Eating for a Summer (Horse) Body

Eating for a Summer (Horse) Body

Tuesdays with Tony

It’s hot out. I was working on my tan on the driveway at the Clinic the other day, and I could barely lay on the asphalt for 10 minutes. That made it extremely difficult to force the humans to drive around me. Overall not a great experience. It got me thinking about the conversations about eating for summer that go on around here. There are a lot of food conversations that happen at the Clinic, which obviously gets my attention. Most of the horse food conversations are along the lines of feed them less. That’s good basic advice, and we can tweak it to be even more appropriate for really hot weather.

What’s in a Feed?

Let’s start with what’s in feed. I’m going to focus on concentrates, or what you humans commonly call grain. Concentrates have protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Ideally, no matter the season, you are only feeding enough concentrate to cover the things they aren’t getting enough of from roughage. 

Ration balancers are called balancers because they balance the deficiencies of a roughage-based diet. They don’t add a lot of calories, which is great for easy keepers. But some horses need more of a concentrate, like Purina Strategy or Nutrena Safe Choice, to make up the calorie difference between what work is taking out and what they are putting in with hay. Those calories come from protein, carbohydrates, and fats. 

Each of those creates heat when the body uses them for calories. Fat creates the least heat when broken down. This means if it’s summertime and your horse runs hot, consider adjusting the diet to be higher fat (with the help of my Docs of course). Don’t go willy nilly adjusting diets without professional input. 

Vitamins and minerals are really, really important in the summertime. Know another word for some of those minerals? Electrolytes. Sweat is chock full of electrolytes, and horses sure do know how to sweat. A good concentrate provides a solid base of the electrolytes needed to perform that task. More on that in a moment. 

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Roughage

As a cat, I was not designed to be much of a hind gut fermenter. It’s one of the reasons we very rarely do that most common of horse things: fart. So banal. I can’t even imagine. Don’t even get me started on dog farts. Ugh!!! Anyway, I have gleaned a lot of roughage knowledge living in an equine (and soon to be all the animals) clinic. Roughage is incredibly important to horses. That fermenting hindgut needs it to stay happy. That being said, fermentation causes a pretty significant side effect (besides gas): heat production. 

If you’ve read my extended works, you know I talk a lot about roughage in the winter helping keep horses warm, quality roughage preventing colic, and on and on and on about roughage. I’m about to drop more roughage knowledge on you humans. In the heat of summer many horses will back off hay consumption. They’re smarter than I think! Now I’m not saying a horse can suddenly go to less than the magical 1.5% – 2% of bodyweight per day of hay. What I’m saying is they will very often drop themselves back to that minimum percent all on their own. You may notice more hay in the stall, or left in turnout. 

This is very true of hay, but does not count for grass, and that’s where they make up the difference if given a choice. Horses will increase their consumption of water-filled grass stems. Processing water helps to cool the body by keeping it well hydrated so it can sweat better. Also, fresh roughage, like grass, has less bulk than hay once it gets to the hindgut.

Many of you in my area have access to great pasture and so you may not have noticed a decrease in hay consumption. For those of you who do notice it, there are a few things you can do to help your horse continue to consume all the blessed forage without creating as much heat. First, try using short-stem forage like beet pulp or hay pellets and soaking them in water. That gets them roughage and water, double whammy! You can also try adjusting the type of hay you’re feeding. You may normally feed a lot of alfalfa, but your horse says Orchard is way better in the summer (or vice versa). Be sure the addition or change is gradual, though. No unscheduled visits with my Docs!!

Electrolytes!

Really, really, really important that your horse gets enough electrolytes in the summer! Horses sweat, and they sweat a lot. This goes along with the gas thing for me: I don’t get it. Sure, my paws may experience a bit of dampness, but I most definitely do not pour buckets of water from my skin. That sweat that’s pouring from the skin is chock full of potassium, sodium, magnesium, and in an oddity of horses, protein. If you’ve ever had a day where you just sweat buckets, then you know you simply don’t feel good when all those electrolytes are depleted. There’s a reason for that: those same electrolytes help your nerves work. 

