Equine worming

A parasite prevention plan cannot rely on dosing of wormers alone! Pasture management is a more effective way of keeping low infestation, as unnecessary drug dosing can lead to worm resistance.
Worming regimes should be individually tailored and faecal examination enables us to identify most types of egg-laying parasites present in the intestinal tract at the time of testing. However this means migrating or immature parasites and encysted worms could well be missed. So a zero egg worm count doesn’t rule out the presence of parasites!

Pasture management tips:

  • Avoid overstocking of horses. Ideally rotate (or share) fields with cattle or sheep.
  • Remove droppings from field (at least twice a week) and avoid harrowing/spreading (infesting areas with fresh manure).
  • Horses that are lower in the pecking order will be forced onto poorer grazing (may have higher worm burden).
  • Worm new arrivals with Eqvalan or give 5 day course of Panacur equine guard, then double dose of pyrantel on the sixth day. Keep new horses in for 48 hours before mixing to allow ovicidal effects time to take place.
  • Worm horses 48 hours before moving to new pastures.
  • If possible, rest pasture for 12 months (or from autumn until mid-summer the following year). For mares with foals, weanlings and yearlings, rest pasture for at least five months from February onwards (most winter larvae will have died by June).

Drug treatment:

  • Perform an egg worm count twice a year (a 4g faecal sample is required).
  • Tapeworm, encysted small red worm and bots cannot be detected by a faecal worm egg count, so it is still necessary to worm your horse for these parasites.
  • Do not aim for a zero count – frequent dosing stops young horses developing natural functional immunity and also encourages drug resistance in worms!
  • Use a weigh tape or weighbridge to ensure your horse is getting an effective dose.
  • Use the maximum interval if grazing is kept clean – use the minimum interval for crowded conditions, sick horses etc.
  • Some worms are targeted strategically at specific times of the year. If there is no resistance, ivermectin, pyrantel, benzimidazoles and moxidectin can be used the rest of the year.
  • Rotate wormers not by brand name but by drug class to help prevent resistance.
  • If resistance is suspected you should ask your vet to carry out a faecal egg count before and after treatment to check its effectiveness (7 day interval between samples for pyrantel, 10-14 day interval for fenbendazole and 21 day interval for ivermectin) in a representative number/age range of animals with at least 200 eggs per gram on first sample – less than 80% reduction would be suggestive of resistance.


Although there is a great variety of commercial brands there are actually only a limited amount of chemical compounds (active ingredients). This means we need to be careful; only judicious use will prevent us from facing a generation of resistant superworms in the future!

Please ask for more advice on a tailored worming plan to suit your situation!
What worm where? Know the parasites that threaten your horse.

Equine Regenerative Medicine

?Exciting news! ?

Emiliano is pleased to be able to provide regenerative medicine services – a wide range of biological treatments for horses suffering with lameness or poor performance issues.

Biological Treatments – What we offer

Regenerative medicine encompasses treatments that aim to repair, generate or replace tissues, cells and organs in the horse’s own body, in order to restore normal function. Historically, these treatments often used to require hospital visits and take a long period of time to perform. However, modern advances mean that many procedures can now be done at your yard!

The most vital step is first to obtain a diagnosis, as this allows for a comprehensive plan to be formed. In many cases, any biological treatment will go hand in hand with a rehabilitation programme such as corrective shoeing, physiotherapy and management changes, which could potentially make a huge difference by themselves.

If it is decided that regenerative medicine could be a suitable option, then it is important to discuss with Emiliano which one is best for your horse’s specific situation.

And remember that if you are experiencing problems with your horse, it is always helpful to have a chat with the vet to ensure that there are no other underlying issues that may need investigating beforehand!

Espinar Equine – Regenerative Medicine; Biological Treatments for horses.

Equine Herpesvirus (EHV)

EHV (Equine Herpesvirus) is a ‘special’ virus because it is endemic (everywhere!) Generally it causes mild respiratory symptoms, but it can turn occasionally nasty invading deeper into the neurological system (hence neurological effects). As many people have asked, vaccination does decrease the risk of EHV as it reduces the risk of viral shedding, improving herd immunity and meaning that there will be less chance of it being spread around between horses. The vaccine is truly effective for a short period of time however; if you want general cover then you can do an annual vaccination, however better protection will be provided by vaccinating every 6 months and if you are at high risk then you can do every 4 months. Pregnant mares should be vaccinated during the 5th, 7th and 9th month of pregnancy.

We advise our clients (especially those who are planning on competing, or who have breeding horses for example), to vaccinate. The primary vaccination can be given to any horse over 5 months old, and a second should be given 4-6 weeks later, followed by the booster every 4-6 months.

You can read more about the EHV outbreak earlier this year from the Animal Health Trust, along with some advice on monitoring horses that may be at risk.

What age should I castrate my horse?

We are often asked what is the best age to castrate colts.
Providing both testicles have descended, colts can normally be castrated anywhere from 5 months – 2 years old. Any younger and the testicles may not have descended or be developed enough to remove, and any older than that and the risk of complications from bleeding can be higher (although of course, horses can still be castrated at any age).

