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After a long hot summer the weather is telling us that autumn is definitely here.Several matters emerge of relevance to our horses as the seasons change.
When the day length decreases and the weather cools the larvae of small redworms (cyathostomins) will burrow into the lining of the large bowel where they overwinter.If their numbers are large then re-emergence in the spring can cause significant damage to the lining of the gut.The solution is to check that there are not high levels of infestation prior to the larvae arresting in the bowel wall.this is done with faecal worm egg counting.Significant infestation should be treated.
Tapeworms are usually treated for twice yearly.The first of these tratments should be in the autumn,usually after the first frosts.Use a combined wormer if you need to treat for roundworms as well(see above) or just Praziquantel if you are only treating for tapeworm.
I have posted a comment about eye ulcers on our facebook page (The Horse Doctor).In autumn as the grass fades in quantity and quality horses often browse in the hedgerows more.This can result in eyes being scratched by sticks etc.It is important to identify and treat ulcers on the eye as they are painful and if they worsen seriously enough they can threaten the eye.
Underfoot conditions worsen at grazing as the rainfall increases.Picking out feet and regular farriery will help to reduce the incidence of foot abscesses and thrush as the colder seasons progress.
Both these conditions are common when skin remains wet for long periods.This usually means rain on the back of unrugged horses (rain scald) or mud emmersion for long periods on the lower legs.Paradoxically some rugged horses may have rainscald if the weather is mild as prolonged wetness due to sweating under the rug can also be a problem.The common denominator in all these is wetness.So the solution is to avoid prolonged periods of wetness.In the case of mud fever this may mean using ointments such as white soft paraffin or nappy rash ointment (zinc & castor oil) applied to dry clean pasterns prior to turnout.These conditions are all caused by the proliferation of a bacteria called Dermatophilus Congolensis.
Once established it causes scabbing and raised tufts of hair and gives rise to soreness.To treat the infection remove the scabs (but not if to do so will get you kicked) and bathe with dilute hibiscrub.Then DRY the area and apply the ointment mentioned above.In horses with lots of feather treatment is greatly eased by clipping the leg but I appreciate this is a heresy to many cob owners!.The same principle is true for treating rain scald.In severe cases systemic antibiotic may be required.
As pasture declines horses are more tempted by plants they would not normally graze.most of these have died off or hopefully been removed from pasture and burned ie:Ragwort.What prompted me to write this paragraph is the autumn fall of tree seeds & here I am thinking of Sycamore.These paired seeds which botanists called Samaras fall from the trees in a helicopter fashion.Published papers this year have identified these as strong contenders for the cause of a condition called Atypical Myoglobinuria.Toxins in the seeds if eaten cause muscle damage and this disease may be fatal in up to 85% of affected horses.If you have a horse which is on tree lined pasture and suddenly looks dull and off food with dark urine especially if it is young,call for immediate veterinary help and remove it from the pasture immediately.
Some plants are an ever present danger in the winter.Yew is a very toxic evergreen tree.Tubers of Hemlock can be brought to the surface by ditch cleaning and are very toxic.