It is important to have a worming programme for your horse throughout the year as worms can affect your horses’ health and well-being. Worms can cause irreversible damage to your horses gut and can cause your horse to lose weight and in more serious cases cause colic and can be fatal.

There are many different types of worm and they occur at different times of the year but we do not need to routinely deworm our horses there are other, less invasive, ways to combat them. A problem with regularly deworming your horse with the same wormer is that the parasites can become immune to the dewormer.

One of the alternative ways to help control worms is a good pasture management routine. Daily or weekly poo picking will help prevent the possible spread of worms but also ensuring there is no overcrowding in the field.

Another way is to use worm egg counts. This is a non-invasive way to check if you horse has worms, you can buy a worm egg count kit at most local equine shops, alternatively your vet can do this for you. Carrying out the worm egg count is straight forward, it is done routinely every 8-10 weeks. All you need to do is collect a small sample of fresh faeces, double bag it and send it in the envelope provided the same day. It must be fresh faeces as older faeces can produce less reliable results. The lab will then analyse the faeces and send you the results and recommendations of what you may need to do, either to worm your horse or to retest in 8-10 weeks. If you need to worm your horse they will also advise you as to what you will need to worm against. Unfortunately not all worms can be tested for in this way, these include redworm and tapeworm eggs, and so if you suspect your horse has either of these you may need to get a vet to perform a blood test. This will prevent you from having to regularly deworm your horse when it does not necessarily need it.

You can also deworm your horse using homeopathic and complimentary therapies. These involve using pre and probiotics the help restore the natural balance of healthy bacteria in the gut. Alternatively you can speak to a herbalist or a homeopath who can best advise you as to which herbs will help your horse.

It is important to remember that deworming your horse will not always solve the problem in the long term. If you have your horse out with others who are not on the same worming programme as you then the dewormer will clear your horse of worms they may have but will not prevent them picking them up between routine deworming. This issue can be reduced with the correct field and yard management and also routine egg counts.

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