Seasonal Care

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Everyone knows the seasonal annoyance of flies. For horses they can be a real tail swatting, foot stomping, head shaking, skin twitching aggravation. But flying insects such as midges, gnats, horse flies, deer flies, black flies, face flies, house flies, mosquitos, and others are more than a nuisance – they can cause serious skin irritations and can also carry diseases.

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A hot humid day. One rider. One horse. Both are exercising at a moderate level. Who is more likely to overheat? It might surprise you to learn that your horse gets hotter much faster than you and is more susceptible to the negative effects of heat stress. Prof. Michael Lindinger, an animal and exercise physiologist at the University of Guelph, explains: “It only takes 17 minutes of moderate intensity exercise in hot, humid weather to raise a horse’s temperature to dangerous levels. That’s three to ten times faster than in humans. Horses feel the heat much worse than we do.”

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There are a vast number of plants located throughout Canada that are toxic to horses in some respect. Many need to be eaten in large doses to cause much of an effect, while others require only a few mouthfuls. There are a variety of resources on plants toxic to livestock, but the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System seems to be the most comprehensive. It lists over 250 poisonous plants found in Canada, their lethal dose (if known), and symptoms of poisoning.

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When Pasture is Too Much of a Good Thing - The horse has evolved as a grazing animal, hence, pasture plays a pivotal role in equine nutrition. Reported intakes of fresh pasture by horses can range from 1.5 to 5.2 percent of body weight per day. With such a large intake of pasture possible, can horses overconsume? What components of pasture grass can cause problems if taken in at excessive levels?

Equine Guelph, Dr. Bri Henderson, how test horse dehydration, horse dehydration, equine mucous membranes, equine capillary refill

“Hydration is everything. The correct balance of water and body salts controls everything from the brain to the gut. As dehydration develops we risk our horse’s health and welfare by stressing their hearts, kidneys, and gut function. From the polished show horse to the race horse to the beloved pasture horse, we must ensure access to clean drinking water and CORRECT replacement of electrolytes lost through sweating.”

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Laminitis and insulin-resistance (IR) are troublesome conditions in and of themselves, so it is all the more frustrating that they tend to travel together. So while fresh, rich springtime grass beckons winter-weary horses, the insulin-resistant ones must stand resigned and glum on the wrong side of the fence as their well-intentioned owners toss them last year’s browning hay.

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In general, domestic horses are very well-adapted to keeping themselves warm in cold climates. If they are permitted to grow a natural winter hair coat, and provided with free access to shelter, forage, and fresh water, healthy adult horses are usually able to regulate their body temperature quite comfortably.

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