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.

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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.

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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.

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  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.

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  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?

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  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.

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  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.

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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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Mare Breeding: A Guide for Horse Owners

Mare Breeding: A Guide for Horse Owners

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Spring is in the air, the birds and the bees are out, and foals are hitting the ground. Everyone seems to be thinking about making more of them! Don’t we have enough horses in the world? I think we need more mice. But seriously, breeding your horse is a significant decision that requires careful consideration. In the United States, we’re facing an overpopulation of horses, and adding more to the population should be a thoughtful choice. While the idea of passing down desirable traits, like behavior, movement, personality, or talent, can be appealing, it’s crucial to know that these traits aren’t always inherited by offspring. Each horse is unique, and what makes a great performer or companion doesn’t always transfer to the next generation.

Moreover, breeding a mare especially demands foresight and planning for the foal’s future. It’s essential to have a well-thought-out plan for the foal once it arrives, including a budget set aside for potential health issues in its early days to weeks of life. Consider that if a foal can’t be sold due to genetic issues or a lack of desired talents, the responsibility for its care falls on the mare owner for the rest of its life. This responsibility extends far beyond the cute foal stage into adulthood, which involves time, finances, and dedication. Making the decision to breed should involve serious consideration of the long-term commitment to the foal’s well-being, ensuring a stable and secure future for both the mare and her offspring. And if you’re looking to make a profit from breeding horses, just cut your losses now! I can’t even tell you how many financial horror stories I’ve overheard at the clinic from owners losing money on breeding.

Whinny’s Wisdom: MOST people who breed horses do not turn a profit from it. Don’t count on ANY foal to be a financial windfall!

Understanding Mare Reproductive Health

Reproductive services for mares should involve comprehensive examinations, utilizing diagnostic tools like ultrasound and hormonal assays, and scheduled follow up exams. This helps identify any potential issues that could hinder fertility, such as uterine infections, hormonal imbalances, or structural abnormalities.

Various health problems, from infections to systemic conditions, can affect a mare’s fertility. Addressing these concerns early is crucial. Treatment options may include antibiotics, hormonal therapies, or management adjustments to enhance overall reproductive success. It’s also very important to consider if it is worth pursuing breeding in a mare with any of these reproductive conditions. Basically, do you want to breed A horse, or do you want to breed THIS horse?

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Pre-Breeding

It pays to be prepared! Before any birds or bees are brought together, there are some important steps. First of all, is your mare fit and healthy enough to be bred? Let’s go over what information we need to figure that out:

Vaccination Status: All horses should be vaccinated regularly by the veterinarian you have a great relationship with, but it’s even more important for a broodmare whose immune system will be challenged by growing a brand-new creature for 11 months. Our docs require mares to be up-to-date on vaccinations for diseases like Eastern and Western Encephalitis, Tetanus, West Nile, Equine Influenza, Equine Herpes, and Rabies. Go check out some of Tony’s old blogs to learn about these vaccines if you’re curious!

Dental and Hoof Health: Regular farrier visits and dental care are vital for maintaining a mare’s health during pregnancy. Would you want to carry an extra 100 lbs in your abdomen if you already had bad feet or a toothache?

Reproductive History: Knowing if your mare has previously foaled or been bred helps us understand potential complications or issues that might arise during the breeding process. Any previous reproductive diagnoses, such as uterine infections or cysts, are critical to know about and potentially manage prior to insemination. A mare that has had a difficult pregnancy previously won’t necessarily repeat that, but she may. Similarly, a mare that’s had very easy pregnancies in her past could always have a difficult time this go around. It’s important to be emotionally and financially prepared for above-and-beyond care if your mare has a difficult pregnancy. This can involve frequent exams, medications, or even hospitalizations. If your horse has not ever been pregnant before, this can also sometimes present challenges, especially if she is older than 8-10 years of age.

The prebreeding reproductive evaluation is a pivotal step in ensuring a successful breeding outcome. Through the use of diagnostic tools like ultrasound, uterine culture, and cytology, our doctors comprehensively assess the mare’s reproductive health. Ultrasound examinations offer valuable insights into the reproductive tract, detecting structural abnormalities, cysts, or inflammatory changes that might hinder fertility. Uterine cultures identify bacterial infections within the uterus, enabling targeted antibiotic treatments to resolve underlying issues. Concurrently, uterine cytology evaluates the cellular composition of the uterine lining, pinpointing inflammation or irregularities that could affect the mare’s ability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term. This comprehensive evaluation empowers veterinarians to proactively address potential issues, optimizing the mare’s reproductive health and significantly increasing the chances of a successful breeding experience.