In general, castrations can be performed in the field (meaning we can do the procedure at your yard). Both testicles are removed using an instrument called an emasculator. After the horse has recovered from anaesthesia, they are often better being able to move about, which reduces post-surgical swelling. Therefore the best time for doing the procedure is in late autumn or winter, as there will be fewer flies present, enabling the incisions to heal faster. If you want to know more about what is involved in the castration procedure, we have a helpful video here: https://youtu.be/mH0HrHFb590


Rainscald is common during the winter months with persistent rain – did you know it can be caused by the same bacteria as mud fever?

Rain scald causes dermatitis and is usually present along the horse’s topline (especially the loins) with the hair on affected areas resembling little paintbrushes. Scabs cause tufts of hair to become matted together, and when removed, they reveal sore skin underneath. Further secondary infection may result as the skin is weakened.

Affected areas need to be cleaned with Malaseb, diluted hibiscrub or similar and horses should be kept dry and free from mud and application of topical antibacterial will speed recovery. Remember that infection can be spread through contaminated grooming kits, so keep any brushes used for the affected horse separate. In severe cases a course of antibiotics may also be required.

Rainscald can sometimes be confused with ringworm (which is a fungal infection) so it is worth getting a proper diagnosis from your vet to ensure that your horse can be made comfortable, and so that you don’t waste time or money on the wrong treatment.


Tetanus, a bacterial disease that affect horses and also humans, is an often fatal bacterial toxin that affects the nervous system, causing progressively worsening muscle contractions. Usually associated with the spasms of the jaw and neck (hence its common name of “lockjaw”), the horse will be unable to eat or drink. But it is important to remember that all muscles can be affected; including those that control breathing. This is why death can occur due to respiratory failure (leading to cardiac arrest).

The bacteria are present in soil and droppings, therefore tetanus can be easily picked up from puncture wounds, open cuts, or the umbilici of foals. However, it can be easily prevented with a vaccine! This is why it should form part of your horse’s core vaccination schedule. Tetanus can be treated but reports state that 80% of horses die once recumbent, so if your horse is unvaccinated, prompt veterinary attention can mean the difference between life and death.


Strangles is endemic in the UK. It is an infectious bacterial disease that affects the upper respiratory tract. It usually causes:

  • high temperature
  • inappetance
  • nasal discharge
  • swollen glands and lymph nodes
  • abscesses, typically under the jaw.

It can be overlooked as ‘a bit of a cold’ but in time, infected horses can develop painful lymph node abscesses that often rupture. This makes it difficult for them to breath and swallow.
Another serious complication known as ‘bastard strangles’ can occur when the bacteria spreads and causes abscesses in other parts of the body (difficult to treat, this can often be fatal). Diagnosis is usually easy; blood tests can detect antibodies to strangles, and are useful for horses moving to a new yard, whereas guttural pouch lavage using an endoscope can be a quicker and more accurate test for most cases. At present, strangles vaccines have had limited success and high rates of vaccine reactions, so the best way to prevent the spread of strangles is good biosecurity measures.

Spring grass – how do we manage intake?

While “Dr Green” can be the best medicine in some cases, for others, it can cause problems.

Grass contains simple sugars (that are produced in daylight hours via photosynthesis) and fructan, (sugar in its storage form). Known as WSC or “water soluble carbohydrates”, high intakes can lead to laminitis, insulin dysregulation, and weight gain. WSC levels can vary depending on temperature, soil fertility and moisture, so it is often hard to determine the best time for turnout.

Also, it may not be the grass itself that is the issue. Sometimes, simply the change of routine (going from being stabled on dry hay or sparse pasture to being turned out on grass) is enough to trigger a bout of colic. Your horse’s digestive system will be unused to the non-structural carbohydrates in grass and this can cause digestive upsets and therefore colic.

Grazing muzzles, strip grazing and timed turnout amongst other options can be used to help control your horse’s intake of grass. However, when managing weight, care must be taken not to restrict fibre intake too much as gastric ulcers may result. If you’d like advice regarding spring grass, associated issues and how best to manage your horse’s weight or diet, do speak to us!

Sweet itch

Its the time of year when we should start to consider sweet itch and helping our horses to deal with insect hypersensitivity.
Although this localised allergic reaction can be very uncomfortable for your horse or pony, there are various things that can be done to lessen the impact:

  • topical shampoos
  • stable horses at dawn and dusk when midges are most active.
  • insecticidal sprays
  • keep horse away from areas of standing water, woods and trees.
  • use special fly rugs/hoods.
  • Use fans in stables (midges are poor fliers!)
  • In some cases small doses of steroids may be appropriate.

If your horse is suffering from sweet itch and you’d like advice on management or other forms of treatment, do give us a call.


Laminitis can be extremely debilitating for horses. The laminae (that hold the pedal bone to the wall of the hoof) become inflamed and this can cause the pedal bone to rotate or drop.

There are conditions that can put a horse at risk of suffering laminitis such as EMS or Cushing’s (PPID) so it is important to consider that there may be underlying issues, rather than just putting it down to an excess of spring grass. If your horse or pony seems to get recurrent bouts of laminitis despite being on an appropriate dietary regime, it may be an idea to get a blood test done to screen for hormonal diseases that could be the culprit. The good news is that many cases can then be managed with medication and supportive shoes or pads when necessary.