Monthly Archives: June 2016

Be Prepared

Down here we have evacuation plans and Hurricane Emergency kits for our pets, horses, and family.  You don’t have to live in Florida to be prepared for other emergencies.  There are many other types of emergencies.  Floods, fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, snow and ice storms…. each comes with its own set of problems.  What does a horse owner do in any of these situations?

I was just reading an article about being prepared for an Equine Health Emergency and I thought I’d pass it on.  These are guidelines from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

  1. Keep your veterinarian’s number by each phone, including how the practitioner can be reached after hours.
  2. Consult with your regular veterinarian regarding a back-up or referring veterinarian’s number in case you cannot reach your regular veterinarian quickly enough.
  3. Know in advance the most direct route to an equine surgery center in case you need to transport the horse.
  4. Post the names and phone numbers of nearby friends and neighbors who can assist you in an emergency while you wait for the veterinarian.
  5. Prepare a first aid kit and store it in a clean, dry, readily accessible place.  Make sure that family members and other barn users know where the kit is.  Also keep a first aid kit in your horse trailer or towing vehicle, and a pared-down version to carry on the trail.
  6. I would like to add, that if you don’t have a trailer, leave a number of someone who can transport your horse for you.

First aid kits can be simple or elaborate.  Here is a short list of essential items.

Cotton roll, Cling wrap, Gauze pads in various sizes, Sharp scissors, Cup or Container, Rectal Thermometer with string and clip attached, Surgical Scrub and Antiseptic Solution. Latex Gloves, Saline Solution, Stethoscope, Clippers.

I like to add Disposable Diapers and either Masking Tape or Duct Tape to the list.  These are great for a quick pressure bandage where a lot of blood is involved.  The Masking Tape can also be used to bind the tail to keep it away from an injury and swatting you in the face while you are trying to work.

The AAEP does have a brochure titled “Emergency Care.”  This was created by them in partnership with Bayer Corporation Animal Health.  You can request one either from your vet or contact them direct.  (End of article)

In case of evacuation situations, it’s not always easy to get your horses out in time.  To be reunited you should have proof of ownership.  They now microchip horses.  In your evacuation planning kit, keep a copy of your Coggins (most have pictures now) or pictures of your horses so that you can show them, when necessary, to help find your animals.  Breakaway halters are a good idea instead of nylon.  If a horse gets caught with a nylon one it will either break it’s neck trying to get away or not be able to escape.  In Florida a lot of people take spray paint and put their phone numbers on the horse’s side.  Some people put tags on the halters with the horses name, your name, and a phone number, but also put one braided high in the tail hairs in case the halter does break.  Putting numbers on the hoofs can wear off in excessive water or tough ground conditions.

We have horses.  They are born suicidal.  Emergencies will happen.  No more said.

Speaking Of Drinks With Little Umbrellas

As you are sipping something cold or iced this summer, don’t forget your horses.

Make sure they have plenty of fresh clean water to drink.  If you won’t drink it, don’t expect them to.

If you are working them hard, keep some paste electrolytes on hand.  Yes we can buy powdered and put it in their water or feed, but will they eat it or drink it?  It doesn’t do any good if they won’t.  It’s easier to just syringe it into their mouths.  This way you know exactly how much they are getting, and that they are getting it.  But by no means give it to them if they don’t need it.  You can overdose them and throw their whole system off.

Keep a salt brick or block out there for them so that they can lick it whenever their bodies tell them they need it.  No Margaritas please, just salt.

Watch their pulse and respiration.  If they are blowing just standing around, make sure they are sweating.  It’s common here in the south that a horse will shut down.  What ever you do, do not assume they are just not that hot.  As you would take a quick dip in a pool, hose them down with cold water.

AND don’t forget that if the humidity is higher than the air temperature, they can’t cool themselves.

Just my normal Summer Public Service reminders.  Have fun in the sun, but be safe.

Watch Those Tan Lines

Please, I’ve been to Walmart and seen more than I ever needed to see.

But I remember, as a kid, the Coppertone ads with the little girl and the puppy who was pulling her panties down.  Wow, that was some burn.  I think they still use that picture to this day.  She’s got to be well into her 60’s by now.  That thought just flashed thru my mind, not a pretty sight.  Gravity and all.  Let’s move on.

