We took Gracie, Joey, Tuxie, and our new colt Cisco to the vet to get their shots and coggins testing done. Our vet does an annual clinic for the horses. We get to take them in and they get their 5-way, West Nile, Worming, and Coggins test done at a much more resonable price than it would be if we had all it done separately.
Its good to keep your Coggins updated so that at a moments notice you are off on the trail. Check with your state to see if you need to have your Coggins done every 6 months or just once a year. We found a cool document that states all of the necessary documents you need in each state to travel with your horse. Here is a link to that Transportation Requirements by State
We also found this informational article from Trail Rider Magazine called Equine Traveling Papers that is full of information on the different documents needed for transportation of your horse and how to obtain them.
Scratches has been a chronic problem for Maggie’s horse Gracie. Scratches can also go by the name of pastern dermatitis, mud fever, or greasy heal. It is a problem that is a bacterial or fungal infection that is found on the horse’s lower limbs. Scratches is more commonly found on lighter colored horses. It is caused by a constant moisture penetrating delicate skin. In Gracie’s case, she often gets scratches when she has a cut on her lower leg. Moisture and bacteria then penetrates the wound. Our weather in Idaho usually leads to a lot of rain during the early summer months which can turn parts of her corral to mud. The mud contains the bacteria or fungus, which is a factor in your horse contracting scratches. Scratches can also be extremely contagious so if another one of your horses has an open wound you might end up with more than one horse having scratches at a time.
Scratches can be very painful for your horse. As the condition progresses, hair is lost, the area becomes thickened and crusted over, and scabs of a yellow watery serum form. This condition is painful to the touch and can often result in it being difficult to treat your horse as your horse may try to kick. So exactly how do you treat your horse if they develop scratches? Like we mentioned Gracie has been a repeated offender of scratches. We have tried many methods to rid her of this skin condition when it arises. Some of the methods were reasonably priced while others can be quite spendy. People have tried many kinds of remedies to get rid of this such as cellophane encased with sauerkraut or athletes foot cream. Even veterinarians have their own concoction of medications they use. If any of you would like to share what methods you find most helpful please do.
One of the main things to keep in mind when treating a horse with scratches is to keep the area as clean and dry as possible. Any added moisture can result in keeping the area from healing. One of the first things we tried when Gracie would get scratches was cleaning the affected area first with Povidone-Iodine Surgical Scrub and patting the area dry. We would then cover the area in Shapley’s M-T-G and follow up by covering it with Corona. Sometimes this process would be affective in curing the scratches, but it took a lot of dedication. One of the problems with this method was the Corona, because it is a major dirt collector. The more dirt drawn to this area the harder it is to cure. Also getting the area clear of the scabs is a big step in curing this condition. By using these products it didn’t soften the scabs enough, which caused us to do a lot of picking which can make the infection worse. We have also tried using just Vetericyn on the area which can soften the scabs but still wasn’t getting rid of them like we had hoped.
While the two methods above can get rid of the scratches with little cost on your end, Gracie ended up getting a case of scratches at one point that we could not get rid of with the above methods. So Maggie tried the more expensive route since it seemed like the condition was getting out of hand. Maggie decided it was time for her to take a trip to the vet. Gracie ended up spending two weeks at the vet. During this time they shaved the hair surrounding the infected area. She got intravenous steroids, was scrubbed and cleaned daily, and then vet wrapped to keep any dirt or moisture out. While this was an extreme case, it was also a very expensive solution costing over a thousand dollars.
Since then Gracie suffered from scratches again. We took all the things we have learned over her past cases and found a new product that worked really well and was also way less expensive then a trip to the vet. The product is called Fungasol, which is made with tea tree oil. It comes in three different products, a shampoo, ointment, and spray. We have only tried the shampoo and ointment, but have had such success with those two products we are sure the spray wouldn’t disappoint. Fungasol can also be known to treat other skin conditions such as rain rot, girth itch, or ringworm. When treating scratches, shaving the affected area is something that isn’t a must but it really can help in speeding up the healing. The first thing we did with this product was clean the area with the Fungasol Shampoo. We let that sit and soak into the area for about 5-10 minutes before we washed it off. We then patted the area dry or let it air dry before slathering it with the Fungasol Ointment. This ointment is better than Corona in the fact that it doesn’t attract as much dirt and it really helps to soften the scabs which makes for a less painful and much easier removal. We repeated this process once a day. After cleaning the area we found that this was the best time to remove any of the scabs that are now not attached after being treated with the ointment. After removing any of the scabs that we no longer attached we again covered her in the ointment. We repeated this process until she was cured. I believe it took Gracie about a week to completely heal.
