Big Dee’s at Quarter Horse Congress 2014!


Press Release


August 25, 2014

In an effort to better serve all of our customers with top notch customer service and speedy delivery, Big Dee’s Tack &Vet Supplies will have a smaller booth at the All American Quarter Horse Congress this year.  Big Dee’s will be located at booth number 1050 in the Annex. The Trade show is open October 7th  – October 26th from 9:30 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. We are very excited to offer customers that come to our booth FREE SHIPPING to the continental United States on orders placed at the show.  FREE SHIPPING will also be available to orders that are shipped to our Congress Booth. We will still offer a great selection of wormers, top selling supplements, stable supplies and a selection of our best selling Country Pride blankets.


We know that many of you enjoy shopping with us at the Congress and invite you to shop our website, check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, Pinterest  and sign up for our emails where you will be privy to great specials throughout the year!


The All American Quarter Horse Congress is the World’s Largest Single-Breed Horse Show. The show received more than 20,000 horse show entries in 2013. For more information on the Congress visit


Thank you for your continued patronage. We appreciate your business!


Big Dee’s September Store Event!



Big Dee’s September Store Event!

Friday September 12th : 9:30 am – 7:00 pm

Saturday September 13th : 9:30 am – 5:00 pm


Big Dee’s is hosting a fantastic weekend of sales, closeouts and seminars! Some great vendors will be on hand Saturday as well.




5:00 pm : Dog Nutrition with Natural Balance —-

 At Natural Balance the health and safety of pets is their first priority. Their products are made from the finest ingredients, but they are extensively tested. Here at Big Dee’s we carry their products and are proud to have RJ from Natural Balance coming in to give a seminar on Dog Nutrition! Dog lovers come check this out for great tips on caring for your canine!

6:00 pm : Wintec English Saddle Fitting by Weatherbeeta



9:30 am – 11:30 am  : Meet Betty Weibel!

Author of The Cleveland Grand Prix: An American Show Jumping First will be here signing books! Come meet Betty Weibel and learn all about our great Ohio, the birthplace of the first show jumping grand prix in the Western Hemisphere! Longtime fans can relive the exciting victories of some of the finest equines and riders in history, while newcomers can experience the Cleveland Grand Prix’s glory years. Saddle up with Betty Weibel as she explains how our lovely Chagrin Valley grew into a world-class equine sport hub.

10:00 am : Western saddle fitting by Circle Y!


Circle Y is a company built on reputation on the innovation and fine craftsmanship of its products. Circle Y Saddles is a proud sponsor to some of the biggest names in the western world including: Julie Goodnight, Martha Josey ,Kelly Kaminski, and Kenda Lenseigne. It is also the official saddle of the WPRA Finals and PacWest Barrel Racing!

11:30 am : Equine Chiropractor - Dr. Rob Maro

12:30 pm : Fall & Winter Blanketing by Big Dee’s


2:00 pm : Equine Nutrition for the winter season by Progressive Feeds

Their philosophy is simple : Never stop getting better. Because in order to deliver the most advanced feeding solutions, we need to keep innovating, researching and leading the way. The entire Progressive Nutrition team is dedicated to improving and maintaining the overall health and condition of any horse.






Vaccine Guidelines



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Thank you Dr. Corey Paradine for the following information:

Vaccine Guidelines

These guidelines are based on the American Association of Equine Practitioners vaccine recommendations for core vaccines (aka vaccines pretty much everyone should have).  Vaccine guidelines are different for foals/weanlings and pregnant mares – these are for adult (greater than one year) non-breeding animals. Vaccines for other diseases certainly exist and may or may not be recommended depending on the individual and the location/intended location of the horse. As always, if you have any questions regarding your horse(s), contact your vet.



Tetanus is caused by the toxin of the bacteria Clostridium tetani. The bacteria lives in the environment and most animals contract it via wounds.  The toxin causes severe persistent body-wide muscle contractions.  Most horses that develop tetanus are euthanized for humane reasons, though the disease itself may be fatal.  Horses should be vaccinated annually. Horses that sustain a wound or undergo surgery 6 or more months after their previous tetanus booster should be re-vaccinated with tetanus toxoid immediately at the time of injury or surgery.

Note: The severity of the wound does not predict the risk for development of tetanus. Superficial wounds have resulted in clinical tetanus in horses.


EEE/WEE are mosquito-transmitted viral based neurological diseases that are generally very severe and have a high fatality rate.  Annual re-vaccination should be completed prior to mosquito season in the spring. In areas where mosquitoes are active year-round, many veterinarians elect to vaccinate horses at 6-month intervals to ensure uniform protection throughout the year, although this practice is not specifically recommended by manufacturers of vaccines.

