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Winter Reminders
Winter Reminders


 This week we will continue with preparation for winter, and providing the horse with optimal conditions for withstanding the cold.

We have certainly had the hard freezes needed to kill the bot fly.  With that pest gone, now is the time to deworm Dobbin with a boticide.  The dewormers we can use for bots will be indicated on the label.  Of course the dewormers we use in tube worming also contain a boticide. These medications will kill the bot larva at its location in the stomach.  You may often see the red grub-like larva in the horse’s stool two to three days after the deworming.

Of almost equal importance in controlling the bots is elimination of the external eggs from the horse the same time as the deworming.  These “egg-packets” are the yellow spots on the horse’s legs, neck, and chin.  They are actually the container for the larvae.  Within the yellow packet the larva is coiled and ready to spring.  When the packet receives the proper stimulus, the lid springs open and the larva shoots out onto the tongue and lips of the horse. Of course, that stimulation is the moist, warm, and rough surface of the lips and tongue.  Once on the lips, the larvae burrow into the tissue and start their migration down the neck to the stomach.  It is in the stomach that they attach and mature.  Their growing time is completed by summer, when they release from the lining and exit the intestines.  They move through the intestinal tract to be deposited with the stool onto the ground.  Once on the ground,  the grub-like larva changes into the fly that strikes terror into the heart of our horses throughout the late summer and fall.  The fly spends the rest of this final stage of its life cycle trying to deposit the yellow packets containing the larva onto the hairs of the legs, chin, and neck.  This starts the cycle all over.

So what can you do to prevent your horse from taking in larva after you have dewormed them?  In preparation to deworming, take a warm wet sponge or rough cloth and wipe the areas where the egg packets are attached.  If you go over these twice, you can be certain of hatching out the vast majority of the larvae.  As soon as your cloth cools, the larva will die.  This simple but effective method will hatch out the larva, but will not remove the yellow packets, so you will have to believe my story!

 One of the unpleasant but frequent conditions we see with the first cold spell is colic.  Due to the sudden drop in temperature of the drinking water, the horse will often drink less.  The forage they are consuming now is either hay or a lower quality grass.  This will be coarser and require more water for digestion and to keep it moving through the intestines.  When the intestine is full of this type of forage, and the water intake drops, the movement stops.  The contents will form a dry mass that prevents any other forages from moving.  The resulting intestinal discomfort is what we know as colic.  The pain the horse exhibits is due to gas formation behind the forages and the stretching of the intestine.  Treatment is indicated immediately.

What can we do to prevent this condition?  The most important prevention in the short term is to increase water intake.  Start adding a tablespoon of salt to the horse’s feed each day.  Over the longer term, be sure a source of salt is readily available.  If the horse is pastured, the blocks will work fine.  If the horse is stalled, the small mineral salt bricks can be put in the feed box.  Of course a readily available source of clean water is also necessary.

Next week we will discuss the different feeds and their importance during cold weather.  We may even touch on the care and feeding of reindeer!

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