Turn the Lights On

For early breeding (before March/April), implementing a Light Protocol helps regulate the mare’s estrous cycle. This involves simulating longer daylight hours to prompt hormonal changes, preparing the mare’s reproductive system for an earlier breeding season. This process typically begins around 60-90 days before the desired start of the breeding season, usually in late fall or early winter.

How to Implement a Light Protocol:

  1. 1. Light Duration and Intensity: Mares are sensitive to light changes. Mimicking longer daylight hours tricks their bodies into believing spring is approaching, stimulating hormonal changes. Provide artificial lighting in the mare’s stall, ensuring 16 hours of continuous light daily. Natural and artificial light combined should meet this duration.
  1. Light Timing: Start the Light Protocol in late fall or early winter. Calculate backward from the desired breeding date, allowing 60-90 days of light stimulation before the intended breeding season begins.
  1. Light Management: Ensure consistent lighting without interruption. Use 100-200-watt LED, incandescent or fluorescent bulbs placed approximately eight feet above the mare. The lighting should be evenly distributed throughout the barn, including the stall where the mare resides.
  1. Light Control: Use automatic timers to maintain a regular schedule. Artificial light should start early in the morning, simulating dawn, and continue until late in the evening, mimicking dusk. Avoid sudden changes in light intensity or duration.

Implementing the Light Protocol at the right time is critical. For early breeding, starting the protocol around late November to early December allows for the required 60-90 days of light exposure before the breeding season, typically beginning in February or March. Regular monitoring during the Light Protocol ensures proper response. Veterinary guidance and monitoring hormone levels may be necessary to confirm the mare’s readiness for breeding after the completion of the light exposure period.

Timing

As they say, timing is everything. Once our team has determined your favorite mare is all ready for a bun in the oven, the work has only just begun. Horses have a 21-day estrous cycle, but the period of fertility (estrus) varies from 2-8 days across each cycle, with the length of diestrus (uterine inactivity) adjusting to keep the cycle at about 21 days. Because of this variability, it is crucial your mare have ultrasound assisted reproductive exams OFTEN. When I say often, I mean sometimes multiple times per day. The margin for error in timing depends on how you are planning to have your mare bred.

In general, we have the most flexibility if the mare will be live covered and the least flexibility if she will be artificially inseminated using frozen semen. This usually means you are either boarding your mare at our clinic (yay, more friends for me!) or trailering her in every 1-3 days until she is bred. After the deed is done, we have to confirm she has done her part and released an egg. This is also done with ultrasound. Then, there’s more to schedule!

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Fourteen days after confirmed ovulation will be the first pregnancy check. That 14-day mark is super important, because we have to look for twins. Horses are super particular with their insides (see all of our colic blogs!) and their insides can absolutely not handle two babies at once. So, if we find twins, we have to “pinch” one of the embryos in order to save the other embryo and the mother. But we can only do this very early in her pregnancy.

After that fourteen-day check when she is confirmed pregnant, one of the nice technicians at the clinic will email you a Pregnant Mare Schedule which details the next 11 months of her and your life. She’ll be visiting us at least every few months for ultrasound exams and vaccines until her baby is born. And if you feel anything is going wrong in between those frequent visits, she will visit us then too!

Conclusion: Breed Responsibly

While the thrill of breeding your mare is enticing, responsible breeding involves thorough consideration and preparation. Each mare is unique, and individualized care to whole horse health is vital for successful reproduction. At Springhill Equine, our docs prioritize individualized care and thorough assessment to maximize the chances of a successful breeding outcome. Our aim is not just conception but ensuring the health and well-being of both mare and foal.

I think I gave a pretty thorough lecture today, but if you would like any further information or to schedule your mare’s reproductive evaluation, you can speak to our lovely office staff by calling 352-472-1620.

Until next week,

~Whinny

P.S. If you really want to get intense with breeding knowledge, my docs have several seminars on the topic over on our YouTube Channel. They are way more in-depth than my blog, and completely free! You can find all of our Seminars 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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The Udderly Fantastic Guide to Pet Cows

The Udderly Fantastic Guide to Pet Cows

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

So, you’ve decided to expand your furry family with a couple of hooved companions? Whinny the clinic mouse here, ready to spill the hay on the ins and outs of acquiring, raising, and taking care of your very own pet cows. Take it from a very experienced clinic mouse: cows are no walk in the pasture. They demand attention, love, and a keen understanding of their unique needs. They are very large, potentially dangerous animals and should generally only be owned by humans with livestock experience. If you fit that bill, read on as we dig into the details and navigate the moos and groans of cow parenting!