West Nile Virus

West Nile virus causes a neurological disease of varying severity. Like EEE/WEE West Nile is transmitted by mosquitoes.  Horses should be vaccinated annually in the spring, prior to the onset of the mosquito season.

Booster vaccinations are warranted according to local disease or exposure risk.


Rabies is a rare cause of a neurological disease in horses.  While the incidence of rabies in horses is low, the disease is invariably fatal and has considerable public health significance.  By the time a horse is diagnosed with Rabies often numerous people have been exposed.  It is recommended that rabies vaccine be a core vaccine for all horses and should be given yearly.

EHV (Herpes virus)

With the exception of pregnant mares, it is recommended that the following horses be re-vaccinated at 6-month intervals:

• Horses less than 5 years of age.

• Horses on breeding farms or in contact with pregnant mares.

• Horses housed at facilities with frequent equine movement on and off the premises, thus resulting in an increased risk of exposure.

• Performance or show horses in high-risk areas, such as racetracks. More frequent vaccination may be required as a criterion for entry to certain facilities.

Flu (Influenza)

This virus is sporadically introduced by an infected horse. All horses should be vaccinated against equine influenza unless they live in a closed and isolated facility.

Mature performance, show, or pleasure horses constantly at risk of exposure should be re-vaccinated at 6-month intervals. Other adult horses can be vaccinated as infrequently as once a year.






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Hoof Health: A Case of “Seedy Toe Woes!”



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Beating the “Seedy Toe Woes” can be a challenge, but it can be done, especially if it is caught early!What is seedy toe?In layman’s terms, it is a species of fungi or bacteria, or even a combination of both, that forages on and destroys the keratin of a horse’s inner hoof wall.So why is treating seedy toe important?

Well for starters, seedy toe can cause vertical cracks that travel upwards in the hoof wall. If left untreated, those cracks could spread to the coronary band, resulting in permanent damage. Seedy Toe can also abscess, cause acute lameness, and in severe cases, cause infection that could spread into the bone.

A tale of my “Seedy Toe Woes:”

Last week my farrier sent me a text message that said, “someone has not been painting their horse’s feet! That’s a little bit of seedy toe!” along with the above picture.

Now, normally, my friends would tell you I am a pretty conscientious horse owner. My horse has been through a lot the last few years so I’m usually right on top of his health and well being. But I had been slacking the last couple of weeks and I knew it, too. Naturally, I felt a ashamed, because he was right! I had not painted my horses feet in nearly two weeks! Luckily, my farrier reassured me that the little area was the very beginning of Seedy Toe and I could easily get it under control and healed quickly. Each day after I pick my horse’s hooves, I apply the special paint that my farrier told me about (see recipe below) and now the Seedy Toe is almost gone. Once it is gone, I will resume using the paint 3 times a week, like I had previously been doing before I became a slacker! LOL!





The hoof in the photo on the left is of a horse that went untreated for a bit too long. Thank you to Dustin Whidden of Bar W Farrier Services for use of this photo and the banner photo. Dustin had to cut a significant chuck of hoof away to free the horse from the disease section of hoof wall.


If you want to try out the hoof paint recipe that my farrier, Dusty Whidden, told me about, here is his Hoof Paint recipe:

1 empty hoof oil can

1 bottle Birdsall’s Farrier Barrier

1 can Enticer

In the hoof oil can, pour Farrier Barrier until can is 3/4 filled, then fill the last quarter with Enticer. Put cap back on and shake well. This can will last about 30 days if painting your horse’s hooves daily.

Prior to switching farriers, my horse had chronic thrush and white line issues. The scary part is I knew about the thrush, but had no idea about the white line disease until my new farrier said something! Anyways, I was constantly trying different products trying to get the thrush under control and I spent a small fortune on different products. Nothing ever got rid of it completely. Until I started using this paint. I admittedly was skeptical at first, but this paint mixture is truly awesome stuff! Even though we had a slight hiccup with seedy toe (completely and admittedly my fault for being a slacker), this is the first issue we’ve had in nearly a year since I started using this paint!


Additionally, if you would like to learn more about fighting other hoof diseases here is a link to a great article on the Save-A-Hoof products

BTW, if you are going to Equine Affaire in Ohio this April, be sure to stop by and see us in the Bricker Building and be sure to enter for your chance to win our raffle basket, which includes a few Save-A-Hoof Products!

