Worming the horse

With the start of the grazing season, horse owners deal with a vexed topic of horse care: the deworming of horses. Worms can occur in horses not only in summer, but at all times of the year. In autumn and spring, however, the parasites are particularly active and the pasture is the main transmission site, which is why two dewormings a year make sense. The classic strategic deworming regimen is to deworm twice more a year, so that the horse gets four dewormings a year.

However, four worming treatments a year can put a lot of strain on your horse's organism, because in order to fight the pests, these treatments do not only contain natural active substances, but are pure chemical bombs. For this reason, nowadays it is often tested in the laboratory whether the horse is infested at all and a worming cure is only given to the horse if necessary.

Signs that your horse might be infested with worms are listlessness and tiredness as well as emaciation and a dull coat. In emaciated horses, tapeworm is often the cause. The tapeworm is picked up by the horse on the pasture and then sucks itself onto the intestinal wall of the horse. This parasite deprives the horse of nutrients and uses them itself.

Gastric woodlice use a similar principle. You are probably familiar with the small dots that often stick to the legs of horses. These are the eggs of the gastric woodlouse, which are ingested by the horse when it licks this spot. In the stomach, these eggs attach themselves to the stomach wall, which is not problematic in a small amount, but can cause inflammation of the stomach lining if the population of stomach borers is high. The horse then gets tired and loses weight and sometimes has problems swallowing. If you discover the yellow eggs on your horse, you should cut them away if they cannot be brushed away during grooming.

If you decide to selectively send in faecal samples from your horse, the laboratory will look for all common parasites. These are small and large strongylids, roundworms, tapeworms and dwarf roundworms. Furthermore, egg-laying and adult worms such as the awl tails and the larvae of the botfly are visible to the expert. What is important for horse care, however, is that all horses in a stable or facility must be checked and also dewormed at the same time. This makes selective deworming of the horse costly, especially in large stables.


Of course, it is easier to deworm the entire horse population four times a year as a preventive measure. However, it should be ensured that the active ingredient is changed from time to time, because worms develop resistance to active ingredients. If you use ivermectin in the spring when the pastures are opened, another active ingredient should be used in July or August to eliminate the roundworms. Moxidectin or pyrantel are suitable alternatives. So always check which active ingredients the worming treatment for the horse contains and make sure that you give your horse enough paste per weight. Nowadays this is very easy, the wormers are scaled by weight and can be adjusted with a ring to the exact weight.

Since worming a horse always puts a strain on the immune system, some horse owners swear by alternative worming methods such as herbs and globules. However, there are no herbal mixtures that can really kill endoparasites.

Homeopathy can also improve the overall constitution of the horse, but it does not kill worms. When it comes to deworming the horse, propolis is often considered a suitable remedy, but even in this case no real deworming takes place. But for wound treatment it is a good remedy and the horse's immune system also benefits from it.

When caring for your horse, you should therefore classically rely on the worming cure for the horse, even if it contains active substances that are harmful to your horse's immune system. You can support your horse with alternatives, and of course the selective administration of worming treatment is a good measure. Furthermore, pay attention to stable hygiene, do not keep too many horses in one pasture, clean it regularly as well as the stable and let the pasture be grazed by cattle from time to time if it is possible for you.