Choosing Your Bovine Bestie

Before you dive headfirst into the world of cattle companionship, let’s discuss the fascinating array of cattle breeds. Whether it’s the docile Holstein or the hardy Angus, each breed comes with its own set of characteristics and challenges, and picking the right one can make all the difference in your pet-owning experience. Consider your available space, climate, and your own preferences when picking the perfect cow. Oh, and don’t forget about zoning regulations – your neighbors might not appreciate a surprise cow invasion.

  1. Holstein: The Gentle Giant

Known for their distinctive black-and-white markings, Holsteins are the heavyweights of the dairy world. Renowned for their docile nature, they’re excellent choices for experienced cattle families seeking a cuddly and milk-rich companion. However, keep in mind that they are very large and will require a lot of space.

  1. Angus: The Hardy Homesteader

If you’re looking for a sturdy and low-maintenance option, Angus cattle might fit the bill. With their black coats and robust build, these cattle thrive in various climates. Some members of this breed can be very calm and friendly, but personalities can vary!

  1. Hereford: The Friendly Grazer

Recognizable by their red and white coloration, Herefords boast a friendly disposition. They are known for their adaptability and are well-suited for those new to bovine parenthood if acquired as calves. Watch out in sunny areas though, these white-faced cattle are prone to UV exposure related diseases like squamous cell carcinoma.

  1. Belted Galloway: The Stylish Sidekick

Sporting a distinctive white belt around their midsection, Belted Galloways are not only stylish but also hardy. Their thick, shaggy coat serves as natural insulation, making them well-suited for colder climates. These charismatic cows can add a touch of flair to your northern homestead.

  1. Brahman: The Southern Charmer

Uniquely designed to live comfortably in the South, these massive humped cattle are a striking addition to any pasture. Take care though, they must be handled and trained from a very young age with extreme diligence as they are the most stubborn breed around. They are also incredibly large and can be dangerous even without meaning to.

Once you’ve got your heart set on a specific breed, it’s time to find a reputable breeder. A healthy start is crucial, so make sure your chosen cow comes from a clean and well-maintained environment. Insist on proper documentation of vaccinations and health checks – you wouldn’t want any unwanted surprises.

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Whinny’s Wisdom: Cattle breeders do not bring their best, or even second-best, animals to auctions.

Buyer Beware

As you embark on your journey to welcome bovine buddies into your life, it’s crucial to exercise caution in the cattle marketplace. Miniature cattle, while adorable, can harbor potential genetic issues that may not be immediately apparent and cause life-long expensive medical concerns. When purchasing, steer clear of auctions or tractor and supply stores, as the best animals from reputable breeders are rarely found there. Animals in such venues often carry undisclosed health issues, leading to unexpected challenges down the pasture road. Additionally, buyers interested in long hair cattle, like the Scottish Highland breeds, should consider the impact of hot climates on these cold-adapted creatures. The lush coats that make them iconic pose difficulties in warmer weather, leading to deadly heat stress. To ensure a healthy and happy bovine addition to your family, prioritize acquiring animals from trusted breeders with a track record of responsible breeding practices.

A Few Other Considerations

Castration

While bulls may conjure images of strength and power, they aren’t exactly the ideal candidates for a cozy petting session. Bulls can and do become aggressive and challenging to handle as they mature. To avoid unnecessary headaches, consider castrating bulls at a young age or only purchasing already castrated male calves. This not only makes them more docile but also eliminates the risk of unwanted pregnancies.

Dehorning: A Safety Measure Worth Taking

Cattle with horns may look majestic, but those pointed accessories pose risks, both to the animal itself and its human companions. To prevent injuries and ensure a safer environment, only purchase dehorned or polled (born without horns) calves. If you acquire a calf young enough you can have your veterinarian dehorn after purchase, but be warned, after about 8 weeks of age they can no longer be dehorned in a routine way and must instead have an invasive surgery. Did you see an older baby bull-calf with horns on Facebook Marketplace? Just say no unless you have an extra $1,000 laying around to address the things that weren’t done by the seller.

