I am depending on you to vaccinate me!

Spring is just around the corner, and that means time for horse shots! There is not one vaccination program that is appropriate for every horse, every time, every year. On Friday I had the veterinarian come out to my barn to give part one of this year’s vaccinations for my horses. Then in two weeks my vet will come out again and administer the remaining vaccines that we have decided will be most beneficial for my horses this 2016 riding season.  My veterinarian recommends splitting the shots into two appointments because it can be a lot on the horse to be given all vaccinations at once.

This year I am looking forward to having two horses to ride and travel to organized horse events, so I am adding a few elective vaccines to the recommended core vaccines after consulting with my veterinarian. I am adding to the core list for this year; Flu/rhino and a booster for Potomac Horse Fever that I just started to vaccinate against in October 2015. The Potomac Horse Fever vaccination is safe although it is not necessarily the most effective vaccination. I have added that to my horse vaccine plan due to it being present down the street from my barn this past summer and fall of 2015. Vaccination is absolutely worth doing for me living so close to the area that had a positive test of Potomac Horse Fever that was fatal for the horses that contacted the disease.

P1130558(1) chain 1 twitch
With my two horses, as you would expect, one horse is unaffected by the whole process, and the other is highly reactive to the whole process. I am sure you can guess by now which requires extra time to complete this task in a positive way. With the help of a lot of treats and “small talking” with my veterinarian while hanging out in Cheyenne’s stall, we were able to successfully and without much ado give her the first series of shots. The harder part came when we needed to draw blood from her. Since it was just me and my veterinarian, my vet suggested if necessary we could use a chain lead rope over her halter or perhaps a twitch, but after discussing the pros and cons of those with my horse Cheyenne, we both decided to just continue to talk and give more treats. It worked! The vet was able to draw blood and although it didn’t go completely perfect, I was told Cheyenne was better than many foals and other horses.

