Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Creepy Things Inside Your Horse

Note: Only horse people will find this post interesting.  The rest of you might find it completely revolting.

As easy as it is to shove a tube of dewormer down a horse’s throat (depending on your skill and your horse’s opinion, of course), doing this without education on your horse’s wormload now goes against recommendations by most horse veterinary authorities. 
No caption necessary.

Because those ugly litte SOBs that live in our horse’s internal organs have started to develop immunity to our dewormers, the new recommended standard is  that we test our horses’ manure for the presences of parasites, then customize a deworming program for each horse. 

It sounds easy, but the gap in this system is the ability to get manure to the vet lab, of course.  There’s the wait for manure, so you know exactly which horse’s poo ball belongs to whom, then there’s the getting it to the lab before it expires.  Most of us don't drive by our equine vet's place on a regular basis. 

For me, the above conundrum, combined with the usual busy schedule, resulted in my not deworming my horses since last fall.  So, when the vet came to do routine health care recently, I seized the opportunity, along with a few poo balls.  Well, I seized one that Starlight left while the vet was there.  The vet actually seized one each, from both Hudson’s and DeCato’s, um, what a cruder person might call poop-shoots.

It was quite a sight, and there was a moment when I thought that the vet’s arm would become a permanent appendage in Hudson’s apparently extremely tight bung.   Both Hudson and DeCato were still stoned from their dental work when the fecal matter was obtained, so they didn’t react too obviously, but apparently Hudson was groggily trying to prevent the vet’s hand from grabbing anything in there before she was ready to give it up. 

Eventually, though, three manure balls were sealed in baggies, labeled with names, and off with the vet they went.   The lab would count the number of worm eggs present (or "shed") in each mare's manure to determine their level of infestation.

In a week, I received the results, together with a recommended deworming protocol for each of my mares.  


 Strongyle - 450 eggs/gram

 Parascaris - <25 eggs/gram

 Anoplocephala - <25 eggs/gram


 Strongyle - 275 eggs/gram

 Parascaris - <25 eggs/gram

 Anoplocephala - <25 eggs/gram


 Strongyle - 125 eggs/gram

 Parascaris - <25 eggs/gram

 Anoplocephala - <25 eggs/gram


Starlight is considered to be a low shedder.  This means that less than 200 eggs/gram were found in the sample we processed.  Our deworming plan for Starlight would be to deworm twice yearly, once with ivermectin and once with an ivermectin/praziquantel product (such as Zimectrin Gold). 

DeCato and Hudson are considered to be Moderate Shedders.  This means that they scored more than 200 eggs/gram but less than 900 eggs/gram in the samples we processed.  Our deworming recommendation for them would be four times early alternating between ivermectin, oxibendazole, and pyrantel pamoate.  

After reviewing these and checking into the best times to do the dewormings, I find I'm a little off in terms of optimal timing.  However, I'll give everyone their first worm paste this weekend, then work toward the recommended schedule.

Well, there you have it.  The only thing I really did wrong here was to google each of the parasites named in the results.  Even though two of them are so low as to be considered "non-detectable," I still had to look-up pictures of them.  

Holy crap!  Don't do that!

May you all have a parasite-free weekend.


  1. Brilliant post. I suspect Hudson would think that the creepiest thing inside her was the doc's arm...

  2. Worms/parasites freak me out. I need to send off the fecal test for Simon now that I am in full control of his worming as opposed to barn owner.