How can I help prevent my horse from getting sick?
There’s a saying about horses - they are born, then they spend every waking moment trying to get into trouble. It’s true. Lucky for them we are equipped with a skill set that involves bubble wrapping their worlds to prevent certain disaster. And it doesn’t have to be complicated - the following habits are easy and fast!
- If you go to horse shows, keep your horse away from other horses. Ever wonder why there are so many EHV-1 outbreaks every year? Because show grounds are excellent places for horses to get each other sick and then take that illness home. Nose to nose contact should not happen, and wash up between handing horses. Don’t touch other people’s horses, and don’t let them touch yours! For more on show biosecurity, read this.
Taking your horse's temp takes less than 3 minutes. Even less if you use a digital thermometer.
- Take your horse’s temp. I’ll admit it - for years and years this was basically a load of bunk for me. Why bother? Many of us believe a horse will stop eating or drinking or tell us in other ways that he’s ill. I have known two horses with life threatening fevers (over 104) that have acted as if nothing in the world is wrong. We caught them early and prevented the spread of a virus through the barn, and helped prevent fever related laminitis. For more on your horse's vitals, this is the article for you.
- Spend the time to prevent rodent infestations. Rats and mice transmit disease - and can create havoc in a feed room. It’s more than just getting a barn cat. Read this for more ideas, and then read this one about how to properly and safely clean up mice and rodent poop. The last thing you want to do is sweep it!
Mice and rats also make for a gross feed room.
- Same goes for mosquitos. These seemingly invisible buggers spread deadly horse diseases far and wide. Vaccinations are a must, and staying on top of good mosquito killing habits is a must. No standing water, clean the troughs often, keep the birds and bats around. For more on mosquito prevention, read this one, and for more on mosquito borne diseases, read this one.
There's a slew of horse killing diseases that can be prevented with vaccines.
- Your horse’s hay is the source of his nutrition, but making sure the hay is healthy is a must. Botulism is a serious risk, mold can cause problems, and blister beetles will kill your horse in a few days. Spend the seconds every day to inspect your horse’s hay. Check out this article on blister beetles and keep your eyes peeled and your nose sharp.
- Also spend the few extra bucks to get your horse his own set of grooming tools. Skin conditions like rain rot are easily spread. And this also keeps you more organized - anyone need help with that like I do? Rain rot is discussed here, in this article.
No sharp things, no snaps opening towards noses, no faulty wiring.
- Lastly - make sure your horse’s stall and paddock are not trying to kill him with pokey things! Or things that will get him stuck up against the wall! Or with metal things in the ground (I love huge magnet like the ones roofers use!) Or that horrible ammonia smell! Ventilation and a safe stall are mandatory. Tips for doing a safe stall inspection are here!
These little things are not time consuming and easy to incorporate into the routine. Keep your horse healthy!