Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hay, Rodents, and Disease

Whenever I see rats or mice in a barn, I worry about the various ailments horses can get. Rodents and small animals can nest in your hay and spread diseases such as EPM or leptospirosis. If you find feces in your stacks of hay, discard those bales immediately.

EPM is short for equine protozoal myeloencephalitis. The protozoa is carried by oppossum feces. 'Possums love to nest in hay bales. When horses ingest hay, they also ingest rodent feces. Within a two week period of time your horse's nervous system becomes affected. If left untreated, EPM can be fatal. Again, check your bales and discard if contaminated!

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can cause fever, jaundice, uveitis, recurrent uveitis, abortion, and kidney failure in horses. It, too, is caused by your horse ingesting any kind of rodent urine or feces.

Make sure your barn is clean, and free from rodents. Buy your hay from a local, reputable dealer. Always ask to have at least two bales opened to check for rodent feces, weeds, twine, bits of wire, and small animal carcasses that are killed during the baling process.

A trustworthy dealer will always be happy to open up bales for your inspection.

It's your job to consistently monitor the well-being of your horse. A healthy horse is a happy horse.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Horse Allergies

It's been over a year since I've posted to this blog. Life has thrown me some curves, but the horses remain constant. I actually thought about doing away with this blog, but my soul wouldn't let me.

For you equine enthusiasts or wanna be equine fans, I'll continue to supply you with facts, funny stories, spiritual connections, and tips on horse care.

Here's a tip for you horse owners. My mare, Silver City Sadie, affectionately referred to as "Sadie", developed allergies this winter. Sadie had a yellow discharge out of one nostril only, along with upper nostril inflammation. She was a little "off", but had no fever, was eating fine, and the discharge had no odor, so it was assumed she had either a sinus infection or allergies. The vet put her on antibiotics (SMZ) twice a day for two weeks. It cleared up for a while, but the discharge came back. Again more antibiotics.

To make a long story short, I took matters into my own hands and started giving Sadie a 1/2 oz. scoop of MSM in her daily feed. It cleared up the discharge and the nasal inflammation within a week. It's one of those supplements if tried and it doesn't work, it won't hurt anything.

Equine MSM supplement (methylsulfonylmethane) is an antiflammatory powder that aids in the reduction of joint inflammation. I figured, I'd put a 1/2 oz. scoop in Sadie's feed to see if it works on the nasal passages. It didn't surprise me that it did work.

It cost me $180 for the antibiotics, which didn't work, and $48 for a barn call. Not to mention the cost of gas for a 58 mile round trip to the barn twice a day. In contrast, the MSM cost me $15 for a two month supply. The best part is, it worked! Most important, Sadie is happier because she feels much better.

I'm not advocating taking matters into your own hands when your horse gets sick. By all means, call your vet if you suspect any sort of illness in your horse. Having been around equines all my life, my common sense prevailed, in this case, because nothing else was working.

Happy trails!