Horse Articles


Vaccine Reactions

May 03, 2019

Vaccinations are designed to provide your equine partner immunity against illnesses that are transmitted by other horses or species. Once the vaccine is injected, the body recognizes the virus and creates antibodies to help protect the horse against the specific pathogen. The antibodies that are created remain in the system and help fight off infection if the horse comes into contact with the virus in the future.

If the vaccine is supposed to protect my horse, why is he having a reaction?

A vaccine is composed of antigens, stabilizers, adjuvants, antibiotics, and preservatives. All of the components work together to maintain the integrity of the vaccine, prevent contamination from bacteria, and prolong the duration that the vaccine is good for. Due to all the different components, it is not uncommon for your horse to experience a reaction. While many horses do not have any type of vaccine reaction, some horses may exhibit adverse side effects.

If my horse has a reaction, what should I do?

Common vaccine reactions include swelling and soreness at the injection site, fever, and decreased appetite or energy. The reactions to vaccines that are most often seen are caused by the antigen or the virus in the vaccine. This does not compromise the effectiveness of the vaccination.  In the case that your horse experiences a vaccine reaction, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, such as Banamine, can be administered. Applying a cold compress to the injection site as well as light exercise will also aid in dissipating any swelling or stiffness. Vaccine reactions are normal and tell us that the vaccine is working properly, however side effects should resolve within 48 hours after vaccine administration. If symptoms persist beyond this time, it is important to consult your veterinarian.

If you have concerns about your horse or the vaccine reaction they are experiencing, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian directly.



March 27, 2019

Equine allergies happen when the immune system overreacts in response to a substance. They can happen any time of the year as well due to different changes in the horse’s environment.


Types of allergies


-Contact/dermatology allergies

-Insect allergies

-Respiratory allergies

-Food allergies


Symptoms of allergies


-Itching (mild to severe)

-Watery, swollen, red, draining eyes

-Runny nasal discharge



-Labored breathing

-Tail rubbing


Common causes of allergies

-Feed changes (some horses are allergic to certain types of feed)



-Mold spores






-Fly spray



Treatment can vary due to difficulty in finding exactly what the horse is having an allergic reaction to. Some treatment options are as follows:


-Removal of allergen if possible



-Allergy testing (offered as a blood test through our clinic, please call to schedule)



Often its difficult to pinpoint the allergen to blame for equine allergies and sometimes things cannot be prevented such as pollen in the air. However, there are measures you can take to help prevent an allergy flare up in your horse.


-Slowly introduce changes in the environment such as a new hay, shavings, ect and monitor for changes over time.


-Know the symptoms to look for when your horse has an allergy


-Eyes: Use fly masks to keep the flies out of your horses’ eyes


-Dust: wet down the hay


-Try different bedding options


-Supplements: For example, Platinum Performance offers a product call platinum skin and allergy (Please call or email to order Platinum products)



*Call your local veterinarian if you think your horse may be having an allergic reaction

Equine Microchips

February 02, 2020

What is microchipping? Microchipping is safe, easy and usually lasts the lifespan of the horse. A microchip is a small chip about the size of a grain etched with a unique numerical code that is placed in the horse’s neck below the mane. This chip is non-migratory meaning it will not move once placed and only takes a few seconds to be implanted by a licensed veterinarian.


Why Microchip your horse? Microchipping is similar to a lip tattoo or brand however many lip tattoos wear down and can become difficult to read. Brands on the other hand can be altered and changed. A microchip is a more advanced option because the implanted chip will always be there and the number never changes. Below is a list of benefits to microchipping your horse.

·         New FEI Standards for showing- Many shows require that your horse now have an FEI approved microchip

·         Some States now require horses to be microchipped

·         Natural Disasters- wild fires, floods etc. During floods and fires, many horses are separated from their owners and identifying can become a difficult lengthy process. 

·         Horse Theft

·         Disease Traceability- Diseases can be traced easier through use of microchips and limits the spread of illnesses.


Cost of Microchipping your horse? Microchipping your horses is easy and affordable. Prices at Cascadia Equine Veterinary Clinic are $60.00 per implant plus a service call fee. 

If you choose to microchip your horse, please contact us to schedule an appointment.

Winter Hoof Management

November 14, 2019

With winter fast approaching its important to take good care of your horses’ feet while maintaining awareness of hoof changes in the winter. Hooves are prone to packing ice and snow balls making it difficult to walk. This also increases the chance of slips and falls that can lead to stress on joints, tendons, and ligaments. 

Hooves in winter grow differently than during the summer. Generally, the hoof growth is slower during the winter however it is just as important to maintain a healthy trimming regimen every 6-12 weeks or sooner if needed during the winter months.  Moisture is a larger problem in our part of the northwest. Did you know that moisture in the hoof causes the frog to shed? This is a normal part of winter changes that can occur in the horse’s feet.


Stone bruises are also common in the winter. These are caused by a horse walking or being ridden on uneven or hard ground. These bruises occur on the sole of the hoof and appear as a darker coloration.  Some bruises can even lead to bigger problems such as abscesses or fractured coffin bones.


Thrush is another problem that horse owners may to deal with in the rainy months. Thrush is caused by moisture, bacteria and fungus that gets trapped in the hoof. This usually happens during the warmer winters since warm weather is a key breeding ground for bacteria.