I don’t ever remember using suntan lotion when I was a kid.  As a matter of fact I’ve never used suntan lotion in my life.  My husband and I used to have a contest to see who could be the darkest by Labor Day.  We usually tied.  Now in Florida we are a bit more careful.  We wear hats.  They told us the Florida sun was different.  It sure is.  We’re closer to the equator and the sun is amazing.  Leave a plastic bucket out in the sun and when you come back to get it after a couple of months, it totally disintegrates.  The life span on a lot of things is a lot shorter down here.  Car tires, batteries, anything plastic, and of course wood (it warps from the sun, dampness, and heat.  And of course termites).

Okay, what’s my point you may ask.  Well we’re back to sunburn.  If you live in Florida you get skin cancer, age spots, wrinkles, but you get that up north too, just a lot slower.  But what about our horses?  They get sunburn too.  Especially the ones with pink skin.

Many people worry about their horses bleaching out from the summer sun.  Many put them in the barn or put fly sheets on them.  There are some horses on my street who look like they’re a walking moth in a cocoon.  That’s all well and good, but sunburn is something you really need to watch out for.

They now have suntan lotion for horses, or I guess really just a protection of some sorts.  One of my boarders had some.  I’m sure it’s pricey.  I sat there thinking about it as she was spraying it on.  Lifeguards popped into my mind.  They always had white stuff on their noses.  Zinc Oxide!  I yelled.  Desitin.  That’s Zinc Oxide.  Why not use that.  So she went out and bought a big jar of Desitin.  However, she rarely comes up and puts it on.  So I just put on her nose covering fly mask.  It’s seen better days and the horse now has sunburn on the end of her nose.  So we apply Aloe to the sunburn, cover what we can, and go from there.

You really don’t want your horse’s nose, or their pink skin body parts to look like a tomato that was grilled, so cover them up, one way or the other.  It’s easier to prevent the burn as opposed to trying to heal it.  Think how uncomfortable you’d feel if you looked like that.

So have an “Itsy-Bitsy, Tiny, Weeny, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” Summer.  Please don’t forget your four legged friends and a cover-up or Coppertone for horses.  Sun hats and sun glasses are optional.  The drink with the little umbrella is for you.



You Just Don’t Always Know

We can take all the precautions in the world with our horses, but there are just some things that we will not be aware of.

We give them shots.  Actually, mine see the vet more than I see my doctor.  We have the farrier on a regular schedule.  We take care to make sure our tack is in good, safe, condition before riding.  We watch our footing as best we can.  But things can still go very wrong.

In one of the races at Pimlico, before the Preakness was run, a 9 yr. old gelding won his race then collapsed on his way back to the barn and died of a suspected heart attack.  My husband and I were at the Meadowlands in New Jersey watching some Standardbred Races, and as the horse my husband bet on crossed the finish line, won the race, he then tried to climb over the rail with the sulky, he dropped dead right there on the track in front of us.  In the last couple of weeks a 12 yr. old girl was killed while running for home after the third barrel.  Her horse reportedly had a heart attack.  When I was hunting up north we had horses drop dead while galloping on the hunt field.  I had a lesson horse who, was at a walk in the middle of a drill team exercise.  The rider thought he was slipping out in his hind end and called to me.  He was actually kicking at his belly, I yelled to the young lady to “get off!!” and as she was doing so, the horse collapsed and was dead in 90 seconds.  An apparent aneurism burst.  This was a 17 yr old retired hunt horse.  To look at him, you would never imagine it.  He was a beautiful Thoroughbred, good weight, shiny coat, and healthy.  He had a little arthritis from years of doing what he did best.  Otherwise, no clues were ever detected.

These are things we can’t predict, and most times, aren’t even aware of.  How do we ever know what is going on inside of their bodies.  Most of the time we don’t even know what’s going on in our own.

