Oh My Mozzie! They are everywhere. The big ones, the small ones and every size in between. You don’t dare leave the house without insect repellent for fear of being carried away by them. And they will only continue to get worse over the next few weeks.

After lasts weeks deluge, courtesy of ex-tropical cyclone Debbie, we were inundated with flood water, which although mostly subsided it has left some still water and puddles behind and this is providing the perfect conditions for mosquitoes to multiply.

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Everywhere I look at the moment there is fireweed, on the side of the road, in paddocks, in people’s backyard.img_1009

But what is fireweed? The botanical name for fireweed is Senecio madagascariensis and if you didn’t know any better it could just be overlooked as a normal weed with a pretty yellow flower, something like a dandelion. It is a small weed that grows to 50cm in height and in dry or harsh conditions it will often only reach 20cm. The leaves are bright green, narrow and about 2-7cm long. The flower is small (1-2cm in diameter), yellow, has 13 petals and found in clusters at the end of each branch. Each plant can have anywhere up to 200 flowers.

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Femal groom cleaning horseWhether you are showing your horse in competition, riding around at home or just have a horse standing in a paddock here are some top grooming tips to keep your horse always looking their best!

  • Do not over bathe your horse. Only shampoo when necessary as over-shampooing can make the coat dry and appear dull. You can just rinse sweat of them, spot clean and often brush dirt out.
  • Brush the hair in the direction that the hair grows.
  • Curry comb your horse every day to help remove dead hair and dirt. This will stimulate natural oil production.
  • Clean your horse’s feet our daily and use a hoof oil or dressing.
  • Brush the mane and tail starting from the bottom and working up. This helps removes knots and tangles easier. Use a detangling spray if needed.
  • Keep your brushes clean. Clean soft brushes after every few strokes by brushing them on a curry comb or metal brush to remove dirt and dust. Disinfectant and wash brushes on a regular basis.
  • If it is too cold to bathe your horse use a sponge to wipe of their face, neck, saddle and girth area to remove any sweat.
  • Rug your horse to minimise dirt, dust and fading from the sun.
  • Feed a good quality diet and add oil supplements like omega oils to bring out a shiny healthy coat. 

Remember that grooming your horse shouldn’t be a chore, it is a great time to bond and spoil your equine friend with some extra love and attention.

Until next time,
Bec


Processed by: Helicon Filter;Brrrr Winter is here. It’s not my favourite time of year, the days are shorter, it is damp and cold but worst of all it is time to rug the horses again.

Rugging horses; it is just so time consuming, putting on their big heavy winter rugs at night and then pulling them off in the morning. But we do it, because we love them and we would hate for them to get cold, even though we probably really don’t need to do it.

The majority of horses, including wild horses and pets, live their lives in paddocks with no shelters and no rugs during the cold winter months and they are able to keep themselves warm. Horses are naturally well equipped to deal with freezing temperatures and have the ability to regulate heat transfer and loss to ensure their body temperature is kept in a suitable range. The most obvious protector from the elements is the horse’s coat, most significantly their winter coat. The horse’s winter coat usually starts to grow during mid to late Autumn when the days begin to shorten and the night temperatures start to drop. The winter coat is longer and coarser than the summer coat. The horse can “fluff” their coat up, causing the hairs to stick up which traps air next to their body and acts like an insulating layer. The only time this doesn’t work is when the coat gets wet and the hair is unable to stand up. This is when the horse relies on the natural oils in their coat to protect the skin from getting wet. The extra oils that accumulate in the coat and on the skin also provide additional insulation from the harsh elements. During the winter months it is best to not bathe your horse, especially if they live outdoors with no rug, as bathing them will strip the natural oils from the coat that have built up to protect them. It is also best to limit brushing as this can move the oils away from the skin.

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Fig1-Founder_Laminitis_in_Horse

A horse standing in a characteristic laminitis stance. Image sourced from http://www.depi.vic.gov.au

My little pony Dudley, like many ponies out there, suffers from chronic laminitis. We often find that during the warmer months of Spring and Summer it can flare up causing him great discomfort. His flare up’s usually occur after we have a bit of rain and the grass grows rapidly, which Dudley then over indulges on.

