Tuesdays with Tony – Staying Fit for Your Horse

Tuesdays with Tony – Staying Fit for Your Horse

Whew, boy am I sore! Kevan Knudsen, personal trainer extraordinaire, had us doing squats, lunges, stretches, and all manner of exercises at our “Exercise for Equestrians” event on Saturday. Technically, I am not an equestrian, so I thought I should have been exempt. But the humans demanded my participation *eye roll.*

Kevan also taught us a great deal about nutrition– one of my least favorite subjects. Turns out lean meats, fruits, and vegetables should make up the majority of your diet if you are a human. Tuna is a lean meat, right? I’m totally in! Your macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) need to be in the right ratio for your body to function properly. Most Americans are eating foods they are intolerant to on a regular basis (dairy, white bread, and artificial sweeteners, for example). Simply eliminating these foods from your diet can result in significant weight loss and better health. As Kevan summed it up, “don’t eat processed crap!”

Of course your mental health is as important as your physical health, especially for riding horses. Horseback riding is one of the only sports requiring the participation of another sentient being. It’s not like running where you can take your frustration out on the track. You need to be in the right frame of mind before you set foot in the saddle. Kevan recommended working on positive self-affirmation, realistic goal-setting, anxiety management, and interpersonal communication. I already practice most of these on a daily basis, in between cat naps.

If you missed me at this enlightening event and would like more information on personal training from someone experienced in working with equestrians, contact Kevan Knudsen at (971) 221-5451, or kevan.knudsen@gmail.com. Your horse will thank you for getting fit and healthy! As for me, I’m just fine with my current lifestyle of eating, sleeping, and occasionally walking out to the end of the driveway. Now to ice these sore quads…


Tuesdays with Tony – Flooding in Louisiana

Tuesdays with Tony – Flooding in Louisiana

Before I get in to the informational section of my weekly discussions, I want to extend an invitation to each of you for our latest Come See Tony Event.  It will be next Thursday September 8th, 6:30 pm at the Clinic.  You will be allowed to talk with me and pet me.  I will tolerate selfies as long as they are appropriately hashtagged on social media.  There will also be some talk on the science behind vaccines.  Oh and good food.  You are crazy if you don’t come. Please RSVP with one of the lovely office ladies, or confirm that you’re going on the Facebook Event here https://business.facebook.com/events/289817458052174/ 

I know we have gone over disaster stuff recently but Mother Nature has provided me with another opportunity.  It’s been raining in Louisiana.  It’s been raining so much thereLSU flooding pic 2’s massive flooding.  With massive flooding comes a lot of need for veterinarians since, as expected, us animals don’t do so well with all that water.  Luckily (or unluckily) the wonderful folks at LSU College of Veterinary Medicine got loads of practice during Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath.

There are two parts to flooding and each has its own set of issues.  Let’s start with the rainy part since it comes first.  During the initial rain storms, horses may freak out since it’s one of their best responses to disaster.  Freaked out horses do some pretty crazy stuff like run through fences, kick through walls, and generally figure out a way to injure themselves.  I can’t really throw stones here as freaked out cats aren’t a whole lot better.

On to the no longer rainy part.  During this phase the veterinarians are kept busy fixing the injuries horses did freaking themselves out and dealing with the aftermath of high water.  Common things they see are lacerations to legs and faces, eye injuries from debris, and skin and hoof problems from standing in water for long periods.  Horse parts don’t take to being immersed in water for days at a time.  Flood water often has chemicals and sewage in it as well make it even worse than plain old water.  To make things worse, it is often difficult to get supplies in to affected areas and horses out to hospitals.

The veterinarians at LSU and surrounding clinics have sent out a call for help.  They can always use grain and hay donations, but most important is monetary donations.  MLSU flooding pic 1oney lets them buy supplies and equipment for the situations they are facing.  What we may think they need isn’t always what they need.  You can go here:   http://lvma.org/LVMA/LSART_Donations.aspx      or here:  http://www.lsu.edu/vetmed/disaster_preparedness/donations.php  to donate.

