Horse Manure Management

Horse Manure Management

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Howdy, fellow field friends! Whinny the clinic mouse here, back with another barnyard bulletin. Today’s topic? That ubiquitous pile in the paddock – horse manure! Now, I know what you’re thinking: Whinny, why on earth would you want to talk about… that? Well, my curious readers, horse manure is more than just a smelly mound. It’s a goldmine for both you and, surprisingly, the environment! But managing it effectively can be a real head-scratcher. So, let’s burrow in and learn all about the best ways to handle this… ahem… rich resource.

First things first, why is manure management so important? Imagine a world where all that lovely poop just sits there, piling higher and higher. Yuck! Not only would it be a real eyesore (and a nose-wrinkler!), but it could also create a breeding ground for nasty flies and parasites. Additionally, if not dealt with properly, manure runoff can pollute nearby waterways. Yikes! That’s why responsible horse owners have a plan for their “green gold.”

There are several ways to tackle this task, each with its own set of pros and cons. Let’s explore some of the most common methods:

Method #1: Spreading the Wealth

This might sound strange, but fresh manure can actually be a fantastic fertilizer! Packed with nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, it can work wonders on pastures and gardens. However, there’s a catch (besides the, well, catch). Fresh manure can be too strong for plants and burn their delicate roots. So, the key here is to compost the manure first. Talk to your hay producer before using it for gardens. Some hay types are sprayed with herbicides which can damage garden plants even after being eaten, digested, and composted!

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Think of composting as a magical transformation. By piling up the manure with other organic materials like old hay, leaves, and kitchen scraps, and keeping it moist and aerated (turning it regularly is key!), you create a warm, happy environment for tiny decomposer bacteria and fungi to work their magic. Over time, these little critters break down the manure, creating a rich, nutrient-dense soil amendment that’s much gentler on plants. Plus, the heat generated during composting kills weed seeds and nasty parasites, making it a win-win! And if you use fly predators to help manage the flies, you know exactly where to place them: near that compost pile.

Composting does require the most work, but yields the best results over time. There are many ways to manage piles including leaving them alone for prolonged periods and aeration using bounce house blowers. It does require lots of space for those piles, and the fresh edges can be a breeding ground for flies. 

Method #2: Manure Magic with Machines

Now, let’s face it, composting takes time and effort. For some horse farms with a lot of… output… there might be a different solution: manure spreaders. These nifty machines attach to tractors or other equipment and allow for quick and efficient distribution of manure across fields. But remember, even with spreaders, it’s important to follow proper application rates based on soil tests to avoid nutrient overload. An added benefit is that manure dries out quickly when spread making it unsuitable for fly larvae to grow.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

One downside to the scoop and spread method is that it takes a lot to break down shavings. If you are spreading shavings, they pull a lot of nitrogen out of your soil while they’re decomposing, and that’s not good for your pastures. Another potential problem is that seeds that were in your horse’s hay are now being spread on your pastures, and you can end up planting a lot of unplanned things, depending on what all was in your hay besides hay.

Method #3: Calling in the Cavalry (or Should We Say, the Manure Hauler?)

Maybe your farm doesn’t have the space for composting, or perhaps you lack the equipment for spreading. No worries! Many areas have professional manure removal services. These folks come in with their trucks and trailers and whisk all that manure away.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

It’s a convenient option, but keep in mind it can be the most expensive route. Much like composting, it also provides an ideal location to concentrate fly management strategies like fly predators and traps. The flies are attracted to the ideal location to eat and breed.

Bonus Tip: Location, Location, Location!

No matter which method you choose, remember that location is crucial. Manure piles shouldn’t be placed near wells, streams, ditches, or other water sources. This helps prevent potential contamination. Additionally, avoid spreading manure on frozen ground (not much worry in Florida) or during heavy rain (always a worry in Florida) – all that goodness will simply wash away and pollute waterways. 

The location should also balance being far enough away from the horses to keep the flies away, while also being close enough to get to conveniently. The single location makes that fly management much easier! Concentrating your efforts at the pile with things like fly predators, traps, and a black tarp over the pile to heat things up can really put a dent in those very annoying stable and house flies!

The Takeaway: Manure = More Than Just a Mess!

So, there you have it, folks! Horse manure management might not be the most glamorous topic, but it’s a vital part of responsible horse care and environmental protection. By utilizing these methods, horse owners can transform what some might see as a waste product into a valuable resource. Remember, a little planning goes a long way in keeping our barnyards (and our planet) healthy!

And hey, who knows? Maybe with proper management, that big, smelly pile could one day turn into a bed of beautiful flowers or a thriving vegetable patch. Now that’s something to think about next time you scamper past the paddock! 

Until next time, stay curious, my fellow field friends!
~Whinny

P.S. Do you know about the Companion Animal Clinic here at Springhill Equine? That’s right! Our clinic is a whole lot bigger than it used to be, and we now have a full small animal hospital! So in addition to your horses, donkeys, and goats, we’re ready to provide full veterinary care for your dogs and cats. Just give us a call to schedule your appointment at 352-472-1620. You can check out our new facility in this video:

Whinny’s Wisdoms is the official blog of Whinny the Clinic Mouse at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Joint infections in Horses

Joint infections in Horses

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Hi everyone, it’s Whinny, the Springhill Equine clinic mouse! Have you noticed that when my docs and techs do a sterile scrub on your horse’s joint prior to an injection, it feels like 5 hours of scrubbing for about 15 seconds of actual injection? And have you noticed that my docs get a lot more uptight about a half inch wound over your horse’s hock than a big dramatic looking wound on his chest? Like with real estate, location is everything, and this week we’re talking about infections in a location that we take very seriously – joints.

In its most basic sense, a joint is a place where 2 or more bones meet, along with the cartilage that covers the bone ends, and a joint capsule with a synovial membrane that secretes fluid to lubricate the joint. Most types of joints have movement of some sort – hinging like your knee or moving in multiple directions like your shoulder. It’s the same for your horse. Think about the joint capsule like a protective balloon around the joint. It’s a really important place, sealing the joint space and providing nutrition and lubrication to the cartilage. When infection gets inside that space, there can be career ending or life-threatening consequences. That’s why my docs don’t mess around when a joint infection is on the line.

These locations that are surrounded by a fluid-secreting synovial lining are called synovial cavities. There are so many synovial cavities in a horse, especially in the legs! And it’s not just joints, but tendon sheaths and bursae too, which are similarly worrisome if they get infected. That’s why my docs’ knowledge of anatomy is so important. A wound in one spot might not be that big of a deal, but a wound an inch away could be in a synovial cavity. The treatment and prognosis could be vastly altered by just a tiny difference in location.

How do Joint Infections Happen?