Gracie and Tux got themselves a brand new salt block. Just like us humans it is important for horses to have salt in their diet. But just how important is it you ask? Well we did a little research for you and found five important facts that you may or may not know about salt and your horses. We hope you find it helpful. If you want to learn more about your horse’s nutrition check out Understanding Horse Nutrition.
5 Important Facts About Salt & Horses
Horses need about about 1-2 ounces of salt per day. However, that needs to double in hot and humid weather or when you are working them hard. The more they sweat the more the salt is leaving their body.
A plain white salt block will suffice. You may want to consider adding a mineral salt block if you aren’t giving your horses a vitamin/mineral supplement. If you give a mineral salt block make sure you also provide a plain white salt block as well because sometimes the bitter taste of the minerals discourages your horses from licking it. Sometimes horses will develop sores on their tongues from licking the salt blocks. This will cause them to stop licking the salt. You can always add loose salt to their hay or feed.
As your horses takes in more salt their water intake also increases which will result in a decrease risk for colic.
Sodium is the main electrolyte found in the blood and the fluid surrounding cells. If sodium levels are low, the blood won’t hold enough water. This tells the kidneys not to let any sodium leave the body. When the kidneys hold on to sodium, they excrete potassium in its place, creating an imbalance. Imbalances can cause conditions such as tying up, rapid heart rate, founder, laminitis, allergies, cushings, hypothyroidism, lameness, or joint problems.
If your horses shows the following behaviors it might mean they have a lack of sodium in their diet; chewing on rails, licking your hand, loss of appetite, having absolutely ‘no go’, excessive yawning, sweating with little exertion, wobbly especially in the hind-quaters, difficulty backing up, or difficulty walking downhill.
If any of you have followed us on Facebook, which we are sure a lot of you do :), you will notice we don’t do a lot of flat land riding. However, we can’t just throw our horses into high altitude riding without getting them in shape first. Just as us humans can’t go climb Mt. Borah (the tallest peak in Idaho) without doing some easier hikes first.
So this brings us to the question… how do Amy and Maggie get their horses in shape? Well as soon as most of the snow melts, and the weather turns nicer, we are out on the trails. However, since it is early season there is far too much snow in the high country and that doesn’t start to melt until late June or later. Since we live in Idaho we have a lot of desert riding we can do and we are also fortunate enough to have the foothills of Idaho. These are at a much lower elevation so the snow melts sooner and it offers the hills that will help us build up the muscle in our horses. There is also a local ski hill that is at a lower elevation. It has several trails that are open to us as well as hikers, bikers, and motor bikes. The ski hill is a constant climb to the top, perfect for getting those muscles warmed up.
We also have some Wild Life Managment areas that are great for riding. To find local WMA near you, do a search. We searched WMA in Idaho and came up with this comprehensive list from the Fish and Game website. It divides all the WMA by regions in Idaho and gives you directions on how to get their along with a guide to the activities that are permitted at each site.
If you have difficulty finding areas to ride that are outdoors or you want a place to ride during the winter, there are also indoor riding arenas. We used to ride in these a lot during the winter months, until we discovered skiing. The only drawback to these is that most arenas charge a fee to ride in them and it can get crowded. You have to work around their scheduled events too, but if you’re lucky enougth to find an arena to ride in, it’s a start.
Now, we usually start riding in late March ( sometimes Feburary ) or April depending on the weather. It is very unpredictable here in Idaho. We try to get our horses out at least twice a week but that is sometimes tricky since we still have those adult responsiblities of a job and don’t get out of school until June.
While riding in these areas are a good start to getting our horses in shape for the kind of riding we like to do. It doesn’t fix all problems that we have at the start of the year, such as the change in elevation or the long 15-20 miles or more, rides we like to do. So because of the love we have for our horses we make sure we take an easy on them the first few times out. We let them rest often after a long haul up the mountain and we find trails that maybe aren’t as long when we are first getting started. We do ride with our saddlebags most the time to get them conditioned to carrying the extra weight also. We pack them light to start and increase the weight over time.
Let us know where you bring your horses to get them in shape for the kind of riding you like to do!