Depending on the horse, some can go barefoot during the winter months and others need shoes. Generally, shoes are needed in the winter if the horses fall into 1 of 3 categories. The first one is wear and tear meaning their hooves wear down too quickly in the winter due to the excess moisture and soft feet that occur. Next is traction/protection. These horses are ones who are being used more frequently in the winter and need the extra traction and protection on their feet. The last category is therapeutic such as the horses that have issues with their hoof angles or have other problems such as navicular.  



Ways to prevent/treat winter hoof problems


  • Pick your horses feet daily

  • Allow your horses feet to dry out daily such as bringing them into a dry area for the night. Some shaving and pellet types can allow for the horse’s feet to dry quickly.

  • Pellets absorb 7 times their weight in water so they are very good at helping dry horses feet out.

  • Don’t turn your horse out on hard uneven ground such as mud that has become solid overnight. This can lead to bruising of the soles.

  • Treat problems quickly, this can drastically reduce the healing time

  • Use preventative methods such as hardening your horses’ feet during winter. Some options for this are as follow:


Topical Products

  • Durasole: Used for hardening the sole and frog

  • Keratex: Used for hardening the hoof and sole

  • Kopertox: Used for treating thrush


Oral supplements are also a great option such as Platinum Performances Foot & Hoof or Farriers formula. Look for high quality ingredients and high levels of biotin and methionine.

Mud Management

October 10, 2018

It’s that time of year again! The rain has returned and with rain comes mud. Did you know in Oregon alone, we get approximately 44 inches of rain per year? That’s a lot of rain with the potential to cause problems for our equine animals.



Mud management for our horses is very important as mud causes bacterial and fungal problems leading to foot abscesses, mud fever and thrush. In addition, mud causes soft hooves which can lead to heavy wearing on different parts of the hoof such as the heels. Mud is a breeding ground for bacteria so eliminating it from your paddock is beneficial for the health of your horses.


There are several methods for mud management, the most important thing to do is plan. When designing a paddock/pasture choose a high ground with good natural water runoff. Mud happens in high traffic area where water can’t drain. Installing a French drain can be helpful around the outside of your paddocks as well. A French drain is a trench that is dug along the paddock and filled with gravel. As water runs off into the drain the trench leads the water away from the paddock to a sacrifice area. You can also slope your pastures at a 1-2 % grade redirecting water away from buildings.


One of the best ways to fix a muddy pasture is to fill in the low spots where water accumulates and place down a footing grid system. This can be done many ways, but an easy start is by placing a layer of cloth fabric down over high traffic areas or the entire paddock if you choose.  Once fabric is in place, then apply a grid system followed by of 6 inches of footing of your choice. This helps allow for proper drainage and keeps your paddock mud free. Some additional options for mud management are to pick you pastures and rest your pastures on a rotation schedule if possible. Trampling causes compaction of the soil, loss of nutrients, and poor drainage ability. Rotating pastures will help keep vegetation and nutrients in your pastures for many years to come.


There are many different footing options out there as well. Each footing has its advantages and disadvantages. Some common footing choices are as follows; Crushed rock, gravel, sand, shavings, straw, and hogs fuel (wood ships, shreds). Unfortunately, hogs fuel decomposes quickly over time and sand can cause other problems such as sand colic. Gravel or crushed stone on the other hand can be a great choice, although it becomes uncomfortable for the horse to stand on if it is larger than 5/8”. On a budget you can use a mixture of footings and apply gravel to the high traffic areas only. Just remember if your going to lay anything down make sure to put a cloth fabric layers under it to ensure that water can run through without releasing mud to surface. One last recommendation if you still have mud in your pasture, is to find a dry spot such as a stall put your horse in at night to dry out. Bedding also impacts this as pellets will help the feet dry out faster than shavings. These are just a few ways to help manage mud during our rainy season that is quickly approaching.

Potomac Horse Fever

January 01, 2020

Potomac Horse Fever


Potomac horse fever is caused by the bacteria Neorickettsia Risticii and can be mild to life threatening. It is an acute inflammation of the small intestine and colon that produces mild colic signs, fever, diarrhea, and sometimes abortion in pregnant mares. This illness is seen in spring, summer, early fall, and is more common around sources of warm still water. This disease is not transmitted via horse to horse contact, but rather acquired through ingesting host insects such as mayflies, caddis flies, and flatworms living near warm water.


Clinical Signs

  • The initial fever often spikes undetected to 102-107 degrees fahrenheit

  • A second fever surges and then depression and poor appetite sets in

  • Within 24-48 hours of the disease, moderate to severe watery diarrhea begins

  • Abdominal discomfort

  • Depression/anxiety following the initial fever

  • Dehydration

  • Laminitis- Can display classic laminitis stance, reluctance to move, and lower limb edema.

  • Endotoxemia- elevated heart rate, dark mucous membranes, sweating and colic signs.

  • Sepsis- Chemicals released in the blood stream cause inflammation throughout the body.

  • Abortion in pregnant mares- Occurs around 190-250 days gestation when the bacteria is transferred across the placenta.


