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Nikki Alvin-Smith

 

As an advanced equestrian competitor with a keen eye on the blue ribbon (or red, white and blue) and my quest to ensure all my horses and those of my students reach their full potential, I love to take control of as many aspects of their health care as possible.

The constant line of healthcare professionals that make up part of the Willowview Hill Team include acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists as well as vets, farriers, nutritionists and holistic professionals. Everyone works in a carefully choreographed manner to ensure we are all on the same page and working in harmony together toward the same goal, the best possible performance and health of the horse.

Yes, we use health care professionals for ourselves too. Massage, chiropractic and acupuncturists are on our calendar, as are fitness and nutrition experts. When an ailment pops up we call on our General Practioner (GP) to get the overall perspective and find out what ails us. Once we have identified the health problem to a specific body area or systemic issue, then the suggestion of referral to a specialist in that particular field is always welcomed and utilized.

Naturally, someone that works in general medicine on a daily basis may not have the time to devote to keeping abreast of all the most recent developments in the scientific world of a particular health specialty. The in depth knowledge that is required from a specialist in any field is something that the person has chosen to pursue and is usually something for which they have a keen passion.

So while I love my team of vets (yes, I have one for diagnostic lameness, one for general health etc.), when it comes to the facts of horse worm management in my herd that ranges from broodmares and foals to a 24 year old Grand Prix horse that is still going strong under saddle, I consult an equine parasitology expert.

My regular vet is quite happy to take equine fecal samples for worm egg count testing at my request during a visit, but I don’t want to call the vet out every time I want to do a test or retest on a horse to check its worm egg count.

When the results come in I want to know that I am not simply deworming based on methods 40 years ago and administering a paste of Ivermectin to my horse that may do nothing to solve the problem. That sort of veterinary advice is the equivalent advice to me of the saying, “ Give him a tab of bute and if he’s not better call me in the morning.”

If there is a dewormer resistant worm population in my herd I want to know. If a competition horse is not thriving I want to know. If I cannot figure out why my six year old horse isn’t shedding her coat properly or why a young sporthorse yearling showcases a runny nose and cough, I want to know. And when I have questions on a worm egg count report from my horses’ fecal samples or have questions about the best method for taking the samples or when I should retest, I want a specialist to answer them.

As competitive equestrians and backyard owners we all want the very best health for our horses. Following an evidence based protocol i.e. fecal egg count tests and retests, is a smart way to go. It is the cornerstone of management in internal equine parasitology, and along with other factors such as manure pick up in paddocks and pasture management you can be happy that your horses’ deworming program is on target.

Utilizing mail in sample kits makes this easy and having an expert consultant at the touch of a few buttons on my phone keeps me happy. I reach out to Horsemen’s Laboratory and specialist John Byrd D.V.M.. With over 75,000 equine fecal worm egg count tests completed at his lab, and his ardent passion for the field of equine parasitology and valuable contacts in the scientific community, you know you receive heartfelt intelligent advice and an individual program based on you and your specific horses’ needs, not a cookie cutter or need blind formula.

I’m sure just like me, when you canter into that arena you want to know your horse will be the best he can be, and for horses you may have homebred and produced for sale you want to know they are in optimum health for a successful future. With all the myths and fake news out there about how to sample and what to watch for and how and when to treat your horse with deworming products, I am happy to rely on a non-pharma driven scientific community to enact my farm’s horse worm control program and that all begins for me with Dr. John Byrd.

Get the up-to-date facts. It’s the smart thing to do. Click here to order your Equine Fecal Egg Kit.