I’m going to get up on my kitty soap box here for just a moment and remind you humans to be prepared.  Look at your farm and your animals.  What do you need to do to be prepared for a hurricane, a flood, a tornado? Are your animals microchipped?  We are running a microchip special this month because of hurricane season.  Our Docs want you ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you!  We are all sure it will never happen to us until it happens.



Tuesdays with Tony – Doctors Tack Trunk

Tuesdays with Tony – Doctors Tack Trunk

  With all the rainy weather we’ve been having, I had plenty of time to sit around the clinic and pick the brains of Dr. Vurgason & Dr. Lacher. I had to get the scoop, the D-L, the 4-1-1, the Inside Story, on what our doctors keep in their own tack trunks. Now obviously everybody has gloves, their helmet, a crop, and a bag of those peppermint-flavored horse treats in case you forget to bring carrots. But what I was interested in was the medical supplies, the in-case-of-emergency box, right from the mouth of a bona-fide veterinarian!
   When you peruse the aisles at your favorite tack supply store, you will find shelves upon shelves of medical supplies. Incidentally, there are also shelves upon shelves of cat treats, which are welcomed here at the office any time of day. Some people choose to buy all the medicines; which is fine if you enjoy spending money. Many of our clients have cabinets, shelves, bins, and boxes stocked full of every ointment, cream, spray, and powder you can imagine. But really there are only a few that you need, or that the docs might expect you to have on hand.
    First, and this one should be obvious: duct tape. For any type of hoof injury, as well as various repairs around the barn, this is a must-have. Along with duct tape, baby diapers (size 1 for an average Quarter horse hoof, larger sizes for bigger feet) are excellent for hoof-wrapping. Another tack trunk must-have is Vetrap. Boy, do I wish I invented that stuff. I’d be lounging around in a cat palace on some island right now, rather than stuck in this office watching the rain with these humans. Vetrap is just the perfect balance of stretchy and sticky. It sticks great to itself, but not to anything else. Brilliant!
   As far as ointments, creams, and the like, the docs gave me a hierarchy of wound dressings in order of preference: Silver Sulfadiazine (SSD for short), is an excellent topical antibacterial cream, great for any kind of wound. It is expensive, but if you buy the big blue tub it will last you a long time. Next choice would be the yellow stuff, Nitrofurazone (a.k.a. Furacin). Furacin is another good choice as a topical antibacterial wound ointment to have on hand. Beyond that, any type of Triple Antibiotic Ointment that you can find at your local drug store will do the trick. For open wounds, the docs wouldn’t recommend the ointments without antibiotics, the “natural” healing products, or Vetericyn (it is literally bleach-water, look at the ingredients)!
   Swat is an old staple that is a good fly repellent to have in your trunk. It now comes in a clear formulation, not just the tell-tale pink that you can see from across the pasture. It’s important to realize, however, that Swat does not have any antibacterial properties, even though it is advertised for use around wounds. The only other cream I found in the vets’ tack trunks was Desitin (and no, it wasn’t for Dr. V’s baby). Desitin contains Zinc Oxide, which is great for treating burns, abrasions, or other wounds that need soothing and healing, but have a low risk of becoming infected. A&D ointment or Balmex are also good for this purpose. The docs have even used that on me (against my will) when my skin gets bad.
   Other than that, just make sure you have some good antibacterial scrub for wounds (either betadine or chlorhexidine-based). Dr. Vurgason’s horse is prone to thrush, so she also had Thrushbuster on her tack trunk list. Dr. Lacher has a horse with insect allergies, so she also stressed the importance of a good fly spray (make sure it is actually a fly repellent, not just a fly killer).
   So, to review, the official Vets’ Tack Trunk List: Duct Tape, Diapers, Vetrap, SSD/Furacin/TAB ointment, Swat, Desitin, scrub, fly spray, and Thrushbuster. Pretty simple, right? As my father Anthony would say, “clear as mud”! And if it’s not, just call us at the office anytime you have a question about any of the thousands of over-the-counter products out there, and we will be sure to direct you to the nearest doctor for their expert opinion. After all, they know what ingredients like Dimethyl Sulfoxide and Sodium Hypochlorite actually are. Remember to pick up some cat treats while you are stocking up on your tack trunk supplies!
Until next week.
– Tony
Tony on file cabinet
Tuesdays with Tony – These Boots Were Made For Trotting

