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.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Old horses? Don't tell them they're old!

Just spoke with a client of over 20 years. He just returned from the USTRC team roping in Oklahoma City. His #1 horse is 24 years old, and still performing well. This is almost becoming the norm. A well cared for, 20 year old horse is not necessarily old! What is the secret to a long, healthy performance life? This particular horse has had the best hoof care, every 6-8 weeks, dental exams and floating, (when necessary), spring and fall vaccinations, correctly administered and timed deworming treatments, and the best nutrition (Gro-Rite supplement). This horse is no pasture ornament, he earns his living all year, every year. I have seen this horse and examined him at least twice a year for the past 20 years, and all of the above mentioned services have been provided by me. This owner has allowed me to give this horse the best that I have to offer. The results speak for themselves. This is not an isolated case either. Doing things the best way, is doing things the most cost effective way. Having one good, healthy horse for 20 years, is certainly cheaper and more enjoyable than 2 or 3 over the same time period. So if you've got a good one, or one with the potential to be good, give them what they deserve. Give them the chance to excel and have the best, longest life possible. Call me, I think I have the recipe!

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Colic Season" Prepare for Fall

The cool temperatures of fall are a great thing. But over the years there is always a pattern that develops during the fall in the equine veterinary world- more colic. I see more cases of colic in the fall than at any other time of year. Rarely do these cases become severe enough to need surgery, but some tips to help avoid the problem might be a good idea.
You've probably noticed that as the cooler temperatures come on, our horses drink less water. Drinking less water can contribute to dehydration and impaction colic. This would be similar to being "constipated". The first signs you see are a tired attitude, off feed, and then more frequent laying down than normal. If treated at this stage, the outcome is almost always successful. Waiting, can be the worst thing to do. Even giving a dose of Banamine can be a bad idea because it can reduce the pain or discomfort associated with impaction, but it does nothing for the real cause of the pain. Getting water and/or oil down the horse with a nasogastric tube is the most important thing to do. Treating a mild colic has a much higher success rate than waiting and then treating a serious life threatening colic.
 I have heard of people trying to give their horse oil by squirting it into their mouth. Even some have tried to use vegetable oil, thinking it is the same as mineral oil. WRONG!! This is a real bad idea because trying to force water/oil/or whatever, down a horses throat can get you a very serious case of Aspiration pneumonia by getting the fluids into the horses lungs by mistake.  The ONLY way to get sufficient water or oil in to your horse, is by the nasogastric tube or IV fluids. (This is where we say, "DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME")
One other tip. Salt drives thirst. So adding some form of salt into their diet can stimulate thirst and increase water intake. The best way to do this is to give two cups of GRO RITE daily in a small amount of grain. This way they get the benefits of a vitamin mineral supplement, and all of the electrolytes (these would be very salty in nature). And always have a WHITE salt block available for your horses.
Other routine things to get ready for winter are dental exams/floating, and flu rhino vaccinations. A horse with poor dentition will not be able to handle the forage as well, and this can lead to weight loss, or even colic.
As the nights get cooler, and the days are still fairly warm, this creates a temperature disparity that creates a fair bit of stress on our horses. Upper respiratory infections become common because of these conditions. The best preventive is vaccination against the influenza and rhinopneumonitis viruses. The "Rhino" virus, is the virus that we all heard about this past summer. In talking with Veterinarians across the country, it is the general opinion that two specific vaccines are more effective in protecting against these viruses. Calvenza, flu vaccine, and Rhinomune, rhinopneumonitis vaccine are the two that I recommend.
Therefore, our to do list this fall for our horses should be;
                   Check teeth, correct any abnormalities before winter, Have horses at optimum body condition before the onset of winter
                   Vaccinate against Flu, Rhino with Calvenza and Rhinomune
                   Feed Gro Rite, two cups daily, for vitamin/mineral supplementation, and increased water intake
                    Deworm with Ivermectin after the first hard freeze
                    Have horses on a regular schedule with your farrier

Monday, July 18, 2011

ehv-1 hysteria, what did we learn?

