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  • Equine Winter Health Check

As the seasons change, daylight decreases, grass stops growing and is replaced with snow and ice, horses are often worked less and stabled more, therefore it is crucial to manage your horse’s routine accordingly.


Should your horse’s workload reduce suddenly due to severe weather or injury, you need to decrease feed accordingly to avoid the risk of tying up, colic or laminitis. It’s always best to increase roughage (hay, chaff) and cut back on hard food which is usually high in starch and sugars.

Tapeworm Testing

Testing for tapeworms cannot be done through the standard faecal worm egg count. Either a blood test or the Equisal Tapeworm saliva test can be used to identify whether your horse has a tapeworm burden. Milbourn Equine recommend testing twice yearly in March & September for the presence of tapeworm. We recommend testing rather than blanket treatment for tapeworms to reduce the development of resistance to the medicines used to treat them. The test is best carried out a minimum of four months after the last blood test, saliva test or tapeworm treatment.

A blood sample can be taken by your vet to test, a method known as the ELISA or tapeworm antibody test. A horse with a high level of tapeworm infection will produce a large number of antibodies, which can be detected in the blood.

The test indicates a broad level of intensity, rather than tapeworm numbers. The amount of antibodies will indicate whether the burden is low, medium or high.

Equisal image 250x300The Equisal Tapeworm saliva test is another option which we offer to provide a complete worming assessment for your horse alongside the standard faecal worm egg counts.

The advantage of the Equisal test is that it is performed with a swab of saliva taken from the horse’s mouth which is much quicker and less invasive than a blood test.

The Equisal test has been shown to have very similar effectiveness as the blood test in detecting the presence of tapeworms. The procedure is simple and full instructions are provided in the kit which is available from us. The cost is £19.95 per horse.

A swab is inserted into the mouth where the bit normally goes, then placed into a collection tube which is then posted to the laboratory by the owner for analysis. The result is returned to the practice and your vet will contact you with advice for treatment if required.

Equest Pramox is the recommended treatment if required as it also targets encysted redworm larvae which lie dormant (and undetected by worm egg counts) in the gut wall until spring and then erupt, often the cause of springtime colic.

Worming Programme

We also offer an annual worming programme based on worm egg counts and individual advice in response to demand from clients and in order to reduce unnecessary worming of horses. (Tapeworm testing will be carried out at an additional cost to the worming programme.)

For decades most horses have received regular doses of wormers regardless of requirement. This is increasing resistance to wormers which are becoming gradually less effective. It is therefore important that we move towards targeted dosing and basing a worming programme on the results of worm egg counts.

We would like to invite you to join this programme - for a cost of £48 per horse per annum we will perform as many worm egg counts as we deem necessary (at least 5 per year) for that horse and a vet will advise you on your actions accordingly.

An individually tailored worming programme will therefore be created for your horse. A questionnaire is issued at the beginning of the programme to allow the information given to be as accurate as possible.

Remember if you join our Equine Healthcare Plan you receive membership to our worming programme and discounts on tapeworm testing and worming products. Find out more.

Please note that there are certain times of year when you will be advised to worm even if the egg count is zero (due to encysted worms and tapeworms not being detected by worm egg counts), you will be advised about this when the vet discusses the results with you.

Please bring in faecal samples Monday to Thursday for testing in a plastic bag labelled with your horse’s name and surname.

Winter Health Check

winter horse healthcare clip image002Milbourn Equine can offer a winter health check for your horse. This covers a full clinical examination of heart, lungs, skin, eyes and a blood sample is taken to test your horse’s internal organs. A faecal sample is also taken and tested for worms. Whilst there, the vet can also take a look inside your horse’s mouth and check to see if any dental work is needed.

This is also a great opportunity to discuss any queries you have about your horse’s health or performance.

Our winter health checks are especially useful if you have a veteran horse who may struggle with the changing weather and are also advisable for competition horses to resolve any issues quickly and ensure they are in peak condition ready for the competition season ahead.

Only £154 including VAT, call now to book an appointment.

Find out more about the signs of mud fever and colic in our Equine Health Advice