The story behind Evidence Based Worming.

Jude Matusiewicz, Founder and Principal of Evidence Based Worming

Ass.Dip. Agriculture (Horse Husbandry), Charles Sturt University (CSU) Post Graduate Certificate in Animal Science (Parasitology) (CSU); Member, Australian Society of Parasitologists (ASP),  Member, Australasia-Pacific Extension Network (APEN), Member, Australian Horse Industry Council (AHIC), Business Partner HorseSA, proud sponsor of RDA, South Australia.

I confess I am an equine worm tragic. Equine worms have held me in awe for years, ever since the Curious Incident of San Miguel’s Non-death. Way back then, when I was clueless about horse management generally and horse parasites in particular, San Miguel got quite sick to the point his legs started filling with fluid and he lost all of his usual energy. Even the (recently qualified) veterinarian puzzled over this, never assuming for an instant that I was so naïve I didn’t even know about worms and the importance of drenching. Gently she prepared me for the worst: San Miguel had contracted a disease so awful he would probably not survive the week.

Fortunately for the three of us, long-time Canberra veterinarian Dr Richard C. Chapman, was visiting another horse at the same agistment facility and was just finishing up when he spotted San Miguel standing under a tree depressed and apparently preparing for death. He pronounced loudly “my goodness, that’s a wormy horse!” What?? Thankfully, Richard arrived early the following morning to stomach drench San Miguel with a bucket full of chemicals and, to my great relief and glee, my beautiful horse quickly improved and he lived a long, happy life. But it was the wondrous delivery from San Miguel’s bottom 24 hours after drenching that became etched in my minds eye, never to be un-seen: a mountain of worms – red, white, big and small – and bot larvae – all held together loosely with a small amount of manure. At the time I didn’t know this single event would eventually lead me to a profession in evidence based worming. While this episode with San Miguel was traumatic and I was lucky there was such a good outcome, I was to face a new event in very different circumstances twelve years later when I encountered ‘worm resistance’ to horse drenches for the first time.

To read the story of Argell and his Curious Incident with Worms, sign up to receive Evidence Based Worming’s free Newsletter, The Worm – Summer Edition 2015-16. These days the term ‘worm resistance’ fills me with dread – if it happened before, it could happen again… and it is, now with the chemical group known as the ‘mectins’. For horse owners everywhere there is worse news – no more research into new chemical wormers is currently in the pipeline. What to do about it? In the years following The Curious Incidents I have made it my business to understand more about equine parasitic worms by undertaking formal studies in Equine and Animal Science at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia. I have learnt quite a deal about their resistance to chemical wormers, or anthelmintics, and I have learnt a new term, ‘refugia’. I have decided to support the work of veterinarians and animal parasitologists and throw my weight behind the move to embrace a completely new way of thinking in our worm management strategies. This new way of thinking examines the degree to which our horses might be contaminating pastures rather than the degree to which the horse itself might be contaminated with worms.

This is the essence of evidence-based worming – to identify the Strongyle egg-shedding status of horses using the humble faecal egg count and, based on this evidence, decide whether or not we would use a chemical wormer.

Unexpectedly, in the course of my studies I developed a colossal respect for all parasites as they are an intriguing assortment of organisms that comprise a large proportion of Planet Earth’s biodiversity. Their lifecycles hold me in awe; their ability to survive against everything we humans throw at them, is nothing short of astounding and I now appreciate we will never, ever eradicate them. This means that we – and our horses – must learn to live with them.

So, welcome to Evidence Based Worming and its world of equine parasitic worms. In the Resources area you will find an expanding repository of relevant, informative information sheets and posters. Through our Services, Evidence Based Worming will equip you with the skills and knowledge to take full control of your horses’ worming regimes and combat worm resistance at the same time. And Evidence Based Worming’s Shop is there to augment your skills and knowledge with the technical tools and accessories to undertake faecal egg counts yourself as a fundamental component of your total integrated worm management.

I hope you will share Evidence Based Worming with other horse enthusiasts and that I can share with you my passion for equine parasites and strategies to co-exist with them.  We invite you to stay in touch with our latest postings, like us and share us on Facebook!

Just a final note, Evidence Based Worming values its independence and transparency and is not knowingly aligned with any anthelmintic manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer, nor does it promote products from these sources.

Do you want to know more about how I became involved in the wondrous world of equine parasitic worms?  I am delighted to have been able to share the EBW journey with Horse Chats – here is my podcast, I hope you enjoy it.