What are the core vaccinations?
The AVMA defines core vaccinations as those “that protect from diseases that are endemic to a region, those with potential public health significance, required by law, virulent/highly infectious, and/or those posing a risk of severe disease. Core vaccines have clearly demonstrated efficacy and safety, and thus exhibit a high enough level of patient benefit and low enough level of risk to justify their use in the majority of patients.” The following equine vaccines meet these criteria and are identified as ‘core’ in these guidelines:
– Rabies
– Tetnus
– Eastern/Western Equine Encephalomyelitis
– West Nile Virus
These are recommendations for healthy adult horses who have been vaccinated appropriately in the past.
1. Rabies:
• Although rabies is infrequent in horses, it is a significant risk to people and is 100% fatal. It is therefore considered a core vaccine.
• Vaccine Schedule: Annual booster.
2. Tetanus:
• Tetanus is a progressive and often fatal disease caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani, which is ubiquitous in the environment.
• The disease is caused by a neurotoxin that is produced when the bacteria infects wounds (especially puncture wounds and deep lacerations).
• It causes progressive “stiff” paralysis that can be fatal if not treated.
• While the disease is not contagious among horses or people, horses are very sensitive to the neurotoxin and therefore tetanus is considered a core vaccine.
• Vaccine Schedule: Annually or at the time of a wound or surgery.
3. Eastern Equine Encephalitis/Western Equine Encephalitis (EEE/WEE):
• These are neurologic diseases that cause a range of symptoms in horses and people including fever, lethargy, recumbence, seizures, mental dullness and death.
• They are transmitted by mosquitoes and other blood sucking insects from birds and rodents to horses or humans.
• They are NOT contagious from horse to horse, human to human or horse to human.
• The Northeast is considered endemic for these diseases and there have been deaths in horses in the recent past confirmed caused by EEE.
• The vaccines available are highly efficacious and very safe.
• Vaccine schedule: Annually or bi-annually, depending on risk factors including mosquito prevalence, travel, and time of spring vaccine.
4. West Nile Virus:
• West Nile Virus causes neurologic disease similar to EEE and WEE
• It is 33% fatal in horse and surviving animals often have long term effects of the disease.
• Over 24,000 cases since 1999 in US horses. The number of new cases per year in horses continues to decrease (probably because we vaccinate so well!)
• The vaccines available are highly efficacious and very safe.
• Vaccine schedule: Annually or bi-annually, depending on risk factors including mosquito prevalence, travel, and time of spring vaccine.
5. Equine Herpes Virus (EHV)/Rhinopneumonitis:
• Rhino is caused by Equine Herpes Virus (EHV). It is divided in to subtypes EHV-1 and EHV-4.
• It causes a variety of clinical disease, including abortion, weak or stillborn foals, acute neurologic disease and upper respiratory disease. This disease group has been very controversial in the last several years due to neurologic outbreaks.
• It is highly contagious from horse to horse via nasal secretions and can live in the environment for at least 14 days.
• The vaccines do NOT protect against the neurologic form of the disease. However, the vaccines may help reduce spread of the disease from horse to horse.
• Vaccine Schedule: Bi-annually (or more frequently if warranted) Due to the highly contagious nature of the disease, and the fact that the vaccine may not provide long-lived protection.
6. Influenza:
• Influenza causes similar signs to human flu. High fevers, lethargy, nasal discharge, cough.
• Influenza has many strains and sometimes the vaccine doesn’t protect against them all. The vaccine is only protective for 4-6 months.
• It is highly contagious and is most common in horses that travel a lot and are exposed to new horses, or at show grounds, race-tracks, etc.
• Vaccine Schedule: Bi-annually is recommended, or more often if travelling and showing frequently.
• NOTE: Influenza comes in a combination vaccine with Rhino. (Flu/Rhino)
7. Potomac Horse Fever:
• Caused by Neorickettsia risticii (formerly Ehrlichia risticii), this disease has a complex lifecycle, including snails and slugs. It is believed to be transmitted to horses through accidental ingestion of insects (mayflies, caddis flies, aquatic insects) who have ingested the organism in water. It is therefore more common in areas with water, snails, and aquatic insects.
• The disease is seasonal, worse in summer months, and is more common in areas South of Maine. However, recently there have been several suspicious cases in Maine.
• Clinical signs include fever, diarrhea, lethargy, colic, and laminitis. Unfortunately, the disease is often fatal.
• The vaccine has variable efficacy and is not known to have long lasting immunity.
• Vaccine Schedule: Annually or bi-annually for horses in high risk areas or horses that are travelling South.
8. Strangles:
• Caused by a bacteria, Streptococcus equi, strangles is characterized by high fever, thick mucopurulent nasal discharge (mucous and pus) and swelling and abscessing of the lymph nodes of the head and upper throat.
• The organism is persistent in the environment and is highly contagious from horse to horse.
• There are two types of vaccines. One is injectable (intramuscularly) and one is intranasal (squirted up the nose). Because of the different methods that these vaccines create immunity, they are not interchangeable. In other words, if your horse was previously vaccinated with the injectable form, then switching to the intranasal form would require an initial series of two vaccines.
• Vaccine Schedule: Annually. Recommended for horses that travel, show or live in barns that have horses coming in and out on a regular basis.


In addition to the vaccines, every two years I get a Coggins test on my horses. Many states require mandatory Coggins tests before a horse can be brought across state lines and why so many horse professionals, breeders, etc. require a negative Coggins test before a horse is bought, sold, moved into a new barn, allowed to enter a horse show or other event, auction, etc.  The Coggins Test is a blood test that checks for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) antibodies in a horse’s blood. It is used to diagnose a contagious disease that affects horses worldwide. EIA is also known as Swamp Fever because it is common in hot, muggy environments. There is no cure for EIA. It is contagious and can be fatal. The death rate is estimated to be 30% to 50% of horses who are infected with the virus. (That means about 50% to 70% survive the disease). If the horse survives, they will continue to be a carrier of the disease for the rest of their lives and therefore a danger and a threat to any other horses that they come in contact with.

