'Healthy Happy Horses, Naturally' with Catherine Bird

Dealing with flood waters

When a flood hits an area, there is not always enough warning to get horses out of the way of rising floodwaters.

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Firstly don’t panic, a horse can go without feed for a long period of time, and most floodwaters will recede in a couple of days.

Floodwaters often contain sewerage and other pathogens, so it is important once waters do recede you need to be stringent about cleanliness. Disinfect water containers and feed bins, stables need to be hosed out thoroughly.

Some horses may have injuries or wounds from debris that has been in the water, so thoroughly clean any open wounds. Herbs like calendula and rosehips can be added to feed to help build immunity and make the lymphatic system more effective at this time. Calendula made into a tea and used to wash infected cuts and scratches can be very effective.

If your horse develops mud fever, add clivers to your horse’s feed.

A course of probotics would be worth considering in case your horse has ingested a nasty bacteria while standing in water, this will help your horse reestablish healthy gut bacteria.

Horses have been known to suffer hypothermia if left standing in flood waters, so monitor them closely. This is when a thermal blanket comes in handy if available.  One teaspoon of ginger powder added to any feed after standing in chilly water; or a slice or two of fresh ginger root added to a water bucket will also help the older horse warm from within.

If your horse has been without feed for several days, introduce a soft feed slowly. Sometimes without feed horses can develop a sensitive gut, or even esophageal ulcers, so a warm bran mash or softened pellets will not irritate your horse. If the experience has stressed your horse, chamomile flowers added to the soften feed will help with settling his nerves and soothing the gut.

The most important thing is to not hesitate to contact your veterinarian. A local veterinarian will often have seen many horses by the time you call, and will have a good local strategy worked out to assist you.

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