Protect Your Bundle of Joy

Oh, the joys of spring… fresh grass, spouting flowers, and (my personal favorite) FOALS! Foaling season is one of the most exciting times of the year, with precious bundles of joy joining the world. For many barns, foaling season is in full swing… THE BABIES ARE COMING!!

There is so much to do to prepare for your foal to make it’s appearance… believe me, this mare knows a thing or two about the stress of bringing a baby into the world.  There is so much preparation to do and so many precautions to take that it can literally make your head ache and your stomach churn. Of course one of the more serious maladies, foal pneumonia, can really do a number on you if you are not dialed in on safeguarding against it.

Don't let your beloved baby breathe in toxic fumes... consider adding Sweet PDZ to your go-to foaling supplies.

Don’t let your beloved baby breathe in toxic fumes… consider adding Sweet PDZ to your go-to foaling supplies.

Tom Menner took a few minutes out of his day to briefly walk us through foal pneumonia,”Obviously a foal’s immune system is different and more fragile than that of an adult horse. This makes them more susceptible to some pretty serious respiratory system infections. Typically their system is up to the task of recognizing and quickly eliminating the uninvited pathogens. After all, the foal’s immune system is well built and set up to give them protection from the moment they awkwardly spring to life in their cozy, comfy stall. Nonetheless, they can also be immediately exposed to a multitude of pathogens and disease causing bacteria and viruses. These microscopic and ruthless invaders are in attack mode from the get-go, and they do not typically take prisoners. A matter of fact once they have invaded they like to reproduce and make more and more infection-causing bacteria that in turn run amuck until they overpower the immune system.

And when that happens, what you will see is heartbreaking. The foal will struggle with their breathing. They will become lethargic, be feverish, have increased mucus discharge and by in large be miserable beyond belief. Thankfully various medications and treatments do exist, but the road to recovery is always rough. That said, the most meaningful and proactive approach to safeguard your foal from pneumonia is to eliminate the environmental immune and respiratory stressors in their world. Irritants and toxic invaders such as ammonia, dust, moisture and urine in their stall environment all contribute to breaking down the hygienic conditions of your stall and barn. Be proactive in setting up and maintaining a healthy stall environment for your new baby, by maintaining dry and fresh bedding and using Sweet PDZ Horse Stall Refresher to remove noxious ammonia and waste odors. Also be diligent in not exposing them to other creatures that may expose them to their viruses and interloping pathogens.”

So please, keep those precious babes safe, sound and breathing clearly… after all, we want their lives to be as “Sweet” as possible. :)

Signing Off Now!
Sweet Pea

This Just In…

There has been a confirmed case of EHV-1 at HITS Ocala… and well frankly, that stinks. The disease can be deadly and tends to move quickly. Lucky for the horse community, the horse show has handled things well, increasing their biosecurity measures and prohibiting transportation in and out of the horse show grounds.

Listen up folks!  I want to keep your horses healthy!

Listen up folks!
I want to keep your horses healthy!

While I love to be witty and be sarcastic… this situation is anything but. I brought in the experts today, talking to D. Paul Lunn, Lutz Goehring, and Paul S. Morley of Colorado State University. They let me know what we can all do to keep me and my equine friends safe from this terrifying disease.

How do I handle horses returning from events where they may have been exposed?

For horses that may have been exposed to the risk of infection, there are some steps to take to mitigate the risk at their home facility. Even if these horses are returning home from events at which no disease was reported, and even if these horses appear healthy, precautions are needed at this time as these horses could bring it home and spread it at their home farm – this is the classic way this disease spreads.

These horses should be isolated from any other horses when they return to their home facility. Isolation requires housing them away from other horses, using different equipment to feed, clean, and work with them that is used with any other horses, and rigorous hygiene procedures for horse handlers (hand hygiene, wearing separate clothes when contacting the horses, etc.).

These horses should have their temperature taken twice a day, as temperature is typically the first and most common sign of infection – horses with elevated temperatures (101.5 F or greater) should be swabbed by your veterinarian to find out whether they are shedding EHV-1. If a horse develops a fever and is found to be shedding EHV-1 then the level of risk to other horses on the premises increases significantly. Those affected farms should work closely with their veterinarian to manage that situation, if it develops.

We strongly advise owners to call their veterinarianss to discuss how long to keep the horses isolated at home, but even if they don’’t develop fevers this should be at least 14 -21 days.

What should I do if I have a potentially exposed horse on a farm?

