Miniature Horse and Miniature Donkey Care and Training
What follows is how we do things here at CL7 Minis. We are not certified horse trainers, nor do we work in the field of veterinary medicine. We just simply have a love for our animals and we want to keep them safe, healthy, and happy. We've read a lot of books, Googled a lot of information, and talked to other horse owners and breeders. That research, in addition to good old trial and error, has helped us figure out what works best -- at least for us. Maybe some of our tips and information can help you too.
Caring For Your Miniature Horse Caring for your horse will require certain supplies. In addition to a halter and lead line you will need brushes for grooming, feeding supplies, and a few items for a first aid kit.
Halter and Lead Line We prefer halters that are adjustable around the nose in addition to over the poll. They allow for a better fit. Make sure your halter isn't too tight which will cause your mini discomfort.
When tying your horse always use a quick release knot that can be released in case of emergency by pulling the loose end.
First Aid Supplies There are a few things we always keep on hand; Corona for minor cuts and scrapes, Furosemide in case of an abcess or a sore that is fungal in nature, mineral oil or baby oil and MTG which can be used for a variety of things, betadine scrub for cleaning wounds, and bleach or thrush treatment in case of thrush. In addition to those items we also keep items needed to wrap a foot or leg in case of an injury. A good first aid book is something we keep handy as well, and it goes without saying that we have our vet's phone number programmed in our cell phone so that if there is an emergency at the barn or in the pasture we don't have to go inside and look it up. When dealing with things like colic, a serious injury, or a foaling emergency, time could be the deciding factor in how things turn out. Having the number handy also allows you to stay with your horse.
Preventive Care Preventive care includes feeding, grooming, exercising, hoof care, deworming and vaccinating. Worming should be done at least every two months on a rotation schedule. Deworm more frequently if you have a large herd and/or small acreage. Vaccinations should be done as recommended by your veterinarian.
Vaccination Note For Minis Please pay special attention to the safety indications regarding vaccinations for pregnant mares. Also read the fine print and do not assume that if it is safe for a big horses it is safe for a horse one-quarter in size. Do not give miniature horses the "combo" shots that include West Nile. It is too much for their systems. Some companies in the fine print warn against it's use on ponies. Do not give West Nile to miniatures in their first trimester of pregnancy. For miniature horses if you need to give a combo shot and West Nile it is recommended to give the combo shot one week in one side of the neck or buttocks, then give the West Nile separately in the other side of the neck a week later. And again, always check with your personal vet regarding your horse's vaccinations.
Deworming The following information about worms and deworming was gathered from a number of websites. This is a topic we have spent numerous hours researching. The information in this section was consistently found on numerous websites. That consistency, in our opinion, is what validates the information below. Check with your personal vet to be sure what will work for your horse.
Never use Quest or any other wormer with the active ingredient moxidectin when worming your miniature horse.
Young foals are generally more susceptible to parasites than adult horses. Worms represent a serious danger to foals, and they are at risk as soon as they are born. The mare can pass parasites directly to her offspring through her milk and droppings. The foal can also become infected by larvae penetrating the skin, ingestion from the pasture, and coprophagia (the consumption of feces) which is a common practice of foals.
Foals are exposed continuously to parasite infection, particularly from ascarid (roundworm) eggs because, no matter how clean the stables are kept, ascarid eggs abound. These sticky, practically indestructible, ascarid eggs can survive for years on buckets, walls, bedding, pastures and even on the mare's udder. As mentioned above, most foals eat fresh manure in order to "seed" their digestive tract with beneficial microorganisms essential for proper digestion of vegetable matter. As a result, any infective ascarid eggs present in the manure can find their way into the youngster's system where the ascarid larvae hatches out, burrows into the intestinal tract and begins its damage.
From birth through the first two years, young horses have an especially low resistance to parasites and can quickly acquire massive worm burdens. However, damage inflicted by these worms is gradual and subtle, so you may not notice any signs of illness at the onset. Meanwhile, your prized foal's growth and development become impaired, its performance ability reduced, and its resistance to disease lowered - problems that have long-term consequences.
A carefully-planned and strictly-followed deworming schedule is the only way to protect your foal from parasite damage.
Strongyloides westeri, can be transferred in the mare's milk. They live in the stomach and feed on blood. They migrate through the bloodstream to parts of the body tissues and mature in the intestine. They can move through the mammary tissue and are ingested by the foal through the mare's milk.