Tuesdays with Tony – These Boots Were Made For Trotting

While clicking through the internet over this long holiday weekend I came upon this picture of yours truly:

It got me thinking about boots.  I make these boots look darn good.  This got myself, Teannie, and our weekend guest, a charming horse name Goose, talking about boots in general.  We marveled at all the colors, textures, patterns, and types of boots that humans have for their feet.  Teannie and I remarked that as the perfect creatures we are, we never have to wear such things.  OK, so that one time I had to wear a cast for a long time after Teannie broke my foot when I made, what she considers a disparaging, remark about her ears, but other than that, no foot wear.  Goose informed us we just didn’t know all the fun we were missing.  He gets to wear boots all the time when he works, and he finds them stylish and comfortable.  I wasn’t going to be the one to tell him we don’t work.  However, Goose’s statement did make me head off for some research about boots and horses.

My first question to you humans is REALLY??!!??!? Do you really need all of the 8,482 different types of boots I found? There are open front boots, support boots, cross country, splint, ankle, bell, and galloping just to name a few.  And the colors and patterns.  Don’t get me started on all that.  Let’s just say I am never wearing anything in tie dye.  Especially not on my feet.  Looking in to the why so many freakin’ kinds of boots did inform me that many different kinds are needed for all the crazy things you guys do with horses.  Lots of people like the all around support kind.  If you jump over things, you like the kind open in front.  If your horse hits his ankles you like the ankle kind.  You get the gist.  Anyway I will give you all the different kinds.

My next question was can they seriously do all the things they say they can?  Here’s where life gets a little fuzzy.  Let’s start with support.  When it comes to the equine limb that is a tricky statement at best.  Support what? If you support the fetlock, then more concussion goes up the limb and that can be damaging to the shoulder.  With all the weight horses bring to the game, it turns out “support” can’t be done without compromising range of motion, which means no more daring moves of athletic prowess.  So how about concussion? This one does turn out to have some validity.  When you ask horses to turn quickly around trash cans, jump over sticks, and prance sideways they have a tendency to tangle up those long legs at some point in the process.  Those tangles can have some serious forces behind them.  A good boot will absorb some of the concussion and prevent lacerations from hooves.

Goose pointed out that sometimes his legs get hot in those boots.  Seems reasonable in this ridiculous Florida weather; also important for the health of your horse’s tendons and ligaments.  Tendons and ligaments can take normal heat but researchers have found temperatures of up to 145F following exercise!  Newer boot manufacturing techniques are looking at the heat build-up problem and working on solutions.  I would certainly put boots on just before exercise and take them off just after work to keep those legs happy.

In case you need a good reason to make your horse wear boots, watch this video at around 18 minutes in.  Words of warning it is a bit graphic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsvS6gEBJuE

And on that note, I’m off to ponder my new line of feline footwear.

tony n boots

Tuesdays with Tony – Highs and Lows of Helmets


Let’s talk brains.  I know that cats have an overabundance of them and I understand you humans have been given some as well.  The thing about brains is what you got is what you got so you better take care of what you got.  Today we talk helmets.  Yep helmets.

