Common Horse Ailments

Listed below is a list of common horse ailments. If you are at all unsure how ill your horse is, never hesitate to call your Vet.

Head Cold

A cold in the head presents itself usually by yellow or white discharge from both nostrils which is sometimes quite profuse. It can normally be seen on the ground outside the stable from the horse sneezing.

Catarrh can be a result of little fresh air, dusty hay or straw and is a common horse ailment. If however it is associated with a fever, the horse should be isolated and put on box rest for a few days, with plenty of ventilation. She should be rugged up, and the nostrils cleaned 2/3 times a day.

Feed and hay should be given on the ground in order to allow clearance of the nostrils and to drain the catarrh. Again if at all worried, a vet should be called in order for him/her to assess the condition of the horse.


Unfortunately this disease is more common than is sometimes realised. This is a frightening nasty disease, but if recognised and treated properly, is thankfully not often fatal. Strangles is highly infectious with young horses, but is also not unseen in older horses. The signs are usually a very high fever, following different varying symptoms in different horses, but usually profuse catarrh followed by abscess around the jaw bones. In due course, these burst, giving instant relief.

The horse has difficulty swallowing, with the throat enlarged. She is off her feed totally, and is very distressed. Veterinary advice should be sought immediately.

One thing about Strangles is that unlike most diseases, if left to run its course, the final results can be better than if intervened with antibiotics. Total isolation and good nursing of the sick horse and the encouragement of bursting the abscesses, will hasten recovery.

Simple Cough

There are many types of cough that can occur at any time in a horse, all of them should give reason to take the horse out of work. If associated with a fever, a vet should be called.

If a cough appears at around spring time, this could be the result of a pollen allergy if the cough is linked with head shaking. A simple course of Ventapulmin will be necessary to stop the allergy.

A persistent cough is a common horse ailment and is also be associated with COPD.


Treatment is first and foremost to contact your vet if you are at all unsure how bad the colic is. The horse should be moved to a safe place where she cannot get cast (legs caught up on a wall, or something similar, where she cannot get up from rolling).

Most colic is short lived, and with a little walking around a field for an hour or two in hand, should shorten the duration and the colic will hopefully pass. If however the horse becomes violent or there is a fever which goes on for more than a couple of hours, a vet should be called immediately.

Click here for more info on Colic

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