Bot-ter late than never

...and on the eighth day, God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

The latter part of summer is getting underway as apples appear on trees in their orchards and golden rods bob their yellow heads on abandoned farmsteads. August is done up in a mantle of green and gold, adorned with sunflowers and song birds, her head crowned with thunder clouds and honeybees..

Nights become warmer and garden patches are cleared to make way for corn and beans.

Trail riders gallop into a nice time of year; not too muddy, evenings are nice, if fyl spray is used. Drivers can enjoy harness time in the cart, trotting down country lanes or through dew-laden meadows.

The sun is not so blasting in the evening and the sky is a beautiful sapphire blue, with autumn wild flowers peeking

out to announce the arrival of cooler days.

To quote my fellow columnist and horse enthusiast, Lisa Houserman, "New shoes on the pony and a comfortable, old harness and we’ll tool along for miles; it’s a great time of year."

A reminder to Horsemen that summer is parasite season; have some fly spray ready, whether home made vinegar and dish soap or something off the shelf.

Black flies are making their annual appearance already; Farnam’s Roll-On works great on the inside of ears, where the black flies can bite so badly that blood will run. Vick’s Salve can also be used, as an inexpensive, home made repellent; the eucalyptus is natural, but the salve can attract dust and get dirty.

De-worm every 8 weeks or even quarterly, with alternate products.

The Botfly, once thought to be harmless in olden days, is another parasite that needs eradicated.

You may have noticed the eggs attached to your horse and a special egg removing knife is used to keep them from being ingested.

Botflies are found in all parts of the US and all horses can become infected. You should assume the horse is infected with bots unless he has been treated with ivermectin.

Adult botflies look and sound like honeybees. They do not bite or sting, but when one or a group of females descends on a horse to lay eggs, the horse becomes very agitated and can seek to escape with alarming, blind behavior.

There are three species of botfly, differing only in where they lay their eggs on the animal and how the larvae get to the stomach.

Hold on to your cookies, folks, especially the burrowing and attaching part, and re-read this article if you think your horse doesn’t need a good de-worming program:

The life cycle goes as follows: Egg, Larva, Pupa, Adult.

The most common bot, Gastrophilus intestinalis, (1) lays its eggs on the forelegs, chest and shoulders. You can see the individual egg on the hairshaft. These eggs hatch very rapidly due to the warm breath of the horse or its saliva coming in contact with them as the horse licks itself.

The larvae burrow into the tongue muscle and stay there embedded for one month. They then come out and molt, are swallowed, and attach themselves to the stomach lining.

The horse consequently loses weight, has ulcers and may colic.

"Throat bots," or Gastrophilus nasalis, (2) lay their eggs on the throat or beneath the jaw. In 6 days, they hatch into larvae, crawl their way into the mouth and burrow into pockets between the molar teeth. There, they go through a second molt, are swallowed, and attach themselves to the stomach lining.

This species can cause ulcers in the mouth, which causes the horse pain on eating, leading to unthriftiness and weight loss.

The third species, the rare Gastrophilus hemorrhoidalis (3) lay their eggs on the short hairs of the lips and upon hatching, proceed to burrow into the mouth and gums.

After the bot larvae are swallowed and have attached themselves to the stomach wall, they remain there about 10 months, living off of their host.

In the spring, they detach themselves and are passed out in the manure. They then burrow into the ground and remain as a pupa for 3 to 5 weeks, after which they emerge as an adult fly. (4)

This adult fly will mate and then go looking for your horse so it can lay its eggs.

Depending on the stage of infestation, you can detect signs of bots.

Ulcerations and sores in the mouth are painful to the horse. Even more serious, the stomach larvae cause stomach or duodenal ulcers and colic, a veterinary emergency.

Rarely, perforation occurs with fatal peritonitis. (5)

What was that old adage about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure?

Remember, your buddy is counting on you to keep him safe from disgusting parasites.

Parasite control is very important to every equine management program.

A once-a- year paste de-wormer is not enough to keep the horse parasite-free. Quarterly is best, even every 8 weeks in the summer months, with alternating products.

If the horse is severely infested, buy 2 or 3 tubes of paste wormer, and only give half the dosage for 3-4 days. If you give the entire dose of paste wormer at once, there is a high chance of mass purging of dead parasites.

This will cause a gut obstruction (colic) that generally has a poor prognosis for the horse.

Consult your Vet if you suspect your horse has a severe infestation, or if you have acquired a horse that looks severely infested.

There are daily de-worming pellets, top-dressed on the grain, which complement your paste de-worming program, but these are expensive, even more so with multiple animals.

The horse catalogs have good prices on generic ivermectin and rotation of pastures is recommended.

This is the beginning of a beautiful autumn. Help your horse enjoy it to the fullest by getting him on a regular de-worming schedule.

Pick up some ivermectin and give it to your horse. Today.

So long for now. Admiring the colorful view of summertime panoramas out on the trail, from atop a good, broomtail Appy, and singing the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, "Happy Trails to You."

The aforementioned article is meant as a guideline and not Veterinary analysis. Always seek the advice of a qualified Vet for a de-worming program specified to your farm or if you suspect your horse is suffering from bot infection or worm-induced colic.

Community News is not responsible should you not follow Veterinary consult on dosage requirements of de-worming products.

(1, 2, 3, 4) "Horse Owner’s Veterinary Handbook," by Drs. Giffin and Gore

(5) Peritonitis: Inflammation of the lining of the abdominal cavity. Occurs when there is sudden contamination of the peritoneal cavity by bacteria or foreign material. Caused by bowel obstruction, gastric rupture, worms, strangulation of intestine or perforation. A " peritoneal tap," for colic, is a diagnostic test where fluid is withdrawn from the midline (under-belly) and inspected by the Vet for pus, bacteria, blood, protein and plant material. Helps determine if the bowel is dying or a rupture has occurred. Prognosis: Very Poor.