Well, the excitement and hysteria has past, I think. So I am left wondering what we have learned. I have learned that many times, we don't want to believe the truth, we would rather believe the facts that generate emotion and excitement. The truth can be rather dull sometimes. SO what is the truth about EHV-1. Truth is, 80% of the horse population HAS the virus in their systems. They cannot get rid of it. In the same way that many of us harbor the herpes virus that causes cold sores. When we get stressed, or sick, that is when the virus makes itself manifest, by producing cold sores. Well, the EHV-1 virus is a herpes virus. As such the immune system of the horse cannot get rid of it. But just because your horse has the virus, (and it probably does), does not mean that it has the disease. Fact is, the vast majority of horses will never have THE disease, but they will harbor the virus. As we vaccinate against this virus, the object is not to get rid of the virus (we can't), but to keep it under control. A good example is the 3 Rhino vaccinations we give mares through their gestation. (the rhinopneumonitis virus is the EHV-1,4 virus).
Their is some anecdotal (unproven) evidence that horses vaccinated with two certain types of "high" antigen, or Modified live virus vaccines may have a lower incidence of this neurological form of herpes virus disease. Call me if you want to know more. (you're probably sick of hearing about this anyway, right?) Anyway, I have the answers without any excitement and hysteria. (boring)
Sad thing is, most of the horse events around the country didn't need to be cancelled. There is no containing a virus that the general population carries anyway. Oh well, I will stop there. I could be accused of not caring, but knowledge is power right? That is how I have stayed calm  throughout this storm.
I did hear reports of Veterinarians that were testing horses for the virus. If the horse came back positive, then treatment was initiated. Wrong!! Remember, most horses will TEST positive, but if they have no symptoms, they are just carriers, just like 80% of the horse population. The only thing treatment will do is empty your pocket book!
Have nice ride!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

EHV-1 update

5 horses have been confirmed positive at one location in Utah. Now we will wait to see if they show symptoms.

EHV-1 update

From all of the western states reporting, 23 confirmed, 24 suspects, and 4 dead or euthanized. NO confirmed cases in Utah.
One other fact. In outbreaks of this same disease in the past, in other parts of the country, there was a pattern that emerged. Those horses that were vaccinated most frequently for "flu-rhino" had the highest incidence of the neurological form of EHV-1. The reason is that immune complexes which are formed when vaccinating, are involved in the nerve damage with this disease. Therefore, DO NOT vaccinate your horses beyond what is normally recommended.

EHV-1 hysteria

Our phones are ringing off the hook! Understandably so. The thought of our horses being endangered by a deadly virus is scary. But the Internet, texting, twitter hysteria has blown the extent and seriousness of this outbreak to outlandish proportion! So let's look at the facts (science).
1. If you or your horses have had no contact with the horses at the ogden cutting show in April 30 - may 8, then the risk of your horses contacting the disease are no higher than normal. You see, if no cases are documented in Utah, then we know that the neurological form of rhino (ehv-1), came and went with the horses that HAVE been proven with the disease from colorado and California.
2. If you voluntarily isolate your horses (stay at home) for 3 weeks, no cases are documented in Utah, and yours show no symptoms, you are fine.
3. you can have your horses tested (scientifically proven) with a simple blood test and nasal swab.cost is $100.
End of story. Science can really simplify the situation if you can look past the hysteria that we love to perpetuate.

We then are left with a philosophical question. In our modern society we are inundated with information. I said "information", not necessarily facts, or truth. This begs the question,"with all that we hear, what and who do we believe?"
I believe that most of what we read and hear is merely information, and not truth, or fact. With this last outbreak, my point is proven. I see many people making decisions based on information (much of it inaccurate), and not facts. Facts take effort to discover, whereas info comes at us freely, and all to easily.
My personal feeling is to NOT take anything at face value, until I have investigated the facts, and found them for myself. Decisions based on fact (real science), will result in better decisions.
Give me just the facts, please.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Satisfaction, finally

