Archive for July, 2009

Farmland and Open Space Preservation

Monday, July 27th, 2009

I was picking cherries a few weeks ago, in an orchard near me.  It was very early morning, and no other customers had arrived.  I was enjoying the still coolness, and a few cherries, when I heard a familiar sound.

Two riders and three horses came down the lane at a fast working trot.  I only caught a few words of their conversation as they passed, but knew they were enjoying the exercise.  In a few seconds the hoof beats had faded, and they were out of sight around the bend.

© Maureen Bond, ‘Not Quite Ready to be Picked’,

© Maureen Bond, ‘Not Quite Ready to be Picked’,

I realized that generations of riders and generations of cherry pickers were going to enjoy this orchard.  The owner had recently preserved the land with a permanent deeded easement.  Not a tax abatement or fallow field program, but permanent preservation.  Forever.  Developers would not be subdividing this farm for residences.

For equestrians, the concept of permanent land preservation is important.  Trail riders, fox hunters, and thoroughbred breeding farms all require large tracts of undeveloped land for equestrian pursuits.  The average three-day eventing course may take more than three hundred contiguous  acres to stage.  The farming of hay and grains requires undeveloped land.

If you are not familiar with farmland and open space preservation, take a few minutes to look up the options in your area.  Most states have agricultural preservation programs.  Private non-profit organizations offer a different route.  In either case, it takes money, volunteer time, and dedicated owners to preserve the land for future generations.  If you ride on, purchase hay from, or stable your horse on land other than your own, this issue is important to you.

Taking a Stand

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Fudge continues to have a lack of proprioception (knowledge of where his hooves are in relation to his body) in the rear feet.  It is worse on the right rear.  He often stands with a rear hoof cocked at a strange angle, or a leg angled underneath his body.  Standing often with the leg angled has other affects on him.  He is not aware that his stance makes him very unstable.  It is probably placing stress on other muscles to take the load.  It causes odd wear patterns on his rear hooves, which over two months creates an unbalanced hoof.

Left rear is angled under the body

Left rear is angled under the body

Fudge was in the cross ties to be brushed last night.  His right rear leg was cocked out at almost 90°.  While DH went to get the camera, Fudge moved to get a better look at what the other horses were eating.  We then had to wait until he moved out of balance again.  In the photo, notice how his left rear leg is angled under him, with the toe pointed out.  The right rear toe is also slightly angled out.  Fudge is not normally cow hocked, but a stance like this has us watching for interference of the rear feet while moving.

This shiny boy stood very quietly as the camera flashed repeatedly.  He got some well-deserved peppermints.

A Song of Farewell

Friday, July 17th, 2009

If you have an EPM’r, and are still trying to treat or rehab, consider yourself in the better end of the EPM statistics.  About 40% of horses will not respond to conventional therapy.  They generally decline in coordination until they are recumbent.  At some point the owner must make the decision to euthanize.

© Chris Friel, Wild Horses 31

© Chris Friel, Wild Horses 31

Planning for the end isn’t just for humans.  All horse owners should have knowledge of the options, costs, and timing for disposing of their larger, if not loyal friends.  Sometimes the practical matters of holiday weekends, frozen ground, or emergency euthanizing can leave the owner scrambling to find dignified solutions.

Euthanasia requires two types of decisions, ‘when’ and ‘how’.  The answer to ‘when’ is a very personal decision, and can be forced by emergency, or observations over time.  For the EPM horse owner, human safety from a physically incapacitated horse is a critical issue.  Here are two resources to consider:

AAEP “Ethical and Professional Guidelines”,
Euthanasia Guidelines (2007)

Guidelines for Recommending Euthanasia – The following
criteria should be considered in evaluating the immediate
necessity for intentional euthanasia of the horse to avoid and
terminate incurable and excessive suffering:

1. Is the medical condition chronic and incurable?
2. Does the immediate medical condition have a hopeless
prognosis for life?”
3. Is the horse a hazard to itself or its handlers?
4. Will the horse require continuous medication for the relief
of pain for the remainder of its life?
5. Will the medical condition result in a lifetime of continued
individual confinement?

The Emergency Euthanasia of Horses, from UC Davis

Fugly Horse of the Day just posted a HSUS resource for Humane Horse Disposal that helps to answer the ‘how’.

While this is a good start, owners need to make a few phone calls to verify the information and to check on the costs.  Call your County Extension office (or the local tack store) for information, and then the service providers.  I’ll note that the new HSUS list is already out of date for my area.  Consider all of the options, even if they are not aesthetically pleasing to you.  Europe denies the use of barbiturates for euthanasia in part, because of the ground water pollution it creates when the horses are buried.

Think of the next time that you take a well deserved vacation, and are several time zones away.  You get a frantic text message from the house sitter saying the vet had to euthanize your horse.  Now what?  You will be very glad that you took the time to plan, and left instructions with the sitter.  Trust me on this one.

Centered on Fudge

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
My daughter is instructed by Peggy Brown, riding Zeus.

My daughter is instructed by Peggy Brown, riding Zeus.

This past weekend I attended another Centered Riding clinic, this time instructed by Peggy Brown.  It had taken a few months for the information from Susan Harris’ clinic to be internalized, and I was ready for more.  I made a lot more progress this time, because I was aware of some of the fundamentals.  For those of you that are middle aged, and struggling with knee or ankle pain in the saddle, Centered Riding can help.

I took my daughter this time, and started her on the journey of a better understanding in how to move with the horse.

So how does this effect Fudge?  When he is rideable again, I will need to be as balanced in the saddle as possible, to help him compensate for the weight of the rider.  I will also need to be aware of both my changes in position and his lack of coordination in turns and transitions while under saddle.       Thanks Peggy!

Dancing the Two-Step

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Two steps forward, and one step back that is.

© Rich Chang 'Two-Steppin'

© Rich Chang 'Two-Steppin'

The IFAT blood results came back for Fudge, showing NEGATIVE to both S. neurona and N. hughesii.  Not just low counts, but NO counts.  That is very good news for Fudge, as he is not cycling into relapse.  It also means that the compounded diclazuril did it’s job, and the blood sample was clear of anti-bodies to the protozoa.

The results from the selenium test came in at normal, 0.22 on a range from 0.08 to 0.50.  He is not low in selenium, and that is not a cause of his neuro symptoms.

It does raise the question if something other than heat-related stress is at work giving him worse neurological symptoms.  Fudge has not been worked, trailered, wormed, vaccinated, or had a change in food in the past three weeks.  Three members of my family saw the changes, and the vet saw them.  He is not sweating excessively, and it has not been blazing hot here.  I believe we can rule out a number of the other possible neurological deficit causing diseases, based on history.  Could he have fallen in the pasture?  Possible.  I believe we are going to watch and wait before jumping into X-rays.  In the mean time, we’ll work with some TTouch exercises and desensitizing.

With EPM, it is often two steps forward, and one step back.  You never quit looking over your partner’s shoulder; never know what will cause another setback.