“Hey! I went out to feed and ‘Dancer’ is down, all sweaty, and she won’t get up.” These words will get any horse owner’s attention and likely some immediate action.

At another North County home, while the “horsey” person in this family is out of town, Dad decides that the horse is just not hungry for the second day in a row.

Both these horses have colic. The first is very obvious; the second, not as clearly. Colic is a general term that includes many kinds of abdominal pain. Both these horses need veterinary evaluation and treatment.

Each year we attend between 100 – 150 colic cases, and the months of September and October are usually the most active months. The overnight temperatures are cooling, daylight hours are less, and young riders are back in school; these factors may all play a role.

Here is a list of known factors involving colic risk and prevention:

  • 1. Consistent feeding: good quality hay of the same amount, the same type, the same time of day every day. Feeding three or more times each day is better than the twice-a-day practice.
  • 2. Large clean water source so the temperature will stay more even and there is adequate reserve in case supply is interrupted.
  • 3. Good dental care for more effective, comfortable chewing.
  • 4. Adequate parasite control through manure removal and a deworming program. The only way to really tell if your program is effective is to do fecal parasite counts.
  • 5. Feeders/mats to reduce ingestion of sand or infective parasite larvae.
  • 6. Sand screening and elimination of large colon deposits.
  • 7. Regular exercise for confined horses.

These are general recommendations for all horses. If you have a horse with recurring colic episodes, there are diagnostic and treatment plans to be considered. Please contact our office for an appointment for consultation.

Summer Care: Flies

Each summer season brings problems associated with flies biting.

  • Not only are flies annoying, they can produce several disease problems.
  • Flies feed on and can infect/infest eye tissues causing irritation, excess tearing, conjunctivitis and sometimes larval infestations.
  • Flies seem to know the weak spots to bite. The site of the umbilicus and the hair whorl near the girth area on the midline are often raw and irritated. These sites are likely a significant risk for fly bite inoculation of Corynebacterium PsuedoTB. This organism resides in our soil and is responsible for a dangerous infection, commonly referred to as “Pigeon Fever”, “Dryland Distemper”, etc. External Lymph tissue sites are often overwhelmed and abscess a thick creamy pus. Sometimes multiple nodes are involved on the underline, chest or inguinal area ( sheath or mammary area). The most serious form involves internal nodes in the thorax or abdomen, and if not diagnosed soon enough and treated aggressively can prove to be fatal. So we need to be on this fly battle throughout this hottest time of the year.
  • Remove manure frequently and as far away as possible from your horses.
  • Fly predators are an effective way to interrupt the Stable fly life cycle, (they feed on the fly larvae before they hatch into those nasty biting buggers, and don’t bother horses) locally available from Spalding laboratories. Works best if your horses are an isolated population.
  • Use fly repellents around eyes and especially on the underline, most effective applied frequently, and in the A.M. to repel during the hours of greatest fly activity.
  • If you find raw spots/sores consult us for a specific treatment plan.
  • Fly masks (remove overnight).
  • Consult us for eyes with lids held partially closed or that have purulent discharge for a specific treatment plan or an appointment for examination.

Summer Care: Water

We have already had a few 100 degree days and likely more to follow. Each Summer season brings problems associated with inadequate water intake.

Your horses appreciate clean and cool water to quench their thirst too!
- Large volumes stay cool longer on a hot day ( greater than 20 gallons)
- Position in the shade if possible
- Watch for contamination, from birds, squirrels, rodents, hay dunkers
- Hand watering, instead of automatic, gives you the chance to observe inadequate or decreased intake and head off the problems associated with dehydration