It still makes sense to isolate this horse from other horses, even though it may have already been in contact with them, start isolation procedures to stop further exposure. It is very important to not mix horses from different groups to accomplish this. Try and isolate the suspect horse without moving other horses from one group to another – segregation of horse groups is the key, because this will help you reduce spread if an outbreak starts. Check temperatures of all horses on the farm twice daily (fever spikes can be missed if you check once daily). If fevers are detected, then test for EHV-1.

What anti-viral treatments can I use against EHM on a farm?

If EHM is present on a farm, then the risk to other horses at that farm is greatly increased. Stringent quarantine and biosecurity procedures must be implemented immediately. Treatment of horses with clinical neurological disease (EHM) is largely supportive – the use of anti-viral drugs is not known to be of value at this stage. Use of anti-inflammatory drugs is recommended;, we suggest flunixin meglumine.

For horses on the farm that develop fever, test EHV-1 positive, or have a high risk of exposure, anti-viral drugs may decrease the chance of developing EHM. Currently, the treatment of choice in a febrile EHV-1 infected horse to prevent the development of EHM is Valacyclovir (Valtrex™), given orally. The use of oral acyclovir is
unlikely to be of any value, as it is not absorbed from the GI tract.

The use of Valacyclovir in horses that have already developed signs of EHM is questionable at this time; in that circumstance, the use of intravenous Ganciclovir is preferable as it may have greater potency against the disease.

If you have any more questions about this infection, please contact your veterinarian for the most up- to-o date information  


Sweet Tips for Selecting a Camp

I know, I know… February may seem a bit early to be making plans for this summer, it’s important to start thinking about summer camp now!  Camps are already filling up, and if you are anything like my human, you want to have first choice when it comes to where you send your foals… errrr, children.  Hopefully these tips should help you to narrow down the search for that perfect camp, and then the rest is up to you!

– Talk to your kiddo and learn what type of camp they are looking for.  Are they looking to spend three hours a day in the saddle, or would they prefer to ride a little and play a lot?

– Making the choice between a residential camp and a day camp is one that relies on your gut feelings and your child’s personality.  Many day camps cater to children as young as four years old, while residential camps tend to limit their groupings to ages seven and over.  Even if your child is over seven, a day camp might be the best choice for them.  Really make sure that your child is ready to make the leap to a residential camp… being homesick is no fun!

– If your child has a horse of their own (lucky, lucky, lucky!), one of your concerns may be whether or not they can bring their pony on vacation with them. :) Bringing their horse may give them more time to practice, while riding unfamiliar horses is an awesome experience as well. And trust me, your kid’s pony won’t miss them tooooooo much while they’re away.

– Ask about the staff’s qualifications.  While the credentials of the head instructor will often be advertised extensively, it is important to know more about the staff members that your child will be spending most of their time with.

– What is the safety record for the recent years of the camp?  Obviously when dealing with horses the unexpected can happen, so do not rule out a camp because they have had a few mishaps. There is a degree of risk when riding and caring for horses, but what you should be concerned with is how the camp minimizes those risks (You know… like not sending a six-year-old child into the herd with a bag of carrots…).

– $$$$ may be a factor when looking into the camps.  Take the time to decide what you can reasonably afford, but try not to focus solely on the cost of the camp as a bad camp experience is not worth any amount of money.

-Go visit. Bring horse treats when you go, it’s never too early start building goodwill with the horses on campus. Before you commit to sending your child to the camp, visit the camp if it is in driving distance.  You may find that the website consists of carefully planned shots that do not show the whole story or that the camp is even more wonderful then you ever imagined.  Spend time with the staff and get a tour of the facility.  Be warned though, after you see the camp, you may be asking if you can come (many camps also have adult camp weeks… you may want to join in on the fun)!!

Sweet (and Warm!) Gloves

Tredstep Ireland just stepped on winter glove scene (Tredstep stepped… get it? :)), but they certainly brought their A-Game. The Arctic H20 Glove offers up incredible warmth with 40 grams of Thinsulate, my human tells me this means they’re nice and slim… making them perfect for barn work that requires a bit of dexterity.

You have ten fingers... let's keep it that way with the new gloves from Tredstep.

You have ten fingers… let’s keep it that way with the new gloves from Tredstep.

The 100% waterproofness of them means that my lady doesn’t get mad when give her a big sloppy smooch after I eat her apple, or if I, ummm, “encourage” my water to splash while she’s around.

The extended rib cuff might mean that I can’t give her bare wrists a good nibble, but I guess it also means that the frost won’t bite her. All in all… these have been deemed some pretty sweet gloves by both my human and me. Because anything that keeps her out in the barn longer keeps me happier… I hear it’s good for her mental health too!

What is your favorite type of winter gloves? What keeps you warm?