Raising Happy Cattle

Now that your new companions have hoofed their way into your life, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of husbandry. All cattle thrive on routine, so establish a consistent feeding and turnout schedule. Provide ample space for your animals to graze and roam. A happy cow is a healthy cow, after all. Pet cows generally do well on pasture most of the year with added hay in winter months. ‘Pasture’ means way more than just your backyard! In Florida, stocking densities vary from 2-25 acres required PER COW depending on what type and quality of grass your property has. All cattle must have access to free choice minerals to help make up for what pasture lacks. Milking cows or growing calves will often need grain supplementation, but beware over-feeding!

Ensure they have access to clean water and shelter, protecting them from extreme weather conditions. Invest in quality bedding for shelters or stalls to prevent hoof issues and keep your cow’s living space clean. Regularly inspect their environment for potential hazards and fix any fences or gates that may pose a danger. Remember, a safe and secure environment is the foundation of a healthy, happy herd. And yes, a good scratch behind the ears never hurt anyone – cows appreciate a little affection too.

The Veterinarian: Your Cow’s Best Friend

Now, let’s talk veterinary care – the unsung hero of bovine well-being. Regular check-ups with a qualified veterinarian are non-negotiable. Vaccinations, deworming, and hoof care should be part of the routine – a proactive approach keeps those moo-tastrophes at bay.

Don’t be shy about consulting your vet for advice on nutrition and preventive measures. A customized health plan ensures your cows are tip-top, whether they’re giving you gallons of milk or just adorable moments to cherish. It will always be cost-saving to involve your veterinarian upfront, rather than calling them for a weekend emergency. And if you want to keep those veterinarians you have a great relationship with coming back to your farm, be sure they have an easy time working with your cattle. This most often means providing facilities for handling. Whether it’s a small catch pen with panels, a milking stanchion or head catch, or a full hydraulic chute, there needs to be a safe area to effectively contain and control your 800+ lb animals so your veterinarian doesn’t get hurt while tending to their needs.

Common Health Issues

Despite your and your veterinarians best efforts, pet cattle can still face health challenges. Be vigilant for signs of common issues like mastitis, respiratory infections, or lameness. Early detection and prompt veterinary intervention can make all the difference.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Keep an eye on your cow’s body condition – obesity and undernourishment are both troublesome. If your cow starts acting a bit off, don’t play the guessing game; consult your vet promptly. Remember, a proactive approach to health issues ensures your cows live long and moo-tiful lives.

Remember, a good relationship with your vet, a solid husbandry routine, and a watchful eye for preventive care are your best allies. So, gear up, future cow enthusiasts, and embark on this udderly fantastic adventure! Your cows will thank you with hearty moos and a lifetime of companionship. Happy herding!

Until next week,

~Whinny

P.S. Have you subscribed to my blog yet? If you’ll scroll down to the big purple box and put your email address in it, I’ll email you my blog every week. That way you get it a day or two before it shows up on Facebook, and you don’t have to rely on Facebook to show it to you (and we all know how reliable they are!) So, be a good human, scroll down a bit more. There you go… purple box. Good human!

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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Foal Watch Time!

Foal Watch Time!

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Hey everybody, Whinny here! It’s January, which means for some, the time may be approaching to start foal watch on your pregnant mare! Mares have an 11-month gestation and some breeds do their best to have a foal born as close as they can to the first of the year. Knowing the normal birth process allows us to catch any problems early and intervene if necessary.

Foal watch usually starts about 2 weeks before the mare’s foaling date. Foal watch starts with monitoring the mare’s behavior, eating habits, and changes to her body. The mare’s gluteal muscles will become very soft when she is close to foaling and her tail will also become more relaxed. Her udder will start to produce milk. We can monitor for changes in the milk by checking its pH. Once the pH of her milk drops below 7, the mare will likely foal in the next 24 hours. Click here to watch a short video demonstrating these things!

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Three Stages of Parturition in Mares

Stage 1

This stage is getting the foal in position for delivery. Therefore, some of the signs, such as getting up and down, may be similar to colic. She may go off her feed intermittently. Often times, the mare may be seen rolling, pawing and frequently kicking at her abdomen. Usually these signs will diminish, the mare will return to normal, and it will be very confusing to those who are waiting for the foal to come.  You may also notice that your mare has contractions. This can last for many days prior to actually having a foal on the ground. The humans tell me that this is how your mare makes sure you are exhausted before anything ever happens.