The answer is a bit different depending on whether it’s a mature horse or a foal. In foals, bacteria usually get into the joint through the bloodstream. The infection starts somewhere else in the foal, like the umbilicus or the lungs, and then bacteria travel in the blood until they arrive in the joint. This is especially problematic when foals don’t get enough immunity by suckling high quality colostrum right after birth, causing failure of passive transfer.

Adult horses most commonly get joint infections from wounds that enter the joint space, bringing debris and bacteria inside. Since it’s the same for a tendon sheath or bursa infection, we’ll just use joints as our example from here on. The wound could be an obvious laceration leaving little doubt that the joint has been compromised, but it could also be a tiny puncture wound that leaves no evidence of the injury.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Joint infection can also rarely be seen as a complication of joint surgery or joint injection. That’s why you see all the scrubbing we do before joint injections. It’s not common to have a problem, but my docs will still be very careful with sterility.

Signs of Infection

The first and most important thing is if your horse has a wound anywhere near a joint, call my doc immediately. This is not the time to take a wait and see approach. Besides the wound itself, you might see lameness starting within hours to days, swelling in and around the joint, or sometimes fluid draining from the wound. It’s important to remember though, that if the joint has an open wound and is draining fluid, it may not show lameness or swelling yet. That doesn’t mean it’s not a big problem, so don’t put off calling my doc! If it’s been going on a while, the horse may have a fever. In a foal, the fever may be the first thing that occurs even before the joint swells up. No matter which of these you see first, the moral of the story is to call my doc and not mess around trying home remedies.

How We Diagnose a Joint Infection

When there is a wound near a joint, my doc will clean the wound and then explore it to find out if it communicates directly with the joint. She may put on a sterile glove and feel within the wound itself. She may insert a sterile instrument into the wound to track which direction it goes. An x-ray can be used to look for bone abnormalities caused by infection or to help with determining if the wound communicates with the joint.

A fluid sample can be collected from the joint to test for infection. Normal, healthy joint fluid is clear, pale yellow in color, and somewhat stringy rather than thin like water. Fluid from an infected joint may turn cloudy, watery, and sometimes change color. There are several lab tests that can be used to determine normal from infected joint fluid.

My doc may inject the joint with sterile saline from a site distant from the wound to pressurize the joint. If there is communication between the wound and the joint, the pressurized fluid will leak from inside the joint out through the wound. If there is no current communication, no leakage will occur.

If any of these methods determine your horse has an infected joint, you’ll have to start treating quickly and aggressively.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

How an Infection is Treated

Your horse will need his joint flushed out with large volumes of sterile fluid. This is best done under general anesthesia at a hospital. The gold standard is to use an arthroscope to inspect the joint surfaces, look for debris, and deliver a high flow of fluid to rinse out infection. He’ll also need powerful antibiotics given through his vein. Antibiotics are often injected directly into his joint or the region of infection as well. It’s important for the horse to be comfortable enough to bear weight on his injured leg and prevent too much stress on his other legs, potentially causing laminitis, so he’ll receive anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and pain.

A joint infection can be difficult to treat, especially if the infection has been present for a while before treatment begins, or the bone or soft tissue structures are involved. So when there’s a wound on your horse’s leg, calling my doc quickly will give your horse the best chance to get the treatment he needs.

Until next week,

~Whinny

P.S. Have you taken advantage of the amazing free resource that is our Podcast? Yes, in case you don’t know, Dr. Lacher has a podcast called Straight from the Horse Doctor’s Mouth. It’s actually the biggest equine podcast in the world, if a mouse can brag a little! You can subscribe to it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts! You can even listen right from the website by clicking here.

Whinny’s Wisdoms is the official blog of Whinny the Clinic Mouse at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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From Rescued to Reliable: Teaching your Animals to Trust

From Rescued to Reliable: Teaching your Animals to Trust

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Congratulations from your favorite clinic mouse Whinny, dear pet owner, on your noble act of rescuing an animal in need! You’ve welcomed a new member into your family, complete with fur, feathers, or hooves, and embarked on a journey of companionship. However, as the dust settles and the honeymoon phase fades, it’s time to address the elephant—or rather, the misbehaving pet—in the room. While rescue status may earn sympathy points initially, it’s high time we retire the excuse that poor manners are simply a byproduct of past trauma. In this blog, we’ll delve into the art of transitioning a newly rescued animal into a refined and well-behaved companion, regardless of its origin story.

Before you think me an overly opinionated mouse, let me remind you that well-behaved animals are confident animals that you can have all kinds of fun experiences with. Dogs, cats, horses, goats, and even sheep all have to have a minimum standard of behavior to receive veterinary care, grooming services, and nail or hoof trimming services without needing extra expenses like sedation or even anesthesia. Not to mention, my doctors have to work with with hundreds of animals every week. That majorly increases the chances of an injury if their patients (your pets!) aren’t well behaved. Mice tend to be exempted from this, as we hold ourselves to a much higher standard. But I digress.

An emergency veterinary visit is NOT the time to be training your animal. Horses should know how to be haltered and load into a trailer BEFORE they have to come to the clinic for an eye ulcer. Dogs should be comfortable walking on a leash and being held before they have to come in for vomiting. Cats should be exposed to their cat carrier before you have to catch them for us to come out and vaccinate. Goats and sheep need to have been handled before and be caught prior to my doctors getting to the farm. Your animals are more likely to be okay with being caught by you, their most favorite human, than our doctors and technicians, who seem to be, quite literally, strangers with needles (and it’s hard to argue with that perspective!).

Now that I’ve convinced you of the necessity of working with your rescued critters before they meet my doctors, let’s go over some techniques for all the different species!

Desensitization Techniques

Dogs

   – Handling: Start with gentle touches and gradually increase the level of interaction, rewarding calm behavior. Work on holding them in a standing, sitting, and lying position; pick up their paws, open their mouth, and lift their tail.

   – Vet Visits: Make visits positive experiences by frequent trips for treats and socialization, not just during emergencies. Everyone here at the clinic loves to see pups when they’re not sick. Just give the awesome office team a call to let us know you’re swinging by, and we’ll provide your pup with pets and treats (maybe I’ll even share some of my cheese!).

   – Collaring and Leashing: Introduce these gradually, associating them with enjoyable activities like walks and playtime.

Companion Animal Clinic at Springhill Equine

Cats:

   – Handling: Respect your feline friend’s boundaries and allow them to initiate physical contact, rewarding them with treats for accepting handling. Teach your rescued kitty that human hands can provide positive touches. Our crew loves cats and always starts with chin scritches and nice pets, but if they haven’t learned that those are nice, then they may never relax with us.

   – Vet Visits: Familiarize your cat with their carrier and the car ride to the vet by incorporating these into their routine with positive reinforcement. Leave the carrier open in their favorite room. Occasionally toss treats into the carrier for them to find. It should be a positive place they can hang out in that only sometimes acts as a portal to the vet office.

   – Collaring: Use lightweight, breakaway collars, gradually increasing wearing time and associating them with treats. Cats should wear collars, just like dogs, in case they get out or lost.

