Ask Questions - Please feel free to ask worming and testing questions and an E-SQP will get back to you.

Friday, 13 November 2015


 Mud Fever Effecting Horses
Mud Fever is the enemy of horse owners in winter with wet cold conditions and the constant of wetting and drying of the horse’s skin, it’s not long with the infection takes control
What is Mud Fever?
Properly called pastern dermatitis, is not a single disease but can be seen in differing forms and refers to a whole range of skin reactions to a number of different irritants. Frequently called cracked heels or greasy heels, and is caused by an infectious agent called dermatophilus congolensis, which thrives in muddy wet conditions and can range from a mild skin irritation to very painful infected sores, and can in some cases cause significant swelling with severe lameness
Infection can stay dormant in the skin, by becoming active when the skin is compromised, usually by prolonged wetting.
Symptoms or signs to look for in mud fever
The condition affects the lower limb, most commonly the back of the pastern. It starts off as matted hair with dry scabby crusts, caused by the infection of inflamed skin
If the skin is injured in anyway or damaged by a cut, wound, bite, harness sore or through prolonged wetting — the balance between host and organism is disturbed. The organism enters the horse’s body through the broken skin, and multiplies in the damp, warm epidermal layers, starting an active infection causing the mud fever
Causes of mud fever
There are various factors as to what causes mud fever such as:
Prolonged damp, wet and then mild conditions
Standing deep in mud, water, soiled conditions
Some opinions are that actually constantly washing the mud off limbs/legs before and/or after work or after turn out to remove dirt without fully drying them afterwards
Even Skin trauma, from rubbing overreach boots or not properly fitted bandages can cause chaffing, such as sand from schools and irritate the skin
Generally unhealthy skin
Poor immune system, if the horse is unwell and the body cannot fight infection
Horses with white limbs (socks) are said to be more prone with the pink skin being more prone
Heat, redness, swelling of pain to limbs
Prevention or Cure?
Drying of the limbs thoroughly is vital to prevention and cure using clean towels, kitchen roll or dry material can be used to blot moisture
Avoid over washing of the limbs as this can irritate the moisture balance of the skin
Be vigilant as the sooner you spot the first signs of mud fever, the quicker you can take action and so prevent a lengthy, and costly, recovery
If you can limit or stop access to the muddy areas to prevent the horses stood in muddy, wet conditions such as fencing off those areas
You can apply barrier on the limbs to prevent water or moisture getting to the skin but when choosing barriers,  Consider topical barrier creams (usually produced in an oily base) such as tea tree oil, sulphur, MSM, aloe vera, honey with vitamin E, calendula )
Good products to look out for are Lincoln Muddy Buddy, Keratex Mud Shield Powder, Protoccon there are many external tropical barriers
You can buy supplements such as Naf Mud Guard or Global Herbs Mud X to help prevent mud fever
Once your horse has mud fever it can be a nightmare trying to control it and completely get rid of the mud fever but there are options to consider.
You can buy supplements to put in your horses fed such as Global Herbs Mud X that will help fight the infection internally
Echinacea is a good natural herb to help strengthen the immune system.
Marigold (Calendula) is also a good natural herb with its blood cleansing properties
Bandaging the affected limbs can be a good way of keeping it clean and dry, but only if the skin has been properly prepared beforehand, and the correct bandaging technique is used. Bandaging that’s too tight or has moisture trapped underneath can encourage an infection to flare up again, so do only bandage if you feel can be done correctly
Washing the legs off with anti-bacterial washes such as hi bi scrub to remove the scabs/crusts of the mud fever and thoroughly drying before apply antiseptic creams, The scabs may form again quickly so initially the legs must be washed and treated daily, as once a horse has suffered with mud fever it is not unusual for them to have repeated attacks so prevention is better than the cure
Once the infection has been eradicated it is imperative to keep on protecting the area until the new skin and hair has formed so that re infection does not start again
In extreme cases of mud fever if the bacteria does penetrate deep into the skin, the leg may become swollen and a course of antibiotics may possibly be required from the vet
If any doubt at all about your horses health then consult your Vet
Below is a list of the products that are available to help with Mud Fever on our website
Internal Supplements

Kelly Rothery E-SQP

Friday, 6 November 2015



Probiotics are a live microbial feed supplement which can benefit the horse by enhancing and improving the microbial balance within the horses gut, resulting in the improved maintenance of good health and condition. A multi-strain will also promote the efficient digestion of food leading to reduced feed costs and enhance the body's defence mechanism to disease.