When I was hunting, after knowing that horses do just drop dead while galloping on the hunt field, I started to make sure that my horses had a physical exam before the season began, and then a recheck after the season ended.  I would have their heart and lungs checked, and run bloods.  Then bloods again at the end of the season, to look for any changes.  I wanted to rule out any chance of them just dropping dead.  When a horse is galloping, and you are on their back, if he has a heart attack, he will probably flip over onto you.  That was the problem with the young girl.  They couldn’t get him off of her.  You’ve got 1000 lbs of dead weight to deal with, laying on, less than 100 lb., body.  That just doesn’t work.

What suggestion can I make?  If you are going to be using your horse for cardiovascular competition, have him vet checked.  It may cost you a barn call, but what is you life worth?  There may be something that is undetectable, but you can always eliminate as much as possible.  Of course if you have unlimited funds you can always bring him to an Equine University or Clinic that has all the bells and whistles, and really have things checked out.  Will they find everything?  I doubt it.

We see this with High School and College athletes dying often with undiagnosed problems.  Even though they are required to have a physical before practice begins.  Remember, your horse is an athlete too, but it’s not only his life that is at stake, it’s yours too.

My heart and prayers go out to the family and friends that lost that young lady.  Both she and her horse crossed the finish line, on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, together.

Okay But What Have You Done Lately?

I guess this can be said about any given thing.  I think it is more prevalent in sports of any kind.  You were a great football player in college, but what have you done lately.  You were great in your last play, movie, whatever, but what have you done lately?  Your last novel, six years ago, was great, but what have you done lately?  You get the picture.

It pretty much goes the same way with horses.  You were a great barrel racer in the 70’s.  You were a great rider or jumper in the 80’s……. but what have you done lately?  Fame is fleeting, ask any actor or actress.  You’ve got to keep getting roles in order to stay in the minds of the producers, directors, investors.  You’ve got to stay in the ring and keep winning in order to stay on top of things.  You have to know what the judges are looking for.  You have to know what the new trends are in tack and clothing.

This to me is ridiculous.  Either you can ride or you can’t.  I don’t care if you come naked on a moose (love that line from our old Huntsman John Clendenin speaking of a landowner who wanted to hunt in a Western saddle), if you can do the course the best out of everyone, you’re the winner.  Not how much you paid for you breeches.

So what’s the answer?  Well let’s look at it from both angles.

Yes it does matter what you have done lately.  You need to know what is going on out there in order to compete at the top levels.  You go to shows and see who’s winning.  Those are the trainers you want to work with.  Just make sure their philosophies match yours.  Beating a horse to win, or pushing a sore horse is not how you want to succeed.

But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.  If you have great knowledge about the basics and solid foundations of horses and riding, you are very valuable.  It doesn’t matter what the new trends are, or the new fashions.  Safe solid riding never changes.  Sometimes the older Horse Master has a lot more knowledge than the new kid on the block.

I’ve heard of so many people lately, who have been totally ripped off by, those they perceive to be top trainers, it makes me sick.  I’ve already forgotten stuff that these young “want to be’s” haven’t even learned yet.

People who have been in the business for years know more than they can even believe.  Just may take a little jog in their memory to be reminded.  Sometimes I’ll say, Oh Yeah, I dealt with that back in the 60’s.  Many people look at you like “you were alive back then?”  I had that happen the other day.  I was having some clipper blades sharpened and some body clippers checked.  When the man handed them to me, I lovingly looked at my clippers and said I had bought them in the late 60’s.  He just stopped and looked at me.  He couldn’t believe they were that old.  I would have liked it better if he said that he couldn’t believe that I was that old, but, oh well.  They still work and so do I.  the clippers are fine, some days I work better than others.

So my bottom line is yes, what have you done lately, but also, what have you done in the past that brought you to where you are today.  Experiences are like notches in a gun handle (is anybody out there old enough to remember the old westerns?  Notches?  Gun handle?)  Anyway they are like scars, each one comes with a story and are badges of honor from days gone by.  We remember them, and treasure them.  And hopefully pass them on.

We don’t forget, just sometimes we don’t remember right away.

I’m not getting older.  I’m like fine wine, just getting better all the time.  Now if I could just remember what I was going to do next I’d be in great shape.

Have a week that was better than last, and not as good as it’s going to be next week!