Equine Healthcare Plan!

Hello wonderfuls!

         What I have to share with you today has nothing to do with my writing or with any other sort of thing that I usually discuss here. Today I want to share with you my recent assignment that I have done for the Equine Studies course that I am taking via long-distance learning with a University in the United States. So our assignment this week was to come up with a healthcare plan based upon four types of equine internal parasites and also four types of equine diseases. We were instructed to come up with a plan for de-worming and also for vaccination. All of the assignments in this course can be based upon either a horse that we own or a hypothetical horse that we own only in our imagination! So basically, the idea is to comprehend four basic parasites and four basic diseases threatening our real or hypothetical horse, and to provide a healthcare system to address those.
         So I thought that I'd share my assignment with all of you, just in case it could be of use to any horse owners out there, anybody doing research on the subject, so on and so forth. I think that I came up with a rather comprehensive plan and that's why I think it could be put to good use if I share it here on my blog, for the world's taking! So, I hope this will be of interest to you, if only to widen your variety of knowledge!

Equine Healthcare Plan
Assignment # 5


First of all, I would like to introduce you to my hypothetical horse which I have been describing here since the very first assignment. His name is Windsong, he's a non-breeding Falabella Miniature Horse stallion who weighs only 25 kg. and stands at only 29 inches in height. He lives in the State of Florida and is a companion horse who spends a lot of his time indoors (inside the family home), as most miniatures do. Like many miniatures, he sleeps in a bed with a blanket (very cute), although we (my family and I) have also provided him with a small stable in our gated backyard, sort of like an "out house" for him where he can seek shelter while outdoors. A large backyard is already adequate foraging grounds for a Falabella Miniature Horse, because it is very small! The general rule of 2 acres per horse simply doesn't apply to this breed of horse. Also, the general rule of 3% of feed per body weight doesn't apply either, as miniature horses are supposed to only be fed 1.5% of their body weight! In fact, the variety of standards that apply to average-size horses don't apply to the Falabella Miniature Horses; so with every new assignment I always have to do separate research on what this specific breed of horse needs! Moreover, I don't actually live in Florida where my beloved hypothetical horse lives here on paper; so I have to do an adequate amount of research on the regional area in order to expound my understanding of my Windsong's needs in that part of the world.

De-worming Plan

According to my research, it has been discovered that providing a general rule of de-worming for all horses is not advised and could in fact be hazardous! According to the McKee-Pownall Equine Services Veterinarians, it's not one stroke for all folks when it comes to de-worming equids! Each equid has individual needs and not all equids in a pasture would share the same level of infestation risk. For example, one horse may not have the same amount of infestation as the next horse and dosing all horses with the same amounts of de-worming drugs is apparently the very reason why there is a level of resistance that often develops in the parasites. So the key is to first identify the individual needs of the equids and drug them accordingly. Each horse needs its "own stroke." 
Fortunately, we can detect and classify these high, medium, and low burden horses through fecal examinations at appropriate times of the year. 
Now, according to my research here, the four types of parasites I should be most concerned about in the state of Florida, are the :

  1. Large Strongyles (strongylus vulgaris) which are more of a problem year-round really, just because their incubation period (time it takes for them to mature) is six months! Because of this long incubation period, treatment for this would start in the Spring (March, April, May) and in the Summer (June July, August), in order to prevent infestations spreading in the Winter (December, January, February)— when infestations of this type would normally happen. In fact, according to the veterinarians over at The Horse, what this means for the horse world is that larvae disappear rapidly from pastures during hot, dry weather, but they survive extremely well in freezing conditions. In most regions of the United States, infective larvae present on pasture in October can persist until the following May or June. The treatment for this infestation is usually Ivermectin given at 6-month intervals.
  2. Small Strongyles (bloodworms or cyathostomes). Larval cyathostomosis occurs seasonally, usually during Winter and Spring. The treatments for this type of parasite are generally administered at 2-month intervals with Ivermectin and a 3-month interval treatment with Moxidectin, from September to March each year.
  3. Ascarids (large roundworms). According to The University of Florida's Department of Animal Sciences, Because ascarids shed a very tough egg that can survive in the environment for several years, and only hatches after being swallowed by a horse, transmission of that worm is non-seasonal and not affected by changes in climate. On most breeding farms, the majority of eggs ingested by this year’s foals were passed by foals on the same farm during the preceding year! Generally, the idea with this particular parasite is to try and build immunity during a foal's first year of life by de-worming with BZDs, Pyrantel, Ivermectin, or Moxidectin at 2-month intervals during the foal's entire first year of life.
  4. Tapeworms. This is a common parasite amongst horses and little is known about its seasonality, although it has been suggested in our lectures here in our class, that typically this type of parasite is a problem during Spring, Summer and Fall. According to The University of Florida's Department of Animal Sciences,  Ivermectin-Praziquantel or Moxidectin-Praziquantel given as a daily treatment is recommended to control this parasite. But I think this is a rough guide and I will get to my own personal de-worming plan in a second.

