As we transition from summer to fall, many of Missouri's horses and mules will be traveling with their owners for trail rides, one more late-summer camping trip, shows, exhibitions and other recreational outings.
While you're traveling, keeping a close eye on your horse or mule's health is even more important. Check out these tips from our veterinarians at the Missouri Department of Agriculture before you head out:
- Keep your horses’ vaccinations current. Vaccines should be given at least 2 weeks before expected travel. This allows the horse to develop adequate immunity. Consult your veterinarian on what vaccines are needed in your area.
- Don’t share equipment (buckets, tack, brushes). That is one of the fastest ways to spread disease.
- Avoid common water supplies, such as stock tanks, for the same reason.
- Consider flavoring water before traveling to encourage your horse to drinking while away from, or consider taking water from home if possible.
- Keep an eye out for signs of dehydration - A horses’ skin, when pinched mid neck, should snap back into place. If it stays tented or is slow to return back, that is an indicator that the horse is dehydrated.
- Check your horses' gum color and temperature periodically. For gums, pink is normal. When pressed with a finger the gum should turn white and return to pink in about 2 seconds. White, yellow and plum shades or not returning to pink in 2 seconds are all abnormal. Normal body temperature for a horse is between 99 and 100 degrees Farenheight. Anything over 101 degrees is abnormal.
- When you get home, consider keeping your horse or horses isolated from those who did not travel for 10 days to avoid bringing disease into your entire stable. Thirty feet is considered the minimum distance for isolation.
And if your horses show signs of dehydration, elevated temperature, abnormal gum color, signs of colic or neurogical symptoms, call your veterinarian.