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Fall Deworming For Horses

As summer comes to an end and the leaves start to change color, it’s time to start thinking about fall deworming. Most horses, even those found to be low-risk carriers, should be dewormed in the fall after the first frost for a fresh start in the following seasons.

Pests To Eliminate In The Fall
As your horse spends their summer grazing in the pasture, they’ll inevitably pick up strongyle eggs shed by other horses through their feces, and they can also inadvertently eat mites infested with tapeworm eggs. Botflies are another pest to target. In the summer, they lay eggs on the horse’s body and are later ingested to continue their lifecycle within the digestive tract.
After the first frost in the late fall, many of these pests die off. This is the best time to deworm your horse. Once dewormed, the horse is unlikely to be reinfected, keeping them protected until spring.

Fall Deworming Protocol
Before deworming your horse, it’s important to do a fecal egg count (FEC) to determine their parasitic load and what type of dewormer to use. You can save money on FECs with the at-home Equine Worm Test Kit.
The FEC will also determine if your horse is a low, medium, or high risk carrier for parasites. Most horses fall into the “low risk” category and can be dewormed just twice a year, once in the springtime and once again in the fall.
After fall deworming, a second FEC is recommended to determine if the dewormer has been effective. Parasites are becoming increasingly resistant to dewormers. A targeted approach to deworming that relies on FECs, rather than frequent deworming, can help minimize resistance.
Work with your veterinarian to create an individualized deworming schedule based on your horse’s risk level, age, and exposure to pastures with high parasite numbers. Foals, senior horses, and high risk carriers typically have a weaker immune system, so they will need more frequent deworming to keep their parasitic load under control.

Non-chemical Parasite Control
Along with regular FECs, pasture management is another way to avoid unnecessary use of chemical dewormers. Overstocked, overgrazed pastures tend to lead to higher parasitic loads, as the majority of parasites lurk closer to the soil.
When possible, rotate pastures and/or share them with other livestock. Parasites tend to be species-specific, so the pests that bother your horse won’t affect goats, cows, or sheep. Many parasites can survive in pastures for years, so by giving them a chance to die off, you can avoid exposing your horses to pastures with high populations of parasites.