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A Horse,
of Course

with Don Blazer

A Horse of Course

I was going to name the 10 most common mistakes made involving horses and medications, but I could only come up with three. So I just added some other mistakes, which if avoided, will make you a much more popular person with your horse and your veterinarian.

The first mistake is calling your veterinarian with an emergency which isn't.

There are actually only three true emergencies when dealing with horses.

The first is when a horse is choking to death, which he'll do in about five minutes. Choke usually happens after a horse has been used hard, then is allowed to eat rapidly.

The second is when a horse is bleeding to death, which he'll do in about 10 minutes. A horse can lose a lot of blood, but he can't lose it for long. If the blood flow is steady and heavy, get help fast.

The third is when a mare is having difficulty foaling. Assistance is usually required within 20 minutes.

In any emergency situation, render aid as quickly as possible, get help as soon as possible, and don't panic.

If you don't panic, you may avoid the second most common medication mistake--failure to listen to or read directions and follow them. Too frequently horses don't respond to medication properly because the handler failed to correctly treat the horse.

Mistake No. 3 is putting bandages on too tightly. A bandage should be snug, but not tight. And bandages should be checked frequently. Horses are always biting, tearing and pulling at bandages, often getting themselves in plenty of trouble. Bandages should be removed and reapplied every 8 to 12 hours to assure good circulaltion.

The overuse of hydrogen peroxide is mistake No. 4. Hydrogen peroxide can be very irritating to tissue, doesn't do much to cleanse a wound and has very little disinfecting action. In most cases, around horses, it's kind of worthless, but people like it because it foams and doesn't sting.

Putting medications on a wound which needs to be sutured is mistake No. 5. Most vets agree, the best thing to do is keep the wound clean by rinsing it with clear, cool water. If you think there is the smallest possibility a wound will be sutured, don't put anything on it which isn't water soluble. Before suturing, your vet will want to clean the wound thoroughly.

The overuse of penicillin is mistake No. 6. Penicillin is readily available to horse owners and often times they get antibiotic happy. The overuse of antibiotics creates a bacteria in the system which is no longer sensitive to further use of the drug. When you actually need it, you want an antibiotic to be effective.

It is very common for horses to have an allergic reaction to perfumed shampoo. In many cases the reaction can be so severe, veterinary care will be required to alleviate the problem.

To avoid mistake No. 7, use shampoos especially formulated for horses.

Mistake No. 8 is the application of too much fly repellent.

Maybe I should refine this mistake to the "sloppy application of fly repellent." Don't soak a rag, then streak the horse. And don't use a spray bottle which doesn't "spray, but squirts."

To be effective and not burn the horse's skin or irritate the eyes, fly repellents should be applied lightly, evenly, frequently.

Over supplementation of vitamins is mistake No. 9, according to most nutritionists. Vitamins act as a catalyst, speeding up the utilization of protein and aiding in the production of energy. To over supplement the horse causes an imbalance which the horse's system must work to correct.

Unless you have a diagnosed vitamin deficiency, don't supplement. Instead get some help with an evaluation of your horse's feeding program.

Which brings us to mistake No. 10. Don't get opinions from every amateur who happens to be petting a pony. Do your own true research, then check your information against the suggestions and recommendations of professionals.

Don Blazer
Visit Don Blazer's Web Site

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"A Horse, Of Course"
Monthly Column
by Don Blazer

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