Laminitis is the second biggest killer of horses, second only to colic. This makes it one of the most feared equine conditions as it can strike any breed, age or sex. Laminitis is a painful and crippling condition in which the laminae of the hoof becomes inflamed. The laminae are the structures responsible for holding the hoof wall to the pedal (coffin) bone in the hoof.

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Image courtesy of siggakr.

Image courtesy of siggakr

It’s that time of year again foaling and breeding time! The most exciting time of year for horse breeders, as well as the busiest and most exhausting.

Over the years I have found myself explaining to many horse owners the steps and procedures involved in breeding a mare. I know that sometimes it can be hard to understand and remember the meaning of all the terms that you hear or see on a veterinary bill. So whether you’re a first time breeder, an owner, work with horses or an old timer here are some of those common terms that you are going to hear and use during the breeding season and what they mean.

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A vet holds a syringe of the Hendra Virus Vaccine.
Image sourced from www.abc.net.au/news

June to October has proven to be the most prevalent time for Hendra Virus and so far this year a number of cases have been confirmed in Queensland and Northern New South Wales. With Hendra Virus back in the news headlines I wanted to discuss the vaccination and in particular the risks and effects of this contagious disease on the veterinary industry.

Never before has there been a disease that can have such a detrimental effect on the horse industry, including both people and horses. Equine Influenza (EI), had an effect on all horses with horses falling ill and horse movement restrictions being in place for a number of months, but the difference between that and Hendra was that there was no risk to human life and only a few horses died. Hendra Virus by comparison, is so dangerous that all horses that have contracted the virus have died or been euthanased. So far seven people have been infected and four of those have died. There is currently no cure or registered treatment for Hendra Virus. It is this risk to human life which is causing veterinarians to question whether they should be visiting or treating unvaccinated horses. Some vets are reportedly already refusing to visit unvaccinated horses and I can only presume that this number may increase.

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A horse suffering from choke and showing nostril discharge

A horse suffering from choke and showing nasal discharge

This week our pony, Dudley, had choke, so I thought I might share some information on choke in horses, the symptoms, treatment and prevention.

Choke in horses is a potentially life threatening condition and therefore as a horse owner it is important to know and understand the condition.  Choke occurs when the oesophagus becomes blocked, usually with food or occasionally a foreign object.

Choke often happens when a horse eats their food too quickly, either gulping or not chewing properly and then the food blokes up in the oesophagus.  Horses that have dental problems and are unable to chew their food properly may also be at higher risk.  Dry foods or hay also increase the risk of choke or when horses have limited access to water.  Medical conditions like tumors or scarring from previous surgeries or injuries can also increase the risk of choke as the size of the oesophagus may be reduced.  Occasionally choke occurs due to a foreign body, like wood or sticks becoming stuck in the oesophagus.  Horses that wind suck or crib are more likely to have this problem as a piece of wood may break off when they are cribbing.
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Image from http://www.bettingpro.com

Image from http://www.bettingpro.com

So you can be the trivia King or Queen this Melbourne Cup Day, here are some fun and interesting facts about the “Race that stops a nation”.

* This year will be the 153rd Melbourne Cup.

* The first Melbourne Cup was run in 1861 and won by “Archer”.

* Every year the Melbourne Cup is run on the first Tuesday of November at 3pm AEDST. Although it has been postponed twice in 1870 and 1916 because of rain.

* During World War I and World War II the Melbourne Cup was still run, even though most other sporting events were not taking place.

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With Hendra Virus back in the news again with new cases in Queensland and Northern New South Wales I thought I would share a little bit of information on this very scary virus.

Hendra Virus was first discovered back in September 1994 at a horse training complex in the Brisbane suburb of Hendra, where it took the life of thirteen horses and their trainer.  In 1995 a Mackay man died from Hendra Virus which was later confirmed to be contracted back in August 1994 when two horses were later confirmed to have died from the virus.

In the past years Hendra Virus has proven to be most prevalent from June to October, but it is definitely not limited to these months.  It seems that higher levels of the virus are being shedded by infected flying foxes during these time.  This is possibly related to the flying fox birthing season and excretion of contaminated afterbirth, as well as the flying foxes being more stressed due to fighting for food.  The black and spectacled flying foxes that carry the virus are generally found in Queensland and Northern New South Wales and this is why outbreaks are being isolated to these areas.

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