It is important to vaccinate your horse.  I am an owner that leans to more vaccine protection for my horses than less.  I know there are owners that do just the rabies, but when there are serious and deadly diseases that could be prevented with a vaccine, I would rather vaccinate than take a chance of not being protected.  The side effects of vaccinating are minimal compared to the disease.  Research the vaccinations and talk to your vet and then make the important decision for your horse who is depending on you.

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I would want you to enjoy the beauty of me!

I don’t use the word “me” as just the horse; I take the word to mean the whole package that comes with owning a horse. Here in Central New York we have just had a week of crazy weather, which is really not that surprising for February, but still ever year it is a hot conversation topic. Multiple times a day I would go to the barn to tend to my horses. One morning this past week it was -27 degrees, then a few days later it was pouring rain and 50 degrees. The beauty of my horses, barn, pastures, and manure piles all shined though even in tough circumstances.

IMG_8241(1)(1) IMG_8252
The phrase “stop and smell the roses” comes to my mind almost every time I go out to the barn. I could just go out and quickly feed, water and clean up after my horse, but if I did, I would miss so much of the beauty of being out there. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t stop what I am doing and take a picture of something out there. I am always surprised when someone is selling a horse and they have such poor photos of the horse or so few photos of their horse.   I am asked in the winter months “how can you really enjoy being out there when it is that cold”? Well that is why gore-tex and thermal was created!  A typical winter day may start with first shoveling deep snow a good 100’ to the barn. Then bring 10 gallons of hot water from the house to the barn to fill the heated water buckets. Feed the horses and while they are eating, get a strong shovel to pry the frozen manure piles up into a wheelbarrow. Shovel another path from the barn to the manure pile to dump the manure. That’s just the daily general maintenance needed.

There may also be surprises when you go to the barn, and there always is, so I guess it really isn’t a surprise. This past week I had a few. My mares continue to challenge each other through the fence and that resulted in some surface injuries and fence damage from the scuffle. Then the rain created a quick snow thaw resulting in flooding in one of the stalls. All this could easily overwhelm and frustrate anyone, since it needs to be addressed and fixed right then. Barn issues usually can’t wait for a convenient time. So you put on another pot of coffee, extra layers and head out to solve the problems. When it is all done, like any good job, there is satisfaction.

IMG_8050 a
The real beauty for me happens the moment I open the door and feel the fresh air, see my horse run to the fence when she hears my voice, and we greet each other the way best friends do. I could do that all day.

Jan 14 2015
If you aren’t a real horse person, all this is work. To the rest of us, it’s “all” beautiful.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I would most be like this NFL Super Bowl 50 player!

This is what two woman discussed going up a ski lift last week.  My friend and fellow horse and sports enthusiast was telling me if her horses were super bowl players, they would be the quarterbacks in this years Super Bowl.  She said “Snugs and Mocha are as different from each other as Cam Newton and Peyton Manning—in personality and physically!”  That got me thinking, who would my horses match up with on the Denver Bronco’s or Carolina Panther’s?  I knew one thing for sure, they would definitely be on opposite teams.  With the help of a couple very knowledgeable nephews, I found the perfect football player match for my horses and my friends’ horses.

So here it is…the 2016 Super Bowl Horse Team!

Super Bowl Mocha

Super Bowl Snugs

Bailey super bowl player

Super Bowl Cheyenne

Super Bowl Aires

Super Bowl Rusty

Super Bowl Cat

Super Bowl Peggy Sue

Super Bowl Precious

Super Bowl Velvet

Super Bowl Penny

Super Bowl Cowboy

Super Bowl Dunkin

Super Bowl Mystery

Super Bowl Shannon

Thanks to my horse friends for supplying their horse photos and even adding “Jeter the cat” as Super Bowl Horse referee and “the hens”, because they wanted to participate in the festivities too.

Super Bowl Jeter Super Bowl Hens




Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I might eat another horse’s manure.

