Cookie is taking a nap before we do some lunging to keep her fit and healthy. When I stepped out the door to do my chores, I noticed the familiar greenish/yellowish haze of pollen lightly floating in the air. Spring is fastly approaching. Birds are happily chirping and singing, the grass is turning green, the water trough has a layer of yellow pollen on it. Spring just makes me smile and it feels so good to feel and see the sunshine for a change. The temperature is becoming that just right time to ride.
After lunging Cookie for a bit I always walk her out to cool off so she doesn't tie up, get cramps or stiff and sick. I noticed that she had sneezed and had pollen stuck to the run off.
Horses like us humans can and do have allergies. Most of the time because horses are outside they build up an immunity to allergies due to the exposure of the great outdoors.
Skin allergies are most common. They are normally caused by either food or insect bites and often times will come up as bumps or hives. You may notice them first around the shoulders and neck area. Some horses will run a fever and most will be itchy. For the most part the horse will overcome this on its own. If you notice your horse having bumps or hives more often than not, contact your vet so they can determine what the horse is allergic to.
Heaves or Respiratory Allergies is similar to Asthma in humans and is often caused by pollen, dust and mold. Hay being the choice of forage can host a bunch of different micro-organizms and create allergies. Soaking it can remove most of the dust from it and prevent a lot of problems. Heaves mostly occur in horses who remain stabled for most of the day. Getting them out into the fresh air may alleviate the problem as well as removing dust, cobwebs and if found, mold from the barn and stall areas. Strong ammonia from urine can cause problems also so if it's possible to leave the horse in a paddock for a day, remove as much of the urine soaked dirt as possible and replace it with clean dirt. If heaves become a major problem, call your vet. They may administer corticosteroids for it.
When changing feed it is always recommended to change slowly over the course of at least 2 weeks. This is not only to prevent digestive problems, it also gives you an opportunity to see if your horse is allergic to the new feed. You'll be able to identify what the problem is more quickly and make a switch early on, rather than wait and find you have a bigger problem to deal with which may be more costly in the long run.
If your horse is off their game, looks like they feel a bit under the weather or if they have watery eyes and a runny nose, chances are they've got allergies. Give them a day or 2 to get through it, they'll be glad for the down time, and extra attention not associated with work.
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