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Deworming Your Horse: How to find the best deworming schedule for you and your horse

Free Downloadable Guide on Deworming

Deworming Your HorseFrom the editors of EQUUS magazine, Deworming Your Horse shows you why a "one-size-fits-all" approach doesn't always apply. Download your free guide and find out what steps you need to take to protect not only your horse, but horses everywhere.

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Download your FREE report on deworming horses from MyHorse Daily and learn how to choose an equine worming schedule that works for you.

MyHorse Daily Managing Editor Amy Herdy

MyHorse Daily Managing Editor Amy Herdy

Hello, Fellow Horse Fan,
One of the biggest disagreements I ever had with a trainer was over the way I administered my horse deworming schedule.

It wasn’t my deworming schedule for horses she objected to, or that the type of wormer I used was the generic chemical kind and not a natural horse dewormer.

Rather, it was the way I administered the dewormer that the trainer objected to, because I walked up to my horse in her paddock on the appointed day and just popped that nasty dewormer goo into her mouth.

deworming a horseI didn’t tie her up first for this equine dewormer date. I didn’t even halter her. Instead, I just walked straight up to her (“like a predator,” the trainer told me), showed my filly the horse dewormer syringe and then squirted its contents into her mouth, which she had opened like a baby bird.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, I was told. When giving a horse dewormer, always use a halter and lead rope, in case they object. And approach from the side and not the front in order to not intimidate them.

Well…For the average horse, I would be inclined to agree with that method for administering dewormer.

Not necessarily for my filly.

Claim Your FREE Copy of Deworming Your Horse

Deworming Your HorseNEW FREE EBOOK ON EQUINE DEWORMING Find out why more veterinarians and horse owners are discovering that the eight-week deworming schedule, an ingrained horsekeeping ritual from the 1960s, is proving to be ineffective due to drug-resistant parasites. Our FREE Guide, Deworming Your Horse, sets the record straight on modern deworming practices.

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I think I could approach her with an arsenal of horse deworming syringes clutched in both hands and she would simply look at me like, Oh, yeah?

But there is a secret to my horse deworming success…applesauce.

Here’s what I do: A few days before the appointed day of the scheduled Equine Deworming Event, I take an empty horse dewormer syring (which I saved from last time) and fill it full of applesauce. I then offer this to my filly, who looooves applesauce.
Hence the baby-bird-open-mouth for the dewormer thing.

After the third or fourth day in a row of applesauce administration, I approach just as casually as before, except this time I have the actual medicine that’s due on my horse dewormer rotation. She opens wide, expecting applesauce, and I squirt it in, and when my filly curls her lip in obvious distaste and stares at me accusingly, like, what the heck? I just shrug and walk away.

I’ve learned to not try to placate her after such a moment, or try to reintroduce the applesauce then. She’s not in the mood.

The next day, I return, armed with a horse dewormer syringe once again full of applesauce. My filly, now cautious, will sniff the syringe, and I can almost see the wheels turning with her thoughts: Nasty stuff= fluke. Syringe=yum.

And with that, she once again eagerly opens her mouth for it.

So let’s take a look at what’s available to combat those pests.

Does Your Horse Worming Schedule Change As Often As Your Hairstyle?

Deworming Your HorseThe days of handy charts that show when to deworm your horse and what to use are over. Discover why the "one-size-fits-all" approach doesn't do your horse any favors. Our FREE guide, Deworming Your Horse, helps you create a targeted deworming program that your horse will thank you for.

Click the button below and we'll send you a download link to your copy of this FREE guide and we'll also notify you by email whenever we post new tips!

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No matter your horse deworming method (and I am not here to judge), the importance of having a strong worming programme for horses is proven science. Maintaining a constant horse worming schedule is vital to keeping them parasite-free and therefore healthy. An infestation of worms in your horse can cause a dull coat, weight loss or even colic.

When it comes to equine deworming, a wide variety of anthelmintic products are available, but all fall into one of three chemical classes, which are most effective for the average horse deworming schedule.

Macrocyclic lactones (avermectins and milbemycins) have the broadest range of horse deworming activity. Prominent in this class, ivermectin is effective against adults of all the common equine parasites except tapeworms. It is also effective against some larvae and is credited with greatly reducing colic associated with the migrating larvae of Strongylus spp., but it does not kill encysted small strongyle larvae.

Ivermectin and related compounds you can use in your horse dewormer rotation are found in products including Agri-Mectin, Bimectin, Durvet Ivermectin, Equell, Equimax, Equimectrin, Eqvalan, Horse Health Ivermectin, IverCare, Ivercide, IverEase, Phoenectin, Rotectin, Zimecterin and Zimecterin Gold. This class also includes moxidectin, which is similar in action to ivermectin but is also effective against encysted small strongyle larvae. It is the active agent in ComboCare, Quest Gel and Quest Plus.

