Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Abscesses: The common cold for horses

The common cold for humans is the horse equivalent of an abscess. Some horses are more prone to them than others. I have a grulla paint mare that I have owned for just over a year, and in that course of a year, she has had a few abscesses. I have gotten pretty good in treating these things so I am going to share a little about an abscess and what some symptoms and treatment options are.

To start off if you don’t know what an abscess is, it occurs when bacteria invades the horse's hoof and is most noticeable when it infects the sensitive parts of the foot. They can cause serious damage if left untreated. What are some symptoms of an abscess you may ask? Well, the most common and noticed symptom is lameness and limping. This is in result to the invasion of the bacteria into the sensitive spots in the hoof.

However, there are a few more things that you can pick up on that are preliminary to an abscess. These include but are not limited to: fever, swelling of the leg and hoof area, sensitivity to hoof picks, and touch. If you notice your horse displaying any of these behaviors they probably have an abscess.

Fear not! These can be treated fairly easy. The easiest and fastest relief for your horse from an abscess is to have your vet or farrier come out and find the location of the infection of it has not broken through and trim a hole/path for the infection to drain out. However, some abscesses erupt and break through on their own, not needing to have a hole/path cut to drain them.

Once it is broke through and draining it is important to keep this area clean. Some people soak the foot in Epsom salts this is known the draw the infection out of the foot. This can be easily done by purchasing a soaking boot from your local tack store. These make the soaking process so much easier! Have you ever tried to get your horse to put its foot into a bucket to soak? Well, good luck, that’s a job in itself! Trust me the soak boots are a simple solution to a bigger potential headache.

What causes abscess and how can they be prevented? Well, the most common cause is an irritation to the sole of the foot most commonly from a stone or something of that nature getting stuck in the foot. It can even be as simple as a bruise from a stone/rock from trail riding. Aside from that, another common cause is moisture whether there be too much or too little moisture. Finally, dirty stalls are horrible for horse’s feet and can bring about abscesses.

If you pay attention and do your best to maintain healthy hoof care you should be fine. However, if your horse does get an abscess, just be sure to treat it accordingly and get it taken care of quickly.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Summer Horse Care

Fresh Water: During the hot summer months, it is very important to keep your horse hydrated. Always provide access to clean and cool drinking water and keep your water tank somewhere that it doesn’t get direct sunlight. Putting out salt blocks can encourage your horse to drink; if your horse gets dehydrated, electrolytes are a good item to keep around the barn during the summer.

Shade: On the hottest days of summer your horse should be provided an adequate amount of shade with a lean-to or tree. In some cases that shade cannot be provided. During turnout, you can stall your horse during the hottest times of the day with fans for airflow and switch turnout times to early morning, late evening or even overnight. Horses with white (usually white faces or nose) are at higher risk for sunburn sunscreen, UV Protecting sheets are a necessity.

Protection from Bugs:
  • Fly Sheet
  • Fly Mask
  • Fly Spray
  • SWAT Fly Ointment
  • Fly Leg Wraps (optional)

Exercise: Avoid exercising your horse during the highest heat of the day, early morning exercises and evening exercises are recommended. If you ride during the heat of day be sure to try and ride in wooded or shaded areas. Properly cool down your horse and even hose off. While hosing off, it is recommended to get your horse adjusted to the water, starting at the legs and slowly working your way up to the body. Hosing off also helps get off the sweat that attracts flies.

Using a fly sheet helps protect your horse not only from bugs but also from the sun’s UV Rays that cause your horse’s coat to fade out and become dull. A fly mask will keep your horse comfortable as flies and bugs cannot get into their eyes causing irritation and watery eyes. I prefer to use fly masks with ears as they protect from bites that scab up and cause discomfort. To protect my horse to the fullest I used my Power Fly Spray (By Pyranha) to repel flies, mosquitoes, ticks and more!

As an extra precaution, I like to keep SWAT Fly ointment in my first aid kit to protect wounds, cuts and irritated spots from dirt and disease carrying and to help repel bugs as well. Fly leg wraps aren’t a necessity except for some horses (mostly donkeys) that are sensitive to fly bites on their legs and become irritated, the fly leg wraps keep them comfortable and protected.