The above information I've listed in numbers is just a general guide and my real de-worming plan, as tailored to my Falabella Miniature Horse's needs, would be something that is recommended by the veterinarians over at McKee-Pownall Equine Services. First of all, their recommended plan is based upon individual needs of the horses (whether the horse is classified as a high, medium or low burden horse as determine by fecal examinations.) Then going from there, a plan is developed. I should also point out and make it very clear that Miniature Horses require a slightly different deworming approach, as they should not receive Moxidectin products! So let's say my hypothetical horse is classified as medium-burden, here is the de-worming schedule that I would follow for him:

  • One or two treatments with Fenbendazole (Panacur) in April, followed by a fecal examination 8-10 weeks after that initial treatment. Then in July my horse would receive another scheduled treatment with Fenbendazole- Pyrantel (may be administered together.) Another fecal exam would be scheduled for a 2 weeks post-July treatment. His next treatment would come in November with a dose of Ivermectin- Praziquantel (may be administered together if required.)

Vaccination Plan

First to be noted is the fact that Miniature Horses do require the same dosage of vaccinations as regular-size horses. However, they are not supposed to be given combo-shots that include the West Nile vaccine, because it is too much for their system to handle. Below is a list of four diseases I would be concerned about in the region of Florida and during what times of year or how many times a year the vaccines for these diseases should be administered. I have taken my vaccination plan decisions from my research at Fair Grove Veterinary ServiceAmerican Miniature Horses dot comAAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) and Ramblin' Rose Miniature Horse Ranch, and I am structuring my plan based upon a Miniature Horse stallion who has not had any prior vaccinations. 

  1. West Nile Virus. Apparently, horses traveling to the State of Florida need to be boostered with this disease's vaccination 2 weeks before said travel date. Moreover, it looks like veterinarians in problem areas like Florida vaccinate against this disease 2-4 times per year! This vaccine is a "Spring Vaccine" and should be given during the Spring months (March, April, May) with an initial booster shot in 4 weeks and then regular boosters should be given every 6 months thereafter. However, since it has a 6-month interval, this vaccine is also classified as a Fall vaccine and administration of boosters may also be given during the Fall (September, October, November.)
  2. Tetanus Toxoid. Tetanus on its own is given as a 2-dose vaccine, where the 2'nd dose is administered 4-6 weeks after the initial one, with an annual revaccination. However, this disease's vaccine is often administered as part of the VEWT (Venezuelan, Eastern and Western Encephalomyelitis and Tetanus) 
    vaccine that is given during Springtime, before the onset of the vector season.
  3. Rabies. The anti-rabies vaccine, in Miniature Horses, should only be given once— initially in the Spring and then the boosters would come every 2-3 years. There is a difference here between regular-size horses, who should receive annual boosters after the initial dosage.
  4. EEE/WEE (Eastern Western Equine Encephalomyelitis). This vaccine should be administered during the Springtime. Initially, we would be giving a 2-dose treatment, with the 2'nd dose given 4-6 weeks after the first. Revaccinations (boosters) should be given prior to the onset of the next vector season (meaning next Spring.) However, some argue that this vaccine should be given twice a year! I believe that the frequency of administration of boosters should be determined by an experienced veterinarian working in the actual nearby area where my hypothetical horse lives, determined by the vet's professional assessment of my horse's needs.


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