Diagnosis- Determined by clinical signs, and multiple tests that monitor the rise of antibody levels in the blood to definitively diagnose Potomac Horse Fever.

Treatment- Catching this illness early is very important to ensure your horse has the best chance of recovery

  • Fluids/Rest

  • NSAIDS (Banamine)

  • Antimicrobial therapy

  • Oxytetracycline effective when given early stages of the disease.


 Within 12 hours, the horse should be displaying signs of improvement. The fatality rate for Potomac Horse Fever is    5-30 %.


Risk Factors

-Live in an endemic area

-Horses that have not been vaccinated prior

-Horses that spend most of their time outside

-Young horses more susceptible that older horses

- Usually affect only one horse on a farm


-Vaccination can boost the immunity, however does not prevent the illness completely.

-Minimize insect ingestion by turning lights out in the barn at night

-Ensure your horse has access to clean fresh water  

-Scrub your water buckets to keep them sanitized and clean

 -Limit your horse’s access to standing warm water such as ponds, and swamps.

By Ashlynn Noble

Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrom

August 06, 2018


Equine Gastric Ulcers Syndrome happens when stomach acid from the horse’s stomach splashes onto the Squamous Mucosa (see image) or the Glandular Mucosa and forms lesions within the stomach lining. Ulcer lesions can range on a scale from grade 0 to 4, zero is healthy and free of ulcers and four is extensive tissue damage. This can be very painful for the horse and performance can decrease. Ulcers can happen to any horse however, it has been found more commonly in the thoroughbred breed.

On average, horses continuously produce approximately 4-5 gallons of acidic liquid. The Squamous Mucosa does not protect itself from these acids. The acid splash back occurs when exercising the horse, especially when cantering.

Within the Glandular Mucosa is a protective layer called the roughage mat that can become damaged with ulcers caused by stress, NSAIDS, and limited water. Many things can act as a buffer for protection from acids including; minerals, saliva, different hay types, and milk in foals. Diagnosing Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome can be determined through use of an endoscope, however there are several classic warning signs to look out for.  

Warning Signs

-          Abdominal discomfort

-          Poor appetite

-          Negative attitude

-          Sudden chance in performance

-          Cinchy /touchy

-          Lack of energy

-          Dislike of brushing sides

-          Nipping at the sides

-          Rough coat

-          Weight loss

-          Low grade colic/ reoccurring colic


Risk Factors

-          Early weaning

-          Restricted turn out

-          Periods of fasting

-          Busy competition schedules

-          Frequent traveling  

-          Pelleted diet with limited roughage

Treatment Options

There are many treatment options available for Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome. Please speak with your veterinarian about specific treatment options available for your horse.

Recommendations from Boehringer Ingelheim;

-          Gastrogard: Lowers the PH in the acid, give first thing in the morning on an empty stomach before giving any other kind of medication.

-          Ranitidine (Prescribed): Treats and prevents reoccurrence of gastric ulcers

-          Probiotics: Helpful in restoring healthy bacteria in the body

-          Corn Oil: used as a preventative, do not give with Gastrogard, give later in the day so that the corn oil has no interference with Gastrogard absorption. Give 0.4 ml/lb of body weight.

Give your horse plenty of rest, turnout, water, and roughages; Avoid stressful situations if possible, and have a plan. Discuss with your veterinarian about ulcer prevention in advance. Your horse will thank you later. 

Equine Care in Extreme Temperatures

July 11, 2018

With temperatures fluctuating it is important to know how to manage your horse when exercising in different weather. First thing you need to know is your TPR (temperature, pulse, and respiration).


- Normal Temperature: 99-101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, Post exercise: 1-2 degree increase in temperature

- Normal Pulse: 22-24 beats per minute, Post exercise: 80-100 beats per minute

- Normal Respiration Rate: 10-24 breaths per min, Post exercise: 60-80 breaths per min

- Capillary Refill Time: Firmly press against horse's gums and release, they should return to a pink color within 1-2 seconds

Management in Hot Weather:

In elevated temperatures it is important to keep your horse healthy and hydrated to prevent heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

Symptoms of Heat Stress: Stage 1

- Dehydration

- Dark colored urine

- Elevated temperatures of 1-2 degrees

- Dull expression/behavior

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion: Stage 2

- Temperature of 104-108 degrees Fahrenheit

- Thickening of sweat while skin remains hot

- Rapid shallow breathing

- Capillary refill of several seconds or longer

Symptoms of Heat Stroke: Stage 3

- Rapid breathing

- Significantly fatigued

- Rectal temp of 104 degrees Fahrenheit

- Stomach pain

- Lack of urination


- Slow warm up, Slow cool down

- Mixing 25% rubbing alcohol with 75% water and applying it to your horse with a sponge can help cool down the horse rapidly.

- Cold hosing starting with the legs of the horse. It will coll them off more quickly if they are overheating

- Balancing electrolytes while ensuring unrestricted water access; giving a working horse 1/2-1 tube of electrolytes once daily to facilitate drinking water

- Ensure your horse has plenty of water available

- Offer drinking at intervals after the exercise to help the horse remain hydrated

- Scrape off water applied to the horse after 1-2 minutes and reapply cool water or water/alcohol mixture.