A probiotic supplement for horses can help to
·         Keep the digestive system in balance.
·         Reduce the risk of digestive upset caused by change of diet.
·         Promote efficient digestion and reduce feed bills.
·         Protect against gastric problems caused by pathogenic bacteria.
·         Protect against the effects of stressful situations such as travel, competition, racing, change of environment, illness, weaning etc.
·         Reduce unwanted side-effects from antibiotics.
·         Keep the immune system boosted.
·         Increase milk production from lactating mares and increase early growth in foals.
·         Maintain overall good health and condition.
·         Reduce the incidence of persistent and sporadic colics.

The horses digestive system has evolved to process large quantities of high fibre forage on an almost continuous basis. Due to the requirements of competition and modern management the horse has to utilise high energy diets. In order to break this down to digestible products it relies on the assistance of billions of beneficial micro-organisms which live in the gut. These micro-organisms produce enzymes that convert food into its basic constituents which can be readily absorbed through the horses gut wall. A probiotic presentation should comprise up to seven strains of naturally occurring micro-organisms including yeasts. These have been chosen to survive the acidity of the stomach and for their ability to multiply rapidly, colonise the gut and replace microflora which has been removed through illness or stress. Probiotics promote efficient digestion and ensures optimum use of the horses feed. Use of a probiotic has been shown to increase digestibility of essential minerals such as calcium and zinc. Elements of the microflora are responsible for the production and bioavailability of B group vitamins.
The delicate balance of microflora within the gut can easily be disturbed by stresses such as competition, travel and changes in diet. This will reduce the efficiency of the digestive system and may result in problems such as scouring or invasion by unfavourable bacteria. The feeding of PROBIOTICS ensures that, whenever the balance of the gut might be disturbed, friendly bacteria are available to recolonise available spaces and restart the sequence of events which will lead to a re-establishment of a stable and beneficial microflora.
Illness, antibiotic therapy and worming, can cause a disruption of the gut microflora which may lead to scouring and invasion of the gut by pathogens*. Some of the organisms present in probiotics produce natural anti-microbial products capable of inhibiting the reproduction of invading bacteria. Colonisation of the gut by probiotic bacteria can exclude potential pathogenic bacteria through competition for space and nutrients.
Bacteria present in probiotics can stimulate the horses immune system through the production of immunoglobins and cells (phagocytes) whose role is to destroy invading pathogens*. (* Pathogen - any agent that may cause disease)
A stimulated immune system coupled with the increased production of interferon may protect against some viral infections which could strike performance horses.

Pregnant and lactating mares have been shown to benefit from the feeding of probiotics. Improvement in the quality and quantity of milk can increase the early growth of foals. New born foals can be inoculated with a beneficial micro-flora through the use of a probiotic and the incidence of scouring in foals may be reduced.
The maintenance of a healthy micro-flora in the horses gut will improve general health, appearance, performance and temperament. Efficient hind gut fermentation can help reduce the incidence of laminitis, azotoria, colics and other digestive disturbances.
PROBIOTICS are natural and entirely safe, have no known overdose levels, no unwanted side effects. 

SH Wetherald E-SQP 

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Understanding equine tapeworm as a cause of colic?

(Anoplocephala perfoliata, Anoplocephala magna & Anoplocephaloides mamillana)

Tapeworms are an important and potentially very damaging parasite affecting the horse. They preferentially attach themselves to the junction of the small and large intestine the ileocaecal junction. Here, they can cause bowel irritation, intussusception (where one part of the intestine telescopes into another), rupture, or twisting of the intestine.

It is thought that tapeworm may be responsible for up to 20% of surgical colics. Tapeworms are present, to a greater or lesser extent, in the majority of horses. 

Parts of the country with acidic soils (for example, heath land), which favour the survival of the intermediate host of the tapeworm (the forage or oribatid mite), tend to have the highest level of infection.

