Monday, December 1, 2014

BS, and I'm not talking Bachelor of Science degree!!

I know that I don't have that many followers, but some days the things I see in the horse world just make me shake my head. And so I feel a real need to put some of these fads, to rest. As in RIP!
I was watching a you tube video of a "Natural Hoof Care specialist". My first thought is, who created this "specialty"? And secondly, who confers the title of "Natural Hoof care specialist, or expert"? I will tell you that these people are the modern day snake oil salesmen. What they peddle as "mysterious", or "technical expertise" is nothing more than their own version of the real thing. The "real thing" as far as horses are concerned, are the practices carried out by those who have been doing it for years in a very positive way, they love what they do, and they are YOUR NEIGHBORS. Your Veterinarian is THE expert, if he/she loves the work, the people and has been doing it long enough to have seen many fads etc, come and go over the years. Too many of us are are duped and buy into these so called "experts". One common characteristic of these people, is that they usually are not your neighbor. They are usually at least one state away. They come in , put on a seminar, take your money, confer on you a title, and are gone.
I watched a video of Jaime Jackson, a so called "expert" in natural hoof care. He called it "sequencing", or in other words, he showed you how to walk around a horse, keep it comfortable, while working on its feet. Here is one of the most mundane tasks that every "real" horse handler knows, but this "expert" has choreographed a dance, and calls it sequencing. It was done on a very gentle horse. I wondered what the cost of this "clinic" was?
I guess my point is, if you want real reliable advise, training, education, etc., get it from someone who you trust, is not from another state, and has at least a life time of working with horses in a very favorable manner. These things are not rocket science, in spite of what these so called experts try to make you believe. They teach a few big words, a basic skill, and "wha la!" you too are an expert.
I have no respect for these people, they are out of there league, usually, and their only real skill is self promotion.
Over the past thirty years of working with horses, my advise is to look hard and long for a great shoer and Veterinarian that has a lifetime of horsemanship as well as veterinary work.
Money and time is at a premium these days, use both wisely. You can text or call me anytime, its free, and may save you money and time!

Afflictions of autumn

This is my favorite  time of year. After suffering through months of extreme heat, we finally feel the cooler days and even cooler nights. The other night I was thinking how cool it was outside, and how it was nice inside. Then I thought of my horses and how they had to endure the extreme temperature swings common to this time of year. At times, in the fall the temperature can change as much as 40 degrees. This can be very stressful for our horses, and it can bring on problems such as upper respiratory infections, influenza or rhinopneumonitis, and impaction colic.

To avoid these issues I recommend that every horse receives an exam to check teeth, get a flu rhino vaccination, and talk about husbandry issues such as nutrition, water in winter, foot care, and exercise for the winter months. It is good to learn how to avoid problems that can range in severity from slight to life threatening.

Merry Christmas!