Just like in hot weather, lower temperatures can be just as stressful of a factor in equine health before and after exercise. Exercising in lower temperatures can cause many problems including hypothermia, dehydration and slips or falls on icy ground.

Management in Cold Weather:

- Ensure your horse has a slow warm up (lots of walking, and walk/trot transitions)

- Slowly cool your horse down (allow for 15-20 minutes of walking at the end of your ride)

- Allowing your horse to drink warm water in the winter months will increase their water intake

- Avoid places of ice when riding outside in the winter to prevent slips and falls

- Provide protection from the weather. This can be a windbreak, barn, rain sheet and or blanket depending on how severe the weather is.

Symptoms of Hypothermia:

- Shivering

- Dehdration

- Low core body temperature below 90 degrees Fahrenheit

- Red colored urine

- Lack of gastrointestinal motility

- Cardiac, respiratory, and renal dysfunction

* Always call a veterinarian if you think your horse may be displaying symptoms of Hypothermia


- Properly warming you horse up before exercise is crucial in all weather. However, in the cold weather your horse is breathing in cold air to their lungs, so long warm ups are essential.

- Properly cooling down your horse in winter is important. Their winter coat is thicker and takes longer to dry. Apply a cooler blanket can help limit the drying time while keeping them warm.

- Body  clipping your horse, if you are excising often in the winter, can assist with helping your horse cool off more rapidly.

- Keep a properly fitting blanket on hand for your horse. You never know when you might need one

- Check the weather outside to ensure the horses are staying warm and dry

When to Call a Veterinarian:

- When your horse is displaying any signs of the hypothermia

- If your horse is showing severe long-lasting signs of dehydration, elevated body temperatures, and rapid breathing this may be sign of heat stroke. A veterinarian should be contacted.

- If the capillary refill time takes 4 seconds or longer to return to normal color

- If any of the symptoms persist even with treatment.

By Ashlynn Noble

Sun Burn & Horses

July 11, 2018

What is an equine sunburn? Sunburn in horses is just like in people. It is a type of  burn caused by too much exposure to the sun from harmful ultraviolet sun rays. This type of burn can create long lasting scars on your horse and possible infection if left untreated.


- Redness

- Bright Pink Skin

- Dry/Cracked Skin

- Peeling

- Sudden Head Shyness

- Blisters

Horses at Risk: The horses most at risk for sunburn is Pintos, Paints, Appaloosas, Cremellos, yearlings, foals and light pigmented horses. This is because the underlying unpigmented skin is vulnerable the UV rays.

Areas Affected: Usually sun burn in horses affects sensitive areas such as the nose, eyes, and withers.

Post Sun Treatments: Applying Desitin or aloe to affected areas every two hours to keeps it moisturized and prevents drying and cracking.

Recovery: Ensure shade is available and the stable is well ventilated especially during the hottest part of the day which is 9am-3pm.

Prevention: Apply sunscreen (Equishild, Sungard, Epi-Pet Sun Protector, and human sunscreen lotion can help prevent a sunburn. In addition, using a fly mask with a nose piece can also help protect sensitive areas from the sun. Fly sheets are great too, however occasionally these are heavy and can increase the sweating, Make sure horses have plenty of access to water. 

*** If the sunburn is not resolving with treatment, please call veterinarian. Most importantly in the heat, keep our horse well hydrated and offer adequate shade.

By Ashlynn Noble

Summer Fly Control

July 11, 2018

It's that time of year again! The flies are out and rapidly multiplying. Did you know that flies can cause many equine problems such as dermatitis, allergies, internal parasites, bacterial, viral, and fungal diseases. These pesky flies can be hard to get rid of, however there are ways to help manage them.

Manure control is your first defense in warding off those bothersome flies that attack your horses and other animals. Manure piles are breeding grounds for flies so keeping them as far from the barn as possible is essential for management. Some ways to manage manure are as follows;

    - Keep manure piles 100-200 feet away from buildings, barns, and horses

    - Haul manure away from barn if possible

    - Keep stall clean and free of urine and manure

    - Pick your pastures for manure

    - Compost or spread manure

Next, know the type of flies you are dealing with. This is important because different flies have different life cycles, so treatment can vary depending on the fly type. Some additional ways to manage fly control are as follows;

     - Insecticides: Offer temporary fly control

                    Ex. permethrin, and pyrethrins.

     - Fly sheets/masks: Effective in eliminating fly landing zones

                    Brand Examples: Amigo Mio, Rambo, and Tough-1

     - Air Circulation: Fans in barns assist in preventing landing surfaces

     - Topical Sprays: Effective for short intervals at a time, must be reapplied

                     Ex. Endure, Ultrashield, Repel-X, and Bronco

     - Feed through insecticides: Fed to pass through manure which interrupts developing maggots and reduces fly production in manure however does not eliminate them from developing in bedding and organic matter.

                     Ex. 3 in 1 Buglyte, Simplify, and Solitude

     - Fly Predators: Offers control by consuming fly pupa before it hatches from the cocoon. More information and order forms can be found on our website.

By Ashlynn Noble

Summer Brings Wildfire Concerns

Summer is upon us, as is the threat of wildfires. Are you and your horse prepared?