Companion Animal Care at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Horses

   – Handling: Begin with basic groundwork exercises to establish trust and respect, gradually introducing grooming and handling equipment. All horses–and donkeys!–should be comfortable picking up all four feet when asked, having their mouth and ears looked at, and their tail lifted. Bonus points if you also get them comfortable with their bellies being touched!

   – Vet Visits: Practice trailer loading and short trips to simulate vet visits, rewarding calm behavior throughout the process. You can even mimic vaccine injections and blood draws by using the tip of a pen on your horse’s neck. Showing your rescued horse that you will teach them what is going to happen at the vet before it does will increase their trust in you and in my doctors.

   – Haltering and Leading: Teach your horse to yield to pressure on the halter and lead rope, reinforcing with treats and praise. This is one of the most important things! If you can’t halter your horse or donkey, the veterinarian or technician most likely won’t be able to. If you know your rescued horse has some fears around the halter or typically takes a while to be caught, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to accomplish that prior to the veterinarian arriving. Donkeys especially are smart enough to recognize a strange vehicle and will make themselves scarce when that Springhill Equine truck pulls up if they’re not already caught.

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Goats

   – Handling: Approach goats calmly and quietly, using positive reinforcement such as treats or scratches to encourage desired behavior. Goats are naturally skittish, but can learn to trust people with time. If you rescue your goats when they are already adults, it’s especially important to spend lots of time with them, showing that approaching humans gets them rewards.

   – Vet Visits: Familiarize your goat with the process by practicing handling and restraint at home, and rewarding them for calm behavior. Goats and sheep can actually become quite distressed if they have to be chased to be caught for medical care. If they are already compromised with illness, that distress can very occasionally push them over the edge. Take the time to make restraint, lifting feet, looking in mouths, and lifting tails a routine part of life. Build that trust in the trust bank!

   – Leading: Introduce a collar or halter and lead gradually, starting in a familiar environment and progressing to short walks with positive reinforcement. Goats are extremely trainable given the right reinforcement. Large goats are much easier to work with when they come to the clinic if they will walk on a lead.

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All animals have a trust bank. The more positive experiences you can put into it, the easier it is to balance the negative experiences. Think about it: if every time you got in an elevator, you were poked with a needle, you’d do your very best to avoid elevators. Similarly, if the only time your horse is haltered is for vet visits where they get vaccinated and have blood drawn (both requiring a needle), they will only get worse for being haltered. This applies doubly to your rescued animals who already have a negative balance in their trust bank. The first steps are learning to trust you, but it can’t stop there, they have to learn how to trust new experiences too.

In conclusion, while the journey from rescue to refined pet may have its challenges, there’s no excuse for indefinitely attributing poor behavior to a pet’s past. By employing desensitization techniques tailored to the species-specific needs of your new friend, you can transform them from a rough gem into a polished companion worthy of admiration. So, let’s bid farewell to the it’s a rescue excuse and embrace the transformative power of patience, consistency, and time spent together. After all, manners maketh the pet.

Until next week,

~Whinny

P.S. Are you subscribed to my blog? It’s the big purple box just below, and all you have to do is put your email address in it. That way I can email you a link each week, and you don’t have to hope you see it go by on Facebook. It’s that easy to stay plugged into my mousy wisdoms!

Whinny’s Wisdoms is the official blog of Whinny the Clinic Mouse at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Dental Health for Dogs and Cats

Dental Health for Dogs and Cats

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Hey there, pawsome pet parents! Whinny the clinic mouse here, your furry friend’s favorite informant from Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic where we just finished moving into the new Companion Animal Clinic addition! Today, I’m squeaking into the limelight to chat about a topic that might not be as glamorous as chasing feathers or curling up in a sunbeam, but is crucial for your four-legged buddies: dental health!

The Whole Tooth and Nothing but the Tooth: Why Dental Health Matters

You see, dental health isn’t just about preventing bad breath (although we’d all appreciate it if Fido’s kisses were a bit more pleasant, wouldn’t we?). It’s about maintaining the overall health and happiness of your furry pals. Just like you schedule regular check-ups with your own dentist, our pets need some dental TLC too!

Dental issues in dogs and cats can spiral into more serious problems, affecting the heart, kidneys, and liver. Imagine that! Something as small as a toothache could lead to bigger health concerns. But before we talk about keeping those chompers chomping, let’s learn a bit more about them.

Dog Dentition

Companion Animal Clinic at Springhill Equine

Dogs, with their diverse shapes and sizes, have an equally diverse set of teeth to match. Puppies start off with a set of 28 deciduous (baby) teeth, which eventually give way to 42 permanent teeth as they mature. The canine dental formula for adult dogs is usually represented as I3/3 C1/1 P4/4 M2/3, indicating the number and types of teeth in one half of the mouth. Let me break it down for you:

Incisors (I): These are the tiny front teeth designed for grasping and nibbling. Dogs typically have three pairs on the top and three on the bottom.

Canines (C): Known as the “fangs,” canines are designed for tearing and holding onto objects. Dogs have one pair on the top and one on the bottom.

Premolars (P): These more flat-topped teeth are situated behind the canines and are essential for shearing and grinding. Dogs have four premolars on the top and four on the bottom.

Molars (M): Positioned at the back of the mouth, molars are the heavy-duty grinders responsible for breaking down tough food. Dogs generally have two or three molars on the top and three on the bottom.

Dogs are classified as diphyodonts, meaning they go through two sets of teeth in their lifetime–just like horses and most other mammals. Their sharp canines and robust molars serve them well in their varied roles, from hunting and chewing to gnawing on your favorite shoe.

Feline Dentition

Companion Animal Clinic at Springhill Equine

Now, let’s turn our attention to our feline friends, whose teeth are a symphony of sleek efficiency. Cats, like dogs, are also diphyodonts, starting life with 26 deciduous teeth and transitioning to 30 permanent teeth. The feline dental formula is usually represented as I3/3 C1/1 P3/2 M1/1, showcasing their unique dental structure:

Incisors (I): Front and center, incisors help cats grip and nibble. They have three pairs on the top and three on the bottom.

Canines (C): Cat canines are formidable, designed for piercing and tearing into prey. They have one pair on the top and one on the bottom.

Premolars (P): Cats have fewer premolars compared to dogs, with three on the top and two on the bottom. These teeth are efficient at slicing and shearing.

Molars (M): Molars in cats are fewer in number but still play a crucial role in grinding food. Cats typically have one molar on the top and one on the bottom.

Felines, being obligate carnivores, have specialized teeth adapted for their meat-centric diet. Their razor-sharp canines and slicing premolars are a testament to their hunting prowess in the wild, but they do a good job with kibble and wet food as well!

