Blanket? Or not to blanket?

 

Do you and your horse live in a cold climate? Do rain and snow frequently fall while your horse is turned out to pasture? Does your prize-winning show horse relish a roll in mud and manure – after you’ve spent countless hours grooming her for the competition lights? Regardless of your situation, blankets may be the answer to many of your troubles. In fact, a suitable horse blanket or sheet may be one of the most important investments you can make when it comes to your horse’s health and beauty.

Blankets defined
Horse blankets and sheets are an easy and often economical way to protect your horse from cold, inclement weather, excess dirt, manure, and mud. Some also protect against insects or potentially damaging ultraviolet rays. In addition, frequent grooming removes natural oils from your horse’s coat, but blankets and sheets help add a much needed layer of protection regardless of the weather.

Blankets and sheets are available in numerous styles and materials. Generally, a blanket fits over your horse’s entire body – covering the withers, back, barrel, and hindquarters – from the shoulder to the tail. The length usually falls around mid-leg. Those with open fronts or shoulder gussets allow your horse more freedom of movement while she is turned out in the pasture or field. Regardless of style, however, a strap around the girth area and rear leg straps will help keep the blanket in position at all times.

The following are some common questions and answers about blanketing your horse:

Should I blanket my horse?
Whether you blanket your horse or not depends greatly on your individual horse and the climate you live in. Here are some instances where a blanket may be beneficial for your horse:

  • If your horse is visibly uncomfortable or shivering in the cold weather
  • If your horse is older, weak, ill or recovering from an illness
  • If your horse is very young
  • If your horse is clipped
  • If you show your horse
  • If your horse does not have a sufficient winter coat
  • If your horse was from a warmer climate and is now in a cooler climate

When should I begin to blanket my horse?
As a general rule, you should begin to blanket your horse when you first notice she is uncomfortable in cold weather conditions. Even if your horse is not shivering, you may want to consider blanketing your horse if the wind is brisk or if it is raining or snowing. If the nights are cold but the days are still warm, you may find your horse benefits from having a blanket at night.

What type of blanket should I use?
The best type of blanket depends on your situation. Consider the weather, overall climate in your area, and how your horse responds to cold, rain, wind, and snow. There are a number of materials available to choose from, including weatherproof nylon, durable canvas, quilted polyester, and polar fleece. A thin sheet is ideal for minimal protection from the sun, or blowing dirt and dust. If your area gets large amounts of cold, rain, or snow, choose a more weather-resistant blanket. You may also want to consider having two blankets on hand so you can wash one blanket while your horse wears the other.

Will I be able to tell if my horse is too hot when she is blanketed?
Your horse may give you physical signs when she is too warm. Sweating behind the ears or along the neck is a telltale sign your horse is too warm wearing his blanket. Be sure to watch for signs your horse is overheating, which include an absence of sweat (anhidrosis) and heavy breathing. Overheating can happen when you blanket your horse when the days are warm, but the nights are still cold and the blanket is not removed early enough in the morning.

What is blanket zap? How can I prevent it?
Blanket zap can be compared to a human getting static shock. Blanket zap is caused when a blanket is taken off your horse, resulting in static electricity which causes stinging static zap to your horse and you. This is particularly common in dry weather or if your horse’s hair coat is very dry. To eliminate blanket zap, do NOT slide the blanket across your horse when removing it from her body. Instead, try to remove the blanket by lifting the blanket up and off of your horse’s body. If you curry or brush your horse more often, your horse’s natural oils will be distributed over the hair coat, which also helps to minimize blanket zap.

How do I know the blanket fits my horse?
Blankets are generally made to fit a particular size range. When you purchase a blanket, choose one with a size range in which your horse fits. However, most feature either adjustable or elastic girth, billet, and leg straps that allow the blanket or sheet to fit different body sizes. To ensure the best fit:

  1. Measure from the center of your horse’s chest around the widest part of the shoulder and hindquarters to the center of the tail. The size to order is the same as the inches measured.
  2. For odd sizes, choose the next largest even size.
  3. Also round up to the next larger size if your horse has a thick coat or if the blanket or sheet will be used predominately during seasonal weather when your horse’s hair coat will grow out.

Remember, slightly looser fitting blankets and sheets are more comfortable and look better than blankets or sheets that are too tight. If in doubt, order one size larger. The best fitting blankets and sheets allow you to slip your hand between the blanket and your horse’s withers.

Five Fly Control Tip

horse fly

Those pesky flies! No one likes flies, but they’re inevitable around a barn. Or are they? Some equestrian facilities seem free of flies, while other places resemble Egypt during the plagues. What’s the secret for good fly control around horses? These five tips will help you keep flies to a minimum and make your barn more pleasant for both you and your horses this year.