The approach of summer brings the busy to a horse barn. It is a time to go riding with friends, see the sights with our equine companions, bring in the next years hay crop, and make improvements around the barn. It is a season full of fun and hard work.  However, summer also means the start of wildfire season, which typically lasts into October for the Pacific Northwest. Is your equine facility protected from the threat of wildfires?

Many horse facilities are surrounded by forest or grassland, increasing their risk of being affected by wildfires. It is crucial to develop defensible space around barns and buildings. Plants within 30 feet of buildings should be kept to a minimum, small in size, and watered to stay green. Lawns or pastures should be kept mowed and green, as they make great fine fuels for fire when dry. Plants should not come in contact with buildings, as this increases the risk of fire spreading from the vegetation to the structure. Any dead plant material should be removed and rain gutters should be free of debris, which is easily ignited when exposed to fire embers.

It is ideal if combustible materials such as hay, bedding, and any equipment be stored in a separate building from the horses. The buildings should be free of cobwebs, dust, and excess hay products. Hay should be stored in an area where it will remain free of moisture. When putting hay in the barn from the field it is important to pay attention to temperature and moisture levels inside of the bales. Bales with too high of moisture content have the potential to reach temperatures above 200 degrees and can internally combust. The best way to avoid hay fires is to make sure the hay is at the appropriate moisture level of 15 to 18 percent and to prevent extra moisture within the hay. Salt can be applied between levels of the hay stack if moisture levels are a concern.

Water sources are vital at equine facilities and an easily accessible source could save your barn. Swimming pools, ponds, lakes, and even a manure lagoon make great resources for fire suppression. A fire hydrant is a reliable source, however, having hoses that can reach all building will help catch a fire early on if one does begin. Having a fire extinguisher in all building is a great idea.


It is best to be prepared for a wildfire, even if they are not common in your area. An evacuation plan should be established and everyone in the barn should know how to follow through with the plan. There should be a designated area to move horses to that is as far away from the barn as possible and a way to transport the horses, if needed. If you are unable to evacuate the horse(s) you should put some form of contact information on them. This can be done by using a livestock crayon and drawing your name, number, and address on the horse, clipping this information into their coat, braiding a pre-made tag into their mane, or attaching a neck tag. The horses should then be set free and stall/barn doors closed to reduce likelihood of the horse returning to them while on fire.

Wildfires are unpredictable, but preparing your horse, facility, and those that use it will help tremendously


. Click here to view a link to an evacuation checklist to help you and your horse be prepared.

By: Hayley Hoefer

Horse Dentistry and the Why's

June 18, 2018

     How good is your horse at hiding pain? Do they let you know when something is wrong? Some horses are very good at masking pain and will continue to work even when their mouth needs serious attention. When horses teeth wear down, or create sharp points, the horse will often begin to show signs of discomfort. Signs that a horse may need a dental include change in appetite, quidding which is when they expel balls of semi-chewed feed while eating, loss of weight, resistance to the bit and odd discharge from one nostril or mouth. Horses, being the stoic animals they are, often hide symptoms and may not show that they are in pain which is why it is important to have routine oral exams done. When your horse shows symptoms of dental distress their condition has likely progressed over a long period of time. Dental health can impact the entire body which is why it is extremely important to have your veterinarian do annual dental checks.

The equine dental is a key part of a thorough health program. It not only benefits the horse’s mouth but t digestion and potentially their behavior as well. Dental exams can give you an idea of your horse’s overall oral health which commonly effects other aspects of their health.

There are a few things to consider when deciding if and when your horse needs a dental: Age, behavior, feed and work load all affect the growth and health of horses teeth.

Young horses will have more activity in their mouth as they lose baby teeth and grow in adult ones. Similarly geriatric horses may lose teeth as well and may need to have their feed adjusted to meet their dental capacity. Next, feed is an important factor because horses that are on pasture and consume a high volume of grass and weeds may need dentals less often. Horses that are fed a large volume of grain, may need a dental more frequently as they use their jaws in a unique way to consume pelleted grain.

Horses in the wild eat a large arrangement of feed that varies in texture and strength. This variation helps the horse wear down their teeth. The soft diet of hay and grain we have transitioned domestic horses onto does not mimic their natural mastication and creates sharp points along their teeth. Feeding horses a domestic diet of hay and grain may have its faults on teeth, however it has allowed horse owners to ensure their horses are getting a balanced and nutritious diet. It is important to understand the way feed affects the horses mouth so that you can gauge how often your horse needs a dental.

Once it has been determined that your horse needs a dental float the next step is to find a specialist to do the procedure. It is essential to have a trained veterinarian perform dental checks and floats for a multitude of reasons. First, they have been trained in drug dosage and know how to correctly sedate the animal. Secondly, they have been trained and educated by other professionals which gives them a large pool of knowledge to utilize when they float the horse. Finally, they are trained in emergency procedures in case a horse has an adverse reaction to a medication or has a dental phenomenon. When it comes to your horse’s health and well-being it is best to seek help from a professional who can determine if your horse needs a dental or is showing signs of another condition.

For more information on dentals visit:

By Rachel Germundson

Equine Hoof Abscesses

May 09, 2018

Hoof abscesses are a common reason one might notice a sudden lameness of their horse. Generally this sudden problem tends to arise in the spring season due to moisture and weather change. Tiny cracks within the hoof allows dirt, and moisture into the hoof. This leads to a bacterial infection that becomes extremely painful for the horse to bear weight.