Tapeworms in horses are generally much shorter than dog or cat tapeworms, they are flat, triangular and relatively short being approximately 8 cm long by about 1.5 cm wide. Segments can detach it is it is these segments that may on rare occasion be spotted by horse owners. However the equine tapeworm grow up to 20cm long, white in colour. Rarer species can be up to 80cm long. They live in huge numbers attached to the gut wall at a natural narrowing of the gut (the ileocaecal junction).

Recent studies have shown that far from being a seasonal problem, tapeworm infection occurs all year round. The lifecycle of the tapeworm starts when the adult worm sheds fertilised eggs within the horses’ droppings. These are eaten by an intermediate host called the forage mite. This mite is then eaten by the horse, along with hay or grass, and over the next few months, adult tapeworms develop within the gut.

The forage mite not only lives on pasture, but also survives perfectly well in hay and on bedding so there is no real seasonality to tapeworm infestation however most infestations are picked up after prolonged periods at grass. Therefore early autumn and spring are prime times for tapeworm infections to be managed. Tapeworm infestation cannot be diagnosed by faecal examination, so incorporating wormers that are effective against tapeworm in your overall worming and animal health planning schedule alongside other tools such as saliva tests and good pasture management are essential.

If treatment is required then Pyrantel based products should be used at twice the standard dose. Combination wormers containing Praziquantel are effective in treating tape worm or if only the tape worm burden itself is to be tackled then products containing only Praziquantel are available.


Can cause colic, sometimes fatal, by blocking blood vessels. 

SH Wetherald E-SQP

Wednesday, 30 September 2015


Equine worms as a cause of colic

A low level of worm infection can lead to weight loss, poor performance, illness in horses and general off colour behaviour. More seriously worms are one of the most common causes of colic. Studies have shown that the occurrence of general spasmodic colic in horses significantly reduces when an effective worming programme is in operation.Depending on the degree of pain the horse is suffering the signs of colic will vary. These signs differ from agitated or quiet and ill behaviour to thrashing and violent rolling. Horses most commonly look and kick at their abdomen, constantly lie down and get up and have a tendency to roll and paw the ground. Sometimes they will sweat in small areas of the body and sometimes this sweating is all over the body.
Which worms cause colic?
Large Redworms
After ingestion, the larval stages of this worm live in the artery walls that supply the horse’s intestine causing inflammation and interfering with the intestinal blood supply to the horse’s intestine.  Blood clots may form and if they break of can completely block smaller arteries which can lead to gangrene. Large redworm damage impairs digestion and can cause spouts of spasmodic colic. In severe cases, if the horse is to have any chance of survival, the damaged intestine may need to be removed surgically.
Small Redworms
Adult small redworms plug feed on intestinal tissue. Large numbers can cause harm to the gut wall and cause cases of spasmodic colic.  It is thought that a third of all cases of spasmodic colic are caused by small redworm particularly in young horses.
Encysted small redworms are larval stages of the small redworms that tunnel into the gut wall and encyst (hibernate) usually over the autumn/winter period. If in the late winter/early spring millions of these encysted emerge en masse they can damage the gut wall and cause colic, diarrhoea and weight lose. This occurrence is known as ‘larval cyathostonminsis’.
Large Roundworms
These worms usually only effect young horses and are called large roundworms as they can up to 40cm in length. Due to the sheer size of these worms, they can easily block the intestine of a small foal and cause impaction and intestinal rupture. This condition can be fatal and may require surgery.
Studies have shown that the higher the infection the more likely the horse is to suffer from colic. Adult tapeworms tend to gather around the narrow junction between the small and large intestine. The presence of tapeworms can block the passage of food from the ileum into the caecum and cause an impaction, which may require surgical attention. Also, attachment of the tapeworms to his junction can irritate the intestine leading to spasmodic colic.

SH Wetherald ESQPBots
Bots are flies that lie they eggs on the horse’s coat over the summer. These eggs then get licked by the horse, they hatch into larvae and make their way from the mouth to the stomach. They attach to the stomach lining and remain there over winter which can result in irritation to the stomach lining and may cause ulceration and colic.

SH Wetherald E-SQP
Free advice always available from either Simon or his co E SQP Kelly just drop an email to or call 0800 331 7758


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Flies – why should your horse put up with them?
Flies are not only a major irritation to horses, causing them to become stressed and uncomfortable during the warmer weather but they also increase the risk of the spread of disease. ‘A good fly control programme is highly advisable during the summer, to help keep your horse happy and healthy’, says Zoetis vet Wendy Talbot.