Maintaining the health of each tooth is essential for your pet’s overall well-being. Regular dental care, including brushing and professional cleanings, ensures their teeth stay in top condition, allowing them to chew comfortably and avoid dental issues that could impact their overall health.

Why Dental X-rays are the Cat’s Meow

Companion Animal Clinic at Springhill Equine

Now, let’s talk about dental X-rays. These are like superhero goggles for our veterinarians, allowing them to see what’s happening beneath the surface. In dogs and cats, most dental diseases lurk below the gumline, and without X-rays, it’s like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle without all the pieces.

We want to catch dental issues early on, before they turn into major concerns. Dental X-rays help us do just that, ensuring we get the full picture of your pet’s dental health. It’s like having a treasure map for your pet’s mouth – X marks the spot where we need to focus our attention!

Now, let’s get real for a minute. Addressing dental care early is like catching a snowflake before it turns into a snowball. Trust me, I know a thing or two about snowballing dental problems! By taking action early on, you save your pet from the discomfort of toothaches and yourself from hefty vet bills down the line.

Imagine this: your pet’s teeth are like little soldiers defending their kingdom. If you arm them with regular dental care, you’re setting up a fortress against dental diseases. So, why wait until those little soldiers are waving the white flag? Start early, stay ahead, and keep those pearly whites shining bright! Dogs and cats can be super stoic about oral pain and discomfort, so don’t trust the fact that they’re still eating and playing and assume they have no dental issues.

To Brush or Not to Brush

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Whinny, how do I keep my pet’s teeth in tip-top shape at home? Well, my pals, the answer is simple – the toothbrush tango! Yes, brushing your pet’s teeth is a great way to maintain their dental health. Regular brushing won’t remove tartar and plaque buildup that is already there, you need a veterinarian to perform an anesthetic dental evaluation and cleaning for that, but it can delay the formation of more tartar. It may sound daunting if you’ve never thought about sharing a nighttime routine step with your dog or cat, but if you start slow and introduce the concept gradually, your furry friend will jump on the bandwagon to a healthy smile with you!

But hold your horses! Before you grab any ol’ toothpaste, make sure it’s pet-specific. Human toothpaste contains ingredients that can be harmful to our pets, and we don’t want to turn a dental health routine into a dental disaster. Choose a toothpaste designed for dogs or cats, and your pet will thank you with a gleaming grin!

How about all of those commercials you see on TV and products in pet stores that advertise dental health benefits with no work? Well, just like most “As-Seen-On-TV” products, these are generally really not worth it. There is a way to find the best options though, and that is to look for the official VOHC Seal. VOHC stands for Veterinary Oral Health Council. The Mission of the Veterinary Oral Health Council is to review products for the VOHC’s standards for effective plaque and tartar control in animals when used as directed. They review submitted data to ensure it meets the clinical requirements to receive the Seal of Acceptance. When a product demonstrates dental efficacy, the VOHC Seal of Acceptance is awarded. The Seal can be for slowing progression of plaque, calculus, or both.

 If you don’t want to spend your Saturday hunting for this seal in the pet store, you can visit https://vohc.org/accepted-products/ to see all the options available for both dogs and cats.

Conclusion

Alright, my pet-loving companions, it’s time to wrap up our toothful tale. Remember, dental health is no small matter – it’s the key to unlocking a world of well-being for your four-legged pals. From anesthetic dental cleanings to dental X-rays, we’ve covered the whole shebang. So, take a moment to appreciate those pearly whites and consider scheduling a dental check-up for your pet at Springhill Equine’s Companion Animal Clinic. Together, we’ll keep those chompers in top-notch condition, ensuring your furry friends live their happiest, healthiest lives.

Until next week,

~Whinny

P.S. Have you been over to my YouTube Channel? It’s loaded with great veterinary content! Don’t miss out on this great free resource for trustworthy information from our favorite animal docs! You can click the link to check it out right after you scroll down to the big purple box and subscribe to my blog. Good human, you can do it!

Whinny’s Wisdoms is the official blog of Whinny the Clinic Mouse at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Granulosa Cell Tumors in Mares

Granulosa Cell Tumors in Mares

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Spring is a-peeping around the corner, days grow longer, and the mares in the barn…well, they can get a little…interesting. Now, I, Whinny, am a field mouse of refined tastes (cheese, anyone?), and I appreciate a good mare’s temperament as much as the next critter. But sometimes, their behavior takes a turn for the puzzling. Is it just springtime shenanigans, or something more concerning?

We all know hormones are powerful little messengers in the body, like tiny knights delivering chemical decrees. But when there’s a surplus, well, chaos can ensue! In mares, one culprit behind this hormonal havoc is a sneaky villain called a granulosa cell tumor (GCT). Now, this might sound scary, but listen close – these tumors are usually benign, meaning they don’t spread like wildfire. However, they’re like mischievous imps, messing with the delicate hormonal balance and causing a whole host of problems.

Imagine a mare’s ovary. Normally, it’s a well-oiled machine, producing just the right balance of hormones for a smooth operation. But a GCT is like a rogue factory, churning out excess hormones like estrogen and testosterone. This throws everything out of whack, leading to a symphony of unwanted behaviors.

One telltale sign is a sudden shift in personality. A sweet-natured mare might morph into a grumpy Gus, exhibiting aggression and even acting stallion-like, with mounting and dominance displays (not cool, dude!). This is all thanks to the testosterone overload, turning our gentle friend into a temporary testosterone-fueled whirlwind.

Another red flag is a disruption in the mare’s reproductive cycle. Normally, mares experience regular estrous cycles, which is like their own internal calendar for breeding. But with a GCT, things can go awry. Persistent anestrus can occur, meaning the cycle disappears altogether, putting breeding plans on hold. On the flip side, some mares might experience continuous estrus, essentially being “in season” all the time. This can be frustrating for both the mare and her handler, as she might exhibit classic estrous behaviors like squealing and frequent urination.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Now, before you panic if your mare seems a little off-kilter, here’s the good news: GCTs are detectable! My doctors have a toolbox of tricks to diagnose the problem. One method is rectal palpation, or a transrectal ultrasound. Think of it like a high-tech peek inside, allowing my docs to feel for an enlarged ovary, a signature symptom of a GCT. An ultrasound will show a very large ovary with tons of tiny follicles. The appearance is often described as a honeycomb. But that’s not all! They can also use blood tests to measure levels of equine inhibin, anti-Müllerian hormone, and testosterone to see if they’re out of balance.

Of course, sometimes mares can be grumpy for reasons unrelated to GCTs. Maybe she has a sore tooth or an ache in her leg that’s making her cranky (ouch!). So, a general checkup is crucial to rule out other potential causes of behavioral issues.

But let’s say the diagnosis confirms a GCT. Fear not! Treatment is available, and the most common option is surgery. Here’s the cool part: this surgery can often be done with the mare standing! Vets use a laparoscopic approach, which sounds fancy but basically means they make a tiny incision in the flank and use a special camera to remove the tumor. Minimally invasive and efficient – that’s what I call a win-win!

