by Elizabeth A. Tomlin
A wealth of knowledge was shared at the annual Saratoga County 2015 Horse Symposium, where numerous veterinarians and other professionals gathered to inform attendees on various equine related subjects.
Horse health issues covered at the event included a hands-on presentation by Ryan Penno, DVM of the Equine Clinic at Oakencroft, on ‘Chiropractic Benefits for Horses’.
Penno demonstrated areas on an 8-year-old gelding where pelvic, spinal and ribs may all affected by injuries that result in lameness, sensitivity and attitude problems with horses. He said using a “whole body approach” when working on the horse is more beneficial than focusing on a specific area.
He remarked that once an injury occurs, it may hard for a horse to regain motion — a condition frequently seen in barrel racing horses. He showed ways that horse owners and riders can work with their horses on stretching to relieve pain and regain flexibility. Legs were another area focused on.
“Chiropractic care is an important component in maintaining the general health and soundness of all types of horses from backyard pets to performance athletes,” Penno explained. “Addressing reduced spinal motion early can help prevent problems from evolving to the point of pain and discomfort.”
Holistic Horse Care, presented by Valarie M. Castora, DVM of Heart Wing Veterinary Services, was another well attended lecture at the event.
Castora spoke about cases where she had intervened with holistic medicines to achieve results not obtained by conventional methods. She described an assortment of Chinese and Western herbs and and natural remedies that have worked for her in treating horses and dogs. During her lecture she also spoke about benefits of acupuncture, nutrition — including vitamins, minerals and diet — and chiropractic work. She explained how specific vitamins and minerals will help specific diseases and disorders. “Animals with Lyme’s Disease tend to have a higher need for vitamin E,” Castora stated.
She said another important aspect of equine health is dentistry. “Dentistry is hugely important to maintain a horse’s balance. Think about having your horse’s mouth balanced by an equine dentist. The back teeth are a common problem and a sedated exam is well worth it!”
Castora said an exam of your horse’s tongue will tell a lot about their health. “Look at the color, shape and size.”
Aromatherapy was also discussed and lavender was one flower essence Castora recommended to provide comfort for all species. Peppermint works well with horses.
“There are many more treatment options available than may be offered by regular, conventional veterinary medicine,” Castora said. “If a horse is experiencing symptoms that have not responded to regular therapy, seek a holistic second opinion. For those inclined to holistic or a more organic type of medicine, often alternative therapies can be a first line of treatment.”
A ‘Large Animal Emergency Rescue’ clinic, presented by husband and wife team Steven Sedrish and Tracy Bartick-Sedrish, DVM, of the Upstate Equine Medical Center, was very informative and several cases of horse rescue were reported, with photos provided of each case.
“In any rescue situation, the first thing to consider is safety for both the horse and the people involved,” Sedrish said. “This is best accomplished through the use of an incident commander, as well as preparation and training.”
Sedrish emphasized the necessity of having an incident commander, who all rescuers must respect and listed to, following their explicit orders. The best person to be the incident commander is not the horse owner.
Some of the points made included, never standing in front of the horse during a rescue, never wrapping a lead rope around your hands, provide eye protection for the horse, and realize that in cold weather the animal will quickly experience hypothermia in their extremities. Sedrish noted that most cases in need of rescue will occur in cold weather. Horse owners should always have a team of people they can contact in case of emergency.
The Upstate Equine Medical Center is working to get together an equine rescue trailer that will be stocked with straps, a hoist, sling, quick release ropes, shavings, heaters, spot lights, a generator, winches and other equipment.
“Although our wish list is long, the most important item on the list is a trailer in which to store all the existing equipment,” Sedrish remarked. “A stocked trailer would allow a veterinary vehicle to hook up to the bumper pull and head to an emergency in an efficient manner. At this time, we often have to take two vehicles to an emergency so as to have veterinary equipment and rescue equipment. If the trailer could be stored fully stocked and ready to go, time would be saved in loading a pick up truck and we would be sure that all the equipment was in the trailer and not left behind at the clinic in the flurry to head out on the road.”
One piece of equipment Sedrish advises all horsemen/women to carry is a good jack knife. “A jack knife is one of the best tools you can have handy. It’s a number one piece of equipment. I think anyone working with and around horses should have a sharp knife.”
This time of year, Sedrish reported he has many incidents with saddled horses going down and not being able to regain their feet. “I don’t know why, but all I do is cut the cinch, and the horse is able to get up.”
Trailering accidents were also covered. Sedrish emphasized the need for emergency training and their clinic has provided several training sessions for State Police and other official personnel.
“We are excited each time we see able to help an animal that is ‘in a fix’,” said Dr. Tracy Bartick-Sedrish. “It is gratifying to see them happy, healthy and back at their jobs!”
For more information or equine rescue, contact Upstate Equine Medical Center at 518-695-3744.
Mary Koncel, Adjunct Instructor for the Center for Animals and Public Policy at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine of Tufts University, demonstrated work with mustangs promoting the successful adoption of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wild horses.
“Mustangs are amazing,” Koncel said. “With proper care and training, they make wonderful family horses and can excel in a wide variety of disciplines. There are many ways to acquire a BLM mustang and several organizations in the Northeast devoted to promoting these horses and helping new adopters. We thank the Cornell Cooperative Extension for the opportunity to be part of the 2015 Horse Symposium.”
“This was one of our best years yet!” said Carter Older, CCE organizer of the event. “We had great weather, great speakers, and a great turn out. I was so happy to be able to incorporate the 4-H Youth into the program by having them introduce our speakers. They did a fantastic job!”
by Elizabeth A. Tomlin