Ectoparasite is the term used to describe parasites that affect animals externally, and horses are prone to attack from many species, including house flies, horse flies, black flies, blow flies, bot flies, mosquitoes, midges, lice, ticks and mites. They can cause dermatitis, pruritic (itchy) conditions, lumps and skin lesions. They can also cause conjunctivitis, headshaking contamination of wounds and have the potential to spread other diseases.  Biting midges, Cullicoides spp. can be a particular bugbear as they are the cause of sweet itch. Mosquitoes are also well known biting pests. Over 30 species have been recorded in the UK, including those with the potential to spread diseases such as West Nile Virus, a fatal disease that is luckily not found in the UK at present.1,2 Flies may also carry other parasites that can infect the horse such as Habronema spp. and Onchocerca cervicalis, which can affect the skin and in extreme cases the eye.

Knowing the type of fly that is causing a problem can be useful in deciding how best to control it. In general most flies thrive and breed in warm, moist conditions such as on dung, rotting bedding or spilt feed material. From these unsavoury places they can spread bacteria to the horse, especially to vulnerable areas such as the eye and wounds.

The most effective way to control flies is with a double-pronged approach of good management and a proven fly repellent or insecticide. Frequent removal of droppings from the pasture and stable will reduce fly breeding grounds, while keeping the muck heap well away from stables and paddocks and keeping stables meticulously clean will reduce the risk of flies bothering the horse. Fly rugs and facemasks are essential for many horses in the summer and applying a fly repellent or insecticide to the rug can make it even more effective.

As an owner it can be very difficult to choose which fly product will work best for you. A repellent aims to make the horse less attractive to the fly. An insecticide aims to kill the fly as soon as possible after contact with no biting needed and can remain effective for up to four weeks against some ectoparasites. For maximum effectiveness treatment should be started before the fly season has begun, to control breeding, and continued at regular intervals throughout the season.

The fact that insecticides have a medicinal function by killing the insects, means they require a licence from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, to ensure their responsible, safe and effective use. Speak to your vet or SQP about the most effective prescription insecticide available for your horse.

“We would never put up with fly infestations so why should our horses?” said Wendy Talbot. “If one product does not seem to work well for your horse, consider a different formulation or ingredient. With a repellent ensure that it has an HSE number or that it has been authorised by the UK.”

Speak to your vet or SQP to find out more. Use medicines responsibly

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Neck Threadworm (Onchocerca species)

The larvae (which are called microfilariae) live in the tissue under the skin and are ingested by midges as they feed, they can also congregate in the eye tissue causing infections. The adult worms live in the tendons and ligaments. They are long and coiled in shape with the males being around 6cm in length and females being around 30cm in length.  Neck Threadworms have to depend on an intermediate host, the biting midge - Culicoides spp. (Insecta: Diptera: Ceratopogonidae)  to get to the horse. The neck threadworm microfilariae live just under the horse's skin and wait to be ingested up by a visiting midge. Once inside the midge they develop to the infective larvae L3 stage within 24-25 days. When the midge bites another horse the neck threadworms the larvae migrate to the ligaments in the neck and also to the flexor tendons and suspensory ligaments particular the forelegs.

Symptoms include: Sores along the topline, along the stomach, sores, irritation and swelling around the eyes.
Uveitis - This occurs when there are large quantities of dead microfilariae in the eye which causes the dead to give off large amounts of antigens which cause inflammation in the eye.
A constant water stream out of the eye or eyes often along with a white or yellow mucous in the eye on a regular basis.
Hair loss around the head and neck area.
Swelling around Ligaments.
Swelling around tendons.
Lumps under the horses skin on the ligaments.
Blindness can occur if the infection around the eye is severe or if treatment is delayed.
Dead microfilaria are often more itchy than live ones, so horses may show signs after they have been wormed 

Neck threadworm is one of the few parasites of horses that involve an intermediate host in this case that host is the midge so in theory this should not be such an issue in the colder months nor in general in colder climates such as the UK.  I personally have yet to hear of a confirmed diagnosis in the UK but climates change and  issues can go unnoticed or unconfirmed
This process of ingestion, infection, biting, transmission, larvae production, adult development and subsequent larvae production completes the cycle but for the problem to persist midges must be present.  With that in mind and regarding the general  issues caused by biting midges  in the UK  perhaps early applications of something like Z Itch (  may be a good idea before the midge season and then throughout the warmer months.