This is a pretty gross topic, but it is one I contacted my veterinarian a year ago for a reason as to why my horse would be eating manure all of a sudden.  Now one year later, it happened again while riding Bailey, she stopped to smell Cheyenne’s fresh manure pile in the snow in front of us and started to eat it!  I am told not to worry by my veterinarian, and that it is not uncommon.  Really?  I know my dog enjoys a hot meal of horse manure when he gets the chance and I never was worried about him eating it, I just thought it was gross.

But there must be some logical explanation or not?

Last year when this happened I thought I might have a reasonable answer.  It was right after Cheyenne had split Bailey’s lip with a kick which resulted in Bailey was not eating properly.  Since she was not chewing correctly, her digestion was compromised, and she was seeking out digested manure for nutrition from Cheyenne’s manure.  That seemed to make sense to me, and I actually found that quite remarkable that an animal would figure that out, if she did indeed figure it out.  I was told by my vet not to worry about it either way, plus I was in the process of separating the horses permanently because of their fighting.  I did ask my vet if Bailey was getting nutrition from Cheyenne’s manure and if I separate her from the manure, would Bailey need anything to supplement her deficiency?  I was told no, and so I separated them and really didn’t think about it.  I never saw Bailey eat her own manure.  Now, a year later, Bailey does it again, but why this time?

Bailey behind Cheyenne 1-2016

When an animal eats manure, it is termed coprophagia, derived from the Greek “kopros” for feces and “phagein” for eat.  It is fairly common behavior in foals starting at about two to three weeks old. The foal knows that it needs to populate its digestive system with the bacteria from the mother’s manure and that will help the foal’s intestines break down its new diet which includes roughage.  Foals may also eat manure to take advantage of the rich source of B-vitamins and vitamin K that are found in manure.  Adult horses might be doing the same thing.

With adult horses, eating warm manure might appear like a mash or a comfort meal on a cold day.  Some have suggested that a horse will eat manure because he lacks fiber, protein, and energy in his diet, or certain minerals or salt, or it’s the high moisture content.  Some professionals believe it could be from being bored or kept in a stall too long, or stress.

All these suggested reasons appear to be not much more than theories.  There really aren’t any studies on this subject.  Since manure contains undigested fiber and grains, as well as moisture, it normally doesn’t pose a hazard to a horse’s health.  There really isn’t any harm in the horse eating manure other than the potential for consuming parasite larvae if the horse isn’t properly dewormed. Adult horses are less likely to participate in this act, but if they do, it is considered normal in small doses. Beyond that, in adult horses, there may be some underlying problems.  If you are concerned, keep a log every time you see the action done so you have information to provide to your veterinarian.  For me, it was a total of 2x, one last year and one this year.

This quiz below came from the Star milling Co. site prepared by Dr. Bray, a consulting nutritionist for the company.  Dr. Bray is a retired professor and associate chair of the Animal & Veterinary Sciences Department at California State Polytechnic University – Pomona. He received his Ph.D. in Animal Nutrition from the University of Maryland and conducted his Ph.D. research at USDA. 

Fact or Fiction Quiz

  1. Foals are more likely to learn about food selection if they eat their mother’s feces.
  2. Coprophagy may serve to “immunize” the newborn against parasites.
  3. The mare’s feces contain a pheromone that encourages foal to eat feces.
  4. Coprophagy may serve to strengthen the social bond of mother and foal.
  5. Coprophagy in adult horses means that something is lacking in their diet.
  6. Horses that eat feces receive many vitamins & minerals that may be lacking in the diet.
  7. Feces from animals that eat plants for food contain many of the B vitamins.
  8. Coprophagy will populate the foal’s gut with “good” bacteria.
  9. Exercise reduces coprophagy.
  10. Coprophagy is normal, but if practice frequently, the horse’s diet should be evaluated for deficiencies in protein, fiber, and other nutrients.
  11. Adult horses in a research environment have eaten feces when dietary protein is deficient, but stopped when a protein supplement was fed and the deficiency corrected. 

