By Clyde Vet Group

Worming is one of those autumn preparation jobs for the winter ahead and is best planned well.

Targeted worming involves dosing horses only as and when necessary, depending on results of faecal worm egg counts which can be performed in our/ your local vets’ laboratory.

However, some parasites, such as encysted small redworm and tapeworm, need to be treated during the autumn and winter months.

Equine tapeworms are large white, flat, segmented parasites that can affect horses of all ages. Some affected horses may be asymptomatic while others, especially those with significant burdens, can develop ill-thrift, enteritis and colic.

At this time, we have two diagnostic tests available for tapeworm. The more established test is a blood test, which can be facilitated by your veterinary surgeon.

A more recently developed test is a saliva test (EquiSal Tapeworm Saliva Test), which can be performed by yourself. A tape wormer should be administered if results indicate tape worming is required.

Ultimately, we should all practice responsible worming in order to prevent the development of resistance to the wormers available to us – especially given that a lot of worms that affect sheep are now resistant to many products.

Therefore, diagnostic testing should be performed to determine if administration of a wormer is required or not, prior to administration.

If choosing not to perform diagnostic testing for tapeworm, then a ‘tape wormer’ should be administered once yearly. Praziquantel (at a single dose) or pyrantel (at a double dose) are the tape wormers available to us at this time.

Most wormers for tapeworm are combination products and will also provide cover for roundworm and the small encysted redworm.

Equitape, a tapeworm specific wormer containing praziquantel only, has recently been withdrawn from the market. However, we are now able to obtain an alternate praziquantel-only product.

Another worm you will need to attack at this time of year is encysted small redworm. The larvae tend to ‘hibernate’ in the gut wall of the horse, over-wintering on as small cysts which then emerge in spring time.

Treating in the autumn will significantly reduce the number of larvae forming cysts and hence decrease potential disease and also reduce the shedding of eggs onto your pastures next spring.

Symptoms of redworm infection are:

• Weight loss

• Diarrhoea

• Colic

All horses older than six months old should be given a wormer which will treat encysted small redworm for autumn/winter time.

Other autumn tasks:


If your horse has been out 24/7 all summer, make sure the transition to stabling is gradual so they can adjust to the change in routine.

Start with short periods of stabling, gradually increasing the time spent in the stable, over a period of weeks.

A useful tip: If you find your horse is not drinking much water from its stable, try using the water supply from the field that your horse has been drinking from all summer.


The colder months are approaching us which means horses will start growing woolly coats. Most people who exercise their horses over the winter months tend to have their horses clipped to minimise sweating and ensure they dry quicker.

Prior to clipping, make sure you have your clippers serviced to make sure they are in good working order.

As we all know horses can be unpredictable and can easily kick whilst being clipped. Many horses therefore require sedation for clipping. This can be administered through an oral syringe (Sedalin or Domosdean Gel) which can be given by the owner, or alternatively sedation can be given by your vet via intravenous injection.

Rug washing

Now is the time to get out your winter rugs and accessories for a clean and to check for any repairs they may need.


Riding during the colder months can be tricky due to a number of factors, such as the darker night and colder days. However, if you regularly ride your horse for most of the year, then it is advisable to continue exercising throughout the colder months. Exercising your horse can help in keeping their heart, and musculoskeletal system fit and healthy. Horses that are not exercised or given ample turnout over the colder months are more likely to become stiff and lose fitness.

Dental check up

Have your horse’s teeth checked to ensure they are healthy and that there are no underlying issues that may prevent them from chewing properly. As you know hay is a little tougher to chew than grass.