Disclaimer: Every horse is different and products will effect them differently. Be sure to always check with your vet or farrier before using new products.

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Cold Weather Considerations For Your Horse



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We are very pleased to bring to our readers a blog series from Dr. Corey Paradine, a local veterinarian here in northeast Ohio. If there is a specific topic you would like her to discuss, you can email it to me,, and I will pass your ideas along to Dr. Corey OR you can place it in the comment section of this blog.

“Polar Vortex,” that is what our local Meteorologist have been calling our recent run of extreme cold weather here in northeast Ohio. With daytime highs in the single or negative digits, not including wind chill factors, we need to remember our horses comfort levels.

Dr. Corey has put together the following blog as a friendly reminder of some of the important things horse owners should consider in these frigid temperatures.


Cold Weather Considerations:


Cold weather has set in and there are some important things to keep in mind in regards to our equine friends.


1) Monitor water intake. Cold temperatures can lead to frozen water buckets and water troughs. Many horses don’t drink as well when it’s cold, which puts them at a higher risk for dehydration, and as consequence impaction colic. It’s important to make sure there is continual access to water.


2) Remove blankets on a regular basis to check for sores, rubs, and weight loss/weight gain.


3) Pay particular attention to your horses’ skin/legs, as long hair can cover wounds/injuries.


4) Make sure your horse has access to shelter (both from precipitation and from wind).  A long hair coat can be enough to keep a horse warm in cold temperatures but wind will inhibit the effectiveness of a thick coat, as will heavy precipitation.  Snow will generally not affect a horses’ ability to stay warm if they have a thick winter coat.


5) In extreme cold, an increase in forage (hay) is often necessary to help horses maintain adequate body temperature.


6) If your horse has shoes, check often for snow build up within the shoes or consider asking your farrier to put snow pads in.  These pads help push snow out of the foot so it does not build up and create an uneven surface for the horse.  The uneven snow buildup that occurs in shod horses (not a concern for barefoot horses) can make them unbalanced and put them at risk for injury.


7) Just as with people exercising in cold weather, your horse needs a longer warm-up and cool down than in warmer weather.  The actual time varies depending on temperature, wind chill, location (inside vs outside), hair coat, fitness, expected level of activity (for warm up), and actual amount of work (for cool down), but the colder it is the more time you’ll need for warm up and cool down.


As with anything, if you have any questions or concerns regarding your horse, please contact your veterinarian.


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We’re Moving & The Paddock Saddlery Is Coming With Us!



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BIG things have been happening at Big Dee’s this year. After roughly 16 years, a new addition and couple remodels, we have simply run out of room at our current location. Many already know, but those that don’t, Big Dee’s is moving! WooHoo! I had the pleasure of touring the new building last week and I have to say “impressive” just doesn’t do it justice.

NewShowroomOur new showroom is going to be huge. By huge, I mean 15,780 sqft HUGE! To put that into perspective that other horse-crazy people like myself can relate too, we could set up a 10 stall barn (12′ x 14′ stalls) with tack room and 12 foot center aisle, plus an attached Olympic-sized dressage arena and still have space left over! For those that do not measure spaces by how many horses one can fit, here is another more traditional perspective,  our new showroom is almost double the size of our existing showroom. All the extra space will allow us to expand our current equine offerings, plus we have plans to increase our dog & pet supplies! There have even been talks about bringing in horse feed and dog/cat foods!

newwarehouseAdditionally, our warehouse is going from roughly 39,000 sqft to nearly 60,000 sqft! Yes, I think I can confidently say, our company is experiencing a fantastic growth period!

Speaking of expanding our lines, another huge development at Big Dee’s is our latest acquisition, The Paddock Saddlery! On a personal note, this is really exciting for me because The Paddock Saddlery is where I got my start in equine retail! In 2011, after 25 years of building a reputation as being the tack shop to go to for fine English tack and apparel, The Paddock Saddlery’s owners wanted to retire from traditional retail so they closed the full service English retail shop and opened a small Chagrin Falls shop that focused on specialty and custom services including saddle fitting and custom boots. At that time the owner, Lisa Gorretta, also opened a consulting firm to serve private clients and Equine businesses.  With a busy schedule working with USDF and USEF and a demand from Paddock Saddlery customers to once again expand her retail services,  Lisa started considering that it might be easier to operate out of another tack shop rather than keep a store front herself.

Meanwhile, back at Big Dee’s, after polling over 500 people in a recent store survey, one common point was made apparent to us, our Dressage and Sport Horse customers wanted a better selection.