The other day it was cold and windy outside, which makes for a slow business day. Luckily, I have my personal horses close by. It was a great opportunity to take care of the things I had neglected such as; dentals, vaccinations, deworming, sheath cleaning, clipping, doing an eye exam, etc. It was really fun AND mostly SATISFYING to finally have them in top shape for the upcoming summer of roping and riding. My grey horse (Trey) had been throwing his head when I was holding him back (in the roping box), and so I suspected he had sharp molar points. Yep, sure enough. So the next time I roped, there was a noticeable difference, and improvement in his demeanor and performance. Believe me, I was watching very closely to evaluate what difference it would make. My other geldings, AL and Jim, hadn't had their sheaths cleaned for over a year. I am a bit embarrassed to say the they had very large "beans" in their urethral orificees!! If you're not familiar with that, call me and I will explain it to you. But needless to say, I felt better every time they urinated, as I am sure they did.
There is a new vaccine that combines Brain fever, Tetanus, Influenza, rhinopneumonitis, and West Nile virus in one injection! It is $10 less also, what a bonus (finally)! And the protection lasts for over a year. So even this early in the year we can vaccinate and be assured that all will be well for the summer. I also felt much better about just stabbing my horses just once, instead of 3 times! (second bonus!)
While I had them in the clinic, and had the time, I took my opthalmoscope and looked at the inner structures of their eyes. I had just attended an opthalmology seminar (eyes) and so I was "up to speed" and wanting to see something strange. Luckily, I didn't see anything abnormal, which is a relief. So the next time Al, my old bay, spooks at the same rock he has spooked at for 15 years on Antelope Island, I will know that it is not because of any vision problem!
As I stood back and looked at them, I took out my clippers and clipped the long fetlock hairs that catch all of the mud in the spring, trimmed manes, bridal paths, whiskers, and anything that looked out of place. This was no "show clip", but for a old vet and roper it was pretty "shiny".
So with all of the annual "spring work" done on my horses, I feel really good about how they will perform, knowing that there are no obvious physical impediments. I had finished shoeing them, and am up to date on that also (extremely important). So guess what? I am left without excuse, any performance deficiencies that might arise in the next few months will probably be MINE!
I feel a pretty good level of satisfaction knowing my horses are all tuned up, fed well, comfortable when they are asked to perform, and in optimum health.
If you have been thinking that you need to get the same "stuff" done for your horse, come in now while business is slow. That way I can lend you my clippers, we can look in those eyes, you'll save $10, and we can take all the time we need. Then you can have that feeling of satisfaction that all is well and you're ready to go!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Easy and cheap nutrition

Alfalfa hay, or alfalfa grass mix, Grorite vitamin/mineral supplement, water, white salt block, and MAYBE some oats or sweet feed if your horse is working hard. There, I said it! How can it be so simple? My question is; "how did nutrition get so complicated?" Now, of course there are situations and conditions where it is a little bit more complicated. But i am talking about 90% or more of the horses I see everyday. How can it be so simple?
First, lets talk protein. Proteins are made up of amino acids. Essential amino acids are the ones that are necessary for building tissue (muscle, tendon etc). Alfalfa hay is very high in protein (most of the essential amino acids), but it lacks 3 of the Essential amino acids. Grorite provides these essential amino acids along with vitamins, minerals, and yeast culture to enhance digestion. Your horse will be able to maintain muscle mass and weight with less feed. Simple!
Grain- who needs it? Very few horses do. But if they are working hard, simply adding Whole oats or a quality sweet feed to the Grorite supplement may suffice. The amount is totally dependent upon how much work is being done.Simple!
Grorite is important because it resupplies the horse with electrolytes in the proper ratios (calcium to phosphorus), adds the essential amino acids alfalfa lacks (build tissue) and enhances digestion with "diamond V" yeast culture. Another wintertime benefit is that adding Grorite to the ration will help " drive" thirst. Electrolytes are inherently "salty" tasting. Therefore a daily intake of electrolytes can stimulate the horse to drink more, and hopefully avoid impaction colic, which is so common in the winter.
With a few basic principles, nutrition can be so much simpler.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Great horse people

In the past 25 years I have come across some really great horse people. It has been my priviledge to learn a great deal from them. Just yesterday one of the finest Horseshoers and horsemen I know said to me. "If we had fewer horses, we'd have better horses".
Maybe having too many horses means they get too little work ,or too little attention, training and grooming, or less than the best veterinary care, or lower quality, less expensive feed, or less frequent hoof care. We have to ask ourselves if our finances, energy, and time are just being stretched too thin? Do our horses get what they deserve from us? Every time I question the quality or ability of my horse, I first need to ask that question of myself. Do I give my horses what they need to excel, or do I short change them, and then put the blame on them, instead of on myself? When I find myself saying,"stupid horse",what I am really saying is "stupid me". I am amazed that they put up with "stupid me" so much!!

e care

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Marketing, and spending our money

i am amazed at the amount of marketing that goes on in the equine world. There is alot of good information out there that can actually educate as well as sell you something. I am impressed with Purina and the way in which they educate. In my opinion they have many products to meet almost any need. Having said that, now knowing what you actually need is the other part of the equation. The reality is that most horses just don't need much beyond good basic dental/medical care and nutrition. Remember that every one that posts an ad, is trying to make you believe that you need their product. Don't believe everything you read or hear. Being on RFD TV doesn't make something useful or even necessary. Be a cynic, ask an impartial expert trained in nutrition, wound care, emergency medicine, lameness etc. Yes, that would be me! Before you spend your hard earned money on something, call me, it's free. We all need to be a little bit smarter and careful with our money. Spend where and when it counts the most, and get more bang for your buck!