Friday, June 5, 2009

That's not a mini, it's a baby worm incubator!

This is your horse on worms!

"I have a black mini stud. He is about 2 and a half years old. He is good for the farrier , grooming, and a lead rope. He stands about 29 inches tall he is a little guy. I am getting out of minis since my kids are to into riding know that they aren't interested in the little ones anymore. He isn't registered but he would make a great pet or breeder if that isn't important to you ."

All right, any time a male horse or any horse that is not 9 months or more pregnant has a belly like this, you have a problem. I have noticed lately that a lot of owners aren't necessarily familiar with the signs of parasite infestation in a horse, so let's go over what some of those are.

The "worm belly" is often present. The uninformed see it and say, hey, that horse is fat, he's fine. But a belly means nothing when coupled with a sticking-up backbone and non-existent rump. As I just told someone, if you do not deworm every 8 weeks, you might as well throw your money into the toilet because you are feeding the worms, not your horse, every time you buy feed. All the food in the world will not fatten up a heavily infested horse. Dewormers are cheap - good grief, some are as little as $2 at Country Supply. There's no reason not to keep your horses up to date.

Another sign of parasites is uneven shedding in the spring. If your horse has stripes of long hair down his nose and patchy shedding, it's often a sign that parasites are at work. A worm infested horse will tend to have a dull, coarse hair coat at all times of the year. This rescued horse is a classic example of a horse heavily infested with parasites mid-shed, and you'll notice she also has the hanging "worm belly" despite being obviously thin.

Horses that are very wormy will often rub their tails continuously on trees or fences - worms itch! If the top of a horse's tail shows a lot of broken hairs or any raw patches, this can definitely be a sign of parasites even in a horse that looks pretty normal otherwise.

Sometimes parasite infestation is so severe that worms can be seen in the horse's feces. This should be seen as an urgent situation - you need to get on top of it but you have to be careful. It is absolutely true that blasting a heavily infested horse with a strong dewormer may result in colic. This is because all of the worms dying at once can form an impaction in the intestines. There are various opinions on the best way to prevent this. I personally agree with starting a horse like this on daily dewormer like Strongid C because it's a mild dose - unlikely to shock their system in any way. Then, a few weeks into rehab, you can either go with a Panacur Powerpac (considered the best by most, but more expensive) or give a normal tube of Strongid. A month later, an Ivermectin and that should get most horses pretty "cleaned out" after which they can resume a normal rotational deworming program.

Especially as a new owner, you will hear a million different opinions about deworming! You will hear that daily dewormer is great, or terrible. You will hear that you should use certain dewormers from some people and other people will tell you those same dewormers are crap. Some people now believe that instead of rotational deworming, you should fecal test and treat based upon that. Horsepeople have very strong opinions on this topic and it can be tough to sort through all of the information but the traditional method, where you rotate different dewormers every 8 weeks, works well for most horses. Here is a really good, sensible explanation of a rotational deworming program. In fact, they will even send you a free chart to hang in your barn to remind you of what to use when.

I love it when people do not even know what it is they are selling. Whatever might a Belgian Nightlinger pony be? Cute pony, but c'mon, try googling it to see if it even exists before you post!

Today's Friday Featured Rescue is Windsong, who is up for adoption with USERL. Windsong is a 14 year old Pinto Saddlebred mare, 16.1 and comes with her papers so she can be shown!

From the site: "Windy's characteristics follow true to her breeding: spirited, hot, and "brilliant". She is very neat horse as far as stall mannerisms are concerned and always eats every bit of grain and hay. She is relatively easy to handle for someone who knows what they are doing; she clips, loads, and bathes. She is sensitive to weather changes, and is at risk for foundering when the starches in the grass changes during season changes. As far as under saddle she needs a confident, quick thinking, experienced rider. She likes to try ones patience. She needs work on her canter departures, and sometimes refuses to walk straight on the rail in the ring. Windy does fine on trails. Located in the Triad Region, NC."

Have a great weekend, everybody!