Horse health should always be on the owner’s mind, for both emotional and financial reasons, because it is well known that horses are animals that constitute a companion as well as an investment. In this post, we will present the basic factors that contribute to the wellbeing of your beloved animal (from habitat to health insurance), and also discuss frequent problems that may arise, from nagging injuries to common diseases that affect horses.
Basic Horse Health – Habitat, Feeding, Grooming, and Behavior
He may not be every man’s best friend, yet if you care about the welfare of your horse, these are the first things that should be taken into consideration.
Though some specimens may look grand as if nothing could touch them, horses sometimes expose their fragility, and a healthy habitat goes a long way in preventing more serious issues. Shade should be provided in the summer time and protection against the cold in winter. The stall should be no smaller than 12ft. by 12ft., with enough outside space for the horse to be able to enjoy daily exercise.
If you have a big property, then make sure it is properly inspected for poisonous plants, and try avoiding barbed wire in the enclosure’s make-up. Also, be on the lookout for too much sand and dirt, especially at meal times. About this topic, make sure that your animal is not overfed, particularly if physical activity is in short supply. Moreover, mixing grass and different types of hay is the way to go, as most horses are prone to problems in their metabolism as they get older. A constant supply of minerals is also mandatory in a horse’s diet.
Regular grooming should also be accompanied by careful inspections of the hoofs, as a whitish aspect could mean fungus development. Furthermore, always check for pebbles in the grooves of the hoofs.
As horses are social animals, keeping multiple specimens in a single place means an automatic differentiation between their statuses. This, in turn, should garner extra interest at meal times, with the standard recommendation of spreading hay around so as not to wind up with an abuse of feeding privileges. Moreover, take a special interest in older individuals as they are prone to be gradually left out of the group.
The ABC of Horse Health Insurance
Expensive to purchase, expensive to attend to and exorbitant to cure. This would make for an adequate summing up of the horse lover’s condition.
As all insurance is conceived, there are almost as many provisions in the case of equine health insurance, as is the case with humans. Also, accidents can happen involving third parties, so liability issues also come into the equation. The basic plans that are usually offered by most insurers offer are:
- Major Medical – much like its human counterpart, this one covers a wide range of risks and are limited per year, but also per incident. A recent health exam is customarily required, as pre-existing conditions are taken into consideration
- Surgical – is your best bet if you do not wish to pay the premium of a major medical.
- Full Mortality – the designation pretty much speaks for itself, though most policies cover the risk of theft.
- Limited Mortality – if unhappy incidents would take place during shipping or other special conditions (that have to be specified), then you will get the previously stated value of your horse.
- Loss of Use – though it sounds like a useful proposition, the predetermined sum in the case of these policies are mostly risible, as is collecting the money.
- Personal Liability – is to many people the best investment, in the case, your horse is kept in a rather open environment. A homeowner’s policy may include this provision already, so be on the lookout.
If we are to talk money, the premium policies like major medical and full mortality are somewhere between $400 and $1,000 per year, though many factors influence the details. As one would imagine, the most important one is the age of your horse. Typically, insurers steer away from all horses above the age of 15.
Frequent Problems and Diseases
Hoof Abscess – this one is as common as they get, yet proceeding in an advisable fashion will spare you considerable headaches. The goal is to get the abscess to erupt, yet keep the infection from resurfacing after drainage. Dissolve Epsom salts until saturation in a bucket of moderately hot water, place the whole hoof in it for at least 10 minutes and attach a poultice pad over the sole of the hoof.
Laminitis – is a serious and life-threatening condition (a.k.a. “founder” in its advanced state) and its symptoms are not reduced to walking inability. If you find your horse trying to dispense of weight from one of its limbs, check the hooves for an abnormally high temperature and digital pulse. Place the affected limb in ice and immediately call the veterinarian. Don’t self-medicate! As is the case with most conditions, a history of laminitis means a higher chance of further development.
Hives – can have a variety of causes, from allergies to insects to food allergies; horses having the same types of sensitivities as humans. If you can’t point to a specific cause, than broad-spectrum treatments need to be considered such as antihistamines or corticosteroids. However, if your horse presents these sensitivities only seasonally, then there is nothing to worry about, and try only a slight change in surroundings.
Colic Episodes – are another common ailment in horses. While the vast majority of episodes are treatable with only a few injections for the pain, about 10 percent of cases do not respond to this or related treatments like rectal exams and frequent ingestion of mineral oils. If the case with your horse is within that dreaded percentile, then a more comprehensive guide is available here.
Eye Injuries – always fall within the realm of medical injuries. While the symptoms are varied, and sometimes not at all obvious, take notice of head-shyness or excessive and/or unnecessary squinting. As we have mentioned, it is an emergency so you need to call the vet and don’t provide any hearsay treatment. Your only option is to move your horse to a darkened environment in order to not place further strain on the already damaged tissue.
All in all, the chief variable that can assure proper horse health is the time devoted to it by whoever cares for the horse. Time spent feeding, time spent examining the horse and time spent bonding.