Talk about a win-win solution!

lisaGWe are very excited to expand our Dressage and Sport Horse offerings! Lisa will help us select products and equipment that Dressage, Hunter/Jumpers, and Eventers need and want. PLUS, she be offering her knowledge and expertise to our customers too!Some new services that stem from this acquisition include saddle-fitting custom and  semi-custom boots by Cavallo, Dehner, Konig, and Vogel. Most saddle-fitting professionals work for a specific manufacturers and only focus on fitting that manufacturer’s saddles, whereas, Lisa’s extensive experience in saddle-fitting encompasses many different brands of english saddles. What does this mean for our customers? It means Lisa will be able to help you find whatever brand best fits you and your horse! It also means, Happy horse – happy rider! Now that is something to smile happily about!

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! I know, hard to believe, but it is true! :)

Does this sound familiar? Have you ever been “stuck” in a rut with your horse’s progression and your trainer or a friend suggest that perhaps your horse needs a different bit? Often times, an expensive bit too, BUT you decide to “risk” it because the current bit definitely is not working. You find the bit at a local tack shop or online, buy it and after a ride (or two or three), you find that your horse is definitely not happy with the change! You can’t take the bit back because your horse has already had it in their mouth, so now you’re stuck with a bit you can’t use and you’re out some money. Well I can tell you based on the box of bits I’ve collected over the years, it has happened to me far too many times. Well, we are about to take the “risk” out of bit purchasing! Lisa has a pretty thorough knowledge of legal and illegal bits in USEF and FEI level competitions, so she will help us establish a “Test Bit Center” with Herm Sprenger  and Myler Bits. For those unfamiliar with “Test Bit Centers,” what this means is Big Dee’s will offer customers a “trial period” to see if the bit works for your horse. This way customers can be confident in their future bit purchases! The program is nothing short of “Awesome!”

Between our move and our newest acquisition, we’ve been super busy and very excited about the new services we will be able to offer! We hope our customers will help give Lisa a warm “Welcome” to Big Dee’s in January 2014. Stay tuned for the Grand opening of our new building to be announced soon! For your future reference, Big Dee’s Tack & Vet Supplies new address will be 9440 ST RT 14, Streetsboro, Ohio 44241.

And remember, Big Dee’s will be moving to the new building sometime in late February following a HUGE Moving Sale on January 30 thru February 1, 2014! We hope to see you at the sale!



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The Perfect Fit – How to Measure for a Horse Blanket



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As I sit here looking out one of the windows in the office, and I see the first snow of the year falling, I’ve come to the realization that it is that time of year again, and I haven’t replaced my horses winter blankets yet! Which got me thinking, maybe I should post a reminder on how to measure your horse for the perfect fit. 

With literally hundreds of different brands and types of horse blankets out there, finding the perfect fit for your horse can be overwhelming. However, if you find your horse’s size before starting to shop, you are already ahead in the game. Although many first-time blanket shoppers think that their horse’s blanket size is based on his/her height or weight, it is actually based on your horse’s length. Here is a quick breakdown of how to measure you horse for a blanket:

First: stand your horse on a hard leveled surface being sure that he or she is nice and square.

Second: using a soft measuring tape or a long piece of string, place one end in the center of your horse’s chest.  Measure from the center of the chest, along the left side, to the middle of the tail. Be sure to cross over the point of shoulder (widest part of the shoulder), and that you keep your tape pulled tight. If you used a piece of string, once you got the length, simply compare it to tape measure to get your horse’s size.

Measuring is usually easiest with the help of a second person, however if you have to do it alone, draw the tape along your horse’s left side as far as you can, once you have reached as far as you can, mark the spot with your right thumb AND take notice of the measurement. Then restart measuring from that point to the furthest point of the rump, then simply add the two measurements together to get your horse’s size.

Most stock blankets come in even sizes, so if your horse measures an odd number, round up to the closest even size. For example, if you horse measures 73″, use a size 74 blanket.


Why is finding the correct size important?

  • A blanket that is too big is more likely to cause rubs than one that is too small, and can be dangerous.
  • Leg Straps and surcingles that are not properly adjusted (allow for a hands width) can cause rubs if too tight or you run the risk of your horse’s legs getting caught and tangled in the straps if they are too long.
  • If the neck of the blanket is too big, the blanket will hang off the back of the horse, which will place pressure on the chest and shoulders, which can restrict the movement of your horse and cause muscle soreness. It can also increase the possibility of rubbing and slippage and the horse may be in danger of stepping on the blanket when trying to stand after laying down or rolling.

