.
Ensuring that the worms in our horse are effectively controlled means that the choice of wormer for your horse is important. Here’s how to resist the resistance!
1. If you’re rotating wormers each grazing season, ensure you change the active ingredient – don’t just switch brand names.
2 Don’t rotate between wormers that belong to the same chemical family. There’s no point rotating between ivermectin and moxidectin-based wormers as both belong to the same chemical family. Worms develop resistence to moxidectin more slowly than ivermectin, so moxidectin-based wormers should be your first choice when choosing a wormer from this family.
3 Check with your vet that there’s no confirmed resistance in your area to the active ingredient you plan to use.
4 Give your horse the correct dose according to his bodyweight. Weight can be assessed by means of a weightape or weighbridge.
5 Reduce usage of wormers by worming less frequently. This can be achieved in two ways: firstly by using wormers with longer dosing intervals; moxidectinbased wormers have a 13 week dosing interval. Secondly, by using faecal worm egg counts and only treating horses when the worm egg count in the horses’ droppings reaches a certain level, normally above 200 eggs per gram.
6 Poo pick. By removing horse droppings from your pasture you’re removing most of the worms that have managed to survive your horses’ worming treatment. These worms are the ones that are – or have the potential to become – resistant to the active ingredient that was used at the time of treatment. By removing these worms, they are unable to reinfect your horse, and so are not able to complete their life cycle, nor produce resistant offspring.