Antibiotics- What You Should Know

Prepare for Winter Weather!

How to Take Care of Your Pregnant Mare

Experienced or new to the whole idea of taking care of a pregnant mare, Blue Ridge Equine Clinic is here to help. Your mare is pregnant…. Now what? While this is exciting, your mind might be racing with questions and concerns. Relax. We want you to be prepared and looking forward to the birth of your foal. We have put together an easy to follow vaccination schedule along with a foaling timeline and tips to follow along the way.






Equine Anaplasmosis


Equine anaplasmosis (also known as Equine Granulocytic Erlichiosis) is a tick-borne disease caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophila (formerly known as Erlichia equi), also the cause of human granulocytic erlichiosis (HGE). It was first described in horses in California in the 1960’s, but has since been reported in multiple states of the USA and in Europe. Several cases have been diagnosed in the Shenandoah Valley so far this fall.

Anaplasma phagocytophila is a bacterium that lives within blood cells and is carried by deer ticks, the same ticks that carry Lyme disease. Possible natural reservoirs of the disease include deer, rodents and birds. Horses seem to only suffer transient infection so that they do not harbor latent disease. The disease is not contagious from one horse to another, but multiple horses on a property may be infected, depending on the local tick population.

Horses most commonly get sick with anaplasmosis in the fall to late winter. They commonly show signs of fever, loss of appetite, reluctance to move (people with the disease complain of headache and muscle pain), leg swelling, petechiation (red spots on the gums and whites of the eyes), jaundice, and lethargy. Occasionally, horses may show neurologic signs, or have trouble rising. The clinical signs are in part due to the fact that the bacteria invades some white blood cells (neutrophils and eosinophils), leading to the destruction of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Bloodwork shows low platelets, which are important for clotting the blood, and anemia.

Diagnosis can be made in several ways. The most definitive way to diagnose the disease is to look at the blood cells under a microscope to look for the presence of the bacteria inside the neutrophils. In some infections, though, only a small number of neutrophils may be affected, and therefore they may not be detected this way. Because horses mount a strong immune response to the bacteria, titer levels can be tested to confirm recent exposure.

The treatment for anaplasmosis is the administration of tetracycline, usually oxytetracycline, minocycline, or doxycycline. Some horses with mild disease may recover without treatment. Most horses recover fully, although some may relapse in 3-4 weeks. Fatality from the disease is rare. There is currently no vaccine available, so prevention is limited to tick control.

BREC Deworming Protocol

deworm protocol

What is grain overload?

Are you ready for your next show?

As things slowly start to open back up, we want to make sure you are fully prepared and equipped to get on the road again! We followed and put together a printer-friendly checklist for you to have. Click the link below!

       Show checklist printable PDF           




What should you know about Dormosedan Gel?

What is Dormosedan Gel?

Dormosedan or “dorm gel” is an oral sedative that is administered under your horse’s tongue as it is not meant to be swallowed by the horse. The gel should not be used in addition to any other sedatives.

How long will it last?

The gel needs about 40 minutes to take effect and the sedation will last for about 90-180 minutes.

What is dorm gel generally used for?

Dorm gel is usually used to sedate for the farrier, clipping, or if they get nervous for the veterinarian.

What type of horse should this sedative be used on?

The gel is perfectly fine to use on any healthy horse or pony as long as they are not running a fever. You should not use Dormosedan Gel on any horse with cardiovascular disease, severe debilitation, liver or kidney disease, stress from extreme heat, cold, or in high altitude.

Can the gel cause harm to humans?

Yes, always wear impermeable gloves while administering Dorm Gel and keep out of reach of children. Dorm Gel can be absorbed following exposure to the skin, eyes or mouth and can cause irritation. Accidental administration to humans can cause adverse reactions, such as sedation, hypotension, and bradycardia. Seek medical attention immediately.

Are there any adverse reactions that a horse can have to this gel?

Research shows that after testing over 200 horses there were minimal adverse reactions, such as sweating, urination, salivation, flatulence, slow heart rate, and sheath dropping. This reaction was observed in less than 2% of the horses tested.


Written by Molly Mills, DVM

The Who, What, and When of an MRI


What is an MRI?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. To explain how it works can be difficult, but I will try to break it down into its simplest form. The MRI uses magnetic fields and computer-generated radiofrequency waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues in your body. The magnetic field temporarily realigns water molecules in your body. Radiofrequency waves cause these aligned atoms to produce faint signals, which are used to create cross-sectional MRI images — like slices in a loaf of bread. The “slice” can occur in three different planes ( i.e. front to back- frontal, side to side – sagittal,  cross-sectional – transverse)


What can an MRI show the vet and why is it helpful?

An MRI in the horse offers a couple of big advantages to other forms of imaging. First of all, an MRI can evaluate both bone and soft tissue structures. Whereas radiology or x-rays are primarily for bone, an ultrasound is primarily for soft tissue, and nuclear medicine/bone scan is primarily for bone.  Secondly, an MRI can image the structures of the foot extremely well, which is a common source of pain and lameness in the horse. We can generate x-rays for the bones of the foot adequately, but we cannot visualize the soft tissue structures of the foot very well because of the hoof wall, but the MRI allows us to do so. Thirdly, an MRI and CT are considered 3-dimensional imaging forms, while radiographs, ultrasounds, and nuclear medicine are only 2- dimensional imaging.  Three-dimensional imaging gives us a much greater detail of the location and status of normal and diseased tissues.


Who is a good candidate for an MRI?

While there are various reasons a horse may be referred for MRI, the most common reason is lameness. The lameness could range from a low grade intermittent to persistent lameness or acute one.  At BREC we can perform MRI studies from the carpus and hock down to the foot. Our magnet (Esoate – O Scan) was originally designed to do human extremities (i.e. hands, feet legs, and arms). We have a very small radiofrequency coil which allows for a lot less signal “noise” and creates a better image quality. Unfortunately, because we have a small radiofrequency coil, we cannot perform studies on draft horses or horses with potentially very, very large feet.


When would an MRI be something an owner should consider doing? 


There are many reasons for your horse to get an MRI, aside from the amount of time and money that can be lost from an inaccurate diagnosis, inappropriate treatments, and don’t forget about lost training time! One of the biggest reasons to get an MRI is it offers the most definitive diagnosis which will then allow you and your veterinarian to formulate a comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation plan. Furthermore, a follow-up MRI can also be used to assess healing and response to therapy.


What should be done before an MRI can be scheduled?


Keep in mind that we cannot MRI a whole body or for that matter a whole leg. With the MRI we have roughly a 5-6 inch “field of view” or study.  So, it is crucial to have a lameness examination performed and nerve and or joint blocks to localize the region of lameness. This will determine which fields of view should undergo an MRI.  This also helps interpret the significance of the MRI findings.


By Dr. Steven S Trostle DVM, MS, DACVS, DACVSMR