Now comes the fun part!

Just like dressing smartly for winter riding, you want your horse to look classy and smart in their winter dubs too! Also, don’t forget your dog! We carry matching blankets for dogs and horse!

Measuring your dog is pretty easy too:


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Does My Horse Need Fall Shots?





The following blog was written by Dr. Corey Paradine of the Cleveland Equine Clinic. If you have any questions regarding this topic please feel free to ask by leaving us a comment below. We will be sure to submit them to Dr. Paradine and post her reply back in a timely manner.

Does My Horse Need Fall Shots?

The answers is it depends. And of course, contact your veterinarian for their recommendations for your specific horse.

1) Does your horse go to shows, clinics, or anywhere it will come into contact with other horses?

Then yes – your horse would benefit from a flu/rhino booster in the fall.

2) Does your horse live at a boarding facility, or barn where other horses travel/come into contact with others?

Yes again, for a flu/rhino booster

3) Did your horse get a rabies vaccine in the spring?

If the answer is no, then a rabies vaccine in the fall is advised.  The rabies vaccine should be given yearly, but is not season dependent. Some prefer to give the rabies vaccine separately from the other routine spring vaccines.

4) Did your horse get a tetanus vaccine in the spring?

As with the rabies vaccine, tetanus should be given yearly but is not season dependent.

5) Will your horse travel to a warmer climate for the winter?

Then yes, a flu/rhino booster is advised as well as a booster for the mosquito-borne viruses (West Nile, EEE, WEE).

6) Does your horse live in a barn with a closed herd (none of them ever leave and no new horses are added) and doesn’t travel and received all yearly vaccines in the spring?

Then no, your horse does not need a booster for flu/rhino.

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Deworming Dilemma? New Protocol for Deworming Horses




We would like to thank the folks at Merck for providing us with this article to pass along to our customers. With the most recent studies in deworming horses, it is important that all horse owners become aware of the new deworming protocols and WHY they are so important! This article was written by:

MERCK – SAFE-GUARD / Stewart & Associates


Deworming Dilemma?

Three Things You Must Know

Ever felt that every other dewormer ad you see offers different or conflicting advice about how best to deworm your horse, leaving you more confused than ever? Or that the media is jammed with warnings about parasite resistance to equine dewormers that is impossible to understand?


Well, the truth is that since research studies turned up evidence of dewormer resistance, horse owners are left wondering where to go from here. Horse owners and managers can no longer blindly rotate dewormers, nor can they rely on a one-product-fits-all program. When parasites get tough, or the science starts to baffle us, horse owners need to get tougher – and smarter.  We got our horses into this. Now, we need to get them out.


Three Simple Steps

The good news is that there is a relatively simple, three-step solution to the deworming dilemma, and it starts with knowing the enemy – those tiny thieves that steal your horse’s health. From there, you can create a custom program that promises optimum health and reins in resistance.


Also remember that your veterinarian is an excellent source for instruction and guidance when you have questions regarding your deworming program.



As any smart strategist knows, your best offense is a defense based on understanding the enemy – in this case, parasites – in order to mount a successful assault.


The Criminal Line-up – A basic understanding of these tiny thieves, their life cycles and their preferred modes of attack, is vital. That’s where both timing and the right choice of deworming compounds join the fight.


The main culprits include small strongyles (particularly encysted small strongyles), ascarids, large strongyles, pinworms, threadworms, bots and tapeworms. Each has a unique life cycle and is more threatening at various times of the year, or to different horses, depending upon age, environment and climate. But we’ll try to keep it simple.


encystedsmstronglyesEncysted Small Strongyles - Perhaps the sneakiest invaders are encysted small strongyles, larvae that, once they are embedded in the intestines, pose a severe health risk.  The presence of large numbers of larvae can cause weight loss and poor overall condition. Even worse, the possibility of a mass emergence of hungry adults from the intestinal walls – all at the same time – can cause a potentially fatal case of colic or severe diarrhea. Young and old horses are more vulnerable, while most healthy adult horses are fairly resistant. (About 20% of adults are more susceptible that the rest and are classified as “high shedders,” but more on that later.) Not all dewormers are effective against these parasites, particularly in the encysted stage. Only two drugs can kill off encysted small strongyles: a five-day larvicidal dose of fenbendazole (Safe-guard Power-Dose or Panacur Powerpac) or moxidectin.