Other parasite eggs can be shed in the dam's manure. Therefore many breeders will worm with an ivermectin product one month before foaling followed by a post-foaling worming within 12 hours of foaling, but after the mare's first bowel movement. Worming your mare with ivermectin within 12 hours after foaling helps protect the foal from threadworms.
Between four and six weeks you should first worm the foal, and then once a month for the first year.
The most common wormer Ivermectin does not kill ascarids, a major parasitic threat to foals and young horses. Therefore, if Ivermectin is used exclusively, it kills other worms, which actually allows the ascarids to flourish.
Your Foal's first-year worming can be done using the schedule below: Month 1: Pyrantel (Strongid) or Fenbendazole (Panacur) Month 2: Pyrantel (Strongid) or Fenbendazole (Panacur) Month 3: Pyrantel (Strongid) or Fenbendazole (Panacur) Month 4: Pyrantel (Strongid) or Fenbendazole (Panacur) Month 5: Pyrantel (Strongid) Month 6: Ivermectin Month 7: Pyrantel (Strongid) Month 8: Ivermectin Month 9: Pyrantel (Strongid) Month 10: Ivermectin Month 11: Pyrantel (Strongid) Month 12: Ivermectin
After the first year we deworm on this schedule: January/February: pyrantel pamoate March/April: ivermectin May/June: oxibendazole or fenbendazole July/August: pyrantel pamoate September/October: ivermectin November/December: oxibendazole or fenbendazole
Using something effective against all worms and bots such as an ivermectin product twice a year is a good practice. Depending on your climate, April or May, just before bot larvae leave a horse's stomach would be a good time to use the bot dewormer. Then again in late fall, after a killing frost and after all bot eggs have been removed from the horse's coat, October or November (once again depending on your climate). The rest of the year you can choose other dewormers. Do not use a product with the same ingredient every time you worm (only exception is being afore mentioned with pregnant mares). The active product ingredient should be rotated. Individual deworming routines may vary for different farms. A farm with a small amount of acreage and large population of horses may require more frequent dewormings.
It is also recommended to do a Safeguard purge twice a year (spring and fall). This is a double dose of Safe-guard for five days with a follow-up dose of Ivermectin four weeks later.
Another version of a Safe-Guard purge is Safe-Guard for five days which will get any big roundworms and encysted small strongyles (redworms). However, it will not get Bots and it will not get migrating strongyles or ascarids, so in 10 days (life cycle of most worms) worm with Ivermectin, wait ten days and worm with Praziquantel (Tapeworms). This should clear any extra worms that have been hanging on.
Always read dewormer labels to be aware of contraindications, precautions and proper dosage, especially if you have pregnant or lactating mares.
For example, Safeguard's label states: Safe-Guard Paste 10% has been evaluated for safety in pregnant mares during all stages of gestation with doses as high as 11.4 mg/lb. (25 mg/kg) and in stallions with doses as high as 11.4 mg/lb. (25 mg/kg). No adverse effects on reproductively were detected. The recommended dose for control of 4th stage larvae of Strongylus vulgaris, 4.6 mg/lb. (10 mg/kg) daily for 5 consecutive days, has not been evaluated for safety in stallions or pregnant mares.
Therefore, although Safeguard is safe to use for your pregnant mares for a one-time deworming dose, you would not want to treat them with a five-day Safeguard purge while pregnant.
Training Your Miniature Horse We believe in training with positive reinforcement. A horse needs a leader. If he does not have a leader, he will become the leader. If you make learning a pleasant experience for your horse he will be more willing to learn and his bond with you will be stronger. Your horse will not only trust you, he will look at you as a leader, the alpha horse, someone who is worthy to be followed. Your relationship will be built on trust, harmony and respect.
Time is the single most important tool when developing a relationship with your horse. This means much more than just performing daily tasks in his presence. Hand grazing, taking a walk, grooming, and hanging out in the pasture are all opportunities to deepen the relationship with your horse.
There is no substitute for spending time with an animal when trying to build a relationship. Since most of us cannot spend the amount of time with our animals as we would like, it is important to make the time we do have with them quality time. Teach with patience and be consistent.
Monty Roberts, The Horse Whisperer, states that training should involve kindness and communication and incorporating violence into training is both unnecessary and counterproductive.
Natural Horsemanship -- Whether you follow Gawani Pony Boy, Monty Roberts, Clinton Anderson, Pat and Linda Parelli or any of the other big-name trainers, the message is the same. Training your horse without the use of fear, cruelty, threats, aggression, or pain is a way to accomplish everything you could hope for with your horse and have a great relationship with him while being respected as a leader, not feared as a dominant predator.