From urban households to rural households, there is a growing phenomenon, among children, involving the interest in owning a horse or pony. While many adults are shocked by the request of their children, most are succumbing to the request and giving a horse or a pony as a Christmas or birthday gift. Before making the decision to grant the child’s wish, parents should be educated in the various health concerns which may arise during the adoption and ownership of a horse or a pony.
As a common condition among horses and ponies, the infestation of worms is a condition which should be aggressively avoided by the horse or pony owner. Just as canine and feline pets require regular worm prevention programs, so do horses and ponies. Treatment of worms in horses and ponies, however, will vary depending on the location in which the horse or pony is housed, the population of horses or ponies within the geographical area and the age of the horse or pony. As a general rule, young horses and ponies, living in crowded conditions, will require very aggressive and regular treatment.
In addition to worms, horses and ponies living in and around crowded conditions, especially those in the Northern United States, may also suffer from bacterial infections more commonly than their counterparts in the South. Strangles, a common and highly infectious bacterium, affects horses and ponies at any age. To prevent Strangles, a veterinarian should administer the appropriate vaccinations, especially to younger horses and ponies. The vaccination will work to prevent, in most cases, the acquisition of this debilitating upper respiratory condition which, when untreated, results in the development of an abscess which can rupture and lead to significant infection, including death.
Another common ailment among horses and ponies is the development of lame muscles, bones and joints. The bottom line is that horses need exercise and they need it regularly. Without proper diet and exercise, the horse, or pony, will develop a very lame appearance involving the inability to move one or more legs. As a result, for horses or ponies which reside in very crowded conditions, consultation with a dietician who specializes in horse nutrition should be considered. Avoiding obesity in the horse or pony will work to ensure prevention of a lame limb.
As with any new pet adoption, education is crucial to ensuring the appropriate health is maintained in your family pet. As with horses or ponies, understanding the common ailments which impact horse or ponies living in urban or crowded conditions, will provide for a better health approach when considering adoption.