Health Care for the Driving Horse


Health care for the driving horse is more than an issue of preserving a horse's well-being.
For a safe journey on the roads through our modern traffic we need a healthy horse able to pull a carriage and feeling fit and comfortable enough to do so.

There are a few things you should routinely have an eye on to provide good health care to your horse.
If you do this regularly, you can prevent a lot of health related problems, which, if not detected early, could become more severe and need a time consuming recovery break.

  • Regular hoof care through a professional farrier or hoofcarer
  • Annual health check through a veterinary surgeon
  • Annual vaccinations
  • Regular worming
  • Regular grooming sessions
  • Healthy, balanced diet

A driving horse may suffer from slightly different health problems compared to a riding horse, due to the harness covering different bodyparts than a saddle does.




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Health Care for the Skin

Harness galls and skin sores

  • Location:

    • at point of shoulder
    • on the neck
    • around the belly underneath the girth
    • both sides of wither

  • Prevention:

    • regular grooming: no dirt should be left between skin and harness parts
    • good fitting harness
    • careful exercise to get skin used to work and hardened up

Some remedies:


WARNING: ALLWAYS TRY FIRST ON A SMALL AREA OF SKIN WHICH IS NOT GETTING IN CONTACT WITH THE HARNESS AND WAIT A DAY OR TWO, IN CASE YOUR HORSE S HOWS SYMPTOMS OF AN ALLERGY !!!
Hardening up certain areas of skin:

If your horse is prone to skin sores in areas you know, but especially under the girth and on the point of the shoulder you can rub these areas first with toilet soap, then surgical spirit and finally sprinkle some talcum powder over it.


Older drivers might still remember this one:

Dab human urine onto proned skin areas. Urine contents urea and lots of other different metabolised chemicals, which will harden up the skin.


If your horse already has developed a skin sore, dab it with salty warm water, keep it clean.
In case an infection settled in, let a vet make a proper diagnose and a prescription of an appropriate therapy and drug.


Collar injuries


These injuries are caused by ill fitting harness parts or in an unfit, untrained horse, if it was asked to work too much before the skin has hardened adequately.


  • Collar too wide:

    • Collar will rock from side to side and chafe the skin until injured.
    • Sores are usually three quarters down the shoulder on both sides.

  • Collar, too narrow:
    • Collar will pinch and rub the skin in areas one third down the shoulder on both sides.

  • Lack of breeching:
    • Pressure injury occurs on top of the neck, if the pole straps press down- and forwards because the vehicle is held entirely on the neck.

  • Collar, too short:
    • Collar will pipe and bruise the skin of the neck at the windpipe area.
    • A short collar can cause a horse to choke, if the pressure onto the windpipe gets too much.

Cure:
  • rest the neck
  • apply a lotion and ointment to heal up sores and harden up the skin
  • replace the ill-fitting collar with a properly fitting harness or collar
  • temporarily use a breast collar, but only if the injured area is avoided and not covered with harness parts.
  • add breeching straps in case of an injury at the top of the neck.

Prevention:
  • well fitting harness and collar

Lameness


health-care01

Lameness and hoof problems can be classified as followed:
  • concussion damage
  • splints (mainly in young horses)
  • lameness in different locations by variuos causes
  • increased hoof horn abrasion

Causes:
  • driving on hard surface most of the time (roads)
  • horse is not warmed up carefully enough
  • horse is not used to amount of exercise
  • if shod, make sure shoes fit well
  • growth growth raterate of hoof horn slower than grade of abrasion
  • if not shod might need hoof shoes or hoof boots. Check with a farrier or hoofcarer!

Prevention:
  • regular hoof care and check ups through a farrier or hoofcarer
  • regular health care check ups through your vet
  • careful exercise and training



Respiratory problems in wintertime?
Some horses are suffering from winter allergy or stable allergy.
Read about cause, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this rather common health problem.



More Info






See also:

Basic First Aid for Horses
First Aid Kit for Horses
Alternative Worming




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