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  • Summer Healthcare

The sun is shining. Your horse is enjoying its 12 hour turn out and you are delighted about the prospect of no mucking out for at least the next 2 or 3 months (although let’s not rely on the British weather for that one!), but what things should we be looking out for during the summer months?

Worms – These can cause concern as we would all expect. The summer is a high risk time for spread of worms as the horses are all out grazing, and poo picking may slide down our list of priorities as the sun shines and the beach calls! At Milbourn Equine we strongly recommend strategic worming via our worming programme.

For £37 per horse per annum, you are entitled to unlimited worm egg counts (just drop us in a poo sample at the clinic, and we will normally have your results within 48 hours) . We will also advise you on a horse by horse basis as to when to worm, and which product to use. The worming programme is there to detect the harmful roundworm within the gut, and helps us to target our worming.

Worm egg counts cannot detect tapeworm, bots or pinworm, but your vet can discuss control of these worms on an individual basis as required. Resistance to wormers is a huge problem at the moment in cattle and sheep, with some farms not having a single wormer that they can use, as the worms are resistant to them all! Unfortunately the equine world is heading in this direction quicker than we would like, and by target worming horses that require treatment, we will hopefully be able to reduce the likelihood of resistance developing.

Flies and Sweet Itch – The one thing that ruins a lovely hot summers day!

Some simple tips: Purchase a good insecticidal fly spray (Products can be purchased from your local branch of Milbourn Equine)

Try turning your horse out at night and bringing them in during the day, cover them in a fly rug, and apply a show sheen to help stop the flies landing on your horse. Please see our website fact sheet on “Fly Control” for more top tips.

If your horse becomes very itchy, then this can be distressing to both them and you as an owner. Please call us to have a chat to one of our vets who will be happy to advise you.

Runny or Swollen Eyes - Quite often at this time of year this can be allergic conjunctivitis.

If you find that your horse has a swollen eye, or if one of their eyes appears more closed than the other, then please call us ASAP so that we can arrange for a vet to come and see you that day. Although conjunctivitis is common at this time of year, there are some very serious conditions that can result in a swollen eyelid that should not be ignored. Uveitis and corneal ulceration are also common causes of a swollen/weepy eye, and ignoring one of these conditions could lead to permanent damage to the eye, and potentially blindness.

Laminitis – “He can’t have laminitis, he isn’t fat!” Unfortunately more and more of our horses are becoming overweight, sadly we, as owners are finding it more and more difficult to notice it, as our perception of what is normal has become distorted.

If you are at any point unsure as to whether your horse is overweight, then you can ask one of our vets who will be happy to help you ‘body condition score’ your horse, and help you devise a suitable weight loss programme for them. We also have a mobile weighbridge that can be brought to your yard if a group wish to have a weigh in! Call us to arrange.

Being overweight can predispose your horse to laminitis as they can develop Equine Metabolic Syndrome. This is a condition which is associated with overweight ponies, and as a result of their metabolically active fat cells, can have an increased resistance to insulin. This resistance can lead to large peaks in insulin concentration, which then leads to laminitis. Other conditions such as arthritis can be made worse if your horse is carrying excess weight.

Some steps to help your horse or pony lose weight can be as simple as placing them in a starvation paddock with only hay to eat: this way you are in complete control of what they are eating, whilst still allowing them to stretch their legs.

Soaking the hay for 12 hours before feeding will help to remove some of the sugars from the hay, reducing its calorific content. Unless in heavy work, horses DO NOT require feeding over the summer – if you feel that you have to feed, then a handful of low calorie chaff with a balancer should be adequate.

Invest in a grazing muzzle for turn out time, or turn out for short periods of time (i.e. 1-2 hours a day), and of course; EXERCISE!

Breathing issues – Pollen and dust are always at a high over the summer months. This combined with a high humidity and increasing temperatures can make for difficult conditions for your horse. Allergies can develop at any age, and just because your horse has not suffered over the summer months before, does not mean that they won’t suffer this year.

There is nothing that can really be done to prevent this happening, but if you notice that your horses respiratory rate has increased, they are putting in a lot more effort into their breathing, or if they have started coughing a lot lately, then please contact your local Milbourn branch to make an appointment, as they are very likely to require some medication.

If respiratory problems are ignored, then they can worsen and possibly cause a secondary infection, which can be much harder to control.

Airway Assist is a Milbourn Equine supplement that is specially formulated with a complimentary blend of natural ingredients to support a healthy bronchial system in horses. Please ask us if you would like more information.

Most of all, the summer is there for you to enjoy! Go out and have fun, and if you have any questions or concerns, then please contact one of the vets at your local branch of Milbourn Equine, where we will be pleased to help.