Routine care for horses and ponies
Worming your horse
Worms can affect all types of horses and ponies whether stabled or at grass and they can cause weight loss, colic and in severe cases death. If a worming programme is not followed more and more worm eggs are passed out in the droppings on to the pasture, contaminating the pasture, only to be eaten again. An all-year-round worming programme is essential for every horse and pony, whatever their age.
You should follow a strategic worm control programme which recommends worming at the correct time interval with the most appropriate wormer. This, combined with good pasture management, will keep your horse or pony free from the diseases caused by internal parasites. All horses that graze together should be wormed at the same time and droppings should be removed on a regular basis. Consult your veterinary surgeon for information on recommended worm control programmes. The effectiveness of a worm control programme can be monitored by regularly submitting dropping samples from individual horses to your veterinary practice for worm egg counts.
A vaccination programme will ensure that your horse has maximum protection against serious and sometimes fatal diseases. It will usually mean two injections at the start of the course followed by annual booster vaccinations for your horse. To provide your horse with full and continuing protection against diseases it is essential that the course of vaccinations is completed. The two most important vaccinations that every horse should receive are influenza and tetanus. There is also a vaccination against Equine herpes, which can cause abortion in pregnant mares.
A registered farrier should trim or re-shoe horses and ponies every four to six weeks to maintain healthy hooves. Neglected feet may develop cracks and collapsed heels which may lead to lameness. There is no absolute correct angle of the hoof with the ground. The most important rule of thumb is that the hoof and pastern are aligned in the same axis angle so they act as a good shock absorber. For information on a local registered farrier, please contact the Farriers Registration Council.
Horses and ponies that have teeth with sharp and uneven edges often develop injuries in the mouth and have difficulty chewing as well as problems accepting the bit. Routine dental care should be started in the first year of life with check-ups every year or 6-monthly in horses aged 12 and over or for those with misaligned jaws. During these check-ups, teeth should be examined and rasped by a veterinary surgeon or qualified dental technician and frequency of future dental checks discussed.
Saddlery should suit the needs and abilities of both horse and rider. Most saddles should be fitted to the shape of the horse or pony by a master saddler to ensure comfort, safety and effectiveness. Tack should be cleaned regularly to maintain it for safe use.