GCTs might be a challenge, but with proper diagnosis and treatment, mares can get back to their normal, well-behaved selves. The key is to be observant and consult your vet if anything seems amiss. After all, a happy and healthy mare makes for a happy barn, and that’s something every field mouse can appreciate!

Until next week,

~Whinny

P.S. Have you subscribed to my blog? Don’t rely on Facebook to let you know when the new installment comes out each week! Just scroll down to the big purple box below, enter your email address, and I’ll send you my blog a day or two before it goes out on social media. Double win!

Whinny’s Wisdoms is the official blog of Whinny the Clinic Mouse at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Negative Plantar Angles and Why They Matter

Negative Plantar Angles and Why They Matter

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Hey everyone, Whinny here! More and more nowadays, horse owners are aware of how important the angles of a horse’s hoof are to his performance and the prevention of lameness. That’s a really good thing, because horses are soooo sensitive to tiny changes in the angles of their feet! If you want your horse to feel his best, compete successfully, or just stay sound for as long as possible, talking with your vet and farrier about your horse’s feet is a great place to start. You may have heard the terms “palmar or plantar angles”. These angles refer to the orientation of the coffin bone within the hoof. Palmar is the term for the front feet and plantar refers to the hind feet. Today, we’re mostly going to talk about the plantar, or hind foot angle.

What is a Negative Plantar Angle?

The planter angle is the angle the bottom of the coffin bone makes with the ground. In a healthy hind foot, we expect it to be about 2-4 degrees positive, meaning that the heel, or back end, of the coffin bone is a little higher than the toe, or front end. The exact angle depends a bit on the horse’s individual conformation. If a horse has a negative plantar angle, it means the coffin bone is “tipping up” with the front of the bone higher than the back of the bone, opposite of the way it should be. Some horses are conformationally predisposed to developing this abnormal hoof form, for example, horses with a very straight hock angles, but trimming and shoeing play a huge part in correcting or worsening the issue.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

An x-ray of a normal hoof with a positive plantar angle

Why are Plantar Angles a Big Deal?

Think of it as if you had to wear shoes where the toe was wedged up higher than the heel. And you could never take those shoes off. Your back and legs would probably get sore. And what if you’re also asked to be an athlete – running, jumping, trail walking – even worse, right? You might develop some problems with your joints or lower back from your abnormal foot position and I bet your body would develop some other issues from trying to compensate. It’s the same for horses. Those negative angles put abnormal stresses on your horse’s joints and back. Scientific studies have shown negative plantar angles to be linked to pain in the gluteal muscles, proximal suspensory ligaments, stifles, hocks, and sacroiliac joints. All super important structures with a massive influence on your horse’s comfort. These issues can range from a subtle effect on performance to significant lameness.

Negative plantar angles are one of the most common hind end issues vets and farriers see. Horses that aren’t yet overtly lame may show signs like resistance during training, difficulty picking up canter leads, stumbling a little behind, dragging the hind toes, problems holding a leg up for the farrier, or lack of freedom in their hind limb swing. More severe cases can develop chronic pain and obvious lameness.

So How Can I Tell if My Horse Has Negative Plantar Angles?

Radiographs

First off, radiographs (x-rays) are the best way to know for sure. My doc will take a lateral radiograph (an image taken from the side of the horse) and measure the exact angles. This is the best way to know exactly where the coffin bone sits within the hoof capsule. She can also measure your horse’s sole depth, toe length, hoof-pastern axis, the breakover of the foot, and more. These are all really useful things to help your farrier optimize your horse’s trim. My doc can show the x-rays to your farrier, and they can come up with a trimming or shoeing plan together.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

This horse has a significantly negative plantar angle of -5.5 degrees.

While radiographs are the gold standard, the rest of the strategies I’m going to list are good indicators of the problem based on external markers. They don’t give you an exact measurement or diagnosis, but they’re great tools for monitoring your horse’s feet at home.

The Shape of the Hoof

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Bull-nosed appearance to the hoof.

If you pay close attention to the external shape of a horse’s hind feet, there are clues that the horse may have negative plantar angles. A bull-nosed, or bowed, appearance to the front of the hoof (the dorsal hoof wall) is typical of a severely negative angle. This is because the hoof wall follows the tip of the coffin bone, which is in essence tipping upwards and pushing outwards. Since a negative plantar angle overloads the back of the foot, the heel bulbs may also appear to be flattened.

Another sign is underneath the hoof, on his sole. In a foot with negative angles, the apex, or tip, of the frog is often deeply set in a depression in the sole. A normal hoof will have the tip of the frog positioned at about the same level as the surrounding sole, rather than sitting in a well.

A normal hoof. Notice how the apex of the frog is not deeply set in a depression.

Sometimes horses with negative plantar angles will have a squared off appearance to the hind toes, caused by dragging the feet. This can also be caused by sore hocks or other causes of lameness. Negative plantar angles can sometimes be the root cause, but not in every case. Either way, if the horse has squared off hind toes, my doc should check him out.

A steep coronary band angle is a very strong indicator of a negative plantar angle – we’ll talk about how to measure the coronary band angle shortly.

Stance

A normal horse should stand squarely, with both the front and hind cannon bones vertical, or perpendicular to the ground. When the hind hooves are out of balance, poor posture often results. Horses with negative plantar angles are frequently uncomfortable standing squarely. They may stand with their hind limbs camped under themselves, because the high toe and low heel makes it uncomfortable for them to stand with their cannon bones vertical. When the lower leg is placed vertical (as it should be in a normal horse), the hoof-pastern axis is often out of alignment, causing the horse discomfort. He will try to bring his lower limbs forward to straighten his hoof-pastern axis, but unfortunately over time this abnormal posture causes soreness in the stifles, hocks, hamstrings, and sacroiliac areas.

Stand your horse perfectly square with his cannon bones vertical

A normal, square, stance with the cannon bones perpendicular to the ground

Watch your horse to see how he tends to stand. Any horse can stand in an abnormal position for a moment, but if he consistently tends to stand with his hind limbs underneath himself, it warrants an evaluation of his feet and musculoskeletal comfort.

A camped-under stance

Measurements

And now for a great way for you to estimate your horse’s plantar angles at home! We’re going to look at the angle of the coronary band. A steep coronary band angle indicates low or negative angles. Remember, it’s not a substitute for x-rays, but is a good external sign of what the plantar angles are doing internally.

Stand your horse perfectly square with his cannon bones vertical

Basically, we’re going to be drawing an imaginary line through the angle of the coronary band and continuing it forward to see where it bisects the front limb. You’ll need some sort of long, thin tool – a longe whip can work, or a thin piece of wood like a long ruler or even a broom handle. If you’re handy with computers, you can also do your measurement by digitally adding a line to a photo of your horse later.

