You asked, we answered! In this episode of our monthly series, Ask the Vet, Dr. Lydia Gray and SmartPaker Sarah answer your questions about Shivers in horses, is sheath cleaning necessary, feeding grain before and after workouts, Vitamin E for horses, and scratches.
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Questions answered in this episode:
1. I am adopting a draft horse with whom I’ve worked with for several years. He is a 10-12 year old Belgian gelding who has a slight “wobble” in his head when he’s standing at liberty or while tied as well as stringhalt-like symptoms in his right hind. I’ve been told that his condition is called “shivers” though to the best of my knowledge it’s never been officially diagnosed by a veterinarian. He appears to be otherwise workably sound and happy to do his job around the farm with his teammate; it’s been something we’ve learned to work around. From my understanding of the condition, it’s degenerative so I’m anticipating a lot of time over the next few years making sure his quality of life is the best it can be. Are there any exercises, feeding programs or supplements that will help his shivers symptoms?
2. My horse’s sheath gets dirty very quickly, and I can give him baths and clean it in the late spring, summer, and early fall, but when the weather turns cold I can’t clean his sheath without getting him cold and wet. Is there a way I could keep his sheath clean without a bath?
3. Going along with the water after work question from last month…what about feeding them grain? When is it safe to feed our horses after or even before riding? I was always told 30 minutes, but is that true?
4. My vet has recently been pushing for all her clients’s horses to get more Vitamin E. What is Vitamin E used for in the horse? How much should a horse be getting per day? And should you use a natural or unnatural supplement? What’s the difference?
5. How do you treat and prevent stubborn cases of scratches?