New Horse BioSecurity

So a new horse is about to arrive at your place – it is the most exciting thing – but it can also cause loads of trouble as each horse can carry new germs and infestations.  These can include worms, nasal/respiratory infections, skin conditions such as mud fever and ringworm or more serious conditions such as strangles.

Here’s some simple tips to ensure all your horses stay  healthy.

  1. Prior arrival checklist. Have an arrival fact sheet ready for a new agistee or previous owner of the horse. When was it last wormed? When was the last vet check? What’s it’s medical history? When was it’s last strangles and tetanus vaccination/booster? When were it’s feet and teeth last done? These are all important questions that often get missed in the excitement and only asked later when something goes wrong.

  2. Isolate the horse when it first arrives for 7 days. We clean a stable, first putting agricultural lime on a dirt floor or vinegar (or disinfectant) on concrete ones. Then put deep, clean bedding into a stable or yard. Of course, make sure there is clean fresh water (clean out the trough) and lots of plain grass/pasture hay. (You should make sure the horse has friends – but don’t let noses touch – keep a stable distance between them)

  3. Take the horse’s temperature twice a day (morning & night) for the first 7 days and check for any unwanted health signs – running nose, watering eyes, poor appetite etc.

  4. We don’t worm on the first day. Best to wait 24-48hours to ensure the horse is past the worst of the stress related to travel and new environment and then worm - first with a ‘soft’ wormer. We use Panacur (we use 60ml for 2-3 days as this is also a good treatment for ulcers – check with your vet for own dosage rates). Then check the manure for any evidence of worms for the next 2 days. (*We do always use a Recovery paste for interstate horses that arrive and/or electrolytes – in water or a paste – on the first night to help the horse settle and keep them well. If they had electrolytes before or during travel, your own observation will determine if the horse requires more. Most of all, they need water). If the horse shows any signs of ill health, you wouldn’t worm – just call the vet to get it checked immediately.

  5. If the horse has any form of skin irritation, always wear gloves when touching the horse or wash your hands thoroughly before touching the next one. Never use the same brush on a new horse that you’d then use on an existing horse at your yard for the first 7 days. Of course, the same goes for all gear – headstalls, saddle cloths, rugs. Use separate gear for the first 7 days. If you only have one saddle or bridle, it must be cleaned extensively (minimum is to spray with vinegar) prior to use on another horse. Clean brushes in vinegar and bicarb soda or soak in hot water and bicarb (more stringent detergent if you have to).

  6. When you start working the horse, do so when the arena is empty – and if this is not possible, ensure the horse is worked separately from others and that any manure is collected immediately from anywhere that another horse could sniff it (many germ spores are passed in the manure – sniffing them up infects the other horse).

Travelling and re-homing horses is one of the most unstabilising things for many horses (and owners) as moving to a new herd environment can cause immense stress and conflict. When a horse is under stress, their immunity and defences are lowered so always manage your horse appropriately for their individual conditions, temperament and level of experience – no two horses are the same.

Happy Riding!