These are some of the most commonly asked questions to which we can provide a simple, concise answer.  As is evident, there are many other questions about problems you may encounter that we haven’t touched upon here.  Most of them will require an assessment of the individual problem to effectively answer, so feel free at any time to call and we will discuss how we can help.

When should I call my veterinarian?

A veterinary/client/patient relationship is vital to the health and maintenance of your horse.  Therefore anytime a question arises related to health or husbandry practices you should feel free to call your veterinarian for advice.  Some conditions however are true emergencies and should be recognized as such and treated immediately.

What is considered an emergency and needs to be seen immediately?

Horses with symptoms of colic (inappetance, recumbency, constant pawing/rolling, or other signs of abdominal pain) should always be examined and treated.  Most fresh lacerations should be wrapped in a clean moist bandage and seen as soon as possible.  Any trauma to or discoloration of the eye should always be treated as an emergency.  Conditions such as fever, nasal discharge, and most lameness issues, though often serious, are generally not considered emergencies and if found after business hours can wait until the following business day.

When should I start vaccinating my foal?

We routinely start vaccinating foals at 3 months of age with Rhinopneumonitis, Rabies, Eastern/Western Encephalitis amp; Tetanus, West Nile, Intra-nasal Influenza, and Intra-nasal Strep (strangles).  This is when maternal antibodies from colostrum begin to wane and foals are more susceptible to infection.  These should be boostered at weaning (5-6 months of age).

What vaccinations should I give my horse?

In our area, we routinely administer Eastern and Western Encephalitis, Tetanus, Intranasal Influenza, Rhinopneumonitis, Rabies, and West Nile Virus vaccines to adult horses. Foals and horses 3 years and under also receive intranasal Strep equi(strangles) vaccine.  We set up different protocols for pregnant mares and stallions, so it is best to discuss beforehand the needs of your horse.

Can I vaccinate my pregnant mare?

Yes, it is a safe and recommended practice.  However, this changes our vaccine recommendations.  We routinely vaccinate pregnant mares for Rhinopneumonitis at 3, 5, 7, amp; 9 months’ gestation to prevent abortion caused by Type 1 Rhinopneumonitis. In addition, we do not administer modified live vaccines to pregnant mares in any stage of gestation.

How often should I deworm my horse?

We strongly recommend use of a daily dewormer which keeps your horse parasite free and reduces the amount of feed required to maintain peak condition.  However, based on our average pasture size in this area, deworming every two months will keep most horses relatively parasite free while greatly reducing the number of parasite eggs released to contaminate your pasture.

What should I deworm my horse with?

We have set up a rotational deworming schedule that takes into account the age of the horse, whether pastured or stalled, the different types of parasites we are trying to control, what season of the year they are most prevalent or easier to kill, and what classes of drugs these parasites commonly show resistance to.  We combine this with periodical fecal egg counts to determine the effectiveness of our program for each farm.  We can provide you with details that will best fit your farm and husbandry practices.  This will help prevent the occurrence of drug-resistant parasites.

When should I start deworming my foal?

The first deworming should be performed before 75 days of age as this is when roundworms start producing eggs.  Thereafter every 60 days.

How often should I have my horse’s teeth floated?

This is easy.  EVERY horse should have its teeth checked yearly with most needing quality dental floating each year.  Some horses have dental problems that necessitate floating portions or all of the mouth more often than this while a few can go up to 18 months.  It is advisable to check the mouth each year when vaccinations are administered, as this helps you maintain a healthier mouth and does not allow problems to develop.

What should I feed my horse?

This is a difficult question because recommendations are best made according to pasture conditions and each horse’s work load.  However a good rule of thumb is 1-1/2 % of body weight of forage/ hay supplemented with either a high quality vitamin/ mineral supplement( fed per label directions) or a complete (pelleted) ration fed at up to 1% of body weight.

When should I castrate my colt?

Most colts need to be castrated as yearlings, preferably prior to the spring (breeding season).  This prevents most stallion-like behavior due to proximity to cycling mares, as well as heading off any unwanted pregnancies. However, it is perfectly acceptable to castrate any time after weaning.  If you choose to keep a young stallion intact for show or sale purposes, remember that a colt can reach reproductive maturity at 10 months of age.  Isolation from fillies and mares prior to this is recommended.

What is Coggins?

“Coggins” is the slang name for Equine Infectious Anemia, a viral disease which causes chronic anemia, wasting and death in all classes of equines.  It is spread horse-to-horse by biting flies or fresh blood contamination from an infected animal.

Does my horse need a Coggins?

Texas law requires that all horses, ponies, donkeys and mules are tested yearly for EIA (Coggins test). In addition, all sales, transfer of, or transport of, the above species must be accompanied by proof of negative Coggin’s test.

Why is my horse rubbing his tail out?

Tail rubbing is commonly associated with seasonal allergies (atopy).  Another less common cause is intestinal parasitism, specifically pinworm infestation.  We prefer to examine your horse to determine the cause, as allergy treatment is based on testing and identifying specific allergens in your horses’ environment.  Treating atopy in the horse has become very successful in the past several years, but it requires a strong commitment by both owner and veterinarian, as it is a time-consuming process.

Will my horse recover from founder?

Founder or laminitis is a serious condition that must be treated promptly and aggressively for recovery to occur.  Each case is unique, and each horse should be evaluated, to include radiographs, in order to determine the best course of therapy and therapeutic shoeing.  We work closely with our farriers to build shoes that properly support the foot, minimize further rotation of the coffin bone, and provide for new hoof growth.  Beyond this, changes are made to meet the needs of each individual.  We also monitor the diet and metabolic/hormonal conditions that can lead to chronic recurrent lameness.  In this regard, no two horses are treated the same.

What do I do if my mare leaks milk before the foal is born?

Your veterinarian needs to examine your mare to determine if your mare is attempting to abort.  If not, when your foal is born it needs to be tested for failure of passive transfer (FPT), as the colostrum will have leaked out prior to the foals’ birth.  Foals identified as having FPT must receive hyperimmune plasma in order to live.