How do you recognize a possible abscess?  An abscess can present itself in several distinct ways. If you notice your horse doing any of the below listed things, it may be time to give your veterinarian a call.

                 -    Carrying weight on either the heel or toe of the hoof depending on the site of infection
                 -    Heat within the affected foot (generally this hoof is creating more heat than the other feet)
                 -    Puss and or bleeding (this is caused by the abscess bursting)
                 -    Sudden persistent lameness
                 -    Severe hoof pain
                 -    Swelling of limbs above the affected hoof (this is caused by the horse not moving

                       around  enough)

Depending on the severity of the abscess, there are different ways to treat abscesses. It is best to consult with your veterinarian if you think your horse may have an abscess.

How abscesses are treated:

                 -    If a horse has a  shoe on, it should be removed from its hoof to allow proper drainage

                      and bandaging.
                 -    Generally after it has been located, the hoof is wrapped in a poultice to draw the

                       infection to the surface. After the abscess has popped, the horse will generally

                       display relief within a few days
                 -    If the abscess has not popped, a veterinarian can help pinpoint the abscess and open

                      it to allow for proper drainage


Prevention of hoof abscesses can be difficult to achieve especially here in Oregon due to the moisture. The constant rain followed by dry weather increases the chance of your horse getting an abscess.

Ways to help Prevent Abscesses:

                -    Providing shelter and a dry area for them to get out of the mud
                -    Proper hoof care including staying on a schedule, trimmings and shoes

                      that will allow for healthy hoofs and a sturdy white line within the hoof

                -    Consulting with your veterinarian and farrier

By Ashlynn Noble

Conditioning Your Horse After A Winter Break

May 08, 2018

Conditioning your horse after a few months off can prove to be exciting for both you and your horse. Often during this comeback period your horse is more susceptible to injury. Here are several things owners can do to ensure the safety and proper conditioning for their horse.

Before introducing an equine exercise program after winter break, an outline of personal equine goals with a conditioning program that meets your end goal should be created. Next complete a body condition scoring (see link below). Some ideal body condition scores are as follows; Performance horses or young growing horses should have a score of 5-6. Broodmares should score 5-7 and any horse scoring above 7 could potentially lead to metabolic disorders, such as, Cushings.

Knowing if your horse is too thin or overweight is important before beginning a new exercise program so that adjustments can be provided to optimize the health of your horse. In addition, having a spring checkup with a veterinarian is a good idea to ensure your horse is healthy and sound before returning to exercise.

Many of you have probably heard the phrase “horses feeling their oats” coming into the spring months Your horse might appear “fresh” or excited, but do not confuse that for fitness. Introducing exercise after a winter break needs to be done gradually and slowly, starting with low intensity exercises. Muscle aches and pains may potentially manifest as back stiffness, changes in movement, negative attitude, vices and refusals.  Introducing exercise too quickly can eventually lead to extreme physical exertion also known as “tying up” or azoturia This happens when the exercise program is increased too rapidly and causes the breakdown of muscles and loss of electrolytes. Symptoms of this often mimic colic and include; Muscle pain, fatigue, abnormal stretched out stance, excessive pawing, and frequent attempt to urinate which displays a brown/red color.

When introducing exercise begin with a slow exercise of 15-20 minutes including a lot of walking and walk/trot transitions. A well-balanced exercise program with proper nutritional intake is necessary. In addition, you need to account for the extra calories being utilize and adjusting feed for your horses current age, weight, and workload is important as it needs to be done slowly overtime.

It is recommended that when adjusting feed, to replace approximately 20-25 % of the feed every other day over the course of 7-10 days until 100% of the feed change has been implemented. This helps maintain healthy gastro bacteria without upsetting the horse’s digestive system or causing colic. With the extra calories being added to the diet, horses water intake may also increase. Temperature, weather, and work load all play an important role in water intake, and the intensity or time a horse can be worked. In conclusion, when deciding to exercise your horse after winter break, you should set realistic goals, schedule a health exam, and create a well-balanced diet. Finally, take it slow and steady, those pounds don’t shed themselves overnight!

By Ashlynn Noble

Your Horse and the Summer Heat

June 22, 2017

It’s going to be a SCORCHER this weekend with temperatures expected to get around 100 degrees F. If you’re planning on doing anything with your equine companions, here are some things you should consider to help them out during the heatwave:

    Water: always ALWAYS make sure your horse has unrestricted access to clean drinking water. Wetting hay or giving bran mashes are great ways to get more water to your horse.
    Electrolytes: if you're working your horse, give 1/2-1 full tube of electrolytes once daily to help facilitate drinking. If they’re working lightly or just hanging out, you can add 1 tablespoon of salt to their feed to help facilitate drinking. You can mix these into a bran mash. Do not supplement or add salt or electrolytes to your horse if they do not have unrestricted access to water, as this can lead to dehydration and other complications.
    Cooling off: cold hosing goes a long way in cooling your horse off after a workout. If your horse is working excessively (think: just finished a cross country course), or if you have limited access to water, mixing 5 gallons of water with 1 quart of alcohol and applying externally can help facilitate lowering body temperature.

