Course Title: Equine Science Lesson Title



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Course Title: Equine Science

Lesson Title: Maintaining horse health

TEKS Addressed in Lesson:

  1. 130.5 (c) (2)-C

Lesson Objectives. The student will be able to:


  1. Describe “normal” behavior and characteristics

  2. Determine routine maintenance required for horses

  3. Identify common health and soundness problems

Tools and Equipment

  1. PPT: Maintaining horse health

Key Terms / Vocabulary

  1. Stool

  2. Colic

  3. Thrush

  4. Vital Signs

  5. Deworming

  6. Vaccinations

  7. EIA (Equine Infectious Anemia)

  8. Coggins

Interest Approach/Anticipatory Set

  1. Link: How do you know when you are sick? First you must recognize what is normal for you—then you can identify abnormal behaviors and deal with problems that arise.

  2. Motivation: Since our horses cannot tell us when they are not feeling well, we must identify normal behaviors so we can recognize abnormal issues. Maintaining horse health and soundness is a big part of keeping horses healthy for the long term. Just like we change the oil in our cars, horses require routine maintenance to stay healthy.

  3. Overview: Today we will: Describe “normal” behavior and characteristics; Determine routine maintenance required for horses; Identify common health and soundness problems

Teaching Plan and Strategy / Presentation of New Material

  1. Open the PPT titled Maintaining horse health

  2. Progress through the slides and teach the material allowing students time for discussion on each slide

  3. What is “normal” behavior? Can you tell the difference between a healthy and sick horse?:

    1. Visual appraisal of the horse is fairly revealing:

      1. Is the coat shiny?

      2. Are eyes clear and bright?

      3. Are nostrils soft and clean?

      4. Is the horse able to move easily?

      5. Does the horse appear content?

      6. Are stools firm but not hard?

      7. Is the horse eating and drinking?

      8. Does the horse appear to be in good flesh, but not obese?

  4. Healthy or Unhealthy?:

    1. View the pictures on the slide—the top row is unhealthy, the bottom row is healthy.

  5. The Horse Health Check:

    1. the horse health check

  6. Routine Maintenance:

    1. Food

    2. Hoof care

    3. Vaccinations, Veterinary Care, and Testing

    4. Deworming

    5. Shelter

    6. Exercise

  7. Food:

    1. Horses need a regular supply of food.

    2. In most cases, they need to have hay or pasture throughout the day, with additional grain feedings twice a day.

    3. An average-size horse will eat about 20 lbs. of food, (hay, grass and grain combined) a day

    4. Horses will drink at least eight gallons of water per day.

    5. Because their stomachs are relatively small and their digestive systems surprisingly delicate, ideally horses need to nibble or graze throughout the day, rather than have one or two meals a day.

  8. Hoof Care:

    1. Horses need regular hoof care.

    2. Plan to hire a farrier (blacksmith) every six to eight weeks for routine hoof trimming and/or shoeing

    3. Horses with special hoof issues may need additional care or require the consultation of a veterinarian.

    4. If you notice lameness issues, consult a veterinarian or farrier as soon as possible.

    5. Left untreated, a relatively minor issue can result in permanent lameness.

  9. Vaccinations, Veterinary Care, and Testing

    1. Vaccinations are an inexpensive way to ensure your horse's long term health. Most horses are vaccinated twice a year.

    2. Included in most vaccination programs are inoculations for: influenza (flu) rhinopneumonitis (rhino), eastern and western strains of encephalomyelitis (sleeping sickness), and tetanus. Other inoculations are available for common illnesses like rabies and equine distemper (strangles), EPM and West Nile Virus.

    3. The veterinarian will also provide routine dental care.

    4. Equine Infectious Anemia (E.I.A.) is a disease transmitted between horses by blood sucking insects. Every state has regulations regarding the requirement of documentation that horses are E.I.A. negative before they its borders. An E.I.A. test (commonly called a "Coggins" test) is required at horse shows, clinics, sales, events and campgrounds as well.

  10. Deworming:

    1. Since horses are constantly exposed to intestinal worms from the ground they graze on, they must be dewormed every six to eight weeks with an oral paste dewormer.

