Front Cover

Title: 4-H horse program : horse science
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00078697/00014
 Material Information
Title: 4-H horse program : horse science
Physical Description: Book
Creator: 4-H Youth Development Program, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida
Publisher: 4-H Youth Development Program, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida
Subject: University of Florida.   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00078697
Volume ID: VID00014
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6 (MULTIPLE)
        Page 7
        Page 8
Full Text


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida

horse science








This educational material has been prepared for 4-H use by the Cooperative Extension Services of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture and State Land-Grant Universities in cooperation with the National 4-H Council and the
American Quarter Horse Association.

Trade or brand names used in the publications are used only for the purpose of educational information. The
information given herein is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement
of products or breeds of horses by the Federal Extension Service or State Cooperative Extension Services is
implied, nor does it imply approval of products or breeds of horses to the exclusion of others which may also be

This material was originally published by the National 4-H Council, 7100 Connecticut Avenue, Chevy Chase,
Maryland 20815.

Programs and educational materials of National 4-H Council are available to all persons regardless of race, color,
sex, age, religion, national origin or handicap. Council is an equal opportunity employer.

Horse Science: Internal Parasites of Horses

According to Webster's Dictionary, a parasite is a plant
or animal living in, on, or with another living organism (its
host), at whose expense it obtains food and shelter. More
than 150 different kinds of parasites have been found to
infest horses. Almost all horses harbor some parasites.
External types include lice, flies, ticks, mange, and
ringworm. The internal types, which we will deal with in this
lesson, include strongyles or blood worms, ascarids,
stomach worms, pinworms, and bots.
Every horse owner should have his animal on a parasite-
prevention and control program. In order to draw up such a
program, it is important to know the life cycle of the various
worms so that proper preventive and treatment procedures
can be followed.
Economic Importance
The effect of the presence of worm parasites are not
usually spectacular. However, they do cause decreased work
efficiency, poor utilization of food, are one of the causes of
colic, may be the cause of intermittent lameness, may cause
a chronic cough and bronchitis, and occasionally death due
to blood clot. Some adult worms produce toxins that destroy
red blood cells, leading to an unthrifty anemic condition.
Immature worms migrating through body tissues open the
way for bacteria and fungi to enter, causing other serious
Prevention of parasitism
Internal parasites gain entry to the animal body in the
form of eggs, larvae, or adults. This may be largely
prevented by various forms of management which break the
life cycle of the parasite. Those worms already present will
have to be killed by drugs, depending on the kind of parasite
present. The following practices have been found to be
effective in reducing parasite numbers:
1) Do not feed hay or grain on the floor. This prevents
contamination of feeds with manure, which may contain
large numbers of parasite eggs or larvae.
2) Do not allow horses to obtain water from barnyard pools
or water holes on pasture, since manure drainage into these
areas makes them a source of internal parasites.
3) Clean stalls and rebed as often as possible so that there
will be less chance of internal parasites getting on feeds
from fecal material.
4) If the stall floor is of earth, remove ten to twelve inches
once or twice yearly and replace with clean soil.
5) Remove manure from premises daily and either spread
on a field where horses will not graze for a year or where the
field will be plowed and reseeded before horses have contact
with it.
6) If manure must be left near the barn, keep in a covered
pit where it can heat and thus kill parasite eggs and larvae.
This will also prevent fly breeding.
7) Small, heavily used pastures tend to build up a heavy
parasite load. Small exercise yards should not contain
pasture grasses which encourage animals to eat
contaminated material. It is best to have them gravelled.

Page 3

8) Rotate pasture plots as frequently as possible to break the
life cycle of the parasites.
9) Flies should be prevented from breeding by keeping
surroundings free from manure, wet straw, and bedding.
10) Grain should be kept in covered containers away from
flies, birds, and rodents, which may carry parasites from
farm to farm.
Treatment is a necessary but small part of the total
parasite control program. Major emphasis should be on
prevention. Even though adult worms are eliminated from
the animal, damage has already been done by larval
migration through body tissue. All drugs used for worming
are dangerous and must be used with extreme care. In most
cases, it would be best to have your veterinarian perform this
A regular program for worming horses should be
adopted in cooperation with your veterinarian. Horses
should be wormed in the fall after the first killing frost, and
again in the spring before they go out to pasture. If
strongyles are a particular problem continuous low-level
feeding of phenothiazine should be considered.
In some areas, worm control programs are organized on
a community or county basis. Since some of these parasites
are transmitted by insect vectors, area action tends to reduce
the possibility of this type of transfer. Such projects should
be considered with your veterinarian, your county agent or
your 4-H club leader.
Bot Flies
There are at least three species of horse bot flies. It is
their habit to hover about the horse, and then quickly darting
toward the animal they glue individual eggs to the hair in a
matter of seconds. The female of the common bot usually
lays up to 500 eggs. Eggs are usually deposited on the hair
of the forelegs. although they may be deposited on the mane,
shoulders, belly, chin, and occasionally the flanks.


June 1989

Horse Science: Internal Parasites of Horses

The horse tends to lick or bite itself where the eggs are
attached, thus stimulating hatching, and the newly-hatched
larvae are taken into the horse's mouth in this manner. Some
larvae burrow into the tongue and migrate through the body
tissues until they finally arrive in the stomach where they
attach to the stomach wall. They arrive in the stomach in
three to four weeks. They mature in the stomach in ten to
eleven months, at which time they release their hold on the
stomach wall and pass out with the animal's feces. Mature
larvae burrow into the ground and change into pupa stage.
In fifteen to seventeen days the mature bot fly emerges from
the pupa case and mates to begin the cycle again.