Fly Control Tip 1: Know Your Flies

Not all flies are created equal. Tabanids (deer flies and horse flies) bite horses and suck blood to feed their larvae, producing painful welts on horses. Their bite is also painful to people; if you’ve ever been bitten through your jeans or riding breeches, you’ll know exactly what I mean! Most tabanids don’t like to enter buildings, but prefer wooded areas and the edges of woods and fields. Stabling horses indoors during peak horse and deer fly season can reduce bites. Other types of biting insects prefer different habitats. Knowing the types of flies and biting insects in your area can help you plan a course of action to minimize bites and reduce their numbers. Talk to your local agricultural extension agent for advice on identifying and treating specific pests in your area.

Fly Control Tip 2: Pick Up Manure

Certain kinds of flies like to lay their eggs in manure and hay or straw piles. Does that sound familiar? It sounds a lot like the manure pile at your barn, doesn’t it? Manure piles are like fly breeding magnets. Schedule regular manure pile removal as well, especially during the warmer summer months when flies are at their peak. During peak fly season, it also helps to walk around the pasture and riding ring with a wheel barrow and pitchfork and pick up smaller manure piles. This reduces the number of separate breeding areas for flies and keeps flies down inside the arena or turn out area.

Fly Control Tip 3: Add Fly Parasite Predators to Manure Piles

Fly parasite predators are burrowing nematodes that when added to manure piles destroy fly maggots and pupae. When added to a manure pile, they keep fly populations in check by disrupting fly breeding cycles. During warm weather, they reproduce every week or so; once added to the manure pile, you may not have to add any more during fly season.Fly parasite predators will not harm the environment, don’t harm songbirds or other insects, and do not harm people. You can find them online through biological supply houses.

Fly Control Tip 4: Wipe on Insect Repellent

Wiping on insect repellent, rather than spraying it on horses, provides greater coverage and longer-lasting action on your horse. Pour a little repellent onto a clean rag and wipe your horse’s legs and belly with an equine-safe insect repellent before turning him out or before your ride.

Should you use natural repellents or synthetic ones? Both offer advantages and disadvantages. Many horsemen swear that a little apple cider vinegar, added to their horse’s feed or water, reduces the number of flies visiting a horse. Others make a wipe of vinegar and water for their horses. Whatever you do, use common sense. Follow package directions for commercial insecticides and consult your horse’s veterinarian before making changes to his feed or water.

Fly Control Tip 5: Use Insecticide Misters Inside Barns

Some types of flies, such as stable flies, actually land on vertical surfaces. Barn misters or sprayers that provide a steady, regular burst of spray reaching walls can reduce the number of stable flies landing near your horses. Fly tapes or traps can also reduce the number of flies by capturing them before they have a chance to multiply.

Flies are a perpetual challenge for stable managers and horse lovers alike. Fortunately, there are certain steps you can take to reduce the number of pesky flies bothering your horses and you during your rides.

PROTECT YOUR PET FROM HEAT STROKE

pet-heatWe all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our furry companions, but being overeager in hot weather can spell danger, ASPCA experts warn.

“Most people love to spend the warmer days enjoying the outdoors with friends and family, but it is important to remember that some activities can be dangerous for our pets,” said Dr. Camille DeClementi, Senior Toxicologist at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. “By following a few simple rules, it is easy to keep your pet safe while still having fun in the sun.”

Take these simple precautions, provided by ASPCA experts, to help prevent your pet from overheating. And if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, get help from your veterinarian immediately.

Visit the Vet 
A visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up is a must. Make sure your pets get tested for heart worm if they aren’t on year-round preventive medication. Do parasites bug your animal companions? Ask your doctor to recommend a safe flea and tick control program.

Made in the Shade
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful to not over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.

Know the Warning Signs 
Symptoms of  overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

No Parking!
Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. “On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time-even with the windows open-which could lead to fatal heat stroke,” says Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Hospital. Also, leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in several states.

Make a Safe Splash
Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool-not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.

Screen Test 
“During warmer months, the ASPCA sees an increase in injured animals as a result of High-Rise Syndrom, which occurs when pets-mostly cats-fall out of windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured,” says Dr. Murray. “Pet owners need to know that this is completely preventable if they take simple precautions.” Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.

Summer Style
Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.

Street Smarts 
When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.

Avoid Chemicals 
Commonly used flea and tick products, rodenticides (mouse and rat baits), and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.

Party Animals
Taking Fido to a backyard barbeque or party? Remember that the food and drink offered to guests may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas. Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.

Fireworks Aren’t Very Pet-riotic
Please leave pets at home when you head out to Fourth of July Celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets, and even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Many types of fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT CATTLE DEWORMER FOR YOUR HERD

With so many options for cattle wormer, it’s often difficult to sort out which is best for your operation. Choosing a cattle dewormer with a veterinarian or animal health supplies specialist will let you rest easier, knowing that the product you selected is keeping your animals worm-free.  Here are a few products to familiarize yourself with the cattle wormer options available before you meet with your vet or specialist.

