Why horse poop inspectors struggle to find small strongyles

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Episode three in “The Parasite Journey of the Horse” series by equine parasitologist Martin Nielsen takes a look at small strongyles, or in science-speak, Cyathostomins.

These worms are very, very small, and horse owners who revel in searching for them in their horse’s poop will be hard-pressed to see anything. “You’re going to struggle to find these, because they’re going to be mixed in with the feces, and that makes it really hard to see them.

“Horses may have a hundred thousand of these but you may not see them at all. So that’s not the best diagnostic method. It’s fine to check the horse’s poop — I do it all the time, it’s a hobby of mine — but we just have to be aware that the smaller worms, we could miss,” Nielsen says.

These tiny parasites have a fascinating life cycle, and a couple of unique features, including a sort of hibernation, Nielsen says.

Watch the video to learn more!

Dr Martin Nielsen shows how tiny small strongyles are.

• We recommend watching the series in order:
Episode 1: Foal parasites
Episode 2: Ascarids, or roundworms
Episode 3: Small strongyles (cyathostomins)
Episode 4: Bloodworms
Episode 5: Tapeworms
Episode 6: Bots
Episode 7: Pinworms

See also: the inside secrets of “Creepy Crawlies”.

» For more from Dr Nielsen, check out his short video series on parasite control, starting here.

Martin K Nielsen

Dr Martin Nielsen is an assistant professor in equine parasitology at the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky. » Read Martin's profile

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