Rocky Bay Equine Newsletter
November 2019

Smile, it's dental special month!

Now is always the best time to build a foundation for a long and active life for both you and your horses. The most common contributors to the demise of older animals is poor mobility, dental problems and laminitis. The good news is that these problems can be prevented or managed with good wellness care. While you can't roll back the clock for animals that already have health issues, the good care you give horses in their formative years will pay off in spades later in life.

Here's a "big five" list of health management goals
for a long and productive life;
1. Dental care 
2. Weight control and metabolic health (think pituitary - Cushing's disease) 
3. Exercise 
4. Parasite control 
5. Nutrition

Dental care in horses should start in their youth. Just like us, every horse is different, some mouths will require more work than others to remain functional and healthy. Dental exams should ideally be performed at 6 month intervals. This doesn't mean every animal will need his/her teeth floated (for most animals floating once per year is enough), but it is important to assess them for damage, abnormal wear and changes that can be corrected early, before they impact overall health. If you wait until the older horse is quidding (dropping partially chewed feed) it's much harder to help them than if you address problems early. We believe in regular dental care so much that we are extending our annual Dental Deal for two months (November & December) this year. (see details below)

Overeating, eating the wrong stuff and not eating the right stuff is a national health disaster for humans if not their horses! Don't kill your animals with misplaced kindness. The health impacts of poor nutrition are just as bad for them as they are for us. Because we are an affluent society we tend to suffer more from over abundance, which can lead to significant metabolic problems and an early demise. Being over weight is not good for horses. Metabolic changes are a natural part of the aging process. It's the rare horse of advanced age (late teens/20's) that won't have some degree of pituitary dysfunction. (ie. PPID, aka. Cushing's disease) Whether it's severe enough to shorten their lifespan depends on each individual animal but treatment early in the disease process is always better than trying to catch up later when secondary problems like laminitis or immune disease ensue.

Use it or lose it is the mantra for physical fitness. Exercise, regular and at appropriate intensities, is an unsung hero of life long health. Right now, with seasonal and schedule changes, is an important time to address exercise levels for your horses. If they have been active all summer and now are relegated to a muddy pen, you need to manage their diet for these new conditions. Exercise is just as important for abdominal health as it is for musculoskeletal health and nobody wants to see their horse colic.

Speaking of abdominal health, don't forget about regular anti-parasite management. We've already had frost on the pumpkins so now is a good time to make sure your parasite control program is in place and implemented. Don't have one? call us, we are happy to help design one specifically for your animals. Parasite damage can be subtle but relentless and definitely carries a cumulative health threat over time.

Notice that nutrition comes up a couple of times here... you are what you eat and so are your animals. Besides curbing the carbohydrates (or at least managing them carefully in relation to activity and metabolic levels) there are important vitamins and minerals needed to maintain health. With soooo many feed supplements on the market it can be confusing. There's a difference between "designer supplements" and those that are vital to health. (Thinking seaweed vs. vitamin E/selenium here.) If you're having trouble discerning what's important, we can help with that too. If you have a flush pocketbook and want to try the newest "calming supplement" go ahead, but keep the "do no harm" rule of thumb in mind. (Also, check the regulated drug list if you plan to go horse showing under FEI rules - several herbal type supplements are banned during competition.)


10% off dental services during our annual Dental Special, November and December 2019. Call now to get on the schedule!
(253) 858-4529 or (360) 876-1544
Stories, they are what make our world go around aren't they. Painting portraits of animals that have passed away has given Robin Peterson at Fernwood Studio a unique opportunity to hear about the special role animals fill in our lives. "Sometimes there isn't much to work with visually after an animal has passed away, but painting a memory starts with your stories." Here are a few of them from this last year.

"…he was a Saddlebred gelding. When I first met him, I’d brought apples with me. We went to see him a couple more times before we brought him home. Each time we showed up he recognized me and would come running for apple bites. I have had him since the age of 2 (he was 21 when he passed). We were both green and learned together. He tried very hard to understand what I wanted. He loved hugs and nose kisses and of course apples. He was scared of a lot of things but trusted me whole heartedly, as I trusted him. Even at the end, as I spoke to him, he turned his ears towards me and welcomed the hugs. I’m amazed that after so many years, I have so few pictures of him. It’s an eye opener for me to take more pictures of those I love and not take it for granted that they’ll always be there."  S

"That good, dear boy…. He was a darling to me."  M

"This means so much to me." R

"…. she was a lovely Selle Francois mare. I kept her at home and hoped she would do low level dressage, trail rides and be a family horse. We learned a lot and had many fun adventures in my local woods and in lessons, as well as about keeping horses at home - maintaining pastures and composting manure! It was gut wrenching to lose her."  C

"…I got him when I was eight years old, and they were a rough eight years. He’s never been overly affectionate to anyone, but me. Hated most people and refused to let them pet him. He LOVED to run and he loved gymkhana. He was never afraid, he’d do anything I asked him and never balked. Despite his pissy attitude, he was a great kids horse and taught a lot of kids to ride. Hated apples, loved sour skittles, he had a funny personality."   C

So what about you? Do you have any stories, favorite memories or horse photos you'd like to share? We'd love to hear/see them! Post a short tale or photo of your animals (We love small ruminants too!) on the Rocky Bay Equine FaceBook page .... there might be treats involved!
Rocky Bay Equine Veterinary Services  
  (253) 858-4529   (360) 876-1544
Vaughn / Gig Harbor, WA 98394    find us on FACEBOOK