The African Horse Sickness season typically peaks from February to May, but with healthy rainfall this Summer season, there is suspicion that the peak of the season may start earlier. The Aktiv Equine Horse Care team have reminded us of the various prevention practices used in the equestrian community.
- Avoid turnout at dusk, overnight and at dawn when midges are most active.
- “Insect-proof” the horse’s stable.
- Close windows and doors (many owners use shade cloth and other netting solutions for full closure).
- Light slow-burning mosquito coils in stable passages in peak activity hours may deter midges from the area, however, there is debate about the health implications this may cause (for horses and people alike).
- Create air movement in your stables with fans. Midges are attracted to the horse’s Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions and odours. The air flow will disperse these traces and the midges will also move away from the challenging flying conditions.
- In high-risk areas, some horse owners put flysheets on in peak activity hours for extra protection.
- Repellents containing DEET are proven to repel flies, mosquitoes and midges (Culicoides) that may be infected with vector born viral diseases. If you cannot source a DEET repellent, opt for a Pemethrin based repellent. Any repellent should be reapplied every 3-4 hours for best efficacy. Pay special attention to applying the repellent to the horse’s poll and upper neck area where midges are known to bite.
- Consider adding Garlic to your horse’s feed in fly and Horse Sickness season. The odour travels through the horse’s skin, repelling insects away from the coat. It is very important to not overfeed Garlic as it has a toxicity level (medium to high doses over an extended period) which may cause anaemia. Purchase a garlic supplement from a reputable supplier and always follow feeding recommendations.
- Consider adding an immune booster supplement to your horse’s diet. A healthy horse has a better chance of fighting off viruses, vector born viral diseases and infection.
- Monitor your horse’s temperature. Take readings at least once a day, but twice daily is recommended (before turnout and 1-2 hours after turnout to allow cool-off). Your vet should be consulted immediately if your horse has a high reading.
- Take time to assess your horse every day. Is he eating normally? Any leg swelling? Is his colour normal? Are his habits normal? Anything out of the norm could be an indication of a downturn in your horse’s health.
The information published serves as a reminder of the various prevention practices used in the the equestrian community. Please consult your veterinarian before making any significant changes to your horse’s routine, for any health concerns, or cases in your area.
If you have a go-to prevention practice or advice to share, let us know.