How to worm your horse or pony

ArticleHow To - HealthThursday 04 August 2011
by Sue Messenger

It is worth first asking why attention to worming is so important. A horse or pony heavily infested with worms will lack condition and find it hard to keep on weight. Even an apparently healthy horse, however, can have a worm burden bad enough to cause colic and other health problems.

Not so long ago owners used one of a limited number of wormers regularly for a year and then changed the next year to another make. In recent years as horse ownership has grown, so has the choice available and it is possible to buy , without advice, on line.

However, concerns are now arising that some worms are becoming resilient to some wormers and there are concerns about the amount of chemicals being used unnecessarily on horses and also subsequently going into the ground.

Responsible owners are now being urged to use targeted programmes throughout the year and to use worm counts as a way of achieving this. By doing this the horse will only receive what it needs (and it can save money as well).

So how does this work? There are some circumstances where you should always give a broad spectrum wormer immediately and these include when a new horse is going into a yard. Preferably, though not always possible, you would have a worm count done before worming and then 2 weeks afterwards. Otherwise you can start your programme at any time of the year.

The company doing the worm count will give you a reading and comprehensive advice on which wormer you need to use. Some worms do not always show in the counts, so even if the worm count is so low that you do not need to worm, you are still advised to worm for encysted redworm in December and tapeworm in September each year and you can use wormers targeted for these .

The process of taking a worm count is very easy, everything you need is sent to you through the post, even some plastic gloves! Westgate will even set up a database for you so you can keep track of your results and they will e mail you reminders too.

There are other things you can do to keep your horse or pony with a low count, but not all are possible if you keep your horse at livery. Picking up the droppings regularly, keeping the horse with the same companions, resting the grazing and ensuring all the animals follow the same programme at the same time will all go a long way to helping.

There are potentially a bewildering number of products on the market and they are not cheap. It really does make sense not to just guess but to use a worm count service, talk to their experts and if still unsure check with your vet.

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