Be sure to watch for these signs of hyperthermia. If they occur, contact your veterinarian immediately. 

By Jordan Trevor

Summer Travel with Horses

July 11, 2017

I realize that all of you reading this article are seasoned travelers and most have logged many miles with your horses. So, I am not going to give you your Dad's laundry list of "check your truck battery, check your trailer lights, etc."

Instead, I am going to try to give you a list of some of the little things that make a trip safer and easier for both you and your horse.

1) Hydrate - Hydrate - Hydrate - We all hear the mantra "Drink More Water." Well, it is true! Almost as true as "You can lead a horse to water but......." So, here are some tips:

a. Flavor your water - Gatorade, Electrolytes, Apple Juice, a gallon of your home water mixed with the local water it really doesn't matter as long as you use common sense. Use a small amount of flavoring to a large amount of water and make sure to try it at home first!

b. Soak your hay- this is another option for getting water into your horse. Placing it in a hay net and soaking it in water for 10-30 minutes will saturate the hay well enough to deliver adequate water to your horse while he eats. Win win!

c. Hydrate yourself!- Both of you will go farther and arrive in better shape from your journey if you hydrate yourself along the way. Additionally, your horse will appreciate the frequent bathroom breaks to rest for a minute or two.

2) Electrolytes - Horses don't sweat their electrolytes evenly. So, to keep a horse balanced you have to replace what is lost. My personal favorite is a product from Purina called "ElectroEase." It comes in a granular form and is also available as a paste. It’s coated to pass through the horse stomach and then be absorbed in the small intestine. This is a huge benefit for horses that might have ulcers (think salt on an open wound) or any horse with a finicky stomach.  If you can’t find these electrolytes, the regular granules (flavored or plain) or table salt are both adequate. When feeding electrolytes, it is important to make sure there is fresh water available for your horse to drink. If this doesn’t happen, the increase in electrolytes combined with a lack of water can speed up the dehydration process and cause imbalances.

3) Take Breaks, whether it is to go to the bathroom or stretch your legs, the constant motion and low frequency vibration of a horse trailer is exhausting. Also, you will drive better if you take 15-20 minutes every couple of hours. Drink a bottle of water yourself and offer a bucket to your buddy in the trailer. Your horse will appreciate it.

4) Don't skip the leg protection - Those funny looking shipping boots do actually serve a purpose. Especially if you have a horse that likes to kick or paw in the trailer. Or, if your horse is stuck riding next to one that does. Also, I have started shipping all of my horses that actually have to do something at the end of the ride in "Soft Ride Boots". They are not cheap, but they often eliminate a full day (or sometimes two) of rest time needed to get a horse to compete at their best. Anything to shave that .001 of a second, I know!

5) Have a good equine first aid kit - I know that it sounds like a simple idea but take the time to get online and buy one or build your own. Also, at the start and about halfway through your competition year, go through the kit and replace what is missing. I find that I use mine on the humans more than the horses, but that's OK, the horses don't seem to mind. Don't forget to get a tube a Bute (Phenylbutazone) and Banamine (Flunixin Meglumine) from your vet. Double check the expiration date on your current supply.

6) Paperwork - Ugh! - Make sure that you have the proper paperwork for where you are going. Oregon and Washington now require Coggins tests to travel between them. We can also issue you a six month Heath Certificate as well as a Coggins to ensure you can travel properly between states, including Idaho and California. Montana requires a lifetime brand inspection on all horses entering the state, as well as the Health Certificate and Coggins. When in doubt call your veterinarian.

Safe travels!!
Chris Wickliffe, DVM

What is Osteoarthritis

July 31, 2017

What is Osteoarthritis?

“Your horse has arthritic changes in (insert joint here).”

What now?

First, let’s talk about what those arthritic changes are and what they can ultimately mean.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease that impacts almost every horse at some point in their life. When you have a horse who happens to be highly active or intensely competitive in their discipline, you can almost guarantee that you’ll come across this at some point. Additionally, if you have an older horse, the chance is pretty good that they have arthritis somewhere in their body.

OA is a pretty broad term, so lets break it down a bit. Dr. Wayne McIlwraith at Colorado State University describes the four phases of OA as follows:

    Stage 1:  Inflammation of the synovium (the internal lining of the joint)    starts and does not appear as changes to the cartilage structure at this point.
    Stage 2: Continued synovitis (inflammation of the synovium) that can contribute to cartilage damage.
    Stage 3: Synovitis is considered chronic at this stage and cartilage damage is severe.
    Stage 4: Chronic synovitis leads to full thickness loss of cartilage at this point.

Deep breath.

Unfortunately, there is no curing OA in any species. In some cases, it can be treated symptomatically and managed over their career and lifetime. These are broken down into two classifications: symptom-modification OA drugs (SMOADs) or disease-modification OA drugs (DMOADs).

SMOADs treat clinical symptoms such as lameness. However, they do not impact that progression of the disease. This is where DMOADs come into play, where they can slow or modify the progression of OA inside the affected joint. In an ideal world, veterinarians would like to see both symptom and disease modification.

There are ways to potentially prevent long term implications of OA, like staying on top of things such as osteochondritis dissecans (OCDs), articular fractures, and bone chips. Using resources such as  non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), injections, or regenerative medicine can provide some relief.