Humans mainly lose sodium when they sweat, and so plain ol’ salt works to replace most of your losses. Horses, as aforementioned, require a few more items. Most of the commercial electrolyte brands for horses take care of these needs pretty well. If you and your horse are aiming for high level stuff, like grand prix anything or eventing at the FEI levels, then I would recommend you get an equine nutritionist involved to be sure you’ve got all you need. 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

The rest of you can go with a scoop (2 ounces) of just about any electrolyte. Again, for most horses, the protein loss is covered by what’s in the concentrate they eat. It’s important to be aware of the need for protein, though, if you’re in a sweat-intensive activity. I find the protein thing kinda cool. Horse sweat contains protein because it needs to get out of the hair coat to the outside world where it can evaporate and do its job. You humans don’t have protein in your sweat because you don’t have all that much hair. Mother Nature is such a great problem solver!

Water

I don’t have much on this subject because it should be obvious. Make sure your horse has access to all the water they want. One great way to unexpectedly see my Docs during the heat of summer is to not provide a good water source. This is a great way to cause a huge impaction colic. That’s all I have to say about that.

Summer is hot. If your horse seems to be feeling it more than most, talk with my Docs. They can help you adjust things to make it all a little more bearable. 

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. The newest video is out on my YouTube Channel. It’s all about how to hold your horse for the veterinarian in various situations, and why. It’s a great way to both improve your horse knowledge and your ground skills, another double whammy! You’re welcome. Just make sure you subscribe to the Channel so you get notified when new videos come out!

 

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Cellulitis and Legs

Cellulitis and Legs

Tuesdays with Tony

Why do horses like to do things as a crowd? As an independent-minded cat, I certainly don’t follow a crowd, but horses, they seem drawn to what others are doing. Where am I going with this, you ask? It seems that things come in groups. This week has been cellulitis week. Colic weeks are usually understandable. The weather got cold (usually the culprit), or hot (sometimes the culprit). However, the weeks of ‘everyone has cellulitis, or lacerations, or eye ulcers, or random fevers’ are less easy to explain. Since this has been the week of cellulitis, let’s talk about cellulitis.

 What is Cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that develops in the soft connective tissues beneath the horse’s skin.  It can occur anywhere on the body, but most commonly occurs on limbs and more specifically, on hind limbs. Bacteria enter through a cut or laceration on the skin and spread quickly. Bacteria are such small little critters; they can weasel their way inside through a tiny little break in the skin. It could be so small that it was never even recognized even by the most diligent of owners.  I’m sure I would notice a small cut on my skin. I do have cat eyes, after all. Lucky for you all, I perform “CAT” scans on all of your horses when they come into the clinic and alert the docs to any areas of concern to help prevent any problems for your horse in the future.  That being said, it is very easy for small cuts to go unnoticed and allow bacteria to enter and infection to spread, thus resulting in cellulitis.

 Clinical Signs

Have you ever seen an elephant’s leg? Well, I have (I mean, we’ve all seen pictures, right?), and let me tell you, elephant legs are GINORMOUS! I know what you’re thinking: Tony, why are you talking about elephants? This is supposed to be a blog about horses. Bear with me, I want you all to picture what an elephant leg looks like. It’s huge, it is relatively straight, and it doesn’t have the nice contours that horse legs have. Imagine walking out to your horse one day, and you notice one of his legs looks like an elephant leg. That’s what a horse with cellulitis looks like.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

 Cellulitis is not your typical stocking up of legs. Stocking up usually occurs in at least 2 if not 4 legs, whereas cellulitis is almost always localized to one leg. Horses with cellulitis are very painful, to the point that they will not put any weight on the affected limb. The limb will be hot to the touch, and even more painful. The skin will sometimes ooze and crack from all the swelling. You may notice that your horse becomes lethargic, he may run a fever, and may even decide he doesn’t want to eat. Man, cellulitis must be a pretty bad deal if a horse doesn’t want to eat! I know I have to be all out of sorts if I am going to miss a meal. 