Stomach Worms

There are at least ten different types of stomach worm,
four of which are known to cause lesions, resulting in an
inflammation of the stomach wall. The larval forms of the
larger stomach worms are thought to be responsible for a
skin disease of horses called "summer sores." The larger
stomach worms are approximately an inch to an inch and a
half in length. Adult worms in the horse's stomach lay eggs
which are passed out with the manure and picked up by
maggots (larval forms) of the house fly or small stable fly.
The stomach worm eggs hatch in the head region of the
adult fly where they had come to rest as the fly matured.
Horses probably swallow infested flies accidentally, or
larval worms may leave the flies while they are feeding on
the moisture around the horse's lips. Once in the horse's
mouth, they are readily swallowed and mature into adult
worms in the horse's stomach to repeat the cycle.

Ascarids (intestinal worms)

Adult worms in the small intestines deposit eggs which
pass out with the manure. During warm weather, embryos
develop within the eggs and are infective in about two
weeks. Embryonating eggs are swallowed by grazing horses,
the embryos are liberated in the small intestine, penetrate the
gut wall, and are taken by the blood stream to the heart and
lungs. After about one week's period, the larvae escape from
the lungs, migrate up the trachea to the throat region where
they are once again swallowed and the worms develop to
maturity in the small intestine. Adults are approximately
nine to twelve inches in length.

Page 4


June 1989

Horse Science: Internal Parasites of Horses

Strongyles (blood worms, palisade worms)

The horse strongyles are a large group of approximately
forty species infesting horses. Most of them are less than an
inch in length and scarcely visible to the unaided eye. They
are usually found firmly attached within the host, sucking
blood. Female worms deposit large numbers of eggs which
leave the horse with the manure. After the eggs hatch, the
larvae molt twice before becoming infective. Infective larvae
climb to the upper portions of pasture grasses and are
usually swallowed by horses during grazing. Larvae migrate
to various organs within the body, depending somewhat
upon the species. Those that favor the walls of the arteries
are responsible for certain types of lameness and even death
due to embolism by restricting or blocking blood flow in the

Page 5








Pinworms are approximately two to three inch long
white-appearing worms with long slender tails. They are
frequently seen in the feces of infected animals. The worms
mature in the large intestines, and females full of eggs
proceed outward through the small colon and the rectum,
sometimes crawling out of the anal opening. The irritation
causes infested animals to rub themselves against posts and
other objects. Adult worms in this manner are crushed, at
times leaving the eggs glued to the anal region. Normally,
however, the eggs develop in manure and are picked up
during grazing or feeding by horses to repeat the cycle. The
vigorous rubbing of the posterior parts results in the loss of
hair and occasionally injury may result in secondary
infection. Fourth stage larvae are also found attached to the
mucosa of the colon and are voracious feeders.




June 1989


Horse Science: Internal Parasites of Horses


Anemic (a ne mik). Deficient in red corpuscles of the
blood; a state causing paleness, weakness, heart palpitation.
Bronchitis (br6n ki tis). Inflammation of the bronchial
tubes (E \C nsio ns of the windpipe).
Colic (ko6 ik). An acute abdominal pain; may be caused by
a great variety of disorders.
Embolism (em, bo lizm). The lodgment of an abnormal or
foreign particle, such as an air bubble or blood clot, in a tube
or canal of the circulatory system, which tube being too
small to permit its passage.
Embryos (6m, bri oz). Organisms in the early stages of
development, as before hatching from the egg.
Insect vector (v6ek t6r). An insect which carries and
transmits disease-causing microorganisms.

Larva (lhr va). The immature, wormlike form into which
certain insects hatch from the egg.
Maggot (mag fit). A soft-bodied, grublike, footless larva of
an insect, as of the housefly; applied especially to forms
living in decaying matter.
Molt (molt). To cast off or shed the hair, feathers, horns,
outer layer of skin, etc., being replaced by new growth.
Parasite (par a sit). A plant or animal living in, on, or with
another living organism (its host), at whose expense it
obtains food and shelter.
Pupa (pui pa). An intermediate, usually motionless, form
assumed by metabolic insects after the larval stage, and
maintained until the beginning of the adult stage; a chrysalis.
Trachea (tra ke a). The main tube of the respiratory
system; the windpipe.


June 1989

Page 6

Horse Science: Internal Parasites of Horses


June 1989

Page 7

1. This document is section 14 of 14 of 4HHSGO1, which supersedes CO 201, one of a series of the 4-H Youth
Development Program, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University
of Florida. Date first printed August 1965. Date revised June 1989. Please visit the FAIRS Website at

2. Douglas Stem, University of Massachusetts. Debbie Glauer, member of 4-H Animal Science Design Team,
Department of Family, Youth and Community Science, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611.

Cooperative Extension Service
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Taylor Waddill, Director, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture, publishes this information to further the purpose of
the May 8 and June 30, 1914 Acts of Congress; and is authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to
individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, age, sex, handicap or national origin. The information in this publication
is available in alternate formats. Single copies of extension publications (excluding 4-H and youth publications) are available free to Florida
residents from county extension offices. Information on copies for out-of-state purchase is available from Publications Distribution Center,
University of Florida, PO Box 110011, Gainesville, FL 32611-0011. Information about alternate formats is available from Educational Media and
Services, University of Florida, PO Box 110810, Gainesville, FL 32611-0810. This information was published June 1989 as CO 201, which is
superseded by 4HHSG01, Florida Cooperative Extension Service.

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