Match the angle of the coronary band

Stand your horse perfectly square with his cannon bones vertical[/caption] It’s critical that your horse stands square with his cannon bones vertical to the ground to get an accurate measurement. It may be helpful to have a set of crossties or someone to hold your horse. You’ll also want him standing on even ground. Take the tool that you’re using and line it up with the coronary band on the outside of his hoof. Raise or lower the end of your tool to match the angle to the angle of the coronary band. Now look at the forelimb on the same side – where does your tool hit that leg? In a normal horse, the line will bisect the forelimb no higher than his knee (carpus). If it’s between the knee and the elbow, there is concern that he has low or negative plantar angles. If it’s at the elbow or above, there’s a strong chance he has negative plantar angles!

This line bisects at the level of the front knee, which is normal

These are great tools for monitoring your horse’s hoof condition at home and protecting his long-term soundness. If you have any concerns, my docs will be happy to help!

Until next week!

~Whinny

P.S. There are videos on how to check hoof angles over on my YouTube Channel. If you want to dive deeper into hoof angles, this is a great way to do it!

Whinny’s Wisdoms is the official blog of Whinny the Clinic Mouse at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Microchipping: Protecting Your Horse, Dog, and Cat Family

Microchipping: Protecting Your Horse, Dog, and Cat Family

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Hey everybody, Whinny here! As pet owners, we all share a profound bond with our four-legged companions (yes, mice can have companions, too!). They’re not just pets; they are beloved members of our families, providing us with unconditional love and unwavering loyalty. However, as responsible caretakers, it is our duty to ensure their safety and well-being. One essential step towards protecting our pets is microchipping. In this blog, we will explore the significance of microchipping for horses, dogs, and cats and how it can be a lifesaving measure in times of distress.

Peace of Mind

Losing a pet is every pet owner’s nightmare. The thought of our precious horse, dog, or cat wandering away and getting lost is heart-wrenching. Microchipping provides invaluable peace of mind, knowing that if the worst were to happen, there is a high chance of reuniting with our beloved companion. Unlike collars and tags that can break or fall off, a microchip is a permanent and tamper-proof identification method.

Efficient Identification

Collars with ID tags are a helpful identification tool, but they might not be foolproof. Microchipping, on the other hand, offers a reliable way to identify our pets beyond any doubt. Each microchip contains a unique identification number linked to the pet owner’s contact information in a secure database. If a lost horse, dog, or cat is found and scanned at a shelter or veterinary clinic, the microchip will reveal the owner’s details, leading to a swift reunion.

Safer Travel

Traveling with our pets can be a joyous experience, but it also comes with certain risks. Whether it’s a road trip, a visit to the park, or even an international journey, accidents can happen. Microchipping becomes particularly essential when traveling with horses, as they are often transported long distances. In case of an unforeseen escape or accident during travel, a microchip ensures that your horse, dog, or cat can be traced back to you, regardless of the location.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Preventing Pet Theft

Sadly, pet theft is a reality we must acknowledge. Cats and dogs, in particular, are targets of theft due to their high demand. Microchipping acts as a powerful deterrent, as stolen pets can be easily identified, making them less attractive to potential thieves. Moreover, if a stolen pet is brought to a shelter or veterinarian, the microchip will reveal their true owner, helping to prevent heartbreak and anguish for both the pet and the rightful family.

Medical Assistance

In emergencies, our pets cannot communicate their medical history or pre-existing conditions. Microchipping includes medical information, making it easier for veterinarians to provide necessary treatment promptly. Additionally, it aids in reuniting lost pets with medical needs with their owners, ensuring they receive appropriate care without delay.

Microchips for FEI and USEF Horse Competitions

Microchipping has become a vital aspect of horse identification and safety in FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale) and USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) horse competitions to provide a unique identification number that is linked to the horse’s official records. This identification method ensures accurate tracking of horses throughout their competitive careers, reducing the risk of identity disputes and enhancing overall competition integrity.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

For FEI competitions, microchipping is mandatory for all participating horses. The unique identification number is recorded in each horse’s passport, which contains essential information such as ownership details, veterinary records, and vaccination history. This system ensures that the correct horse is entered into each event and helps to prevent fraudulent practices. 

Similarly, USEF requires microchipping for all horses competing in licensed competitions. The microchipped identification number is linked to the horse’s USEF records, facilitating accurate tracking of results, ownership transfers, and age verification.

Conclusion

Microchipping is a simple yet powerful tool that strengthens the bond between humans and their cherished animals. The process is safe, minimally invasive, and brings numerous benefits that far outweigh any temporary discomfort. By getting our horses, dogs, and cats microchipped, we demonstrate our commitment to being responsible pet owners and safeguarding our furry family members.

Remember, the decision to microchip is an investment in your pet’s safety and well-being, and it may one day be the key to their safe return. Let’s ensure that our furry friends always find their way back into our loving arms, no matter where they wander.

You can call the humans here at Springhill Equine any time and add a microchip to your next appointment. The number is 352-472-1620.

Until next week!

~Whinny

P.S. Have you been checking out the videos over on my YouTube Channel? It’s a fantastic free resource, and my humans make new videos all the time! You can learn all kinds of stuff and get some entertainment at the same time. Don’t miss out!

Whinny’s Wisdoms is the official blog of Whinny the Clinic Mouse at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Top 10 Hazards in Your Barn

Top 10 Hazards in Your Barn

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Hey everybody, it’s your ever-observant barn mouse Whinny here! We all know how accident-prone horses can be (unlike cats and mice, which Tony used to assure me are far superior species in that regard). Therefore, it’s important to be on the lookout for potential hazards that may lurk within and around the barn. Let’s take a look at the top 10 common hazards in most barns, and find some ways to create a safer environment for your horse.

  1. Non-Breakaway Halters

Non-breakaway halters, often made of nylon, might seem sturdy, but they pose a significant risk if your horses get caught in a situation which can cause them to get stuck in the halter, leading to injuries or worse. Opt for breakaway halters that release under pressure, ensuring your horse’s safety in unforeseen circumstances. Most of the time the breakaway piece is an area of the halter that is leather that easily breaks under excess pressure. This is especially critical when hauling in a trailer.

  1. Cobwebs

   Cobwebs may add a spooky charm to a barn, but they can compromise your horse’s respiratory health, as well as pose a fire hazard. Regularly check and clean your barn to prevent the buildup of cobwebs to lower your risk.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

  1. Clutter

   A cluttered barn is a hazard zone waiting to happen. Aisleways with pitchforks, shovels and equipment can become dangerous, especially if a horse spooks and hits, kicks or becomes tangled amongst it. Take the time to organize and declutter the barn space, creating a safer and more efficient environment for everyone.

  1. Too Many Extension Cords

   Electrical mishaps are a real concern in barns with excessive extension cords. Invest in proper wiring and limit the use of extension cords. This simple step can significantly reduce the risk of electrical fire hazards in the barn.

