Symptoms of worms

Symptoms of worms in horses

How do I know if my horse has worms?

Why do we need to worm a horse?

As part of good management, worm programs are an essential part of any horse-care programme.

All horses and ponies have a parasite burden, and therefore worming is periodically needed through the horse or pony's life to reduce parasites, as horse worms cannot be completely eliminated.

There are several symptoms of worms, which should be cause for concern although some symptoms may occur for other reasons.

Large belly and very little condition on top line.

The large belly or pot belly can easily be mistaken for a fat pony to the owner who has no knowledge of horses.

Horse itch-irritation causes the horse to rub the top of the tail, can also break the skin.

Again an itchy tail can quite easily be ignored and thought of as the horse just wanting to have a scratch.

The horse or pony eats everything but lacks condition.

The horse has a “staring” coat.

Even someone without equine knowledge should be able to work out that something is wrong.

When ridden the horse tires quickly and has little energy.

Another tricky sign for the inexperienced owner that could easily be missed, as you need to know your horse well to work this one out.

Loose and smelly droppings could also have diarrhoea.

Loose droppings should get everyone’s attention as most people would be concerned.

Recurring colic attacks- The vet needs to be contacted.


Coughing for no apparent reason needs investigating by your vet.

There are many types of equine worms.


Large worms

Small red worms

Round worms


If pinworms are present, the eggs should be washed off from under the dock and the cloth used should be disposed of.



Worm infestation

To protect other horses, and all new horses arriving at a yard, the horse should be wormed and kept in for 5 days, before being turned out into the fields with other horses.

An untreated horse will contaminate a field and cause reinfestation of the other horses.

There are far too many small yards that do not apply this rule.

A horse arrives and is turned into the field the following day, or the same day.

The problem with this is some horses get wormed regularly while others don’t and they all share the same field.

Not all yards apply a management rule, so make sure the livery yard you use, has a worming program in place.

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