SH Wetherald

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Encysted small redworm in horses
February 2015

A survey (Equine Health Survey (NEHS) May 2012) of horse owners showed that nearly half were not worming their horses correctly when it came to treating encysted small redworm. Now in 2015 and with extensive use of targeted and strategic worming we need to be even more aware of the danger of mass eruption which often happens in early spring. This mass emergence can lead to a disease syndrome known as “Larval cyathostominosis” causing diarrhoea and colic with up to a 50% mortality rate1.

The increased use of FWEC (Faecal Worm Egg Counts) and how to interpret the results is adding to the need to understand the importance of treating for encysted small redworm. These inhibited encysted are the larval stages of the small redworm. 

Encysted small redworm (small strongles/cyathostomes) are the most common worms found in horses today and may account up to 90% of the redworm burden in the horse 2. They are also the most pathogenically significant equine parasites 3, in fact many horses can be infected all of their lives 4.
Studies have shown that many horse owners are failing to worm with an effective product for the control of encysted small redworm, often assuming that the products they were using did treat for encysted small redworm when in fact they do not. Some owners simply do not treat at all. The most common reason for not treating for encysted small redworm was that the horse had had a clear faecal egg count.
Encysted small redworm don’t show up in a standard faecal worm egg count because the larval stages are dormant and buried within the gut wall, even if the horse has shown a negative or low count it could still be harbouring several million encysted small redworms 5, a potential fatal health risk to the horse.

Encysted small redworm can remain dormant inside a horse for up to 2 years, but usually develop and emerge from the gut wall all at the same time in the early spring. It is most important to use a wormer containing moxidectin or a 5 day fenbendazole course licensed to treat encysted small redworm. It is important to remember that there is now widespread resistance to fenbendazole in parasite populations
4whereas moxidectin has been shown to be effective against benzimidazole resistant worms. Treating with products that do not specifically treat for encysted small redworm can increase the risk of larval cyathostominosis6.
So when you next need expert advice on an animal health plan that includes worming and testing your horse or make sure you enlist the help and advice of an SQP (Suitably Qualified Person)

SH Wetherald E-SQP
(with thanks to Zoetis for their input and guidance)

1        Dowdall S. et al (2002) Veterinary Parasitology 106, 225-242

2          Bairden K. et al (2001) Veterinary Record 148, 138-141
3          Love S. et al (1999) Veterinary Parasitology 85, 113-122
4          Matthews JB (2008) An update on cyathostomins: Anthelmintic resistance and worm control. Equine Vet. Education 20 552-560
5         Dowdall S. et al (2002) Veterinary Parasitology 106, 225-242
      Craig R. Reinemeyer and Martin K. Nielsen. Handbook of Equine Parasite Control

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The threat of large round worms in horses

Large Roundworms Ascarids (Parascaris equorum)

Large roundworm

Large roundworm also known as ascarids are very long worms up to 40cm when mature and produce large numbers of tough coated adhesive eggs which can survive for several years and can stick any surrounding environment. The mature worms are white in colour and much thicker than other equine worms. The eggs can stick to the coat and udders of the mare and even to the walls and stable floors. The eggs have very thick shells and therefore can survive on pastures over the winter months and perhaps for many years .These eggs then develop into larvae (young worms) which migrate through the liver and lungs and eventually coughed up then to be ingested and subsequently maturing to egg laying adults in small intestine. This complex lifestyle creates great potential for disease can retard growth and development. Respiratory obstruction is common as a result of the presence of larval stages in the lungs.  Intestinal blockage and impaction colic is also common in foals due to the sheer physical size of the adult worms. Their presence in the gut can block the passage of food material as well as leading to nutritional deficiencies. A heavy burden of mature worms in the intestine may well give the classic signs of ill thrift, a pot bellied appearance and or sluggishness. Such a burden has the potential for fatal colic.
Large roundworm mainly affects youngsters up to 18 months old but horses with a neglected treatment history are also at risk  

SH Wetherald