 Diagnosis

If you suspect your horse might have cellulitis, the first thing you’re going to do is call my docs so they can come out and assess the problem. While acute cellulitis is not life-threatening, if left untreated it can quickly become a life-threatening situation and should always be treated as an urgent matter. Diagnosis may be made on physical examination alone, however, it is important to rule out other possibilities such as fractures. My docs may recommend radiographs or ultrasound to rule out other reasons your horse may be so uncomfortable.  Similarly, they will likely want to run bloodwork to assess white blood cell count as well as other organ function to determine the severity of infection. Once all the information has been gathered, a diagnosis is made.

 Treatment

Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment can begin. Treatment is targeted at treating the infection, controlling pain, and reducing swelling. Antibiotic therapy may include intravenous and/or intramuscular injections; however, oral antibiotics are usually the first course of treatment. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as bute or banamine are used to help control pain and reduce inflammation. I’ve said it before and I am going to say it again: dilution is the solution to pollution, meaning, water, lots of water. Cold hosing the affected limb is a vital part in treating cellulitis. It reduces inflammation and relieves pain. Controlled exercise, while it sounds horrible to me, is also an important aspect of treating cellulitis. My docs may also recommend bandaging this affected limb as well as the support limb to decrease swelling and increase circulation to promote healing. Occasionally, hospitalization is necessary, and surgery can be required. However, if recognized and treated early, at-home treatment for cellulitis can usually be successful.

 Complications

As with everything horse-related, cellulitis can’t just be simple and an easy fix. There are certain complications that can develop, especially if left untreated. The biggest complication (and one of major concern) is support-limb laminitis. This, as you all know, can be a big problem and can even be life-threatening. Support-limb laminitis occurs because the horse does not want to put any weight on the affected leg and is therefore bearing all his body weight on the other 3 limbs, and more specifically, a significant amount of weight is placed on the limb opposite the affected limb.

 Without being able to rest the other limbs appropriately, inflammation develops in the horse’s foot and can result in laminitis. Laminitis can lead to rotation and sinking of the coffin bone and can be extremely painful, not to mention, expensive to treat. Why horses evolved to walk around on 1 finger is beyond me and supports my belief that cats are the superior species.

 The swelling associated with cellulitis can also lead to sloughing of the skin on the affected leg. This opens up the limb to further infection, which can affect the deeper structures within the limb and require intensive, long term treatment including hospitalization, antibiotic therapy and daily bandage changes. All of this can end up being very costly for your horse. Unfortunately, these complications can occur despite everyone’s best effort to treat cellulitis quickly and effectively. 

 Prognosis

If recognized early, and treated promptly by my docs, cellulitis can resolve quickly and without complication, getting you back in the saddle in no time. However, as you can see, there are some very serious complications that can occur. Most horses can recover without secondary complications.

 It’s important to note that once one episode of cellulitis occurs, it does then make your horse more prone to cellulitis in the future. In some cases, horses will develop scar tissue in the affected limb resulting in a limb that is larger than the others. It is also possible for cellulitis to lead to lameness, which mean cellulitis can be career-ending for some horses. Strict management of horses who have had cellulitis in the past is imperative. These horses tend to do best with ample turnout, sometimes even 24/7 turnout. I sure wish my minions would allow me to have 24/7 turnout!

 Horses who have had cellulitis also benefit from a strict exercise program. Apparently, they need to move around a lot, including long warm-ups and long cool-downs. And as always, cold water therapy will help these guys in the long run. Thank goodness cats aren’t prone to cellulitis… exercise and cold water, no thank you!

 Moral of the story is, if you think your horse is developing cellulitis, call my docs immediately so they can get your horse on the right track to recovery.  Remember, it is always better to call and have my docs out for something small, before it becomes a bigger issue with further complications and a less-positive outcome. 