  1. Water Bucket Clips

   Double-ended snaps and where the handle hooks to the water bucket are a common cause of eyelid lacerations. Horses love to rub and itch on these buckets and accidentally get caught and pull back and hurt themself in the process. Any easy fix to this problem is to make sure all double-ended snaps are facing the wall and wrapping bucket hooks with electrical tape.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

  1. Feed Storage

   Proper horse feed storage is important for maintaining the nutritional quality and safety of your horse’s diet. Storing feed in a cool, dry place is essential to prevent mold growth and the development of mycotoxins, which can be harmful to horses. Store feed in clean containers with well-sealed lids to prevent rodent and insect contamination. Additionally, storing feed off the ground and away from direct sunlight helps preserve its nutritional value.

  1. Fencing (Barbed wire and Lack of Top Boards)

   Barbed wire is not easily seen by horses and poses a severe threat to their safety. The sharp, pointed edges can cause significant injuries, from cuts and scrapes to massive lacerations. Similarly, wire fencing without a top board can let a horse accidentally run into or get caught up in the fencing. It’s crucial to utilize alternatives like smooth, visible fencing options that prioritize both containment and the well-being of our equine companions. Electricity is always a good accessory to quality fencing!       

  1. Nails in Boards

   Regularly inspecting fencing and stalls for loose nails is a paramount aspect of equine care, crucial for preventing potential lacerations and injuries. This simple yet essential practice not only safeguards the physical well-being of our equine companions but also contributes to fostering a secure and comfortable environment within the barn where your horse feels safe, rather than stressed about being around things that hurt.

  1. Blanket Clips

   Although we are lucky here in Florida and only need blankets occasionally, we need to be mindful when clipping blankets that they are clipped towards the horse. As we have mentioned previously, as wonderful as horses are, they are accident-prone and can get themselves in precarious situations unless we are vigilant. Occasionally when clips are outward, they will snap closed on other objects, like haynets, bucket handles or stall doors. This is followed by a moment of panic, which often has an injury on its heels. Why can’t horses be more like mice?

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

  1. Pest Control

   Pests such as flies, rodents, and insects not only irritate horses but can also pose health risks and compromise the cleanliness of the environment. Implementing a comprehensive pest control program involves regular cleaning of manure, proper waste disposal, and the use of insecticides or traps strategically placed to target specific pests. Be mindful that some physical and edible traps can pose risks to cats and dogs on the property. This is going to sound weird coming from a barn mouse, but bear with me: An environmentally friendly rodent eliminator and deterrent are spayed and neutered cats!  Cats are natural predators, particularly adept at controlling rodent populations that might otherwise pose a threat to the barn’s hygiene and the well-being of horses. By spaying and neutering the cats, their focus remains on pest control rather than breeding, fostering a stable and efficient population.

Creating a safe environment in your barn requires diligence and attention to detail. By addressing these top 10 hazards, you’re not only safeguarding your horse but also fostering a space where everyone can thrive. Regular maintenance and proactive measures are the keys to ensuring a secure and happy haven for you and your horses.

Until next week!

~Whinny

P.S. Have you subscribed to my blog? You can do that by scrolling down to the big purple box just below and entering your email address. I’ll email you my blog every week, and then you won’t miss an episode! It’s that easy!

Whinny’s Wisdoms is the official blog of Whinny the Clinic Mouse at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Whinny’s Guide to Assessing and Improving Your Horse’s Fitness

Whinny’s Guide to Assessing and Improving Your Horse’s Fitness

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Hey there, curious humans! It’s Whinny, your friendly neighborhood field mouse, coming to you from the rapidly expanding Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic. Since it’s the beginning of the year, and you humans like to think about fitness this time of year, let’s dive into the world of equine fitness. I’ve seen these majestic creatures up close and personal, and trust me, keeping them in tip-top shape is no small feat. But fear not, for I’ve got the inside scoop on how to evaluate your horse’s fitness and craft a plan to boost those stamina levels. So, saddle up, and let’s dive in!

Understanding the Basics of Equine Fitness

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty of designing a fitness plan, let’s paw our way through the fundamentals. Just like us field mice, horses need to stay fit for optimal health and performance. Whether your four-legged friend is saucy or sweet, assessing their fitness level is the first step.

  1. Body Condition Scamper

Take a good look at your horse’s body. Run your tiny paws along their sides, feeling for any hidden bumps or curves. A well-fed horse should have a sleek and shiny coat, with ribs that are easily felt but not visible. If your fingers encounter too much padding or the ribs are too prominent, it might be time for a diet tweak. All of the amazing technicians and doctors here would love to talk horse nutrition with you anytime. If you want to go the extra step and actually assess your horse’s body condition score, here’s a video on my YouTube Channel that will walk you through it.

  1. Heartbeat Hurdle

Time to check that rhythmic thumping beneath the fur. Place a stethoscope against your horse’s chest – metaphorically speaking, of course – and listen for the steady beat of their heart. A resting heart rate between 28 and 44 beats per minute is considered normal. Here’s a great video about how to take your horse’s vital signs. Take your horse for what you consider a normal ride. The heartbeat should drop back to that resting level within about 15 minutes. For most horses, and most exercise regimens, it should be more like 10 minutes.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

  1. Lung Capacity Lark

Now, let’s talk about breathing. Resting respiratory rates should be between 12 and 20 breaths per minute. After a round of exercise, observe the rise and fall of your horse’s flanks. Normal breathing should be rhythmic and not excessively labored. The respiratory rate should be back to normal in about 20 minutes. Really hot, and/or humid weather can cause this to take longer, but don’t use that as an excuse for why your out-of-shape pasture potato is still blowing after 25 minutes!

  1. Flexibility Frolic

Time for a bit of yoga, equine-style! Watch how your horse moves. A good range of motion in their joints is crucial for overall fitness. Is it the same at the beginning and end of your rides? Does your horse come out sore the day after a workout? If so, it’s time to have a talk with the doctors. This can be a sign of a subtle lameness, or simply that you need to up your fitness game.

Designing a Tailor-Made Fitness Plan

Now that we’ve sized up your horse, it’s time to concoct a fitness plan that’ll have them prancing like an Olympic dressage horse in no time. (You may want to consider a fitness plan for yourself as well, but I’ll leave that part up to you!).

  1. Start Slow, Finish Strong

Just as I take cautious steps when venturing into unknown territory, your horse needs a gradual introduction to a new fitness routine. Begin with light exercises like walking and gradually incorporate more challenging activities over time. Lots and lots of walking is a great way to get a good base of fitness. It is also really difficult for a horse to injure themselves walking. Not impossible though, since they are horses, after all.