Big Boy Toys

Nothing motivates like a new toy. To most guys it is usually a piece of woodworking equipment, a gun, maybe a new horse, four wheeler, etc. I suppose I must be a kind of "geek", and even considered a bit odd, because this year I purchased a couple of real cool toys (cool, to me anyway!)
Early in the year I bought a Blood Machine! exciting, right? Well, maybe when I explain all the things it can do to help you and me when illness strikes, you will be more excited.
Up until this year, when a sick horse would come to the clinic, and needed some blood work done, I would draw the sample and either take it to the local hospital, or send it out to California to a reference laboratory. This would take overnight at best, and sometimes days. With this new "toy" I can have results of blood tests in minutes, before you leave the clinic. This is a great advantage for you because we can know immediately how serious the illness may be, and therefore gauge our treatment accordingly. Otherwise, we would start on a treatment course, and "wait and see" what kind of response to the treatment we observed while waiting for the blood test results. Having the blood test results immediately can be absolutely life saving in many cases. We can have a wealth of information right at our finger tips immediately to guide our treatment. With this information, we can also give you a more accurate prognosis for treatment success.
This machine gives us the following parameters:
1. Red Blood cell count. This is important for diagnosing anemias, chronic long standing conditions and general condition of the hematopoetic (blood producing) system of the body.
2. White Blood cell count. This count will tell us how the body is responding to infection. Either an extremely high or low white cell count is not good. As we monitor this count we can also track how the body is doing as it fights disease and infection.
3. Hematocrit. This is a ratio between the blood cells and the liquid part of the blood. It is expressed a a percentage. Again, a really high or low percentage is bad. It can give us a picture of the hydration status of the horse, (and other animals as well) and it is a good prognosticator (a number that can give us the odds of recovery)
4. Liver enzymes, Kidney function tests, and blood glucose and protein levels. These are tests that give us a wealth of information, and many times give us a diagnosis of the disease. These can also be used to monitor the progress during illness.
5. Fibrinogen and SAA tests. These two are tests that detect inflammation in the body. These are blood proteins that are produced in the body in response to any inflammatory process. Fibrinogen is slower in response to inflammation, but is an invaluable test when the diagnosis is not obvious. SAA is a much more sensitive test, and will rise or fall quickly with the increase or decrease in systemic inflammation in the body. It can even be used for detecting overtraining in an intensely worked horse. With high levels of these proteins, we can know that we have a high degree of inflammation. When they drop, we know that the horse may be recovering and treatment is effective.

My other new toy is a "Cuattro" digital radiographic system. I have had DR (digital radiography) for the past 6 years. At that time, I purchased the best machine then on the market. But, as with all technology, things rapidly and considerably improve in just a few years. This new X-ray machine is another leap ahead in the ability to diagnose accurately. It has revolutionized what we can see and diagnose when compared with my old DR machine, CR (computed radiography) and the old film radiographs.

I was attending a Podiatry (foot and lameness) seminar in Norfolk Virginia in September. I was walking out of one of the meeting rooms, saw this machine on display, looked at the clarity and definition, and thought, "I've got to have that!" It is cordless, with allows us to work faster, easier, with less distraction to the horse. In the old days we would charge for X-rays by each view taken. Now with these new machines, we can take more X-rays, in less time, with less effort. What that means to you is that you get much more for your money. We now charge by the "study". This means that if we take 4 X-rays, or 10 X-rays, the cost is the same. Because the per picture cost is less. And we usually end up taking more X-rays which enables a more complete, thorough evaluation and diagnosis.

That meeting was a double bonus. Learning more about feet and lameness problems, and coming home with the best way to diagnose them accurately.

If you're having any lameness, or illness issues with your horses, lets get together and have some success in treating the problems and getting you back (or keeping you) in the saddle.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Herpes, here we go again!

Sad to say, the herpes virus has struck again. But this time it was with local horses that we could track down and quarantine quickly. Not like a few summers ago where we had horses from all over the country that quickly dispersed before the virus was diagnosed. It seems to be contained at this time.
So, let us get past the hype very quickly and get to the facts.
Fact 1. This is a very contagious virus
Fact 2. If you had contact with, or had contact with horses that had contact with the affected horses, you need to take your horses temperature twice a day. If he get a fever, anything above 101.5, call your veterinarian.
Fact 3. If you had any sort of contact, direct or indirect, keep your horses quarantined for 2 weeks, if no fevers arise, or symptoms appear (clear nasal discharge and cough, or muscle weakness), then you should be OK.
Fact 4. The best protection to this virus is the Modified Live virus vaccine called Rhinomune. It is an old vaccine that has been around for at least thirty years. But as I have talked with veterinarians all over the nation, there is a pattern that has emerged. That is, when this was the only herpes virus vaccine available, it was used extensively. And I didn't have any cases of Neuro herpes, "back in the day". Now this is certainly not scientific proof of protection, but it is the best we have. And this has been the experience of many very experienced veterinarians over many years.
If you don't fall into any of these categories, then go about your business as usual, just stay away from the Cache County fairgrounds for a few weeks.