All day long I have to listen to how great these horses are.  Some people even describe their horses as bomb-proof so they don’t need a helmet.  Personally if a bomb goes near me you will see this black cat running faster than you ever thought a black cat could so I’m not sure why this is a good thing but I digress.  Then I sit around at night reading the horse magazines and find out that Courtney King-Dye went to the Olympics in Dressage and fell off her horse at a WALK! A WALK! Her horse tripped and she fell off, landed on her head, and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury.  Courtney is permanently debilitated from her injuries.  A helmet would have meant she was a little sore and, maybe, a little bit of a headache and that’s it.  Just a few weeks ago barrel racer, Lara Dewees, lost her life.  Sure you can argue there were other factors involved there but a helmet may have helped.  What I’m saying here is you guys have decided to sit on top of these crazy things called horses and accidents happen, so wear a helmet.

Now that I have convinced you to wear a helmet: let’s talk about helmet shopping.  There are a ton of different brands out there.  Try lots of them on.  Some people have round heads, some people have oval heads, some people have long, oval heads.  There’s dial-a-fit, adjust-a-fit, just fits on your head fit, shims, and more to get your hat to fit perfectly.  Be sure the helmet you pick has a harness to keep it on your head and adjust said harness to keep the helmet on your head.  It drives this cat crazy to see people with an excellent helmet on and a harness so loose even I could walk through the gap.  A helmet must stay on your head when you hit the ground for it to work.  Check the ASTM rating for your helmet.  You will have to work hard to find a helmet that is not ASTM certified these days but just in case make sure the one you are looking at is tested.  This means no helmets for other sports.  Bike helmets don’t work the same as riding helmets!

If you need even more information on helmets there are some really great resources available: Riders4Helmets, ASTM.org, and SEInet.org.  You only get one coconut, mind your melon, and value your head.  In other words: Wear a helmet!

Tuesdays with Tony

Tuesdays with Tony

Tony Walking

Tuesdays with Tony
Whew what a week! Yesterday was Black Cat Appreciation Day and my hordes of adoring fans came by to give me offerings. I am sure you all appreciated the Black Cats in your lives yesterday but if not we may still be adored today.
Many of you saw the pictures yesterday of the hind legs of a horse who went through the floor of a trailer. Luckily the trailer wasn’t moving at the time. Dr. Lacher and Dr. Vurgason have a long road ahead of them taking care of that guy. The first step will be seeing how much of the skin survives the first week. About half of what you see will survive; the other half will need to be trimmed off. Next week sometime they will remove the sutures and re-suture the wounds to try to get better coverage.  After that it’s bandaging, bandaging, bandaging. I think regular cat scans will also be in order to be sure all is going appropriately.
The rest of the week was jam packed. Last week something called a pig came in to the office. Some may think those are little and cute but I have my serious doubts about that. It made a very loud noise when I sniffed it. Dr. Vurgason loves these things called pigs so I will likely be supervising more and more care. I have put in a request for earplugs. Dr. Vurgason does routine pig care including vaccinations, castration, nutrition, and Wellness Care.
It was a very busy and diverse week here around Springhill. I supervised Dr. Lacher doing something called IRAP on a horse with a lameness in a hind leg. IRAP is this amazing stuff that actually comes from the horse. Dr. Lacher draws blood then does some special processing which increases the concentration of IRAP and then injects that back in a joint that has pain or inflammation. It about requires a PhD to understand but luckily I am a cat so naturally I know everything. The horse she used it on this week had an infection in a joint in his leg. The infection was aggressively treated and fixed but the body was over-reacting and causing the joint to be painful. IRAP will help calm down all that inflammation like a cat purring on your lap.
Meanwhile in the office, Dr. Vurgason did a few dental floats and some breeding work. Being neutered since I was a little tyke I know nothing of this breeding thing. They assure me my life is better but I have my doubts. I ended the week making sure Charly correctly drew blood for an Oral Sugar Test. This test determines if a horse is responding to sugar correctly or if they have Metabolic Syndrome. I told the horse I hope she doesn’t have it since it sounds like exercise and a diet are involved and those are two words I do NOT like to hear. In preparation for another busy week I am now..