It is such a beautiful sight to be able to watch the peacefully grazing horses, sometimes mares with their fresh foals, on the large pasture. They let the sunshine on their fur or are already looking for the coveted shady spots. It could also be so peaceful if you didn’t have to worry about parasites such as ascarids, strongyles, or tapeworms, which are an issue again for the grazing season.
For a long time, dewormed four times a year in the traditional way in the hope of sparing your horse any parasites. Most of the time, the stablers talk to each other and dewormer their horses around the same time.
But some time ago there was a major rethink among veterinarians, scientists, and horse owners regarding deworming. The nasty parasites have been becoming more and more resistant and stubborn for years – among other things due to error-prone and/or too frequent deworming. Parasitologists, therefore, recommend the so-called “selective and contemporary deworming” – horse owners should therefore only deworm when it is really necessary. Veterinarian Dr. Anne Becher and Prof. Dr. Kurt Pfister, former professor for comparative tropical medicine and parasitology at the veterinary medicine faculty at the Ludwig Maximillians University in Munich, researched. In a study with 129 horses examined, only 29.5% of them actually needed a wormer. It becomes clear that pasture hygiene plays a major role in this, as only 17% of the horses need a wormer treatment if pasture is peeled off weekly. As a result, knowledge alone motivates you to keep your horse’s pastures clean.
Whether This New Way of Dealing With Deworming is Also an Option for You and Your Horse?
It is important that all stablers in the same stable pull together and support the topic. Instead of directly administering a wormer, fecal samples are sent to a laboratory and examined. In the beginning, there are higher costs for the manure samples per horse, but later you may have them out again by eliminating medication. In addition, you do not burden the metabolism of your horse for no reason with unnecessary worming and you have less fear of not being able to treat your horse adequately – in the worst-case scenario – due to a resistance that has developed. Ultimately, of course, you have to decide for yourself whether selective deworming is an option for you or whether you prefer to stick with classic deworming. Both variants are absolutely fine, as it is well known that opinions differ on the subject of vaccinations and deworming, even among horse owners. The important thing about this topic is that as a horse owner you take care of it and watch your horse because protection against worms is extremely important for the horse’s well-being. It is best to get advice from your vet to find the most suitable method for you.
What is certain, however, is that peeling off the willow is essential and should be carried out conscientiously in order to further reduce the risk of parasite infestation. A hanging plan in the stable is a good idea to take turns and keep an eye on regularity. Researchers have also confirmed that most of the worms are out in the pastures and not in our horses.
The small strongyles, meanwhile the most important but also the most problematic endoparasites, overwinter in the intestinal wall of the horse’s colon and wake up in spring. They then migrate into the interior of the intestine, damage it and lay eggs, which are excreted with the feces. New larvae hatch from these eggs and develop in two stages. In the third stage, they become active and move from the excrement to forage plants in order to be eaten by the horses and infect them. If this succeeds, the cycle starts all over again. The infection usually takes place in the pasture.
Take Special Care With Young Animals
Especially in pastures where mares stand with their foals, pasture management should ideally be carried out twice a week in order to keep the risk of infection as low as possible, especially for the young animals, which are particularly sensitive to parasite infestation. Young horses in particular belong to the risk group for roundworm infestation. From around 6 months of age, the horses gradually develop a certain immunity to this group of parasites.