roundwormsAscarids – Also known as roundworms, ascarids are most dangerous to foals and young horses under age two. Infected foals may develop respiratory disease associated with larval migration through the lungs and intestinal disease from juvenile and adult parasites in the small intestines. Once on the pasture, ascarid eggs are like impenetrable fortresses and can survive hot summers and freezing winters. And, because on many breeding farms certain compounds like ivermectin and moxidectin are not longer effective due to overuse and increased resistance, a special deworming program using a two-day dose of Safe-Guard is recommended for foals. Those details are shared below.


largestronglyesLarge Strongyles – Commonly called bloodworms, large strongyles are extremely dangerous if left unchecked. Larvae weaken abdominal artery walls, causing problematic blood clots, and some species migrate to other organs, wrecking havoc wherever they trudge. Symptoms range from diarrhea and weight loss to potentially fatal colic due to obstruction of blood flow to entire segments of the  intestines. All compounds are effective against adult stages, and if little or no resistance is detected, it is best to use an established dewormer and save newer compounds from resistance build-up for as long as possible. Only macrocyclic lactones and larvicidal dosages of fenbendazole are effective against the damaging larval stage.


pinwormsPinworms – Although relatively harmless to overall health, pinworms can be irritating when they cause severe itching around the rectum and tailhead. As a horse scratches there may be tail hair loss and skin patches rubbed raw. Dewormers used for other parasites usually destroy pinworms at the same time, although there are reports of pinworm infections that appear to be resistant to some dewormers.


Threadworms – These guys target young foals under six months of age.  Adult threadworms that live in the intestinal tract can cause weakness, diarrhea and emaciation. Controlling threadworms in adult horses, particularly broodmares, is important to protect nearby youngsters. All three drug classes can blast away threadworms.


botwormBots – Those irritating botflies buzzing around each autumn lay yellow eggs on your horse’s hair, mainly on the legs. The horse licks the eggs, the eggs hatch and the larvae are swallowed. These little  squatters take up residence in the stomach for a year, eventually turning into grubs and passing out in the animal’s feces. While in the stomach, they can cause digestive problems, weight loss, poor condition and poor feed conversion. Remove any visible eggs on the hair coat and administer a macrocyclic lactone compound, such as ivermectin. An ideal time to treat for bots, in temperate climates, is after fly season is over and cold weather arrives.


tapewormTapeworms – These guys enjoy a category all their own. Tapeworms attach to the intestinal walls and absorb any food that happens to pass by, while disrupting motility in surrounding segments of the intestines.  A heavy infestation can cause dangerous blockages. Praziquantel is effective against tapeworms, but has no effect on any other parasites. A double dose of pyrantel can also be used to treat tapeworm infections.


An educational, entertaining, and easy-to-follow barn chart  is provided with this article, courtesy of  Safe-Guard(R), or from that describes the life cycles and threats of each parasite, as well as the compounds known to work best to treat  specific infestations.



It used to be enough to just know the worms. Scientific research, however, suggests that there is much more to know today, as horses vary in their susceptibility to parasites, and some worms have become resistant to certain classes of dewormers.


Each individual horse faces a  unique parasitic challenge, beginning with age and adding in life circumstances. By factoring age in with geographic region, living conditions, and the results of properly-timed fecal egg counts, a straightforward deworming program can be devised. Your veterinarian is a great resource to assist you.


Age Groups

In general, horses fall into four age groups: 1) foals; 2) adolescents – yearlings through age two; 3) adults; and 4) seniors over age 15. Each has specific challenges. Again, the provided chart is helpful.


Foals – Unlike older horses, foals are dangerously susceptible to roundworms (ascarids). Unfortunately, resistance to ivermectin and other macrocyclic lactones exists in some regions and these compounds may no longer be effective to use in foals to treat ascarids. Therefore, a double-dose of a fenbendazole product is recommended at eight weeks of age or older. From there, young foals through weaning age benefit from deworming at two-month intervals to help prevent ascarids from maturing into egg-laying adults that lay eggs in pastures, waiting to infect the next generation of foals. Since foals and weanlings are more susceptible to most parasites, they require more frequent deworming. The chart provides helpful guidelines about which compounds to consider and when to treat.


Adolescents – Young horses from yearlings through age two, with their immature immune systems, also require more frequent dewormings using a variety of compounds over that time. These treatments are usually administered during the grazing seasons.  Again, the handy chart is helpful here.


 Adults - Each adult horse, on the other hand, may need a slightly different program, depending upon living conditions and whether each is a high shedder or a low shedder, based on the number of strongyle eggs in their fecals. Most horses over age two have developed varying degrees of immunity to parasites, and, as a general rule, are only mildly affected by their presence – unless infestations become heavy.