The weather is warming and so we are all getting a bit anxious to ride. What a tough winter! My horses came through it well and maybe even gained a bit of weight due to me feeding more in the cold spells.
I purchased a couple of "porta grazers" this winter. They are about the size of a 30 gallon drum, with an insert that keeps the horse from pulling out the hay and wasting it. They also spend most of the day eating small portions, much like natural grazing. I think it is a great product, they're tough, and will last.
By the time this herpes problem is past, the ground should be dry, and we'll be ready to ride!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Solving problems

I have been an equine/large animal veterinarian for 27 years now. It doesn't seem that long, but when I look in the mirror, I can see a little age creeping in! I was roping the other night, and a fellow told me that I was older than his father! Well, age is relative. Those 27 years don't include the 20 years prior to that spent with horses, roping, riding, shoeing, etc. I hope that means something to you. I have attended almost 30 years worth of seminars to update and improve my services. What I learned in Veterinary school in the early eighties, has almost completely been replaced or updated. Of course there are still many "old" remedies that are tried and true. But the advances are astounding. Digital ultrasound and  radiography provide answers to most problems. (not every equine veterinarian has them, so be sure of the quality before you buy!) Compared to what we had even 5 years ago, it is like taking the "blinders" off, and being able to see, finally!  And some "so called" advances, simply are not. The proponents of the Stem Cell procedures, have not provided the proof, yet. The cost of these procedures also limits their use. "Shock wave" therapy, was touted as the next great treatment modality. It has not been proven to speed healing, or improve the quality of healing. In the words of a colleague, "I use my Shock wave machine as an anchor for my bass boat!" I pride myself on being able to sift through the marketing and glitz, to get to the truth. It is my job to give you "what works". There is so much false, inaccurate, and misleading information out there. The internet, and the ability to "google" any topic, is fantastic. And it is also detrimental. Acting alone on information gathered from sources on the internet can lead you down the wrong path. If years of experience have taught me anything, it is this. Everybody has a "gig", or an agenda. Put another way, everybody is trying to sell you something, or make you believe you need "their" product. I put myself in that category. Certainly I try to sell you on my services. So what is the difference? What I have for you are products, services, and advice that have survived the test of time, science (proven to work), and experience. Many medications and therapies have come and gone. Some become a "fad", and then are gone in a few years. 
Experience is great, if it is mixed with continuing education. Staying abreast of the latest in PROVEN therapies and medications. Education is great, but without experience it is like a young two year old -alot of talent, energy, ability, but little control. All of that talent, energy and ability must be channeled, controlled, and directed by experience. 
So whether your horse related problems are behavioral, nutritional, lameness, medical, dental, reproductive.....and so on, I can help. Before you buy a horse, feed, supplements, medications....and so on, I can help. I can help you save that precious money and time. Phone calls are free.  This isn't rocket science. Enjoy the Fall!

Friday, February 17, 2012

creating respect

Many times as I am asked to treat a variety of horses, for a variety of things. I find at times that I am unable to adequately handle the horse (neither is the owner). Now this can be for a variety of reasons. VARIETY seems to be the common theme. There is usually no one answer as to why some behave negatively. But we all know that horses have good memories, and many seem to ALWAYS remember the VET!! Most horses are perfectly fine with their owners while at home. But when I show up, they have a different attitude. It used to be a source of frustration for me, and honestly, I would blame the owners. I have since learned that when I am frustrated, I am to blame. Frustration doesn't mean anger, it simply means that we don't know how to solve the problem. We have hit a wall. Hence, FRUSTRATION. Now I am no horse whisperer, but I have learned to slow down, read the horse, and work with them, not AT them or ON them. Let me explain.
How do you get into a horses head, and let him know that what youre going to do is not painful (at least not real painful)? Well, to do this you have to become the "herd leader". You have to let him know that you control him. Easy right? Actually, to get into their head, you have to control their feet. Pulling on the halter and trying to physically control him only reinforces the fact that you are NOT the herd leader, because as the horse drags you around he is figuring out that HE is the herd leader, and he is controlling YOUR feet. So take him in hand, on a fairly long longe line, cluck him around you, make him move at your command, in the direction and speed that you dictate, and stop at your command. In short, control HIS feet, and you control HIS mind. This is the basis for all good horse training. Some call it ground work. Whatever you call it, whenever you are having a battle over who is in control (ie, lack of respect), whether you're on his back or on the ground, go back to basics. To get into his head, control his feet.
I know of some very good farriers that will take colts for a few minutes and use this same technique, and they stand better for their first shoeing. Give it a try, and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Great TIme of Year