Benzimidazoles (including compounds that end in “-endazole”) are an effective part of any horse worming schedule as they work against a number of adult parasites. In this class, fenbendazole kills large strongyles, pinworms, lungworms and ascarids; oxibendazole is effective against large strongyles, pinworms, roundworms and threadworms. These are the active agents of products such as Anthelcide EQ, Panacur and Safe-Guard Equi-Bits and Safe-Guard Paste.

Tetrahydropyrimidines (pyrantel salts) have several applications in a worming programme for horses. In this class, pyrantel pamoate controls large strongyles, pinworms and roundworms and, at double-dosing rates, kills tapeworms. Pyrantel tartrate is the basis for daily feed-through dewormers. It controls large strongyles, pinworms and ascarids. These are found in products such as Equi-Cide, Exodus, Kaeco Equine Wormer Pellets, Liqui-Care P, Pellet-Care P, Primex Equine Liquid, Pyrantel Pamoate Paste, Rotectin P, Strongid, Strongid T, StrongyleCare, TapeCare Plus and daily feed-through dewormers such as Continuex, Equi Aid, Nu-Image Guardian and Strongid C.

Another anthelmintic agent, praziquantel, is used to control tapeworms in an equine worming schedule but on its own it has no effect on strongyles or other nematode parasites. Praziquantel is often combined with other horse deworming compounds in such brand names as ComboCare, Equimax, Quest Plus and Zimecterin Gold.

Protect Your Horse and Future Generations

Deworming Your HorseDrug-resistant parasites are becoming a serious problem for horse owners worldwide. Our FREE guide, Deworming Your Horse, breaks down the history of deworming practices and what went wrong. Find out what you need to know to do your part to protect horses everywhere.

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For optimal horse deworming impact, you need to use the right dewormers, in effective dosages, at the right times. Which products and schedule are best for your situation depend on many factors, including where you live, the number of horses you keep and your pasture-management practices. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to review and possibly revise your horse deworming schedule, especially if your routines have been in place for some time. Topics to cover include:

Rotation. To achieve the greatest impact, you need to rotate your equine worming schedule among different chemical classes. Some parasites will survive treatment with a particular dewormer , and if you use the same type of chemical in successive treatments, the survivors will be able to reproduce, with new generations resistant to that anthelmintic. However, if you use a different class of chemical in successive horse deworming treatments, parasites which survived the previous treatment will be eliminated. But to rotate properly you need to do more than switch brand names-different products can contain identical active ingredients. Check the labels of your dewormers and make sure you are rotating among the three major chemical classes for the best worming programme for horses.

Dosing. The horse deworming dosage is based on a horse’s body weight, and if you underestimate how much your horse weighs, you might not administer enough of the horse deworming product. Use a measuring tape to calculate your horse’s weight based on his girth and length. If you’re at all unsure exactly how much your horse weighs, err on the side of giving him too much horse deworming product. All of the horse deworming products on the market have been proven to be safe at doses at least five times higher than the labeled use.

Technique. Getting all of the horse deworming product into the mouth and swallowed can be tricky (don’t forget to try applesauce!). Practice your technique to make sure you deliver the full dose. If you’re still not confident, consider switching to pelleted products for your horse dewormer rotation. Some horses may even be induced to voluntarily eat a dose of paste dewormer if it is mixed with their feed or hidden in a treat.

Worms Are Fighting Back. Are You Prepared?

Deworming Your HorseThere's a reason 40 years of intense equine deworming efforts haven't resulted in the demise of all internal parasites: They've got Mother Nature on their side. Learn more about drug-resistant worms and how to protect your horse with our FREE guide, Deworming Your Horse.

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There are also some management measures you can take to maximize your equine worming schedule:

Minimize exposure to manure for pastured horses. Given enough space–about two acres per animal–horses will naturally divide a pasture into eating areas, called lawns, and toileting spaces, called roughs. Careful management can prevent roughs from taking over too much space and exposing horses to contaminated grass, which can undermine a working worming programme for horses.

Rotational grazing, as well as horse dewormer rotation, is important. Moving horses periodically to other enclosures or alternating pastures with other livestock, allows the larval stages to emerge and then die off without finding hosts.

Mowing and harrowing pastures. Open up manure balls and expose eggs and larvae to the drying effects of air and sunlight. To be most effective, these tactics need to be implemented during the strategic points in the parasites’ life cycles-usually in the hottest, driest weather of the summer. Ask your veterinarian for more detailed advice about your locale.

Remove manure at least weekly from crowded pastures as well as paddocks and pens. Without routine manure removal, smaller or crowded turnout areas would become nothing but roughs, undermining your worming programme for horses. Manure buildup isn’t as critical a health issue in freezing or extremely dry weather, but sticking to a habitual year-round schedule, along with your horse deworming schedule, will help keep the chore manageable.

Compost manure before spreading. Avoid spreading fresh manure on active grazing areas. If you want to improve your soil, composting is a good option: the heat generated during the process kills parasite eggs in manure, making it safe to return it to pastures.

Amy Herdy
MyHorse Daily Managing Editor

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