As we head into the long autumn/winter months, we answer ten horse health questions to help keep your equine friend full of health and vitality.
1. What is the best way to prevent horses from getting sick? Prevention is always better than cure. Monitoring your horse and noticing even the most insignificant behavioural changes can significantly prevent a minor ailment from developing into something more serious. Like humans, horses can be more suspectable to viruses in the autumn/winter months, so if your horse shows signs of being unwell, it is better to address it sooner rather than later. Feeding quality hay and access to healthy pastures are simple ways to help prevent horses from getting sick. Other tips include not allowing your horse to interact physically with other horses when competing or training and feeding supplements that support health and well-being.
2. Why should I feed my horse aloe vera? Every horse should have aloe vera in their diet, specifically Aloeride. Aloeride is a pure organic, soil association approved supplement that supports healthy equine digestion, hooves, skin and coat. Thirty sachets (30 days worth) contain a massive 12 litres of aloe vera juice, so your horse can look and feel his best.
3. Why does my horse have bad breath? Just as in humans, bad breath in horses can indicate gum disease. Regular appointments with your equine dentist will determine any issues in your horse’s mouth. However, bad breath and quidding and dropping food when your horse is eating should be investigated further.
4. How often should I check my horse’s hooves? You should check your horse’s hooves at least twice a day; Before turning the horse out and after you have bought your horse in from the field. Picking out your horses’ hooves at least once daily is imperative to remove stones and debris. Failure to pick your horses’ feet out regularly can result in your horse becoming lame from a wedged stick or stone or from thrush, a bacterial infection that thrives in warm, damp conditions. If your horse is on box rest, keep their bed clean and pick out their feet as often as possible to avoid problems.
5. How often should I groom my horse? Grooming your horse daily will encourage you to check over your horse thoroughly for any cuts, rubs or swelling. Grooming your horse also hugely benefits your horse’s mental and physical well-being. Brushing your horse encourages blood circulation, which is good for skin and coat health. Grooming also removes dirt and dust, which is particularly important when putting tack and boots on your horse.
6. Why does my horse have a cough? If your horse is coughing, it could indicate a blockage, infection or simply that the hay you are feeding is dusty. If your horse suddenly starts coughing when eating, it could indicate choke. You should call a vet immediately. If your horse has developed a cough over a few days and you have been soaking his hay and wetting down his feed, it could be a respiratory issue or viral infection, both of which require veterinary intervention.
7. What causes colic? Several different reasons can cause colic; Poor stable management, worms, sudden changes in exercise, stress-related colic, changes in routine or feeding, including sudden changes in the quality of grass, such as spring grass colic. Colic can also indicate a problem internally, and any early signs of colic should be treated as an emergency and require veterinary assistance.
8. How can I help my horse recover after surgery? Post-surgery you will be given guidelines and medical supplies from the veterinary hospital. Still, simple changes in your horse’s environment when they return home can make a big difference to their recovery and well-being. If your horse is used to being turned out daily and leads an active lifestyle, then keep their brain occupied with trickle ball feeders and stable toys. A stable with a view is ideal for those horses that like to be involved with the day-to-day bustle of a busy yard, but if your horse is likely to stress with lots of activity, try and move them to a quieter corner of the yard, where they can rest in piece.
9. What is the best diet for horses? The best diet for your horse is the most natural diet! Base your horse’s diet on a predominately fibre-based diet and allow them to graze as they would do in their natural feeding pattern. Access to good quality pasture, hay or haylage is imperative, and feed according to your horse’s size, breed and workload. Common feeding mistakes include feeding too much. Poor diet and feeding regimes can also contribute to ulcers in horses.
10. Which is best, grass or hay? The grass is the best and most natural feed for your horse and should ideally account for a large proportion of their daily diet. However, limited turnout and seasonal changes to pasture mean that not all horses have the opportunity to graze as they would in the wild. Feeding hay, haylage, or a hay replacement should make up a large percentage of their diet before any hard feed considerations.
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