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. Are you following my YouTube Channel? The humans are putting out all kinds of great videos, the most recent of which is about how to hold your horse for the veterinarian for various things. They’ve got all kinds of stuff over there, so make sure you subscribe and get the new video every month. You can thank me later with a nice cat treat.

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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5 Preventable Reasons for Unplanned Vet Visits

5 Preventable Reasons for Unplanned Vet Visits

Tuesdays with Tony

My Springhill docs love seeing our clients and horses. So do I, because that means more adoring fans bringing me treats and attention. Our favorite reason to see you is for routine stuff like vaccines and dentals, instead of emergencies, and I bet you would agree! Of course, Springhill is always there for you if something unexpected happens, but we are happier if things are going well for you and your horses. As for me, I’ve found that I get more treats if you lot are in a good mood. Emergency vet visits tend to bring things down a bit, so let’s talk about how you can avoid them.

It’s unfortunately pretty common for my docs to treat illnesses or injuries that could have been avoided with a little preventative action. Of course, it’s not possible to prevent every issue, because horses are ridiculously talented at self-destruction. But if you could protect your horse (and your pocketbook), wouldn’t it be worth putting in a little effort now? Here are my top 5 preventable reasons your horse might need an emergency visit, and how you can avoid them.

1. Lacerations from Unsafe Fencing

Your horse is looking around right now for something to cut himself on. I recommend doing an inspection of every space that your horse has access to at least once a month. Basically, if you wouldn’t want a two-year-old kid messing with it for safety reasons, you probably don’t want your horse messing with it either.

Things like barbed wire, old rusted-out car bodies, nails sticking out of walls, broken gates, ancient farming implements, broken buckets, and that sort of thing should be removed from the horse’s pasture, paddock, and stall. Even if the horse has been grazing around it for years without a problem, it only takes one instant in time to produce a dramatic injury. I see it all the time.

Take a good look at your fencing. If it’s barbed wire, I guarantee there will be a laceration in your future, and you should either replace your fencing now or start a savings account called Vet Bills (you should have that savings account anyway, but that’s another blog). Horses are not like cowstheir skin is not as thick, and their fight-or-flight instinct is much stronger. If a horse finds himself tangled in wire, he will immediately struggle and pull until he frees himself, even if that means leaving most of the skin from his legs behind.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Your fence doesn’t have to be anything scary like barbed wire for your horse to find ways to injure himself. Board fences look great and generally do a good job keeping horses in, but are prone to board breakages and nails backing out, leaving beautiful laceration opportunities. Walk those fence lines periodically with an eye out for not just broken boards, but also backedout nails. 

The cost of fixing broken fences or replacing barbed wire? Probably cheaper than a weekend emergency visit from your veterinarian. Especially if it happens twice. Or three times.

2. Lameness Caused by Poor Hoof Care

Laminitis, navicular syndrome, hoof abscess, tendon injury, white line disease, thrush, hoof cracks…. these are all types of lameness problems that can be caused or worsened by poor hoof care.

Your horse’s hooves should be trimmed every 4-6 weeks. Find a great farrier and stay on schedule. Letting them grow too long between trims is detrimental to the health of his feet and legs and can cause serious lameness problems. For example, a long toe and a negative palmar angle can exacerbate pain coming from the heel area, so a horse with navicular problems will be very sensitive to these measurements. 

Imbalance in a horse’s feet is one of the most common risk factors for tendon and ligament injuries. When the toes get too long, it puts excess stress on the tendons and ligaments at the back of the heel and up the leg. That can cause cumulative long-term damage as well as increase the chance of a major blow out of the tendon. It’s especially important for horses with conformational challenges to stay on top of their hoof care, since they are at increased risk for damage.

