Common Winter Ailments – the winter can be a miserable time for horses!

WinterHorseWinter time can not only mean more work for the horse owner, with mucking out, bringing in and turning out and changing rugs, but it can also bring with it its share of winter ailments.  Many horses and ponies spend most of the summer out in the field 24 hours a day and have a complete change of routine in winter, having to stand in the confinements of a stable for 15 hours or more.  Cold, wet days mean soggy fields, mud and extra work, but even stabled horses will have their share of problems in winter.

One of the most common ailments in winter is mud fever.  This is a bacterial infection of the skin and is caused by prolonged periods of exposing the legs to mud and wet conditions.  The best way to treat mud fever is by prevention, as the old adage says “prevention is better than the cure”, this is definitely the case with mud fever.  Field boots and wraps can be used when turning horses out to keep them dry and mud free, or a good quality barrier cream will help prevent moisture getting to the skin.  Horses and ponies should have somewhere dry and mud free to stand every day to allow the legs to dry out; this may be a stable or adequate field shelter.  If your horse is stabled then washing the legs off thoroughly if they have become wet and muddy is advisable, and if mud fever is present then a specific antibacterial cream or powder should be applied.  Daily checking of the legs for signs of mud fever is of utmost importance and the sooner it is noticed the easier it will be to treat.

Horses that are stood in wet fields for long periods will usually have ‘softened’ feet, this can cause a multitude of problems, from thrush and abscesses to shoes being lost more frequently.  The best way to deal with these sorts of problems again is by prevention, and the most effective way of doing this is to feed a balancer that contains a specific blend of ingredients designed to aid hoof growth and repair.  All the balancers in the Blue Chip range contain a comprehensive hoof formula that contains optimum levels of biotin, zinc and methionine, all essential for the promotion of strong, pliable hooves.

Stabled horses and ponies can suffer from respiratory problems in winter, which if not addressed early can lead to long-term conditions such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), also known as RAO (Recurrent Airway Obstruction).  Stabled horses need a well-ventilated stable to help prevent dust allergies and spores irritating the airways.  All the Blue Chip balancers contain a comprehensive respiratory supplement that includes garlic, menthol and eucalyptus, to promote lung health and integrity. Flu, coughs and ‘colds’ are also more prevalent in winter, so make sure that your flu vaccinations are up to date.  Horses and ponies are far less likely to succumb to illness if they have a strong immune system; this comes from a balanced diet and healthy gut.  The best way to ensure this is to feed a balancer from the Blue Chip range, designed to facilitate the immune system and ensure a nutritionally balanced diet.

Fibre intake is probably the most important feeding factor to consider in winter, whether your horse or pony is stabled or grass kept.  Fibre provides the most ‘warming energy’ and is essential for optimal gut health, a readily available source of fibre is important for all horses and ponies in winter, but especially so for grass kept equines.   All the balancers in the Blue Chip range contain a probiotic yeast that can double the digestibility of fibre, meaning your horse or pony will get twice as much ‘warming energy’ from their grass, hay or haylage.  When temperatures drop horses and ponies will often drink less which can have many health implications including impaction colic. Mixing feeds with plenty of water and using products such as un-molassed sugar beet can help to increase water intake.  Water can also be warmed slightly to tempt those reluctant to drink.

Help to ensure your horse or pony is happy and healthy this winter by feeding a balancer from the Blue Chip range.  Incorporating essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients, along with a comprehensive hoof and respiratory formula, and a probiotic yeast for optimum gut health, will help to ensure your horse or pony is healthy from the inside out and in the best possible shape to deal with the cold, wet winter days.  Blue Chip can also help you save money this winter by way of their loyalty card scheme.  Each bagged and bottled product in the Blue Chip range contains a loyalty point, simply collect eight of these loyalty points, send them into Blue Chip and receive your 9th purchase FREE OF CHARGE.  The free of charge product can be any product in the Blue chip range.

For more information visit www.bluechipfeed.com or call 0114 2666200.

Author: Features Editor

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