    2. Carrying a heavy burden of worms can cause serious illness or death in equines, so regular and timely treatment is crucial to your horse's health.

    3. Sometimes veterinarians will also recommend tube worming where a tube is inserted through the nostrils into the stomach to administer the dewormer.

  11. Shelter

    1. Horses need constant access to a dry, safe, comfortable shelter to protect them from rain, wind, and snow.

    2. In warm and sunny weather, the shelter you supply will provide your horse with much needed shade.

    3. At a minimum, you should have a well-constructed, three-sided shed into which your horse can retreat at all times.

    4. You will need to remove manure from the stall or shelter every day.

  12. Exercise

    1. Horses need exercise.

    2. To supplement the exercise your horse will get when you ride him, he should have a paddock or pasture in which to relax and stroll.

    3. No horse should spend all day confined in a stall, except on a veterinarian's recommendation.

    4. The pasture should be bordered by safe, sturdy fencing that will keep the horse safe and secure.

    5. Barbed wire is not an acceptable fencing material—it has been the cause of many serious injuries.

  13. Common Issues:

    1. Skin problems such as summer itch or sores

    2. Founder

    3. Colic

    4. Ankle Swelling

    5. Proud Flesh from a flesh wound

    6. Thrush in the hooves


Activity/Application/ Student Engagement /Laboratory

  1. Maintaining Horse Health Activity:

  1. For each of the following, look up information related to the disorder, how to diagnose it, and how to treat it. On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being mild and 10 being severe, identify the severity of the disorder

    1. Skin problems such as summer itch or sores

    2. Founder

    3. Colic

    4. Ankle Swelling

    5. Proud Flesh from a flesh wound

    6. Thrush in the hooves

    7. Equine Infectious Anemia

    8. Rabies

Evaluation / Summary

  1. Questions for review:

    1. What is normal behavior in a horse?

      1. Is the coat shiny?

      2. Are eyes clear and bright?

      3. Are nostrils soft and clean?

      4. Is the horse able to move easily?

      5. Does the horse appear content?

      6. Are stools firm but not hard?

      7. Is the horse eating and drinking?

      8. Does the horse appear to be in good flesh, but not obese?

    2. Describe a symptom that might indicate a problem.

      1. Example: Horse has a runny nose, is not eating, and appears to be in discomfort

      2. What would you do?

      3. Call a veterinarian

    3. Name and describe a common horse health issue.

      1. Example: Colic is a digestive problem that can range from mild to severe. Symptoms are biting at side, pawing, little or no stool passage, and general discomfort. Treatment ranges from a muscle relaxer and walking to surgery.

  2. Summary:

  1. Just like we must maintain our own health by eating right, brushing our teeth, and getting exercise,

  2. Horses require basic maintenance as well.

  3. Taking care of small issues such as deworming and vaccinations can prevent bigger problems later.

References/Additional Materials / Extended Learning Opportunities/ Enrichment

  1. The Merck Veterinary Manual: https://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.html

  2. Recommended Equine Care: http://www.equinevetservice.com/recommended.htm

  3. Vital Signs of Equine: http://www.equinevetservice.com/vitalsigns.htm

  4. Recognizing and Managing Common Health Problems in Horses: http://aevm.tamu.edu/files/2010/06/Recognizing-and-Managing-Common-Health-Problems-of-Horses.pictures.ppt

  5. Have students conduct research papers on common issues in equine; turn into a speech for prepared public speaking.

  6. Find pictures for each of the issues discussed.

  7. Take vital signs on themselves and compare to vital signs in humans and other animals. Compare and contrast differences.

  8. Plan a deworming program for a horse.

College & Career Readiness Standard:

English Language Arts: V. Research, B, 1.

Science: I. Nature of Science: Scientific Ways of Learning and Thinking, E. 1-2. IV. Science, Technology and Society. A, 1.

Social Studies: V. Effective Communication, A. 1., B, 1.

Cross Disciplinary: I. Key Cognitive Skills, B, 1, 3.

Developed by the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communications,

Texas A&M University

for the Texas Education Agency, Educational Excellence Project for AFNR



©Texas Education Agency, 2015


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