Hoof hygiene is important to prevent hoof diseases. Keep your horse’s feet picked out regularly. Stalls and paddocks should be kept picked out, so his feet aren’t constantly exposed to urine and manure that degrade hoof tissue. If the weather is wet and the field is muddy, provide a way for the feet to dry for at least part of each day. Know how to recognize thrush, white line disease, hoof cracks, and other common hoof disorders.

It’s easier to make necessary changes to maintain soundness than to reverse years of wear and tear that have already caused lameness issues. This also makes long term sense for your wallet. Preventative care is usually a lot cheaper (and more successful) than trying to fix long term problems. 

3. Some Colics

Okay, I’m not saying you can prevent every colic. There’s no way, since your horse is…a horse. But let’s work on reducing the number of them you’ll have to deal with.

Buy good quality hay. I know, I know, hay is so expensive. But so is an emergency vet visit. Poor quality hay can cause colic, especially impactions and diarrhea. It probably won’t provide the nutrients your horse needs either. Trust me, it’s not worth trying to save a few dollars.  

Make feed changes slooowly. If your horse has only been eating pasture, introduce hay very gradually. Coastal hay especially should be started slowly, since it’s known to cause a type of colic called an ileal impaction. Throwing a bunch of hay at a GI tract that’s been used to green grass is a recipe for an unscheduled vet visit. Absolutely DO NOT put a roll of coastal hay out when your horse isn’t already eating it. We would love to avoid coastal hay altogether, but it’s economical, so many people feed it. If you’re going to feed coastal, add some legume hay (that’s alfalfa or peanut) to your horse’s diet to dilute out the bad effects of the coastal. A flake a day is generally sufficient.

Keep your horse well hydrated. Especially when the weather changes, there’s a new shipment of hay, or you’re traveling with your horse. I wrote a whole other blog on it, which you can find here.

Prevent sand accumulation. The sand your horse picks up while grazing can accumulate in his colon, causing very serious colic issues. Don’t wait until he is colicky to do something about it. My blog has some suggestions for how to prevent and treat sand, which you can find here. I know, more free cat knowledge!

4. Tooth Problems

When was your horse’s last dental exam? If it wasn’t within the last year, it’s time to schedule. Don’t wait for your horse to start dropping feed and losing weight. That’s not the time to do a dental, those signs mean you already have major dental issues. Worn or uneven teeth can be prone to fracture and infection, which can turn into a complicated, expensive problem. Bad teeth can also cause riding problems like head tossing, resisting the bit, problems flexing or bending, and failing to work well, all due to pain from his teeth.

Don’t go looking for some fancy supplement for your underweight horse if you haven’t taken care of the basics first. That’s a waste of money. The average horse should have a dental exam and float once a year by a veterinarian. The goal is to do a little touch up every year so your horse can maintain good teeth long into his senior years. When the teeth are neglected, and problems have already occurred, it’s a lot harder for my doc to make your horse comfortable and corrections may be more expensive. She can’t put back teeth that have worn down or fractured, or been improperly floated by a layperson. Start early and stay current with your horse’s dental care.

5. Preventable Chokes

“Choke is when your horse gets something stuck in his esophagus and can’t swallow it. Dental problems can cause a horse to choke if he can’t chew his food as well as he should. If he has sharp points on his teeth or other abnormalities, he won’t be able to chew easily, and may try to swallow his food before it is adequately ground up and moistened. This is even more likely with older horses who may be missing teeth. Reason number 1 million to get your horse’s teeth floated once a year by your veterinarian

Choke can be caused by hay, grain, treats like carrots and apples, or non-food objects. Certain feeds such as alfalfa cubes or beet pulp must be pre-moistened with water prior to feeding. If they are fed dry, your horse can easily choke on them. Soak alfalfa cubes and beet pulp in a bucket of water for at least 20 minutes prior to feeding. Your horse will get more hydration and be less prone to chokea win-win. Some things, such as corn on the cob, must never be fed as treats due to the risk of obstruction they present.

