A good parasite control program at home may not be enough to protect your horse from worms at horse shows. You have no way of knowing what level of parasite contamination outside horses bring to the event grounds. Since internal parasites are transmitted between horses through contact with manure, each manure pile poses a hidden risk to your horse.

Since internal parasites are transmitted between horses through contact with manure, each manure pile poses a hidden risk to your horse.

This can feel like an insurmountable problem when everywhere you walk and everywhere you look, there are piles of horse manure spread around the show grounds. Some of it has been scattered, some sit in piles, and some is mixed in with piles of hay. Ironically, we are happy to see a horse defecate regularly since this indicates his intestines are moving things along as they should. 

Simply put, the best advice is to keep your horse’s nose out of trouble:

  • Keep your horse from nibbling at hay scattered around the show grounds, especially hay piles contaminated with fecal matter.
  • Rake up all leftover manure and bedding from the show stall or paddock before stabling your horse in that area of confinement.
  • Avoid grassy areas littered with fecal matter when hand grazing your horse.

As a consideration to others, clean up all manure that falls out of your horse trailer as your horse unloads. Leave your show stall spic and span; and when possible, wherever your horse drops manure on the grounds, pick it up. Check with show management about a composting site to deposit the manure.

If everyone works toward better hygiene, the grounds will be more pristine and harbor fewer infectious possibilities.

A little bit of common sense can go a long way toward avoiding parasite contamination at horse show grounds. Be sure to have your vet perform regular fecal egg counts, especially following periods when your horse has visited places off the farm. Some of these tips are also appropriate for those who are going on trail rides. Avoid cleaning out your trailer at the trailhead, and encourage others to do the same.

By Nancy S. Loving, DVM