Category Archives: Health

Old Folk Teeth Day

Old Folk Teeth Day happens every six months at Circle J, because Image (25) and Valdez (26) need to have their teeth floated twice a year to avoid issues. Image is missing one tooth that was extracted a couple years ago, and Valdez is missing most of his teeth. Since horse’s teeth continue to erupt for their whole lifetime, any tooth that doesn’t have an opposing tooth to grind against will overgrow and cause issues with the horse’s ability to chew.  Continue reading


Parasite Control

For years, the standard practice for parasite control in horses was routine deworming with a rotation of the product used.

This is no longer the case. Today, due to serious concerns about resistance to the limited products available, veterinarians recommend routine fecal egg counts (FEC) instead to allow for targeted deworming.  Continue reading

Feeding for Health

Horses evolved to eat for 18 hours a day. They’re supposed to travel a lot and graze constantly on large amounts of roughage.

Humans evolved to eat when food was available, in meals. As a result, we produce stomach acid in response to eating. This isn’t case for horses. Since they are supposed to always be eating, they always produce stomach acid.

For our convenience, our management systems tend to make horses eat the way we do, in large meals. This means that for much of the day or night, horses are fasted, with little or no food in their stomachs, but still producing stomach acid. It’s our modern feeding practices that are the crux of the epidemic of ulcers that are seen in competition horses. Between the fasting between meals, a concentrate based diet, and confinement housing, it’s estimated that 60-90% of all performance horses have ulcers, whether or not they show clinical symptoms. And those risk factors for ulcers, are the same ones that can increase the likelihood of colic, the number one killer of horses. Continue reading


If you’re a horse owner, it’s not “if” you’ll ever have to deal with lice, it’s more like “when”. The good news is that lice are generally fairly simple to treat, and perhaps most importantly, species specific, which means you and your family can’t catch them from your horse.

There are two kinds of lice that affect horses, those that survive by eating the dander and shed skin, and those that suck blood.  Lice are most prevalent in the winter months, as they thrive in the thick winter coats. As you can imagine, Miniature Horse coats are particularly appealing.

All horses can get lice – even the best cared for horses can end up with some creepy crawly passengers, but by being observant and catching infestation early, you can keep your horse comfortable and improve their health.

The symptoms of lice are probably not unexpected – itchiness, rubbed areas on the coat, and in more serious cases, even poor doing horses, dull hair coats and anemia. Some horses are just itchy and aren’t diagnosed, but if you clip your horse in the spring and they have those little dark coloured flecks in their coat, it’s a pretty safe bet they had an unnecessarily itchy winter with their stowaways.

There are lots of very good photos of lice infestation at - guaranteed to make you itch.

There are lots of very good photos of lice infestation at – guaranteed to make you itch.

Treating with an ivermectin dewormer will combat blood sucking lice, and Dusting Powder will take care of the dander eating lice. If you have one horse showing symptoms in your herd, every horse needs to be treated or it’s likely you’ll miss a low level infestation that can then spread through the herd all over again. The good news is that a can of Dusting Powder is only about $15 and will do an awful lot of horses. Dust them all over, especially down the topline, making sure to get it through the hair and down to the skin, until you have a herd of fluffy powdered donuts. Then write down the date, as you will have to retreat in 2 weeks time to kill any lice that hatched after the first treatment.

That’s it, now you’ll have happy, comfortable, healthy coated horses!

Let It Snow

See that title up there? I don’t really mean that. I just thought it went with the topic. I don’t really want it to snow, but in a Canadian winter, it’s kind of a given. And when you have horses to care for, winter adds a whole new level of complication.

To Barn or Not To Barn

That is the question, the first one to ask when you are planning your winter horse management. Generally, the right answer for your horse is Not To Barn. Horses are made to be outdoors, and provided they have a full winter coat, a healthy body condition, access to plenty of forage and shelter from the wind, the outdoors is the best place for them to be. If you do choose to stall your horses, make sure they get as much turnout as possible, even when the weather is less than ideal. They won’t melt, I promise. Continue reading

From The Horse’s Mouth

The old saying goes “no foot, no horse”, and while the value of that is undeniable, the old-timers didn’t yet know the importance of “no mouth, no horse”.

Proper maintenance of your horse’s teeth is vital to their health, performance and longevity. But before we get into that, let’s learn a little bit about how your horse’s teeth work in the first place.

Like baby humans, foals are generally born without teeth. Their baby teeth come in starting at 2 weeks of age. These baby teeth, or ‘caps’, are then shed as the horse ages, and by the time they are 5 years old they should have a full set of adult teeth.

Horse’s adult teeth, unlike humans, continue to erupt throughout their lives. As they chew their food, the tooth is gradually worn away, and more and more of the tooth erupts from the jaw bone to replace it. As they age, their teeth often appear longer, especially the incisors which aren’t as involved in the grinding of food – hence the term “long in the tooth”. Continue reading

8 Times You Should CALL THE VET

Do you know when it’s time to call the vet out, even if it does mean paying the dreaded after hours fee? All these conditions/symptoms indicate that your horse needs immediate veterinary attention.

  1. We’ll start with the obvious: lacerations. Wounds should nearly always be checked by a veterinarian, especially if they are anywhere near a joint or if the horse is lame. Wounds can only be sutured within 12 hours, so don’t wait til morning or Monday – if suturing is an option, it can dramatically decrease healing time.
  2. Colic is the number one killer of horses. Know the symptoms and don’t “wait and see”. Early treatment might be the difference.
  3. Monitor your horse’s appetite. If your horse misses a meal, it’s a serious concern. Lack of appetite could be a result of colic, or a high fever, or a dental issue, and a veterinarian needs evaluate your horse to know for sure.
  4. Severe acute lameness. If your horse goes from sound and happy one day, to hobbling around the next, get the vet out. It could be something as simple as an abscess – which would be good news – and the vet can get him feeling better in no time, or it could be something far more serious. Regardless, your horse is in pain and needs to be seen.
  5. Swollen, sore eye. Horses only hold their eyes closed if they’re very painful, and any injury or inflammation in the eye needs to be treated immediately and often. The longer you wait to get a vet out and start treatment, the more likely that your horse will have lasting damage.
  6. Unlike humans, a horse can still breathe when he’s choking, but that doesn’t make it less of an emergency. Choking horses are in distress, coughing, and often have food coming out of their nostrils. Untreated, a choke can cause severe pneumonia and damage to the esophagus.
  7. Horses – especially foals – can become dangerously dehydrated very quickly. Diarrhea is a symptom of some of the scarier infectious diseases, so much so that only clinics with isolation facilities are equipped to admit a horse with severe diarrhea. Diagnosis of what exactly is causing the diarrhea usually requires a lab test, and the sooner it’s sent away, the sooner your horse can start on the correct treatment.
  8. Most foalings happen without any issue, but when it goes wrong, it goes really wrong. For the safety of your mare and foal, do your research. If the foal isn’t delivered in about 20 minutes, you need a vet. Don’t wait.

When in doubt, call your vet. They’d much rather talk to you for 10 minutes and decide they don’t need to come out, than not hear from you until it’s too late, and there’s nothing they can do to help your horse.