How did you do?

  1. False
  2. False
  3. False – There are pheromones associated with waste products but no evidence to support that it “encourages the foal to eat feces”.
  4. False
  5. False
  6. False – While this is the case with rabbits, it is not the case with horses.
  7. False
  8. True – Foal’s exploration and muzzling of his/her environment will expose the foal in the beginning days of life to bacteria, including from waste products. The influence of type of bacteria has not been documented.
  9. True
  10. False – Coprophagy is not related to nutrient deficiencies. It is, however, more common with confined horses when compared to pasture horses.
  11. False – For adult horses that appear obsessive with the behavior, the addition of fiber (not protein) by adding roughage’s to the diet appears to reduce the frequency of the behavior. Feeding a balanced formula high in soluble fiber (beet pulp & soy hulls) to complement the forage portion of the diet is one way to ensure adequate nutrients and fiber favorable to gut health are being supplied. Feeding a low calorie, no grain, high soluble fiber balanced formula, is one option to ensure that the daily diet is balanced.

Ingestion of fecal material frequently raises concerns with horse owners.  Coprophagy is a natural exploration by all equids and the primary benefit is inoculating the gut with bacteria that are necessary for hindgut digestion in the herbivore gut. The habit or practice is more likely behavioral and probably in domestic management is accentuated through boredom. There are biological mechanisms with all animals that tell us when we are hungry, thirsty, or a desire for a “taste for salt”. However a horse cannot process the thought,  …oh, I need a little more iron, or riboflavin, or copper and thus randomly start to seek out a food source that hopefully supplies that nutrient(s). For all practical purposes coprophagy has absolutely nothing to do with nutrition unless the horse is unhealthy and in very poor condition. During my early training in animal nutrition, I recall a professor rationalizing that since microorganisms produce B-vitamins and vitamin K in the gut, coprophagy is a method of retrieving those nutrients so that they will enter the small intestine for processing and absorption. That concept has not been demonstrated and one needs to understand that microorganism live through out the gut and in non–ruminants, such as the horse, there is a significant population of micros in the distal (end) section of the small intestine and there is an opportunity for absorption of those nutrients generated by the micros.

Since I know my horses aren’t bored, have 24 hour pasture access, have a complete nutritious and balanced diet, have plenty of water, have salt and mineral blocks, I guess it was just one of those moments Bailey couldn’t pass up.  Luckily I have peppermints to give her!


Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Horse Owner Q & A – Ethyl Alcohol Fusion

Source: Horse Owner Q & A – Ethyl Alcohol Fusion

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Horse Owner Q & A – Ethyl Alcohol Fusion

Source: Horse Owner Q & A – Ethyl Alcohol Fusion

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I would want to be the alpha horse, no I want to be the alpha horse.

Yes, I own two mares that want to be the alpha horse.  And no, I am not insane to still own both of them, although in April 2015 I did put Cheyenne for sale for a week while I thought if I could make this work.

What is Alpha Horse…Every herd has leaders, followers, and a well defined pecking order known as a dominance hierarchy. The Alpha Horse is the dominant leader in a herd. Horses instinctively seek leadership. The Alpha Horse provides leadership and security in a herd. It is quite common for the Alpha Horse to be an old mare.

Bailey has always been the alpha horse, and she took her job seriously and was good at it.  Without blood or injury, her herd knew she was the boss and all cooperated and lived in harmony when I boarded her.  Bailey moved to our home as an only horse, but retained her alpha personality to visiting horses.

bailey and cheyenneBailey Cheyenne feeder box

When Cheyenne was purchased, I had been told she was picking on the gelding in her pasture.  I wasn’t concerned for her to join our herd because I had seen Bailey in action as an alpha horse.  It went as I expected, the meet and greet, followed by the head nods, a few distant kicks, and alpha was established to Bailey.  All was great for a day.

iphone transfer 11-2015 a 041     photo (8)

The next day Cheyenne decided to enter the stall area that had a large door at one end to share hay with Bailey.  The two mares were in together and a difference of opinion came about with strong kicking.  I was there and ended it quickly, but I realized I needed to modify the one door entrance immediately to two doors at each end for escape routes.  That same day a second door was cut with the help of my neighbor and harmony was at the barn for 10 months.  Bailey was the boss, Cheyenne followed.  No worries…wrong!

