Tuesdays with Tony
It’s January, which means two things: it’s cold, which I hate, and Springhill Equine Wellness Program sign-ups, which I love, are in full swing. Let’s talk about the cold first. I have asked my humans repeatedly to make the temperature outside more to my liking. Their only offer to solve this problem is a horrible plaid jacket they attempt to make me wear. This is a completely unacceptable solution. Thus I sit at the front door and demand the repeated opening and closing of the door so that I may move inside or out depending on my minute-by-minute temperature desires. I feel it’s a solid plan. The humans seem to object, but I ignore them. On to the thing you probably care more about: the Wellness Program, in other words, your horse’s basic healthcare needs. What are they, and why do my Docs do what they do?
Every horse should get a good basic exam every time they get a vaccine. This isn’t a fancy exam. It’s a heart, lungs, gut sounds, my Doc looking your horse over exam. It’s tempting to wonder what the heck they’re doing during this quick exam, and how much information they can gather. The answer is a lot. Giving a highly trained professional 5 minutes to look over your horse, take a listen, and talk to you about what you and your horse are up to will get you more information than all the hours you can put in with The Google Machine.
During that time my Docs are assessing your horse’s heart rate and beat. Is it regular? Is the rate appropriate for the fitness level your horse should be at? They are listening for early signs of asthma, a ridiculously common Florida horse problem. Gut sounds tell them if there is a hint of sand, or too much gas, or maybe some impending diarrhea. All the while they are looking at all your horse’s other body parts. You may not realize it because my Docs are slick like this, but they’re evaluating feet, muscles, topline, haircoat, eyes, and a million other things in that 5 minutes, all while integrating the information you’re giving them about your horse’s eating, drinking, and exercise habits. I dare you to get all that from the Faceplace!
Serious Tony here. Encephalitis is EVERYWHERE in Florida, and Rabies is really bad. Vaccines are important! Every single horse in the United States should have Eastern and Western Encephalitis, Tetanus, West Nile Virus, and Rabies vaccines yearly. If you live in the swampy, mosquito-infested land of Florida, the encephalitis and West Nile vaccines should be given at least every 6 months. Do you know what happens when you guys try to keep track of this yourselves? It doesn’t happen every 6 months. Often it doesn’t even happen every year. These diseases are deadly, and heartbreaking. Eastern encephalitis carries a 95% mortality rate. West Nile horses rarely return to their previous level of competition.
If your horse is around other horses, they should also be vaccinated for rhinopneumonitis and influenza. These are the respiratory viruses of the horse world. Horses get them from other horses. That means it’s not just for show horses. If you trail ride around other horses a lot, your horse should get these vaccines.
There are other vaccines out there, like Strangles and Potomac Horse Fever. Some horses need these. Some don’t. The best person to determine this is your veterinarian. Not a random person you met at the feed store, not your farrier, trainer, or Facebook friend. TikTok should also not be a guide here. If they aren’t a vet, they don’t decide. That’s some Tony wisdom right there.
Know how to best ensure your horse gets the vaccines they should, when they should? Sign up for Springhill Equine’s Wellness Program. So easy, even a dog can do it. Trust me. You humans can’t keep track of this without some feline help!
I’ve got entire blogs on why one should have a Coggins test, and how it’s spread. All the info you need on this. This week I’m here to say once again: sign up for our Wellness program so you’ve got your Coggins when you need it. “Emergency” Coggins really shouldn’t be a thing. If you think you might take your horse off property, get a Coggins on them when my Docs are there doing vaccines. It makes life much easier when you suddenly decide to take Flicka for a trail ride on Saturday, but realize on Thursday evening you don’t have a Coggins.
Big old Tony soapbox here. Dental care should be performed by your veterinarian. Just this past week we saw a horse who had their dental care performed LAST WEEK by a lay dental floater who had missed a giant tumor on the jaw. I know. I know. That’s not how my random person with an internet certificate in dentistry works. But it is how they work. Your horse’s mouth should be evaluated at least yearly by a veterinarian. That means sedation, a speculum, and a bright light. That means a veterinarian. Sedation can only be legally administered by a veterinarian.
You can tell this is a pain point for this cat. It’s because my poor Docs have to handle the repercussions of bad dental care. Often this means a horse not eating for days to weeks after a dental float, serious health problems from bad sedation choices, and missed issues often in the back of the mouth. Not to mention, you are out money for a service that was performed badly.
Okay, I know that was a lot, but it’s enough to get my hackles up. Also, good, consistent dental care is the single greatest thing you can do for your horse to help them have a happy, long life eating normal food. As those teeth decline, feeding becomes a huge challenge. Take care of them early and often, and you will save a ton of money on feed over the lifetime of your horse. This doesn’t even include the benefit of improved communication while you’re riding them.
Last but not least in the basics of horse healthcare is deworming. By this I do not mean place a deworming product in your horse’s mouth every month, six weeks, at the farrier visit, based on the lunar calendar, or some other crazy horse-person archaic deworming schedule. That’s right, I’m talking about you, horse people. Proper parasite management involves knowing fecal egg counts. This allows targeted deworming of the horse’s dropping the most parasites around their world, and NO one else.
Let me also state right here that just because one horse is high doesn’t mean all the other horses on a property are. This is so 1990’s thinking. Be hip and modern. Use fecal egg counts to guide deworming. For Florida, this means check fecal egg counts once yearly generally during what counts as our Winter, Spring, or early Summer. Only horses with high egg counts are dewormed. In the late Fall, everyone gets dewormed with an ivermectin/praziquantel product. My Docs recommend Equimax for a variety of reasons. That’s it. See, I just saved you money, time, and argument with your horse over taking their dewormer.
Know how to get all this stuff for your horse, save time and money, and have my awesome group of humans keep track of all of it for you? Sign up for our Wellness Program. Time is running out to get in on the plans. Signing up is easy. Just go here: https://springhillequine.com/wellness-sign-up-sheet/ and do the things. Now go back to perusing the internet for the thing it does best: cat videos!
Until next week,
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Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat 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!