Winter is definitely here and with the colder weather lots of horses are having changes in their routines which can cause some problems in some horses.
Colic is also frequent this time of year with the changes in weather and management as horses intestines are slow to adapt to changes. Change in grass quality can also trigger spasmodic or gassy colic so keep a careful eye on your horses for any sign of pain even if they are turned out rather than stabled.
Horses can also develop impactions as they are eating more dry food such as hay which can cause a blockage. To help prevent this always make sure you horse has access to fresh water and ideally make any changes gradually especially changes in diet.
Once we have done a vaccination for you our system will automatically store the details so we can issue a reminder for when the next one is due. We send reminders by text and will follow this up with a postal reminder in a couple of weeks if an appointment has not been booked.
The reminders do go out well in advance to give you plenty of time to book on the Free Visit Days. Once they have left us we cannot guarantee that the reminder will arrive with you so would always recommend that you keep a note of when the vaccination is due.
It’s the time of year when many of you are clipping your horses. While many will stand quietly for this and really seem to enjoy it there are some horses who become scared of clippers. These horses can need sedation for clipping and this makes it safer for all involved as scared horses can kick out.
There are several types of sedation available including oral medication or injectable sedation given by a vet. If you are not sure what your horse may need it is best to talk to one of our vets who can help you decide what is needed.
If you think your horse may need sedation for clipping you can discuss it with one of our vets or book in a visit with the office on 08458330034.
Now the clocks have gone back and the long, dark evenings have arrived just a couple of things to think about when making appointments.
If you prefer an appointment later in the day it is important to make sure that you have adequate lighting available on the yard. There are certain routine appointments that we will only book well within daylight hours because of the lighting issue.
Where are you?
Please make sure that we have a full address and good directions for wherever your horse is kept as finding you is even harder in the dark. If you need the vet in an emergency the last thing you will want to be doing is trying to give detailed instructions on how to find you.
LOOKING AFTER OUR OLDER HORSES AND PONIES
This month with the weather changing we have been seeing lots of our older patients with many clients are asking for a yearly MOT for their elderly ponies. One of my favourite phrases that I have heard in relation to elderly ponies, dogs and cats is that “age is not a disease!” and I truly believe that. Older horses can be perfectly healthy and happy. That said with age a different set of concerns can arise and regular checks are a good idea.
In elderly horses’ dental issues can become more common with increased wear or loss of incisors as seen in the photograph. This is seen in older horses but it can also occur in younger horses who are windsuckers and crib-biters. They can struggle to eat short grass and it takes them a long time to pull hay out of hay nets.
But more commonly the back teeth are the problem in older horses and these are more important for the chewing of food. This is because as they age their teeth become less effective. Horses’ teeth continue to erupt out of their gums throughout their life as they get worn down. So when they are older their teeth can become loose, as tooth roots are shorter. There are larger gaps between teeth which can trap food and become inflamed, these are called diastemas. This can cause problems especially with their premolars and molars. The loss of teeth means that regular rasping of the opposing tooth is needed to prevent overgrowth which must be done by an equine dentist or a vet. Older horses even if they are retired should have regular dental checks as good management of any abnormalities can help maintain a normal diet for longer.
Common dental problems in elderly horses include:
·Loose teeth- these sometimes need to be removed as they can be painful
·Diastemas- these are gaps between the teeth where food becomes wedged. This can lead to infection and can be very painful
·Over-worn teeth- the grinding surfaces of the teeth become smooth making them inefficient at chewing the rough fibrous food we give them such as hay.
·Missing teeth- this can make chewing less effective but also allows overgrowth of the opposing tooth which can interfere with chewing action.
Specialist diets are available for horses with dental concerns that do not require chewing to break them down and be digestible unlike hay. Hay is very fibrous and the chewing action in the mouth is a very important part of digesting it. Even horses that are “finishing their nets” could have dental issues and should have regular checks. Fibre replacer feeds are often mash based and can be very well liked by horses if they are struggling with hay. Grass can also be a good choice for some cases although this is harder in winter. If you have any concerns feel free to talk to any of our Dental team or arrange a dental check with the office. The most important thing is to get any issues looked at regularly and then overgrowths can be reduced regularly. Diastemas can be flushed out and in some cases widened to prevent food trapping.
So more and more of the horses in this country are living longer and keeping active longer, so we need to remember to keep an eye on our older ponies especially through the winter.
FARM AND EQUINE The Barn, Holly Tree Farm, Holmes Chapel Road, Lower Withington, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 9DT