Stage 2

This stage is crazy fast and it is important to keep track of the duration of time the mare is in this stage. This stage starts when the mare’s water breaks and lasts until the foal is expelled. This should take no more than 30 minutes. This is when things can go very wrong, very quickly. The foal should be presenting front feet first, followed shortly by a nose. If it does take longer than 30 minutes, or if you see a red bag or anything other than front feet and nose, then this is a dystocia and is a medical emergency. Call your vet immediately no matter what time it is!

Stage 3

The final stage is expulsion of the placenta. This should be passed no more than 3 hours after the foal is born. If the placenta has a piece missing or has not been expelled in the appropriate time frame, this is a medical emergency for the mare. Again, call your vet no matter what time it is.

The 1-2-3 Rule

Besides the 3 stages listed above, it’s important to know the 1-2-3 Rule and keep note of the times the mare and foal are meeting important milestones. These milestones are:

  1. The foal should be standing within 1 hour after being born.
  2. The foal should be successfully nursing within 1 hour after standing (so 2 hours after being born). This is vital for a foal to receive the colostrum from their mom. This is where they receive their immune system. A foal is born without an immune system and will not have the ability to fight infection and pathogens unless it gets the colostrum from its mother.
  3. As mentioned above, the mare should pass her placenta no later than 3 hours after her foal is born.

 Foal watch, with its meticulously delineated stages of parturition, helps ensure the health and wellbeing of your mare and new foal. Horses aren’t nearly as good at this whole reproduction thing as mice are, so they often need some help. When you’re standing in the barn at 2:00 in the morning trying to decide if you should bother your veterinarian or not, remind yourself that you have invested a tremendous amount of time, money, and heartache to get to this point. Always err on the side of caution, and don’t gamble with your mare and foal! I promise that your vet would rather respond to a false alarm than sleep through a crisis.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

If all goes well with the foaling, you’ll need to have your vet come out for a new foal exam. They usually time this so that they arrive when the foal is around a day old, but also while it’s daytime. Along with a thorough physical exam, they’ll pull blood to do an IgG test, which will tell them if your foal got enough colostrum. If it didn’t, it will need plasma immediately, and they will help you with that.

This is the point that more or less closes out the end of a year of breeding insanity and begins the next chapter of madness: raising a foal! I’ll save that topic for another day. There’s a block of cheese that’s been sitting out on the desk calling my name…

Until next week,

~Whinny

P.S. Don’t forget to go watch that video! It will show you exactly what your mare will look like when it’s approaching Go Time. And while you’re on our YouTube Channel, look around! We’ve got a great video library for you, including a number of seminars on breeding and foaling which are packed with much more information than I shared here, and it’s all free! Make sure you use all the tools to do this job!

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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White Line Disease in Horses

White Line Disease in Horses

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Hey everyone, Whinny here! Since you’re a horse person, you’ve probably heard the old saying “No hoof, no horse”, and it will always ring true. Let’s chat today about a common hoof problem – White Line Disease. With the wet weather we’ve had lately, my Springhill vets have been seeing quite a few cases, and you may have even seen it without realizing!

Also called seedy toe, white line disease can start with just a little separation at the hoof wall. Maybe you’ve gone a little too long between trims and your horse’s hooves have gotten a bit too long. You notice a small gap between the outer hoof wall and the sole, and some dirt is packed in there. That can be how WLD starts, and at this early stage it can be pretty manageable, but it can get out of control before you know it. Let’s go into what white line disease is, what causes it, and what you can do about it.

What is White Line Disease?

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

White line disease is basically an infection in your horse’s foot caused by bacteria and fungi getting into a gap in the hoof wall. The infection takes place in the tissue between the outer hoof wall and the sensitive inner tissues of the hoof. It doesn’t take any special evil organisms to cause this problem, it’s just the normal bacteria and fungi in your horse’s environment that are just waiting for the opportunity to find a nice place to set up shop. What they love is a dark, moist place, and a little space inside the hoof wall is their real estate dream. As the bacteria and fungi work their way into the hoof wall, they eat away at the tissue that should be keeping the hoof connected to the deeper structures. It’s a vicious cycle – once they access even further up inside the hoof and have a lovely dark, protected area, it gets much more difficult to clean them out. If you look at a foot with WLD, you’ll see a cavity between the outer hoof wall and the sole. You may be able to stick a hoof pick up in there and pick out some crumbly material that is the degraded hoof plus dirt, bacteria, and fungi.

