Wednesday, May 18, 2011

EHV-1 Pay Attention!

I was going to write about something else, but I think that it's more important to spread the word right now about the outbreak of EHV-I in the western part of the United States. The disease, Equine Herpesvirus, which can also be referred to as Rhinopneumonitis, has also been diagnosed in New Jersey and Colorado. The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) issued a statement:

"The EHV-1 organism spreads quickly from horse to horse but typically only causes neurological disease sporadically. However, in an outbreak of EHV-1 neurologic such as we are experiencing now, the disease can reach high morbidity and case fatality rates. The incubation period of EHV-1 infection is typically 1-2-days, with clinical signs of fever then occurring, often in a biphasic fever, over the following 10 days.
When neurological disease occurs it is typically 8-12 days after the primary infection, starting often after the second fever spike. In horses infected with the neurologic strain of EHV-1, clinical signs may include: nasal discharge, incoordination, hind end weakness, recumbency, lethargy, urine dribbling and diminished tail tone. Prognosis depends on severity of signs and the period of recumbency.
There is no specific treatment for EHV-1, although antiviral drugs (i.e. valacyclovire) may have some value before neurological signs occur. Non-specific treatment may include intravenous fluids, and other appropriate supportive therapy; the use of anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is strongly recommended. Currently, there is no equine vaccine that has a label claim for protection against the neurological strain of the virus."

Our friend Mikey in Arizona has posted a very good message regarding safety issues and links for more information. Please pay attention and check it out. Let's all take the precautions that we need to keep our horses safe!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Great Escape

I was in the kitchen, loading the dishwasher and making a salad for lunch. My husband sat down in the family room to eat a sandwich. He took one bite and looked out the window just in time to see two red horses dancing through the front yard.

He called me, but I couldn’t hear him since our noisy old dishwasher was going full blast. So, he ran out, and just as Siete reached the end of the driveway and started to head down the road, he called out. “Hey, Siete, come here!”

To his amazement, she stopped and trotted towards him. Silk detoured to sample the gorgeous green grass in the front yard. My husband grabbed Siete’s halter and started to lead her back to the fenced-in pasture. Silk began running the Kentucky Derby in huge circles behind him. All the while, he’s shouting my name, but I’m in the kitchen on the other side of the house completely unaware that anything is going on outside.

Just as he opened the gate to lead Siete inside, Silk came charging down the hill and headed into our neighbor’s yard. There’s green grass the size of a football field over there. Siete thought, oh no, I’m not missing out on this party! She twisted sharply and yanked herself out of my husband’s grasp.

While both horses were gobbling up the grass that was indeed greener on the other side of the fence, he ran to the barn for a lead rope. Then, as they wandered back onto our property near the woods, he approached Siete again. She cheerfully lifted her head to greet him and he was able to attach the lead rope. He led her successfully into the enclosed pasture and locked the gate. When she realized that he had trapped her, she began bucking and racing around in protest. Meanwhile, her mother was totally absorbed in the long, succulent blades out back. My husband quietly crept up next to her and snapped the lead onto her halter.

Back in the house, I was obliviously eating my salad in the family room while I checked my email. The door flew open and my husband stormed inside. “Where have you been?” he shouted. Who knew?

It was entirely my fault that this escape occurred. When I opened the barn up for the horses in the morning, the front corral was so muddy that Silk didn’t want to cross it to go into the pasture. So, I led her out the back corral and through the other gate. I totally forgot to put the chain on the gate in that back corral, moving on to fill water buckets as part of my usual routine. Silk never misses a thing and has learned over the years to be very resourceful with her nose. Hmm, that chain just needs a little push. You may recall that I left the gate open after the farrier came a few weeks ago, and both horses took a walk down the driveway. And I confess that I forgot to lock Siete’s stall door last Saturday night. As my husband was going to bed, he saw something out the window in the pasture, cavorting around in the darkness. He realized it was Siete and had to go out to tuck her back into bed again. That’s three times in the past month that I’ve been absent-minded about keeping the horses safely confined.

Why is this happening? Could be that Silk isn’t the only one who is showing her age. Or is there another subconscious message that I’m sending to myself? We’ve all been locked up here too long and feel ready to explore new territories. Maybe Silk and Siete are trying to show me that it’s time to be free.