Equine FAQ’s

What are the requirements for a Horse Passport?

All horses and ponies must have a passport identifying the animal. Any applications for a passport received since 1st July 2009, the horse must also be micro-chipped.  From 1 July 2009, all foals need to be microchipped as well as getting a passport.  This must be done before the foal is six months old or by 31 December in the year it is born, whichever is later. However, you need to have your foal microchipped and get a passport if you want to sell or move it without its dam earlier.

Passports for older horses

If your horse doesn’t have a passport, from 1 July 2009 you will need to get it micro-chipped as part of the passport application process. If you already have a valid horse passport, you won’t have to get your horse microchipped.

You can find more information regarding horse passports on the DEFRA web site.

What should I vaccinate my horse against and when?

We recommend all horses are vaccinated against two common and potentially serious diseases – Influenza and Tetanus.  Herpes Virus vaccination may also be recommended for horses at risk of the disease, particularly pregnant mares.


Equine influenza is a potentially serious and very infectious respiratory disease.  Most affiliated competition organisations require that those competing are vaccinated again ‘Flu in accordance with Jockey Club rules, shown below.  Foals can be vaccinated from 5 months old.

1st Vaccination

2nd Vaccination in 21 – 92 days

3rd Vaccination 150 -215 days after 2nd

Annual boosters thereafter (not more than 365 days apart)


Tetanus causes the disease known as ‘Lockjaw’. Horses are quite susceptible to this potentially fatal disease and are exposed to it through wounds and small cuts. The initial vaccination course involves two vaccines 28 days apart, followed by a booster vaccination every two years thereafter.


Equine Herpes virus causes respiratory symptoms (coughing/nasal discharge) and abortion. We would recommend pregnant mares be vaccinated at 5, 7 and 9 months gestation, and other horses if at risk every 6 months following the initial course of two vaccines 28 days apart.

Why should I worm my horse?

Round worms, tape worms and bots can cause problems for your horse including weight loss, poor performance, diarrhoea and colic which can be life threatening.

When should I worm my horse and what with?

Timing of worming is important and varies greatly depending on your horse’s particular situation.  In general, we would recommend using a tape wormer and one active against round worms (cyathastomins) twice a year (in spring and autumn) and a product effective against round worms in between, depending on your horse’s individual need.  This can be assessed using a faecal egg count, which will determine if your horse requires worming at all.  We would recommend you discuss your particular situation with a vet to get the ideal worming programme for your horse.

How do I know if my horse has sweet itch?

Sweet itch is an allergy to the biting midge, and is extremely common in this area.  Horses with sweet itch are extremely itchy usually around the mane, forelock and tail head.  This leads to damage to the skin in these areas due to rubbing. Treatment will depend on the severity of the damage but usually involves cleaning with an antiseptic and use of antiseptic topical creams.

How do I prevent sweet itch?

If your horse has sweet itch there are a number of ways you can prevent it, or reduce the severity.  Reducing your horse’s exposure to midges by not turning out at dawn and dusk when the insects are most active, and by using fly rugs with hoods.  The use of fly repellents such as ‘Switch’ is also recommended. 

What is laminitis?

Laminitis is inflammation of the laminae, which connects the hoof wall to the pedal bone in the foot.

What causes laminitis?

There are a number of causes of laminitis.  These include the feeding of rich food stuffs (e.g. lush grass), obesity, hormonal syndromes such as Equine Cushings Syndrome and Metabolic Syndrome, systemic toxins and damage to other limbs resulting in uneven weight bearing.

How do I know if my horse has laminitis and how is it treated?

Laminitis is a painful disease, and so horses will appear to be foot sore, often standing in a classical ‘rocking horse’ stance, where the front feet are stretched out in front as the horse tries to transfer it’s weight to the hind feet.  The hooves may feel warm to touch, and the digital pulses are often described as ‘bounding’.

Each case may be treated slightly differently depending on the cause, but generally pain relief (for example equipalazone or ‘bute’), deep bedding to cushion the foot, restricted access to rich food, and strict box rest are the main stay of treatment.

How often should I have my horse’s teeth checked?

Dental disease in horses is very common and can cause many problems, including weight loss, head shaking, dropping food (‘quidding’) and problems with the bit.  Horses with normal teeth should be checked at last every twelve months, by a vet or qualified equine dental technician.  More frequent examinations and treatments may be necessary in older horses and those with dental problems.

Whilst many horses will tolerate a full examination and rasping of their teeth without sedation, some require sedation to assess and work on their teeth properly and safely.

What are wolf teeth and should they be removed?

Wolf teeth are the remnant of the first premolar tooth, which sits in front of the row of cheek teeth.  Wolf teeth can be present in both the upper and lower jaw of your horse but are much more common in the upper jaw.  They vary in size, shape, and position and may not be present at all.

They don’t always have to be removed, but they can interfere with bit due to their position in the mouth, especially if they are sharp, wobbly, or are only present on one side.  Removing them usually only requires sedation or local anaesthetic, but as all wolf teeth are different, each case will be assessed individually.

What is strangles?
Strangles is a respiratory infection caused by the bacteria Streptococcus equi equi.  It is extremely contagious and is spread both directly from an infected horse to an uninfected; and indirectly, via shared equipment such as water troughs and feed buckets.

What are the symptoms of Strangles and how is it treated?

Symptoms of strangles vary greatly, from very sick horses to those displaying mild respiratory signs and even symptomless carriers.  Classic signs of strangles include a high temperature, swelling of the lymph nodes around the head and neck, usually accompanied by a yellow nasal discharge.

Treatment of strangles depends on the individual case, which will be assessed by the vet examining your horse, but the mainstay of treatment is supportive care.  This usually includes anti-inflammatory treatment such as equipalazone and other measures such as heat packing abscesses and feeding from the floor to encourage drainage of any discharges.  Antibiotics may or may not be prescribed depending on the individual case.

How can I prevent my horse getting strangles?

There is a vaccine available against strangles, but other methods of prevention are often more useful, including the quarantine and screening of new arrivals to your yard.

If you suspect your horse has strangles, it is important to have your horse examined by a vet in order to get prompt treatment and protect other horses in the area.

How do I know if my horse has colic?

Colic is a term meaning abdominal pain, the signs of which vary greatly depending on the severity of the pain and its cause.  Signs can include pawing the ground, watching and biting the stomach area and rolling, as well as sweating and stretching.

What causes colic?

Colic can be due to a simple cramping of the gut, or as serious as twisted sections of gut cutting off the blood supply.  Most cases of colic are mild ‘spasmodic’ (cramp) types, or impactions (where a region of gut becomes clogged with food) and are easily treated.  More serious cases occur when a loop of gut becomes twisted or trapped, resulting in severe pain.

How is colic treated?

Different types of colic require different treatment.  Simple impactions often respond to lubrication with salt water given by a stomach tube, and spasmodic cases often resolve with an injection of pain killer and spasmolytic (anti-cramping) drugs.  Other more serious cases of colic may require major surgery and referral to specialist centres.

If you suspect your horse has colic, contact the surgery as soon as possible, to enable the fastest most appropriate treatment for your horse.

Could my horse have Cushings Disease?

Is you horse over 15 years old? Has recurrent laminitis? Drinks and urinates a lot? Big Belly? Thick curly coat? It could have Cushings Disease.  For Nov 2012 we can do reduced blood test costs.  Please contact the surgery for details.