Some horses are feed-gulpers. They try to eat so fast that they don’t chew their feed enough before they swallow. You’ll want to find a way to slow him down to avoid a choke. Wetting down his grain or hay will make it less likely to get stuck. Putting large smooth rocks in your horse’s feed bucket will make it harder for him to grab big mouthfuls. Some horses may relax and slow down a bit if they are separated from other horses at feeding time. And remember to schedule that dental exam with your veterinarian since tooth problems are a common cause!

Trust me, it’s ALWAYS cheaper to do the preventative care and avoid the emergency visit. Don’t try to save a buck now and regret it later. Give my docs a call if you have questions about any of these things. Remember, our goal is to NOT see you for an emergency!

Until next week,

~ Tony

P.S. Have you subscribed to my blog? It’s the big purple box right down there, below this. Be a good human and scroll down a bit and subscribe. Don’t rely on Facebook to deliver my knowledge nuggets to you. They’re even less reliable than cats, and that’s saying something.                                

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Hurricane Prep Refresher

Hurricane Prep Refresher

Tuesdays with Tony

We’re already in hurricane season, can you believe it? Somehow, it’s already six days into June. Every year I like to remind you all how to best be prepared in case a hurricane heads this way. I’ll leave the preparations for the human side of things to those experts, but let’s talk about having a plan in place for your horses and other furry creatures.

First and Foremost: Paperwork

Everyone hates paperwork, but I can’t tell you how important it is that you have your horse’s, dog’s, cat’s and other farm animals’ paperwork up to date and in a safe, easily located spot. Often, if a state of emergency is put into place, the requirements to get out of the state of Florida are lifted to allow for faster evacuation. This is all well and good because they won’t be checking for Coggins, health certificates, rabies certificates, etc.

But how do you plan to get back into the state once the SOE is lifted? Right, you’ll need all that paperwork. So, do yourself a favor now and get your horse’s Coggins up to date. It will save you a ton of money, heartache and hassle should you need them urgently. Once a Coggins test is pulled, it usually takes at least a week for us to get the results back. If you wait until it’s time to evacuate, you won’t have a current Coggins, and the lab will probably be shut down for the storm. Coggins are good for an entire year from the date they are pulled, so if you get it now, you’ll be good long past the end of hurricane season.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

It’s not just the State of Florida. Most evacuation facilities will not allow horses to stay there without a current Coggins and current vaccinations, including rabies, flu, and rhino. You’ll want your horse’s encephalitis and West Nile vaccines up to date as well, and these are not yearly vaccines, they’re every six months. With hurricanes comes rain, with rain come standing water, and with standing water comes mosquitoes. Trust this old cat, you don’t want your horse to get encephalitis or West Nile.

Now that you have all that paperwork updated, have your vet print you out a history of everything that’s been done, and put it somewhere safe and dry. It doesn’t hurt to put a copy inside your trailer, and another copy in your house or barn. Cell phones and email don’t always work during storms, so a paper copy is the way to go. Similarly, get your dogs and cats up to date on their vaccinations because shelters and boarding facilities will not take them without it.

Location, Location, Location

Speaking of shelters and boarding facilities, plan ahead. Have a shelter and boarding facility in mind and make sure they allow all the animals. Find out what kind of documentation they will need for your animals and talk to your veterinarian about the best time to get it. Many human shelters do not allow animals, so it’s essential to have a plan for where your furry friends will go if you end up having to go into a shelter. Boarding facilities fill up fast, so you’re better off reserving a space before a storm is imminent and not needing it than having nowhere to go with your fur-kids. We don’t like to think about having to leave our homes and our safe spaces, but sometimes we’re left with no choice. Having to leave is tough; having to leave without a place to go is downright scary.

Feed

Coming from a cat who is a food hound, make sure you have plenty of everyone’s food on hand. At least seven days’ worth, but honestly, with how difficult it has been to get things recently, you might want to consider having two weeks’ worth of food. Even if you’re staying home and riding it out, having extra food is a solid plan. Just ask the folks over in the Florida panhandle last year how long it took for their feed stores to open back up. Just make sure you rotate your feed and don’t keep the same bags for a long time. It definitely has a shelf life!

