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Buffalo Creek Pony Club

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Health Care & Veterinary Knowledge

When you own or ride a pony, you need to know when he is feeling well and when he is sick or lame, and how to keep him healthy. All ponies should have and "equine veterinarian". A "Veterinarian" or "Vet" is a doctor who takes care of animals. Just like you see your Doctor when you are hurt, sick or for check-ups and vaccinations, your pony does too.

Do you know when you should call your Veterinarian?

Well, as you learn about ponies, it is important th know what you can take care of and when to call the vet.

It is a good idea to follow these rules when deciding whether to call your ponies Veterinarian.

**If your pony is in distress (won't eat, looks very sick or badly hurt) DON'T WAIT!!! Call your vet IMMEDIATLY!!

**If you know there is a problem, but you don't know what it is or how to help, your vet is the best person to call.

**If you aren't sure whether you should call a vet or not, but you do not think it is an emergency, call your instructor for advice. DO NOT JUST WAIT TO SEE IF IT GETS WORSE!!

Signs of a Healthy Pony

A healthy pony that feels well is alert and contented. His eyes are clear and bright, he breathes normally, and he is interested in what is going on. His coat is shiny and his skin is loose and supple.
He may lie down and stretch out for a while, but he will get up easily. He stands normally on all four legs; he may rest a hind foot, but does not rest a front foot.
He passes manure about eight times a day in normal manure balls (soft manure is usual for ponies on pasture), and his urine is clear or light yellow.
His normal temperature (taken with a veterinary rectal thermometer) is between 100 and 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

Signs of Sickness

Here are some important signs of sickness that should make you get help for your pony:

**COLIC (belly pain)** The pony may stop eating.
Break out in a sweat. Look at or nip his belly.
Paw the ground. Stretch out as if to urinate.
He may lie down and get up again, or roll from side to side, or even sit on his hindquarters, like a dog.


While you are waiting for him, walk your pony slowly and DO NOT let him roll!!

Especially a "wet" cough with mucus in his throat, alone or together with runny eyes and nose (especially if mucus is white, yellow or green).

**Diarrhea (loose runny manure)**

**Hard dry manure balls**

Pay attention to your ponies manure on a daily basis, so you can be aware when there is a problem.

**Pony is depressed**
He does not want to move, eat, or take an interest in what is going on around him. He may stand stiffly or hunched up. If lying down, he does not want to get up. He may act cranky and irritable, especially if you ride him.

A fever of more than one degree above normal (102 degrees or higher). Fever in the feet (the feet will feel hot to your touch) can be serious, especially if the pony stands with his front legs out ahead of him, moves stiffly or lies down and does not want to get up. (This could mean laminitis, or founder, which is an emergency. CALL YOUR VET IMMEDIATLY!!

**Not wanting to eat or not wating normally**
Pony refuses to eat, drools or drops food out of his mouth.

**Loosing weight, dul coat, change in usual eating habits or behavior.

Cuts, swelling, heat or tenderness in a leg or elsewhere, a closed or swollen eye; lameness.

If you need to call your vet, first write down all your pony's symptoms. If possible, get an experienced horse-person to take your pony's vital signs (temperature, pulse rate and respiration rate). It is easier for the vet to decide how serious your pony's problem might be if you give him all the information in a clear and organized way.


To read more on this topic start on page 212 or you "D Level" Pony Club Manual

Rules For Feeding (D-1-Up)
Your pony must be fed and watered properly every day in order to be comfortable and stay in good condition. This is one of the most improtant responsibilities for any one who owns or takes care of a pony.

Horses and ponies are "grazing animals". Their stomachs are small, so their digestion works best if they eat small amounts of food often. In the wild, a pony rarely stops moving. If you watch your pony in the pasture, he will take a few bites of grass and move on to another spot, even if he only takes a few steps to get there.

A pony should be fed on a regular schedule- At the same time every day.
Ponies get used to regular feeding times. If they are not fed on time they may get upset or even colic (a bellyache).

Do you have a feed chart in your barn? If not, you should. That way if for some reason you are unable to care for your pony who ever does will know his/her schedule. Include on your chart:

How much Hay:
How much Grain:
Anything else you feed your pony on a regular basis, such as vitamins:

Same as morning or if different specify.
And always make a note to check his water and make sure it is clean and fresh.
As for the amount of hay and grain to feed your pony. That is determined by how big he is and how much work he does. Ask his previous owner as well as your vet and advisor. Together you can determine the amounts your pony needs to stay healthy.

What do ponies eat?
There are 5 basic kinds of nutrician:

1. Roughage- grass or hay

2. Concentrates- grain

3. Succulents- grass, carrots, apples

4. Water

5. Salt

Do you know the order of importance when feeding, grain, hay, water?

Well lets think about this......

Water is the most important. All animals must have water to survive. Without plenty of water a pony cannot digest his food correctly and could get that dreaded tummyache (colic). Did you know a pony MUST drink 8 to 12 GALLONS of water a day?

#2 HAY:
If you feed your pony hay before his meal of grain, the hay will act as a net in his tummy and keep the feed from flowing through too fast and his body will have more time to absorb the vitamins and nutrients in grain.

Grain is a concentrated feed. Because it is concentrated it should be carefully measured and you should always feed the same amount.


We learned some of the basic "RULES FOR FEEDING"

1. Feed little and often

2. Feed plenty of roughage (hay or grass)

3. Feed according to a pony's size, and the work he does.

4. Feed on a regular schedule every day. DO NOT BE LATE!!

5. Clean, fresh water MUST be available at ALL times. Unless your pony is hot and sweaty.

6. Do not ride your pony when his tummy is full. Just like you he should have an hour to digest his food before going to work.

7. Watch how your pony usually eats. If your pony always eats all his breakfast/dinner and you notice he didn't finish his meal, it could be a sign he doesn't feel well. If this occurs you should immediatly tell your mom, dad or advisor. Together you can determine whether to call your vet.

By following these simple rules you and your pony will be well on your way!!

You can find this information and more on "Feeding and Nutrician" in your "USPC D Manual of Horsemanship" on pages 183- 195