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Montana Ag Network: Keeping horses healthy in summer - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Montana Ag Network: Keeping horses healthy in summer

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For horses and their owners, summertime can present some health challenges. But there are few things owners can do to help keep their equine friends healthy.

“I think there are three things you need to pay attention to,” said Ward Fenton, owner of Fenton Quarter Horses, Worden. “One of them, which is probably the most important, is to have a good vaccination program. The second would be a good worming program and then hoof care.”

Fenton’s horses are bred to work cattle and work on ranches. Like other horse owners, keeping his horses healthy is a top priority; especially during the summer.

“The vaccination program we give includes West Nile shots,” said Fenton. “We also give a five-way shot that takes in control of the western and eastern encephalitis. We also have influenza, tetanus and Rhino in those. And those are probably the six diseases they could get this time of the year because some of those are transmitted by insects like mosquitos.”

Internal parasite control is also important. Parasites are dangerous as they can cause rapid weight loss, diarrhea and colic. They can also cause death in the most severe cases.

“A good worming program is also important," Fenton said. "I kind of go by the seat of my pants and look at the horses. If their hair coat isn’t good or their body condition isn’t what I want or if they’re rubbing their butt on the fence it’s a sign they need some worming care.”  

Another important health tip is routine hoof care. This helps correct minor imperfections and treatment of foot diseases and injuries and helps with the animal’s overall performance.

“We spend a lot of time trimming horses,” said Fenton. “We go clear from the baby colts up to our older horses trimming their feet occasionally as it’s needed. If you do it on a constant basis, it doesn’t take a lot. But if you let it go and they get bad then you have a problem.”

He says another good reminder for horse owners is to maintain a good working relationship with their veterinarian.

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