You can find WLD on just one or two feet, or it can affect all four. In the early stages, your horse may not yet be sore, but as the tissue invasion becomes extensive, it can cause lameness. It can even progress to a very serious stage where the coffin bone loses connection to the hoof wall and begins to rotate (similar to, but different from, laminitis).

What Causes White Line Disease?

Like I said, bacteria and fungi are involved in WLD, but it’s not so simple as that, because the bacteria and fungi are always there in the environment, and not every hoof gets WLD. So how do they get into a foot?

It comes down to a separation that occurs in the hoof that gives the organisms a chance to invade – the bacteria and fungi are just there to take advantage of it. Why does that separation occur in the first place? Poor trimming or sometimes a conformational issue such as club foot can be the cause. A horse with chronic laminitis can also be at greater risk due to the loss of integrity of the hoof. Most commonly, a long toe or overgrown foot can distort the hoof and cause mechanical stress that leads to the hoof wall separating near the white line. Just another of the 10,000 reasons it’s important to stay on top of your horse’s hoof care and get him a quality trim at a regular interval.

Any age, sex, or breed of horse can be affected.  While it can occur in any climate, it’s more common in humid conditions (ahem, Florida anyone?) since wet footing can soften the hoof and allow the organisms easier entry into the tissues.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

How Do We Treat and Prevent White Line Disease?

First, we have to recognize the WLD. You’ll want to pay close attention to your horse’s feet when you’re picking them out. If you think there are any areas of separation, pockets of dirt, and crumbly hoof near the white line, talk to my doc and your farrier. If your horse wears shoes, it’s a little trickier to observe this area, so your farrier should take a good look when she removes the shoe to trim the foot. One of the best things you can do to prevent WLD is just to have your horse trimmed frequently (about every 5 weeks, depending on the horse) and to make sure the toes don’t become too long. A well-trimmed foot is much less likely to develop this problem. On top of that, pick your horse’s feet regularly and give them a chance to dry out. Admittedly, the drying part can be tricky during some times of the year.

If your horse does develop white line disease, my doc and your farrier should work together to develop a treatment plan. Unfortunately, just picking the cavity out and applying medications is unlikely to stop the progression. A very minor WLD may be able to be trimmed out by your farrier during a routine visit. Larger areas of separation will require additional treatment. My doc may need to take a radiograph to see how extensive the damage is within the foot. She’ll need to correct any abnormal forces on the foot (such as an overgrown toe) that are causing the separation. All the other treatment will not really be effective if the primary cause isn’t fixed.

Next, my doc has to stop those bacteria and fungus in their tracks. The most important part is to remember what those organisms love – a nice dark, moist space that can’t easily be cleaned out. So my doc takes the roof from over their head by performing a hoof wall resection! Those critters don’t stand a chance once their hiding place is exposed to light and air. My doc uses a hoof nipper or Dremel to remove the outer layer of hoof wall from over the cavity. The organisms are prevented from hiding up there, and the infected area is exposed for medications to be applied. Medical treatment is almost never useful unless the hoof wall over the infection is removed, so don’t waste your money on the various lotions and potions that make lofty claims.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

It can look a bit dramatic to see a bunch of hoof wall removed, but don’t worry, it’s actually only the outer part of the hoof that is already disconnected. So there’s no bleeding, and it’s not painful to the horse. It’s much better than leaving the bacteria and fungus to eat away at the hoof. If a lot of hoof wall must be removed, a shoe can be helpful to stabilize the foot until new hoof grows down.

Once the outer hoof wall is removed, you’ll need to keep the hoof clean. My doc likes to soak the hoof in CleanTrax once a week to disinfect the hoof. The new, healthy hoof wall will grow downwards from the coronary band and as long as you have corrected the primary problems, your horse should grow in a normal hoof!

Until next week,

~Whinny

P.S. Have you seen the latest videos over on my YouTube Channel? I just published one explaining how to treat thrush with copper sulfate crystals and a wax ring from the hardware store. Well, the humans did it, but I was involved! There’s tons of great how-to horse healthcare videos on my channel, as well as seminars, the Horse Girl series, and more. Give it a gander. It’s the best free veterinary resource around, except for our Podcast! Not to brag, but Straight from the Horse Doctor’s Mouth is the biggest equine podcast in the world. Now that I mention that, I think I need to step my game up with my blog! Help a girl out and subscribe, would you?