Taken from “Dominance and the Horse”: The harem group has a clear hierarchy in which the stallion and head mare are the two most central individuals in a very literal sense. The head mare is often referred to as the lead mare, but this can easily lead to some confusion about her actual role. An easy way of thinking about the head mare is as the ‘general’ of the group. Her place is at the center of the group, where she is protected by a screen of lower status mares. She is the single most important member, and the group’s primary decision maker. Head mares are ‘elected’ to their position by group consensus. The position cannot be captured by aggressive behavior, nor can it be maintained by tyranny. So while the head mare is certainly the highest status female in the group, and is in many ways far more important to their survival than is the stallion, there is no need for her to physically dominate other mares and it would be a betrayal of her freely accorded status were she to do so. Lower status mares may improve their standing by achieving an alliance with the head mare – a win-win element of equine female social politics.

iphone transfer 11-2015 a 12242-15-2015Bailey leg cut close up

Cheyenne was waiting for the opportune time to overthrow Bailey as alpha horse.  Food is the key factor to why Cheyenne asserted herself, even though the horses are never without food.  2015 winter was lasting way to long for everyone- people and horses!  The snow in Syracuse had not melted and just kept accumulating all winter without a break.   The horses had created paths to travel from the front of the barn to the back of the barn.  The first fight happened when Bailey was traveling to the back of the barn and Cheyenne was traveling to the front of the barn, both looking for new hay from me.  The horses got stuck in the path and violent kicking started.  It was very intense and scary for me to watch and there wasn’t much I could do fast enough to get into the area and over the high snow to them.  Bailey got injured close to her stifle and it initially looked really bad, but luckily it was fur scraped off and a few cuts.  With the cold weather, I wasn’t concerned of infection, but I did treat it with triple antibiotic cream.  It broke my heart to see Bailey standing back scared of Cheyenne.  Her leg was wounded and stiff, and she looked totally defeated.  I had read that if there is an overthrow of alpha horse, there will probably be another interaction to regain the position.

Bailey cutBailey eye

It took another week of Bailey healing, and Cheyenne as the new alpha horse until the next altercation.  I was not present for that, but I can assume it was bad from the next wound on Bailey.  I had gone to the barn to give them both carrots and treats. When Bailey took her treat it fell to the floor which never happens.  I looked under her lip and saw a gaping cut that went right through to her gums.  Unbelievable!  I called the vet to come see if she would require stitches or not.  I thought perhaps Cheyenne had bit Bailey while eating hay too close, but the vet said it was another kick to her lip.  Yikes!  Soon after the vet left, Cheyenne delivered her final blow to Bailey right in front of me.  A sucker kick to Bailey’s eye, and all because Bailey was heading toward the hay pile.  I could not believe how mean Cheyenne was to Bailey and I wanted Cheyenne gone!

iphone transfer 11-2015 a 1357

As luck would have it (since I still have Cheyenne and love her), every barn I called to board her immediately at, was unavailable due to the harsh winter.  Thank goodness for a great neighbor, because I had help from him again that day to put up some fencing to separate them between the barn and pasture.   I would rotate the horses every 12 hours from the pasture area to the barn and run-out area.

Cheyenne angry headCheyenne angry neck strechPasture 2015 photoCheyenne Emily Bailey Kathy

After getting through those bad weeks, both horses now have separate stall areas and pasture areas 24 hours a day.  I have two alpha horses that live independently together.  They can co-exist as close as an electric rope fence in the pasture and a wall separation in the barn. Even separated, Cheyenne still has a strong opinion of Bailey’s presence during feeding, but other than that, they actually get along good.


Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: