We hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year - a more usual festive season than the past few years luckily. We have a few plans for a more normal year as well – an autumn meeting and some more opportunities for us to use the surgery with clinics and training. Keep an eye on Facebook for details
Worming Scheme – New Year
We now have nearly 600 horses registered with the Worming Scheme each year. For those that have just joined or are considering, we will be sending out the first bags at some point in March, dependant on the weather and grass growth. If anyone or any yards would like to know more, please ask one of us when you see us, or call the surgery and we’ll let you know how the scheme works.
2022 breeding season was a challenge for all. The changeable and unseasonal weather seemed to reduce the conception rate for mares for a distinct period in mid spring, with several not recovering for a month or so. Despite this, we had a 64% conception rate for chilled AI and over 50% for frozen over the season, maintaining good results for the practice.
If you are thinking of breeding from your mare this year, give the office a call and have a chat with one of us. We offer a range of schemes for the different options available, natural service ‘walk-in’, chilled and frozen AI, each designed to control the cost of veterinary input into covering your mare.
Contact us for more information as there are pre-breeding tests that are best done well in advance.
Does your horse suffer with sweet itch?
We have been using preventative injections in some of the horses and ponies that suffer with sweet itch over the prolonged summer season.
Two doses of this 'vaccine’ two weeks apart have been shown to benefit horses that suffer with sweet itch, and it can provide a real reduction in the debilitating clinical signs of sweet itch - up to 12 months in some cases.
The recommendation is to have the two doses on board by late March, so your horse is protected from the start of the warmer weather and the emergence of the flies and midges.
If you are interested or would like to know more, then give our admin team a call or email the practice to discuss - we have set dates to do the injections as the medicine has to be ordered in via special license, so don’t miss out.
Weight and Winter
We know that vets and equine media go on about overweight horses and ponies, but it is with good reason. I have written here that the winter is an ESSENTIAL time to try and reduce our horses weight and fat levels - trying to do this over spring and summer can be a challenge and really affect their welfare and quality of life.
As vets, we spoke in clinical rounds at length last week about the number of overweight horses we see, let alone treat for obesity related issues. What is most worrying is the normalisation of this – what in reality amounts to poor management is becoming acceptable and expected.
The literature reports that Equine obesity is a growing epidemic, with up to 70% of ponies being overweight or obese. We know that it has significant detrimental effects on health and conditions, including an increased risk of laminitis, an increased risk of hyperlipaemia, exercise intolerance, arthritis, reduced reproductive performance, mesenteric (abdominal) lipomas, osteochondrosis and hyperthermia. Despite the risks, we see it all the time.
The horse’s relationship with food is fairly simple - during the summer and autumn, they eat increasing quantities of available forage and gain weight in preparation for the winter when food tends to be scarce. They are designed to lose weight in the winter. We can reduce the extremes with management and exercise, but current ‘modern’ husbandry practices often go too far. Providing excessive calories in the form of high-quality pasture and forage, bucket feeds, alongside a lack of exercise, stabling and rugs to help maintain body temperature year round, all combine to promote fat storage and/or decrease the use of stored fat. They never lose their ‘holiday weight’ and it builds and builds to drive the health issues we see so commonly.
RUGS… There are exceptions with older horses or horses in hard work or training, but for almost all other situations horses are able to thermoregulate (maintain correct temperature) between 5°C and 25°C. So therefore they require no additional measures to control their body temperature between these temperatures, as long as they can access some basic shelter (they may choose not to!)
Horses that are acclimatised to lower temperatures are able to thermoregulate at temperatures as low as -10°C. Above 10°C, horses prefer not to be rugged except in extreme wet/windy weather conditions. Therefore, if the weather is neither wet nor windy, or they are in shelter, then rugs are only required below 5°C and acclimatised horses (winter coats) only require rugs below temperatures as low as -10°C. You are not being mean.
We are in the process of sourcing a weigh bridge for the practice to be available for all our clients to come and use. We’ll let everyone know when it arrives, but the plan is to have weight clinics and an introductory meeting to help people get a plan together for persistently overweight horses.
Christmas Quiz – keep it in mind for 2023
We loved the fact that the Christmas quiz could run again this year (despite one yard asking for us to run it and then not sending a team – you know who you are! ??).
We will continue the tradition this year and will expect more fierce competition to go with the confusion around some of the more unexpected questions. Thank you to all who came and we hope you enjoyed the evening.