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It is very important we, as riders and instructors, keep horse welfare at the forefront of our mind. There are many illnesses and injuries that affect horses and ponies, some of which have subtle signs or have symptoms that may come and go. Some of the conditions that Pony Club horses need to be monitored for include:

Respiratory Infections
Horses and ponies can catch up respiratory illnesses, usually viral. These types of illnesses are contagious and can spread easily between horses. Any horse or pony at Pony Club with signs of upper respiratory illness may need to be removed from the grounds. In some cases, they may require veterinary attention.

Horses and ponies at any event can become dehydrated, especially in hot weather. In some cases, the horse may not like the taste of the water, or may be sweating more moisture than it can replace by drinking, or may have an electrolyte imbalance. Horses that are dehydrated will show "tenting" of the skin when pinched. These horses should be placed in the shade, given water and not ridden. In serious cases, they may require veterinary attention.

Colic usually manifests as abdominal discomfort, inappetence, kicking at the belly and sometimes rolling. Colic is a very serious condition and a horse with colic should be monitored closely. If the symptoms do not resolve quickly, a veterinarian should be called.

Limping or lameness can be caused by many different disorders such as sore muscles, hoof abscess, bruised sole, laminitis or osteoarthritis. Acute, short-lived lameness that is mild and resolves within a day or two may not require veterinary attention. Horses with lameness that is recurrent or chronic should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Regardless of the cause, any horse showing signs of lameness should not be ridden until the lameness has resolved or the horse has been treated by a veterinarian.

Concerns about Horses during a Rally Day
It is important that all instructors, riders and parents monitor their horses for any signs of lameness or illness. In cases where riders or parents notice their horse or another horse is showing any signs, or they are concerned about a horse or pony, they should express their concerns to an instructor.

The instructor may then approach the horse’s owner or may ask the Horse Welfare Officer to look at the horse and speak with the owner. In all cases, it is important that owners, riders and parents remain open to being approached when there is concern about their horse as it is the horse’s welfare that is important.

Aged and geriatric horses should be assessed by a registered Veterinary practitioner or person experienced in the care of horses for general health, and is given a full dental examination and treatment, every 12 months.

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