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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How To Keep Horses Warm

How To Keep Horses Warm

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Hey everybody, Whinny here! It’s another rainy, winter day here. It’s not cold yet, because, well Florida, but that’s coming in the next few hours. It led this enquiring mouse mind to wonder how best to keep warm, and that got me wondering how best to keep a horse warm? This journey of horse knowledge is never ending! As a tiny field mouse who lives near a barn, I know I have some great choices. I like to find some roughage like old, dry grass, or leaves to make a burrow in. I grab some delicious snacks I’ve stored away, and snuggle down for a warm bite, followed by a cozy nap. Let’s find out if the same works for horses!

Hot Food

You humans like to warm up with warm things, like hot chocolate, tea, and coffee. It makes it tempting to offer things like warm mashes to horses. While they might like the idea of some hot oatmeal, with carrots, and apples, and all the trimmings, this is going to do far more for you humans than it will for a horse. First let’s consider the size of the critter. Tiny little field mouse me could eat some warm food, and actually affect my core temperature. Same for one of you humans. However, it has proven time and again that warm, or cold, water can’t be consumed in a high enough quantity to affect the body temperature of a 1200 pound horse. The water has to be so hot, or so cold, and in such rapidly consumed quantities that the laws of Nature don’t let this work out.  Let’s also remember that horses prefer a slow change to their diet. Suddenly throwing a sugar and calorie laden meal at them is a recipe for a colic disaster. I recommend against it. 

Long Hair

As someone with a luxuriant coat, I can attest to the insulation power of fur! You humans don’t understand this one at all, and trust me, it shows. If your horse has been living in their current environment for at least 12 months, the chances are they have an appropriate fur coat to handle the winter conditions for that area. I know, I know. This is hard to believe! It’s also hard to believe that Florida really doesn’t get that cold, but it’s true. No matter where they live, most horses will do just fine with the fur they have, provided some key needs are met. Moisture and wind decrease the ability of hair to hold on to heat. Ensuring your horse has somewhere to get dry and to get out of the wind will allow their fur to be all it can be. Winter coats can be compromised by things like poor nutrition, older age, and PPID (Cushings). These horses may need to have some added help to stay warm. 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Blankets

Oh boy. I’m going to step my paw into this controversy. As we discussed above, most horses don’t need blankets. My limited experience has shown that most humans think most horses do in fact need blankets. Let’s discuss my research on who actually needs a blanket. Horses who have been body clipped definitely need blankets, but probably not as heavily as most humans think. One study taught horses to tell their handlers if they wanted their blanket on or off. It was found that when temperatures were below about 15F, all the horses wanted their blankets on. These horses were located in Northern Europe so they knew a thing or two about being cold. There hasn’t been a lot of study on horses in warmer environments, like the Southeastern United States. However, it is known that horses greatly prefer colder temperatures than the average Southeastern United States human. That 15F temperature is what’s known as their lowest critical temperature. This is the temperature at which it starts to cost the average horse more energy to stay warm than they can consume. Makes sense that this is when they want a blanket. This means that most horses, in most of the areas where horse people have them in most of the world, probably don’t need a blanket if they have their nutrition needs met, and have a place to get out of the wind and rain. But if your horse is body clipped, has a body condition score less than 5, or has a compromised hair coat thanks to PPID, consider a blanket. Remember though, that blanket can’t go on and stay on. You will need to have a plan for taking it off as temperatures go up through the day.

Roughage is Always the Best

And finally we get to the best way to keep a horse warm: Hay. Horses are hind gut fermenters (which means they produce heat while digesting hay). So are adorable little field mice. Turns out both of us stay warm by eating roughage, and using bacteria in our gut to break it down. Making sure your horse has plenty of good quality roughage to eat on cold, windy (or rainy) days will do the most to make sure they stay warm and happy. If in doubt, throw an extra flake or two. 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Horse care always comes back to simple is best. Keeping them warm is the same. Make sure they have a dry place to get out of the wind, and offer lots of hay. And maybe put a little on the side for the mouse in your life. I’m just saying.

Until next week,

~Whinny

P.S. Have you seen the latest videos over on my YouTube Channel? I just published one explaining how to treat thrush with copper sulfate crystals and a wax ring from the hardware store. Well, the humans did it, but I was involved! There’s tons of great how-to horse healthcare videos on my channel, as well as seminars, the Horse Girl series, and more. Give it a gander. It’s the best free veterinary resource around, except for our Podcast! Not to brag, but Straight from the Horse Doctor’s Mouth is the biggest equine podcast in the world. Now that I mention that, I think I need to step my game up with my blog! Help a girl out and subscribe, would you?

