Horses First   Elite Equine Services  

Are You Prepared?

We live in a semi-remote place in Northern New Mexico.  Remote in that it takes the closest veterinarian 45 minutes, minimum, to arrive.  We have some horse-owning friends who are more remote than we are with a much less reliable phone service.

   We recently got an evening call from them, from a pay phone 10 miles from their home.  Due to a widespread phone outage, including their cell phone they were not able to contact a vet.  One of their horses had become ill.  Her symptoms were an extremely foamy mouth, high temperature and she was slightly swollen on her lower stomach in front of her teats.

   We offered to be at their place within an hour, emergency kit in hand.  They suggested they bring her to us instead.  Perhaps knowing of our notoriously slow driving habits.  We had trained and cared for this mare for four months so we knew her and her normal vital signs.

   While awaiting their arrival Jane and I proceeded to get our medical supplies ready.  We weren’t sure what was in store for us so we prepared shots, one each, of Banamine and Dexamethasone.  We also had antibiotics available.  Also, being the season of contagious conditions we needed to be sure to handle and doctor her in such a way that we wouldn’t spread anything to our horses.  Our other supplies included a thermometer, stethoscope, iodine scrub and surgical gloves, among other things.

   Now is a good time to emphasize the fact that I am not a veterinarian.  I have never been a vet’s assistant or a vet tech.  There is a certain risk that comes with taking responsibility diagnosing and treating a horse, especially someone else’s.

I have had the benefit of spending most of my life with horses surrounded by many wonderful mentors.  I have experienced many situations from tragic to minor.  I have learned from and worked with many vets.  I have given hundreds of shots and oral doses of medications.  My experience has helped me to be confident in many situations, certainly not all.

   They arrived and we took the mare’s temperature.   Because we knew her normal temperature we knew that it was elevated, although mildly.  She had “gut sounds” and didn’t seem dangerously uncomfortable.  We checked her gums and tongue.  It was certainly more than normal saliva.  We gave her a shot of Banamine to ease any discomfort and help her relax.  We sent them home with enough antibiotics for three days and another shot of Banamine in case she worsened before they could see their vet.

   When they saw their vet they discovered that the problem was their hay.  It had seeds and tips that got between her gums and teeth and had irritated her soft palate.  The irritation and lesions may have caused her low grade temperature.

   The owners, being practical and level headed, had suspected the hay from the beginning.  Although we didn’t find her mouth to be irritated on our initial inspection they told their vet of their concerns.  It helped in the diagnosis.  I admire their care of their horses.  I appreciate their confidence in our ability to help them.  The experience has motivated them to have as many first aid supplies as they can and to learn how to use them properly.

   I encourage everyone to learn how to be more self-sufficient in the health and well-being of your horse.  At the very least you will be able to inform your vet of the vital signs and real symptoms.  I suggest organizing or attending a vet clinic in your neighborhood or stable.  

When integrity and experience count

Contact Jennifer
7M Ranch, Hwy 52, Longmont
303 518-7830