Adding 3-5 minutes of a gait every two weeks until you hit your goal is generally safe. Talk with our doctors for help determining what those goals should be if you aren’t sure. If you want to trail ride 7 miles, they will be different than if you want to do a Second Level dressage test. Check those vital signs after each ride to be sure heart and respiratory rates are coming down appropriately. If they aren’t, you are likely adding work too quickly.

  1. Mix it Up Maneuver

 Variety is the spice of life, and it’s no different for our horses. Keep their workouts interesting by alternating between riding, lunging, and ground exercises. If possible, alternate footing. Ride on grass, sand, hard surfaces, and any other options you can find. This not only targets different muscle groups but also keeps them mentally engaged. Cross training is also great for any horse! Got a jumper? Do some dressage. Got a dressage horse? Jump something! Work in an arena a lot? Go for a trail ride (watch out for field mice!) The more variety, the better.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

  1. Healthy Hoof Habits

A sound foundation is crucial, and I’m not just talking about my cozy nest. I know I say this a lot, and Tony said it all the time: regular hoof care is essential for your horse’s well-being. Ensure they have proper shoeing and trimmings to prevent discomfort and potential lameness. No Hoof, No Horse is a very real thing!

  1. Nutritional Nibble

Just like nibbling on a juicy piece of cheese, your horse’s diet plays a vital role in their fitness journey. Consult with any of our technicians or doctors at Springhill Equine to help you come up with a diet that gives your horse all the right stuff without tipping the scales. It can be particularly tricky to feed horses who are in a changing exercise program. They will have different requirements for many key ingredients like protein and trace minerals.

  1. Consistent Canter

Consistency is key in any fitness endeavor. Establish a routine that you and your horse can stick to. Whether it’s morning or evening, maintaining a regular schedule fosters discipline and helps monitor progress. Just like for you humans, every little bit counts. Adding some groundwork for 15 minutes when you are short on time counts!!

So there you have it, dear humans – a field mouse’s take on evaluating and enhancing your horse’s fitness. Remember, each horse is unique, so don’t be afraid to adjust your plan based on their individual needs. Keep the lines of communication open with my doctors, and soon you’ll be riding high on the waves of equine fitness success!

Happy trails and squeaks,

~Whinny

P.S. Make sure you take a minute to watch those videos I linked above! And while you’re over on my YouTube Channel, subscribe! My humans put out a ton of great video content, and it’s all free for the taking. I don’t know how they find the time to do it. It’s all I can do to keep up with my blog writing, supervising the going’s on here at the Clinic, and so on. Speaking of our Clinic, did you know we’ve added a Small Animal Hospital to our building? Construction is wrapping up this week! Keep an eye on my Facebook page. I’ll make sure they post a video soon!

Whinny’s Wisdoms is the official blog of Whinny the Clinic Mouse at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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New Foal Care Basics

New Foal Care Basics

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Hey everybody, it’s Whinny, your favorite vet clinic mouse here with some nuggets of wisdom for you! Hopefully the majority of you have heeded my sage advice and bought a horse that’s already grown and trained. But for those of you who were determined to do it the hard [expensive, painful] way and breed your own, then it’s time to start planning out the things your new foal will need.

First, I want to acknowledge the hard work you’ve done to get to this point! After the trials and tribulations of successfully breeding your mare and enduring the long nights on foal watch, the eagerly anticipated foal has arrived. Congratulations on the hard work it takes to get a new foal on the ground! With all that hard work, we are determined to implement the best protocols to ensure a long life and successful career for the new foal. In this guide, I’ll walk you through my guidelines for vaccines, deworming, nutrition, and farrier care to give your new foal the best start in life.

Vaccines

Vaccinations are a cornerstone of equine health and are essential in providing a young horse protection in their first year of life. The antibodies from the vaccines help prevent these common, yet devastating diseases as well as reduce the death rate, depending on the disease. Here’s a recommended vaccination schedule for your new foal:

-Combination vaccine including: Eastern Encephalitis, Western Encephalitis,Tetanus, West Nile, Equine Influenza Virus and Equine Herpes Virus. This combo is typically given in a 3 booster series.

  – 1st Booster: 4-5 months of age

  – 2nd Booster: 4-6 weeks after the 1st dose

  – 3rd Booster: 10 months of age

  – Follow-up: Biannual/every 6-month revaccination

– Rabies

  – 1st Booster: 6 months of age

  – 2nd Booster: 4-6 weeks after the 1st dose

  – Annual revaccination

 Deworming

Proper deworming is essential to prevent internal parasites from getting out of control. Here’s a deworming schedule based on your foal’s age. It is always important to dose deworming medications based on weight:

– 2-3 months of age: Panacur (fenbendazole)

– 4-6 months of age: Ivermectin

– 6-8 months of age: Strongid (pyrantel)

– 12 months of age: Perform Fecal Egg Counts to develop a strategic deworming plan moving forward.

Nutrition

A foal’s nutritional needs evolve as they grow. It is always best to connect with an expert, such as your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist, about which diet is best for your foal. Nutrition plays a large role in growth and development. It can also impact health and orthopedic developmental conditions, such as OCDs (Osteochondrosis). A general guideline may be:

-2 weeks of age: Start introducing grass and forage (hay and grass). Coprophagy (eating manure) is normal and aids in the development of healthy gut bacteria. Foal Heat Diarrhea might occur due to GI tract changes from adjustments in the diet around this age.

-2 months until weaning: Gradually introduce high-quality feed designed for growing foals based on weight and Body Condition Score. Offer free-choice quality forage during this period.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Farrier Care

Taking care of your foal’s hooves is vital for their overall well-being:

– Begin farrier care at around 2 weeks of age.

– Follow-up appointments every 4-6 weeks, unless otherwise directed for orthopedic or developmental reasons.

Whinny’s Wisdoms: Teaching your foal to be comfortable having their feet picked up right from the very beginning will make life much easier on them, as well as the horse care professionals who keep them happy and healthy. Take the time to acclimate your foal to regular handling, and it will save you a lot of money and heartache in the long run.

 Caring for a new foal involves a combination of veterinary care, nutrition, and regular attention to their health and growth. By following these guidelines for vaccines, deworming, nutrition, and farrier care, you can provide your young equine companion with the best possible start in life. Remember that every foal is unique, so consulting with your veterinarian and other equine professionals will help tailor these guidelines to your foal’s specific needs. With proper care and attention, you’ll be setting the foundation for a healthy and thriving future for your new foal.

Do you have questions about your foal care plan? Schedule a telemedicine appointment with one of my docs, and they’ll be happy to talk it over with you! Just call the clinic at 352-472-1620.

Until next week,

~Whnny

P.S. Have you subscribed to my blog? Don’t rely on Facebook to let you know when a new blog gets posted, have it come right to your email! Subscribers get the blog 1-2 days before it goes out on Facebook, and they never miss one. Just scroll down to the purple box and enter your email address. Thanks! – W.

Whinny’s Wisdoms is the official blog of Whinny the Clinic Mouse at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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