It can be hard to travel with a lot of hay if you don’t have a tractor-trailer and, well, a lot of hay. Still, I advise you to take all the hay you can safely carry. And ‘safely’ means that it can’t fall on your horse(s), even if you slam on the brakes, and you can keep it dry. If you have a stock trailer with open slats on the sides, make sure you tarp the hay tightly. And if your tarp was purchased in a year that starts with 19, go buy a new one, because it won’t survive the trip. Even if you don’t end up needing all that hay, someone else might, and we are all horse people. And horse cats. We look out for one another.

Water

Water, oh water. It is essential to life. I know you are thinking, but Tony, you said hurricanes bring lots of rain and water. Yes, I did say that. But that’s not water you or your animals should be drinking. Flood water is unsafe for drinking, and usually has sewage, oil, and a ton of other contaminants in it. You don’t even want your horses to stand in flood water, trust me. It’s an infection nightmare.

 So, once you know a storm is coming, fill up all your water buckets, barrels, cans, and pots. Fill up your muck tubs (after cleaning them thoroughly of course). Make sure your water troughs are full. Anything that’s clean and holds water, fill it up. Most places can’t get water without electricity, so until power is restored, you and your animals will have to rely on your water stores. You might have a generator that runs your well, but don’t rely on that 100%. Chance favors a prepared mind.

Fuel(s)

Speaking of generators, make sure you have plenty of fuel on hand. IN APPROVED SAFETY CONTAINERS!!! Don’t be one of “those” people I’ve seen filling up water jugs or laundry detergent containers with fuel. Fuel will melt through most plastics (it takes about thirty seconds for gas to eat through a milk jug). Be sure to have enough gasoline, propane, and diesel to power your generator, tractors and vehicles. You will likely need to use your hand dandy tractor to remove fallen limbs and trees once it’s safe to do so. And if evacuating is necessary, your truck will need fuel to get out of the state. You all know that when there is a hurricane a-coming, finding fuel is next to impossible locally, so have enough to get you far away from where the storm is headed. 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Missile Reduction Pact

Finally, in preparation for the season, spend some time outside picking up any debris that may be laying around. Pick up tree limbs, lumber, fence posts, really anything that could become a flying object during a storm. Secure everything so that wind can’t catch it and send it Tomahawk Missile style through your pasture, barn or house. Have a debris removal company come and pick up any other unwanted stuff. It may save you or your animal’s lives. Don’t forget the jumps in your arena, or the obstacles on your course, or the barrels in your ring. Even a medium hurricane can send a two-by-four through a concrete block wall, so you don’t want anything flying around your pasture.

Hurricanes are never a fun time. You can make them less stressful by simply being prepared and having a plan. If you have questions or concerns give the clinic a call, my people are happy to talk to you about how to best be prepared in case of a storm. Don’t you worry, we will be here right along side of you riding it out and will always be available should you have an emergency. That is what we do.

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. I have several other blogs on this topic. Some of them talk about whether to bring your horses in or leave them out (it’s complicated), tips for identifying your horses as your (both for insurance purposes, and in case they get lost), and a lot of other stuff. You can find them by clicking on the magnifying glass at the top and typing the word “hurricane” in the box. Or, you can listen to one of the two podcasts my humans have done on this topic over on the Podcast Page. You can also brush up on your equine first aid knowledge and bandaging skills over on my YouTube Channel. There’s a lot to think about with horses and catastrophes, so make sure you’re covering all the bases you can.