I love this time of year, as I'm sure most of us do. Of course the Christmas season is the main reason. One other reason is that the work here at the clinic slows down as the weather cools and the horse related activities diminish. Now, I love to work with horses, but this gives me time to do two things with horses. It gives me more time with my own, and more time with my clients, and their horses. Let me give you an example. The other day a client came in from Nevada. I had all morning to talk with her about her horses, their diet, weight condition, and any other topic that came up. It was a very relaxed atmosphere, and neither of us was in a hurry. We went from head to tail on her horses, caught them up to date on vaccinations, did thorough dental work, dewormed, and cleaned sheaths, etc. I hate being in a hurry. Two things happen, I don't do as good a job, and the horses get worried and fretful when I come at them at a rapid pace. So that is why I have taken the attitude to "work at the pace of nature". In that way my patients are more relaxed, and I can slow down, do a better, more thorough job. This way we are all happier.

So I would really recommend that if you can, schedule your horse keeping appointments during the slow time of year (now is good).  Then we can all relax and enjoy the experience more. We will do the following;
1. Talk about vaccination needs, and get those updated if needs be.
2. Get the deworming up to date, do fecal exams to determine the most effective product, and the interval of administration. (I am finding on most fecals that we are deworming TOO much)
3. Do a thorough dental exam, and float teeth if necessary. Most vets now have what is called a "powerfloat". But that does not equate with good dentistry. That one tool may make floating quicker, but not more thorough. There are many places in the horses dentition that the powerfloat cannot access. I have all the toys, oops, I mean "tools", necessary for the best equine dentistry available.
4. Clean the Sheath if you have a gelding or stallion. It is amazing how dirty they can get in a years time!
5. Discuss shoeing, hoof or lameness issues. I have found over the years that staying with a good, competent farrier (shoer), and maintaining a consistent schedule is the best way to avoid lameness problems. We can discuss ways to extend to the useful life of your horse.
6. Talking about nutrition may be the most important thing we do during an appointment. This is where the bulk of our money goes during the year. So any "tweaking" we can do to save a dollar or two turns into major savings.Taking into consideration the body score (how fat or how thin) of your horse we can determine the best and CHEAPEST way to feed and not break the bank. Let me help "debunk" all the myths out there about feeding, and what is really needed for good health.
7. Plan the year. Will you need a Coggins Test for out of state travel? We can plan these things now so they aren't forgotten or overlooked. In Nevada and California these tests are good for only 6 months. All other surrounding states require a current negative Coggins test every year.
8. The last topic, may be my favorite. Do you have any training, or behavioral issues? When I say I have more training and handling experience, it may be just admitting that I'm older than most. But I thoroughly enjoy discussing, and hopefully improving the handling, riding and training of horses. I have learned something from every client that has come through my doors over the past 27 years. Hopefully you can take advantage of my experience and knowledge.
So with one phone call, we can accomplish all of the above together. Prevention of problems is the key to better performance, enjoyment, longevity, safety and satisfaction.
Merry Christmas, and have a very Joyful New Year.