I like my Merck Veterinary Manual. But it also usually scares the heck out of me when I look anything up in it. (Do you know how many types of colic there are and all the nasty stuff that internal parasites entail? Bleh!) It's VERY veterinary. And lacking pictures....
So when I need to look something up, which happens a fair amount, I usually try to check a variety of sources until I'm clear on what I do and don't know - it's the reference librarian in me, what can I say.
Merck aside, here are a few of my favorite general horse health books. I like all of them for different reasons, and I wouldn't part with any of them... Well, except maybe to update to a newer edition! :)
Dr. Kellon's Guide to First Aid for Horses by Eleanor Kellon, VMD
This isn't an in-depth equine vet book like Merck or even as broad as the Horse Owner's Veterinary Handbook (below), but it is a great book for the barn, horse trailer, or wherever your equine first aid kit is kept. I pack mine when I travel with the horses, and keep it handy in the barn at the farm. It covers some basic non-emergency stuff, like what to have on hand in just in case, but mainly it's for what to do if/when... your imagination works overtime sometimes, too, right?Seriously - First Aid for Horses is one I absolutely would not part with.
First, let's talk construction: the pages are stiff and heavy for easy turning if you're wearing gloves, and it even sheds water - to some extent - if you need to haul it out in the wet. Plus, the spiral binding allows it to lie flat without requiring something heavy on top of it or in can be draped over a stall or fence rail - great when you don't have a book-holder or extra hands to spare.
Best of all, though, the information is clear, concise, and readily understandable in an emergency. Injuries are color coded by type, It has lots of pictures, lists basic steps to take for each, and what to do in the meantime when it's important to get the vet there NOW. Paste your vet's number inside the cover for easy of reference, and then hope you never have to use it.
101 Veterinary Tips for Horse Owners by Brielle Rosa, D.V.M.
As a horse owner, I have a whole shelf of reference books covering horse care, emergency treatment, lameness, first aid, etc., but as soon as I glanced through this one, I knew I was going to have to add it to my collection. It doesn't have the depth of the bigger veterinary references, or offer the great horse-side format of the book above, but it really presents the basics well. It has great pictures, and clear, simple, and straightforward explanations. (The absence of jargon is refreshing to read after some of the hard-core medical stuff!)Last but not least....
If you give your own shots, or wormer, or would like to know what rain rot looks like, this is a really handy book to have on hand. I'd highly recommend it for new horse owners, and as a handy refresher tool for those of us who've been in the game for a while.
The Horse Owner's Veterinary Handbook by James Giffen, M.D.
This is one of the first books I turn to when I have a non-emergency medical situation with one of the horses and want to do some slightly more in-depth reading - it's a lot less scary than Merck, and I don't have to look up quite so many words. (It's good for emergencies, too, but the format doesn't lend itself quite as well to hauling to the barn as Kellon's First Aid for Horses.) What is does offer is good, basic information and directions. It covers, for example, sheath washing (both how to and what to use), worming and vaccination recommendations, floating (what it is and why it's important), etc. It isn't encyclopedic, but it does provide a fairly comprehensive overview of a lot of topics, and it's handy to refer to before or after a vet visit to inform questions and discussion. If your budget doesn't stretch to accommodate multiple references, this is definitely one to consider.All of these are good titles. Are they the only ones I own? Sigh.... T wishes that were the case! But they are the three, along with Merck that I turn to most often. How about you?