Shedding status is most likely a genetic or inherited trait. High shedders (about five to 20 percent of mature horses) can look just fine, but secretly go about contaminating pastures and infecting everyone around them. Determining, via fecal egg count tests, which of your horses are high shedders can and should affect management and stocking practices. High shedders may need to be treated for parasites more often and compounds used may vary, while low shedders may not need to be dewormed as often, or with different products.


Seniors – Horses over age 15 are similar to adults, unless they have developed health conditions, such as Cushing’s Disease, that affect their aging immune systems. If a senior’s immune system is compromised, that individual may require a customized deworming program.


New Horses – Also keep in mind that when a new individual of unknown background is introduced, it is important – and safest for the horse – to administer a larvicidal dose of fenbendazole over the first five days it is in residence and prior to turnout on pasture.



Once you know which enemies specifically threaten each of your horses, it is time to set up the right rotational deworming plan for each individual. This program should span one year’s time, at the end of which a new plan for the following year may or may not be warranted.


Choose Your Weapons (Carefully!)

No new deworming molecule has been developed in more than 20 years and resistance to the existing compounds is growing. In addition, there are no new compounds on the near horizon, although research is progressing. Therefore, just as with antibiotics, it is best to use the right dewormer at the right time against the parasites of concern. Save a “big gun” dewormer for use only when other drug classes fail.


Each of the three primary drug classes, plus one specific to tapeworms only, has its place in most rotation programs. They include:

1)      Benzimidazoles – Fenbendazole, Example: Safe-guard, Panacur; Larvicidal fenbendazole, Example: Safe-guard Power-dose, Panacur Powerpac;

2)      Macrocyclic lactones – Ivermectin, Example: Zimecterin, Eqvalan, or Moxidectin, Example: Quest;

3)      Pyrimidines – Pyrantel, Example: Strongid C, Pyrantel Paste; and

4)      Praziquantel (for tapeworms only), offered in combination with a macrocyclic compound. Example: Zimecterin Gold (combination), Quest Plus (combination).


The attached chart offers a basic, easy-to-follow rotational outline to help you get started developing a program for each horse in your care. Look at age first, then read through the suggested compounds and treatment times, making adjustments that better fit your program based on living conditions, climate, and fecal egg count test results.


It is important to note that all three classes of deworming compounds are effective against adult small strongyles, when resistance build-up is minimal. However, only a larvicidal dose of fenbendazole can safely destroy all larval stages (EL3 and LL3) of encysted small strongyles where they hide out, killing them before a disastrous adult mass emergence through intestinal walls. The macrocylic lactone Moxidectin (a deworming compound to consider reserving for cases of resistance) is also effective against later stages of these encysted small strongyle larvae (LL3), but this drug is not recommended for young foals and thin, debilitated horses of any age.


Geography & Management

It is smart to know the unique parasitic challenges of the farm where your horse resides. For example, in some regions of the country, macrocyclic lactone dewormers, such as ivermectin, no longer are effective against roundworms, due to overuse and increased resistance to this molecule. This can especially be detrimental to foals and, instead, a double-dose treatment of fenbendazole is advised at approximately eight weeks of age. Weather and climate also affect the life cycles of some parasites, so taking into consideration  wet versus dry conditions, amount of sunshine, and hard frost events is helpful.


Another powerful weapon against parasites is adopting good environmental management practices. These include, but aren’t limited to, daily manure removal in stalls and twice weekly removal from pastures and paddocks; pasture rotation; inter-species grazing (sheep, cattle, goats, etc. rotated through horse pastures); providing any supplemental grain or hay in raised containers off the ground; and  keeping overcrowding to a minimum.


Customized Rotation Programs

The analysis of a fecal egg count (FEC) test can help you understand the parasitic challenges of a particular horse, especially when trying to determining which adult horses are high shedders and therefore may need a tougher deworming program, and which are low shedders, and don’t require treatment as often (saving money and slowing resistance build-up). You may even decide to house horses differently when shed rates are known. FEC tests also can be used to confirm that the drugs you are using are still effective.(Please see sidebar for easy tips on how to gather samples.)


Those Three Things You Must Know?

Once you know (1) which parasitic enemies are a threat, and (2) you factor in your horse’s age, environment and deworming history, you can (3) create the right rotational deworming program for each horse in your care. Although the complete, 100% elimination of those little bandits is impossible, no matter what the circumstances, the proper use of available compounds will thin their ranks and ensure your horse’s long-term health.