Dr. McIlwraith notes that self-diagnosis and prescription of oral joint supplements are usually benign, but when the veterinarian only sees the horse when athletic performance is decreased it can distort the overall picture of lameness. As always, if you have a health concern regarding your horse, contact your veterinarian and have a discussion. It’s best to consult the advice of a professional and stay on top of your horse’s health.

Wondering what products in joint supplements are most effective? We’ve got you covered in our next article. Be on the lookout later this week!

Want to read the full article this piece was written from? Check it out on

Autumn and Spring Season Grazing Management in the Pacific Northwest

September 23, 2019

Once again, Mother Nature has brought our summer to an end. We have started the oscillation

between rain and sun western Oregon is so well known for, and the result of this phenomena is

lush green grass in our pastures. The autumn weather transition is just like spring in reverse and

just like spring, our first instinct is to get our horses out on that beautiful green pasture. But, if

not done properly, that luscious fall grass can cause more harm than good.

Sugar is a hidden danger lurking in your pasture. The beautiful&Willamette Valley grass contains

a large amount of sugar in both spring and fall. This is because many of the grasses in the

Willamette Valley are cool-season grasses.& Cool season grass stores sugar in a way that doesn’t

place a limit on the total amount of sugar that can be stored in the plant. Horses turned out on

these types of grasses (tall fescue, timothy, and orchard) are at risk of consuming large amounts

of sugar. Peak sugar producing hours are from late morning to late afternoon. Often this is the

prime time that horses are turned out to graze.& The high sugar content in the grass puts them at

risk for certain health conditions. We will discuss 2 of them here:

1. Gas Colic

Drastic changes to the gut flora of horses can occur when large amounts of a different feed, such

as green pasture grass, are consumed at a fast rate. The high sugar in the grass enables the

microbes in the hind gut to go into fermentation overdrive. One of the byproducts of

fermentation is gas. Gas production can cause the large intestine to expand, creating a painful

and potentially serious health condition. Any form of abdominal pain is known as colic.

Colic in any of its forms is a life-threatening emergency and your veterinarian should be

contacted immediately!

Gas colic is often treated with pain management, hydration, a muscle relaxant, laxative or

surfactant and the tincture of time. This allows the horse to relax and the gas passes through the

digestive tract to exit the body. Untreated, colic pain can cause the horse to harm itself by rolling

or throwing itself aggressively on the ground. I have seen painful horses end up cast in their

stalls, rolling into fences or causing large cuts and abrasions due to the pain of colic.

Additionally, the gas can allow the large intestine to move into the abdominal cavity. This can

lead to the large intestine cutting the blood supply off to other parts of the intestine and/or a

twisting (volvulus) of the large intestine. Both conditions are surgical and require immediate

evaluation by your veterinarian.

2.&&& Laminitis

Another by-product of the fermentation process in the large intestine is acid. The production of

these acids leads to a pH change in the intestine. This can cause a large die-off of certain types

of bacteria in the large intestine. When these bacteria die, they release several toxins into the

bloodstream of the horse.

These toxins cause the lamina of the hooves to break down. The lamina is a Velcro-like

structure that suspends the coffin bone inside the hoof capsule. When this occurs, the coffin bone

is able to rotate downwards and/or sink in the hoof capsule, causing severe pain and lameness.

The inflammation and breakdown of the lamina is called laminitis.& Rotation of the coffin bone is

considered foundering. If a horse is suffering from acute laminitis, they will show signs of

lameness, typically on their front feet. Often these horses will rock back on the heels of their

front feet. This is known as a rocking horse or sawhorse stance. Their hoof walls will be warm

to the touch, their digital pulses will be bounding, and they will be reluctant to stand with one

foot off the ground.

These conditions can be life-threatening, and your veterinarian should be contacted


Factors that put horses at higher risk for laminitis are: 1) previously having laminitis 2) having

known metabolic conditions such as Insulin-Resistance, Cushing’s and/or 3) being overweight

with a high body condition score (BCS). If you are concerned your horse may be at risk, consult

your veterinarian and ask what the best protocol is for turning your horse out on grass.

Starting horses with a set amount of time, usually around 30 minutes, is suggested introduction

for healthy horses who are not consistently kept on grass year-round. Slowly increase their time

on grass by 30 minutes once a week. This will give their GI tract enough time to adapt to this

feed change with minimal risk of consequences. During this introduction period, monitor them

for signs of colic and laminitis. At risk horses should only be turned out between 5 and 10am in

the morning due to the higher sugar content found in afternoon grass.

Ideally horses with known conditions or a history of laminitis should be kept on a dry lot and be

fed a diet that is low in sugar and high in fiber with most of the calories coming from a fat

source. If this is not possible, minimal turn out during low production hours (early morning) can

be allowed with the addition of a grazing muzzle. Adjustments should be made accordingly per

horse (meeting their individual needs). As always, ask your veterinarian if you have any

questions or concerns.

I hope that everyone has a safe and productive autumn. The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful

place to enjoy fall colors in rain or sunshine. Cascadia Equine is hopeful that you will find some

time to get out there and enjoy your horses.


By Chris Wickliffe, DVM


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