 

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Think Like A Horse

Think Like A Horse

Tuesdays with Tony

Let’s talk about what your horse does all day while you’re at work trying to earn money to pay for feed, hay, that new saddle Flicka needs because the old one just doesn’t fit right anymore and he simply can’t be asked to canter on the right lead with old one, and the myriad other things horses love to spend your money on. Here’s what they’re doing: looking for ways to hurt themselves. I know you’ve long suspected it; I’m here to tell you it’s true. That’s what they do all day. And this wise cat has some advice to thwart your horse’s thoughts of lacerations, colics, and general mayhem and chaos. 

Your Labor

The good news is that most of this costs very little. It mostly costs your time and brain power, and since primates are known for their large brains, this should work out well.

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Fences

Number one cause of all horse injuries: fences. Now some of this can’t be helped and is due to horses being horses and thinking very fast flight is suddenly necessary because a leaf fell. They should embrace their inner cat and think about the best way to attack that leaf, not blindly run away from it. Sometimes when they’re running away from imaginary scary things, they run into fences. 

You can do some things to make sure this works out as well as possible. First, look at your fencing. If it’s barbed wire, I guarantee there will be a laceration in your future, and you should either replace your fencing now or start a savings account called Vet Bills (you should have that savings account anyway, but that’s another blog. No really it is, and you should check it out after you finish this one). 

Your fence doesn’t have to be anything scary like barbed wire for your horse to find ways to injure themselves. Board fences look great and generally do a good job keeping horses in, but are prone to board breakages and nails backing out, leaving beautiful laceration opportunities. Walk those board fence lines periodically with an eye out for not just broken boards, but also backed out nails. 

This brings us to wire fencing. This has some advantages, like your horse can’t itch their big old butt on it and break a board into a spear which they can then send through various parts of their body later. They can, however, stretch that fence. Same as board fencing, it should be walked periodically to check for stretched areas, areas where the wire may have developed hoof-sized holes, and backed-out fence staples. 

Respect the Barrier

One way to minimize fence issues is to put hot wire on the fence in some way. This can be done as literal hot wire, or tape. Electricity is a good add to any fence. It causes your horse to have a little R E S P E C T for the fence. I don’t blame them. I once got zapped by a fence and it was a very unpleasant experience. 

By using electricity to define your fence lines, you will help your horse make wise decisions when galloping towards the fence, when thinking about where to itch, and when contemplating the best location for that next eyelid laceration. Electricity is most definitely your friend. 

Other Fun Injury Things

Horses don’t just confine their injuries to pastures. They also use their stalls! Take a walk around that stall periodically with an eye out for backed-out screws or nails, holes, water or feed bucket holders, or even water or feed buckets themselves. Once again, horses love to scratch on those buckets, causing them to bend and even break. You might have thought the bucket was okay, only to find Flicka squished it and caused the hanger to bend into the perfect eyelid laceration tool. 

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Another fun one is the actual walls of the stall. This is particularly true of wood walls. Leave it to a horse to roll, and kick a leg through that loose board, get stuck, and break their pelvis (actual emergency Springhill Equine has attended to). From stall mats, to bucket hangers, to fans, to rafters, check it all! 

Don’t Forget the Horse Trailer

Horse trailers can be fun locations to get injured, too! Check dividers, floors, ceilings, and walls for anything sharp. In fact, check the floor a LOT. It’s prone to bad things happening. Remember, your horse is bored being driven down the road by you, the human, with nothing to do but look for an opportunity for injury. Spending ten minutes now may save a vet visit later!

Need help putting your horse vision goggles on? My Docs can definitely help here! They have seen a whole lot of ways horses LOVE to hurt themselves and can often spot new, fun things they’re going to try. Take a moment at your next routine visit to have them check out your farm with you. I know they much prefer looking for things during a scheduled visit then seeing you on an emergency!

Until next week,

~Tony

P.S. The humans have a podcast episode called Expecting the Unexpected. They went into way more detail about all the ways horses can complicate your life. You can find it, and all their podcast episodes, over on the Podcast Page. It’s a great resource, if I do say so myself.

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

Subscribe to Tuesdays with Tony

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More Adventures of the Horse Doctor's Husband