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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Equine Core Vaccines and What They’re For

Equine Core Vaccines and What They’re For

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Hey everybody, it’s your favorite clinic mouse Whinny here! Everyone knows their horses need to be vaccinated, but not everyone knows what we’re vaccinating for, and why it’s so important to stay on schedule. The health and longevity of our equine friends is a priority for every responsible horse, pony and donkey owner, so today we’re going over the core vaccines.

Core vaccines, designed to protect against specific and potentially life-threatening diseases, play a crucial role in achieving this goal. There are five key core vaccines for horses: Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE), Tetanus, West Nile Virus (WNV), and Rabies.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE): EEE and WEE are viral diseases transmitted by mosquitoes that affect the central nervous system of horses. Symptoms of both diseases can start with a fever and lead to severe neurological symptoms, emphasizing the importance of vaccination. Neurologic symptoms can range from severe onset of stumbling, depression and seizures. Unfortunately in the case of EEE cases are often fatal. Vaccination against EEE and WEE is vital, especially in regions where mosquitoes are prevalent and should be boostered every 6 months after they have had their primary vaccination series as a foal.
  • Tetanus: Tetanus is caused by the bacterium commonly found in the soil, Clostridium tetani, and is contracted through wounds or injuries. Tetanus can result in muscle stiffness, difficulty swallowing, and even death. Tetanus vaccination is a cornerstone in equine healthcare, preventing this potentially fatal disease. Boosters are typically administered every 6 months.
  • West Nile Virus (WNV): WNV is a mosquito-borne viral infection affecting the central nervous system. Infected horses often have a fever and may exhibit neurological signs, such as incoordination, circling, muzzle twitching and others. Vaccination against WNV is recommended, particularly in areas where the virus is prevalent. Biannual boosters help maintain protection.
  • Rabies: Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system and is zoonotic. A disease being zoonotic means that it poses a risk to humans. Rabies symptoms can be varied, especially in equines and the disease is almost universally fatal. Unlike in dogs where rabies presents with excess salivation and aggression, in horses symptoms can be as non-descript as colic, lameness or depression. Rabies vaccination is essential for both equine and human health. Horses should receive regular yearly boosters as part of a comprehensive vaccination plan.

Whinny Wisdom: The EEE vaccine is nearly 100% effective at preventing the disease, but only for six months. If you have mosquitos for more than six months a year, your horse needs two boosters every year! Horses can get EEE seven months after their last vaccine, so there’s no grace period.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Core vaccines are critical in protecting against preventable diseases in horses. By adhering to a well-rounded vaccination protocol on a regular schedule, horse owners contribute to the overall health and longevity of their equine companions. And take it from this mouse: it’s the cheapest and most effective thing you can do to protect your horse.

If you aren’t already signed up, you might want to consider the 2024 Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic Wellness Plan, which includes these core vaccines as well as Rhino and flu, depending on what your horse’s risk is, a dental float, Coggins, a Wellness exam, fecal egg count, and all emergency fees waived for the year! It’s a great program. In addition to bundling and saving, you also don’t have to remember when your horses are due for vaccines: we’ll track that for you and call to schedule when it’s time! Wellness Plans are the cheapest part of horse ownership, and arguably the most important. Set your horses up for a successful 2024! Click here to go to the Wellness Page of my website to sign up, or call our office today! 352-472-1620.

Until next week,

~Whinny

P.S. I’m trying to get to 1,000 subscribers by the end of the year. If you haven’t done so already, help a little mouse out and subscribe to her blog! It’s super easy, you just scroll down to the big purple box and put your email address in. I promise I won’t email you anything besides my blog, and that will make sure you don’t miss out on any of my Wisdoms!

P.P.S. (Yes, it’s a two-fer! Get it?!) Are you looking for a stocking stuffer for your favorite horse person? The Adventures of the Horse Doctor’s Husband series (3 books so far) is a great gift idea! And if you have a young person in your life who’s thinking about becoming an equine vet, you can support them with our wonderful handbook called How to Become an Equine Veterinarian: A Guide for Teens. It’s age appropriate for 12-25, and covers everything they need to do through middle school, high school, and college to become a great candidate for vet school. And as my humans say all the time around here, the world needs more equine vets! You can find book details and links to purchase over on the Books Page of my website, or just click on the image below. After you subscribe, of course!

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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