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Horse Health in Arkansas

Horse Grazing in a Pasture
Horse Grazing in a Pasture.

A horse health management plan is vital to maximize the health, productivity and performance of horses. The investment in disease and parasite prevention is less than the cost of disease treatment. Many horse health problems can be controlled with good management, proper nutrition, pasture management, dental care, parasite control, training/exercise routines, sanitation and vaccination against infectious diseases.

A good horse health management program will vary, depending upon the type of operation and geographical location in Arkansas. It is important to contact your veterinarian to determine if additional vaccinations, parasite control measures or management practices are required for your area. The herd health program should be tailored to fit the individual herd. Your veterinarian can also support your farm by performing diagnostic procedures, including handling samples for diagnostic laboratories and post mortem examinations.

skunks can cause EPM
Skunks can cause equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) in horses.

Early identification of serious diseases can help minimize the risk of disease spread on your farm. If signs of disease are identified, seek veterinary services at its earliest detection. Waiting to treat the sick animal will only allow the spread of the infection to more animals on the operation. Signs of illness may include coughing, diarrhea, weight loss, runny eyes or nose, abortions, enlarged lymph nodes and lameness. If an animal happens to die, always remember to properly dispose of the carcass.

Minimizing or preventing disease entry and spread on farms should be included in every herd health plan. To accomplish this, several general management practices could be implemented with minimal cost. Simple considerations include knowing what is in the area of your farm perimeter (e.g. farms, visitors, neighboring livestock and wildlife), individual animal identification, animal health protocols, recognizing and dealing with sick animals, isolation/quarantine, supply handling and neonatal management.

By implementing a strong herd health program for your horse operation, disease risk can be minimized. For more information on disease risk management for your operation, visit your county Extension office.

For more information contact:

  • Dr. Mark Russell
    Associate Professor - Equine Extension
    University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
    Cooperative Extension Service
    2301 S. University Avenue
    Little Rock, Arkansas 72204
    Phone: (501) 671-2190
    Fax: (501) 671-2185


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