  • Cydectin– Cydectin Pour-On (Moxidectin)
    • Controls:
      • Grubs
      • Lungworms
      • Lice
      • Mange
      • Horn Flies
  • Dectomax – Dectomax Pour-on and Dectomax Injectable
    • Controls:
      • Gatrointestinal Roundworms
      • Lungworms
      • Eyeworms
      • Grubs
      • Sucking Lice
      • Mange Mites
  • Eprinex- Eprinex Pour-On (Eprinomectin)
    • Controls:
      • Gastrointestinal Roundworms
      • Lungworms
      • Grubs
      • Sucking Lice
      • Biting Lice
      • Chorioptic Mange Mites
      • Sarcoptic Mange Mites
      • Horn Flies
  • Ivermectin – Ivermectin Injectable and Ivermectin Pour-On (Generic)
    • Controls:
      • Gastrointestinal Roundworms
      • Lungworms
      • Grubs
      • Sucking Lice
      • Mange Mites
  • Ivomec – Ivomec Plus, Ivomec Pour-On and Ivomec Injectible
    • Controls:
      • Horn Flies
      • Grubs
      • Sarcoptic Mange Mites
      • Biting Lice
      • Sucking Lice
  • Rumatel
    • Controls:
      • Stomach Worms
      • Worms of the small intestines
      • Worms of the large intestines
  • Safe-Guard – Safe-Guard Cattle Block, Safe-Guard Cattle Crumbles and Safe-Guard Paste
    • Controls:
      • Lungworms
      • Stomach Worms
      • Intestinal Worms
  • Valbazen
    • Controls:
      • Liver Flukes
      • Tapeworms
      • Stomach Worms
      • Intestinal Worms
      • Lungworms
.

Equine Summer Sores

Simple Ways to Help Protect Your Horse from Summer Sores
Summer brings fun to any horse barn. Unfortunately, summer also brings a barrage of insects and an increase in wounds and injuries as horses play and work around the pasture, riding trail, and at competitions and shows. As such, painful and unsightly summer sores can develop amidst all the fun. However, there are simple ways to help protect your horse from these external skin lesions.

equine summer sores defined Summer sores are parasite-caused skin lesions. They develop when common house, face, or stable flies deposit stomach worm larvae on abrasions, wounds, or near moist areas of the body like eyes, ears, or genitals. These infections cause extreme skin sensitivity and itching. As a result, horses chew, bite, or scratch at the infected area to help alleviate the pain. This often causes unsightly bleeding. Worse, it also delays the healing process and can result in more involved injuries or secondary infections.

These infections mostly occur during the summer months for a number of reasons. First, summer is when flies, which transmit the larvae, are most active. In addition, warmer weather and higher humidity can prolong the healing of scratches, abrasions, and wounds like proud flesh. However, there have been cases where summer sores have appeared to heal during cooler fall and winter months, only to reappear the next spring or summer. Treatment requires a multi-faceted approach and may vary with severity and location of the lesions. Therefore, it is best handled by your veterinarian. Treatment may include Ivermectin-based dewormers, medications to decrease the itching, and antibiotics for secondary infections.

summer sore prevention Prevention is the best way to protect your horse from summer sores. Thankfully, summer sore prevention is tied to basic horse husbandry, including deworming, fly control, and wound care:

Ivermectin Paste 1.87% deworming Control of stomach worms is the best way to help prevent summer sores. Adult stomach worms thrive in your horse’s stomach and release their larvae into the digestive tract, where they are passed in your horse’s manure and ingested by fly larvae. The fly larvae matures into an adult and the adult fly then deposits the stomach worm larvae onto your horse’s wounds. To help break this cycle, use a strict deworming schedule with at least two yearly treatments of Ivermectin, which kills both stomach worms and their larvae.

 fly control Endure Fly Repellents by FarnamSince flies serve as the intermediate host of stomach worm larvae, effective fly control is also essential. In addition, even if your horse is on a strict deworming schedule, horses in nearby pastures might not be and the stomach worm larvae they pass could be easily carried to your pasture or barn. To combat flies, set perimeter traps and use topical sprays. Spot-ons or suitable insect-repellent salves can add insect protection to your horse’s more sensitive areas, including open wounds. Furthermore, fly masks and sheets can also help protect your horse’s eyes, ears, mouth, and other moist body areas. Insect repellent supplements may also help kill fly larvae in your horse’s manure.

Vet Kit by VSI wound care Wounds, cuts, and abrasions are vital entry points for stomach worm larvae. Therefore, wound-free horses may have less chance of developing summer sores. Of course, horses often get wounded. However, immediately cleaning and dressing any skin abrasions, cuts, or wounds helps speed healing. Similarly, a clean horse, including the genital area, may have less chance of being infected by stomach worm larvae, since they also seek moist body areas.

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