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Get the Scoop on Poop

A fecal egg count (FEC) test is the best way find out which parasites are present and to devise the right rotational deworming program. Using a “one-product-fits-all system” can contribute to increasing dewormer resistance by parasites in your area. Remember that FEC tests detect eggs laid by adult worms, but do not detect immature stages, such as migrating larvae and encysted small strongyles.

Obtaining test samples is easy. All you need is a fresh manure sample the size of your fist and a clean, zip-closing baggy.

l   Write your name and the horse’s name on the baggy, turn it inside out and place your hand inside, as you would with a glove.

l  Pick up the fresh droppings, flip the bag back to the right side and seal it. (Hands stay clean!)

l  Keep the sample cool and deliver the specimen within 12 hours to be tested by your veterinarian or a designated lab.

l  The best time to have a fecal test run is during parasite transmission seasons, such as fall and spring, but it can be done anytime.

It is strongly advised that you review the test results for each horse with a veterinarian to determine the right dewormer rotational program for one year for each horse. It may vary by individual, even on the same property.



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Understanding Equine Cushings & Equine Metobolic Syndrome





Cushings (Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction)

Cushings in horses is a disease of the pituitary gland, specifically the pars intermedia. This is unlike Cushings disease in other species in which either the pituitary gland or the adrenal gland may be affected.  Due to this species difference, experts prefer to call this disease Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID).  This area of the pituitary becomes hyperplastic (enlarged; often on a microscopic level) and causes the body to secrete excess of certain hormones.  This leads to a variety of symptoms, such as a long hair coat, failure to shed out in the spring, a cresty neck, abnormal fat deposits, wasting of the topline, chronic infection, and laminitis. 

Testing for PPID usually involves a blood test, either an endogenous ACTH test or a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test.  Both tests should be done in a low-stress situation as stress can artificially raise the levels and give a false positive result to the test.  When testing from August – November a higher reference range for these tests must be used as all horses have natural increase in these levels during the fall months

The Good:  For most horses PPID is very manageable.  The drug Pergolide is the mainstay of treatment, but sometimes the drug Cyproheptadine is also used.  Cyproheptadine is generally not as effective in managing PPID when used alone but when used is often in conjunction with pergolide.

The Bad:  Though PPID is treatable it is not curable and these horses need daily treatment to manage the disease. Horses with PPID will often then need years of treatment which can be a financial strain.  The disease in some horses will become resistant to treatment, requiring an increased dose of pergolide or pergolide + cyproheptadine to control symptoms, which then further increases the cost of treatment.

The Ugly: The worst consequence of PPID (particularly in uncontrolled PPID) is laminitis.  Laminitis is a disease involving severe inflammation within the feet.  It can range in severity and each case is different, but it is the number one reason horses with PPID are euthanized. 


Equine Metabolic Syndrome

Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) is a condition in horses involving obesity and insulin resistance.  These horses are the classic “easy keeper”, maintaining or even gaining weight with fairly little food.  Insulin resistance is a condition in which the horses’ insulin receptors are no longer sensitized to insulin and the horse therefore must make more and more insulin in order to get the same response by cells.  Symptoms include obesity, abnormal fat deposits (termed by specialists as “regional adiposity”) and laminitis, which can range in severity. 

Testing includes a fasting insulin blood test.  For this test the horse is fasted for 10-12 hours prior to blood collection.  Insulin levels can be altered by feed, in particular grains, which is why most clinicians prefer fasting prior to the test.  Since the symptoms of EMS can be similar to those of PPID, often testing for both is done at the same time.

The Good:  This condition is treatable with diet and exercise and occasionally medications, such as thyroid medication.  While true hypothyroidism is rare in horses, thyroid medications can improve glucose utilization and insulin sensitivity and can encourage weight loss, particularly those that are not able to be exercised.

The Bad: Getting these horses to lose a significant amount of weight can be very frustrating and takes perseverance.  Most of these horse require a strict low-carbohydrate/low sugar diet, which usually means little to no grass.  These horses often need to be on this strict diet for life, as they gain weight easily and are at an increased risk for laminitis.  A consistent exercise program is also essential in maintaining these horses.  Exercise is a key factor in achieving weight loss, and it increases the sensitivity of the insulin receptors as well.

The Ugly:  Like PPID, this disease can lead to laminitis.  EMS horses with laminitis are in the proverbial “between a rock and a hard place” – they need to lose weight to improve their insulin sensitivity, but they are too lame to get the needed exercise to help their condition.


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