The Horse

FEB 2019

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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TheHorse.com | The Horse February 2019 17 While it might seem smart to outfit them in boots and bandages during turn- out or even in the stall, this too can back- fire, Aurich says. "I had to stop the wraps because (Stromboli would) find ways to take them off and play with them," she says. "It was funny, but of course it's also dangerous." However, she does keep Stromboli in bell boots during turnout to protect his front shoes and heels from his own large hooves. Aurich believes it's—ironically—best to just keep these horses free of protective equipment. "I understand that owners want to put them in Bubble Wrap," she says. "But unfortunately, this just doesn't help." Maybe it's You While you don't want to be overprotec- tive, you certainly don't want to be under- protective, either. Gimenez says horses sometimes injure themselves repeatedly simply because their owners put them in dangerous situations repeatedly—without necessarily realizing it. "I don't want anyone to take this the wrong way, but I've noticed that the accident-prone horse often has an accident-prone owner," she says. That could include people who are natu- rally risk-takers themselves—such as the owner Gimenez knows who's always dealing with injuries in both her horse and herself. But it can also include people who don't recognize the dangers waiting in their own structures. "I don't have any scientific proof of this, but the people I know who are more careful also tend to have their pastures and barns more cleaned up," she says. Sometimes there are things we don't see as hazards because we're used to them or even thought they were a good idea. One example, Gimenez says, is a farm she visited in Atlanta that has a very practi- cal pasture system. Several large pastures lead to a central access area, with each pasture funneling toward the gate. "That sounds great in theory, but wow is that dangerous when you've got more than one horse in (each pasture)," she says. "Someone always gets trapped in a corner." This farm also had gate latches sticking out past fence posts and tractor imple- ments lying outside the barn door. "These are major hazards," she says. "But people were walking past them every day and never noticing them." To avoid a similar scenario, have some- one else walk your property and look for dangers. "It's always good to have another perspective," she says. Avoiding Disaster If an accident-prone horse calls your farm home, you're probably not going to be able to prevent all incidents. But you can try. First and foremost, get him out on pasture, say our sources. "Put him on the biggest pasture you can afford," Gimenez says. "It's all about flight distance. If he sees a truck go down the road with a fly- ing tarp, he might run 50 yards and stop and look at it. If he's only got 10 yards, he can't do that." As for fencing, she suggests making sure it's both electric—so he'll stop at it— and wood, preferably painted white—so he can see it. Always make sure he has a buddy at pasture—ideally, a calm one who's going to help your horse stay out of trouble. "An old, quiet gelding can be great," Gimenez says. "They show easily excited horses that there's nothing to get excited about." While that works best when a horse is younger, it's never too late in life to give him a mentor-type buddy. Avoid putting too many horses in the field with him, though, says Aurich. Mul- tiple horses multiply the risk. "One stable companion is probably best," she says. If he has to be stalled sometimes, at least make sure he's getting out in a large field regularly—ideally two or three times or several hours a day, says Aurich. "He needs to be able to run freely frequently enough that he doesn't have time to get excited about it," she says. And while he's in the stall, give him plenty of safe things to do. "I keep Stromboli on straw so he can chew on it all day long," she says, something you can try with your own horse (just make sure it's not rye straw, because of possible mold, sharp seed heads, and the threat of ergot toxicity). Some horses might do well with stall toys such as balls, but other objects—such as Hazards such as inappropriate fencing can put your horse at risk of injury. DUSTY PERIN Is it His Eyesight? New research is revealing that many horses—especially older ones—have vision issues. What's more, few owners realize it, says Fernando Malalana, DVM, GPCert(EqP), Dipl. ECEIM, FHEA, MRCVS, RCVS, European specialist in equine internal medicine at the University of Liverpool Philip Leverhulme Equine Hospital, Leahurst, in the U.K. In his recent study, 90% of the 1,000 study horses (aged 15 and up) had some sort of ocular disease, but only 4% of owners had suspected it. "A lot of chronic eye disorders can go unnoticed while the disease process and discomfort continue on in the background," he says. Still, that doesn't mean it's the cause of your horse's troubles. "In my experience horses cope incredibly well with eye conditions that should in theory significantly affect their vision, and I don't typically see these horses presenting because of repeat trauma episodes," Malalana says. An exception is the acutely blind horse, he says. But that's usually an obvious case, as the horse is distressed and appears disoriented and runs into objects, as opposed to one that "looks relatively normal but has frequent traumatic episodes," he says. Even so, if you've got an accident-prone horse, it's "definitely worth checking the eyes," just in case, says Malalana.—Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

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