Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hoof Problems - White Line Disease

Received this e-mail from Karen in South Carolina, My farrier told me my Trakehner has white line disease in his left front hoof and said he would have to cut out some of the hoof. He told me it is an infection that can spread and ruin the hoof. I asked him to wait until I get a Veterinarian’s opinion on it. I have only talked to my Vet over the phone, and he has not came out yet to look at it, but he did say that my farrier’s recommendation sounded about right. I could not find anything in a couple of the equine health books I own, but I did read some article on-line about it. What do you know about white line disease? Have any of your horses had it? What treatment did you do and how did your horses respond?”

Howdy Karen, there is a common perception that Veterinarians and Farriers can’t get along when discussing hoof problems. Some people may find your Vet’s suggestions that your farrier’s recommendation to “cut out the white line disease” sounded about right. That’s probably because the Vet may defer to farrier’s on most hoof related issues, and because cutting out the hoof is the most commonly accepted procedure. My shoer tells me that there is no topical treatment, such as like we have for thrush, to get rid of the bacterial or fungal infection.

Sorry about your horse having white line disease. If you have read the on-line resources about white line, I’m am sure you have found that it is called white line disease because it appears at or near the white line that separates the hoof wall and the hoof sole and is detectable by the soft, powdery hoof wall tissue. I think the jury is still out whether it’s a fungus or a bacterial infection, but it is certain that the diseased portion has to be cut out completely and left exposed to air to be able to get rid of it. I have only seen it on two horses, both diagnosed by a farrier. In both instances, the diseased part of the hoof and some of the sole was cut away. In both cases a shoe was fitted to give the hoof better stability on the affected hoof.

In one case, a lot of hoof wall was taken out, and it took about 8 months for the hoof to grow back sound. Recently this same horse came up with a smaller case of white line disease. It came back in the same hoof and since White Line Disease is most probably e hoof but you can’t help but think the horse is picking it up tha fungus he probably picked it up in the ground where he is penned up. In the second instance, the shoer again cut out the decayed hoof wall and some of the hoof sole (laminae), then fitted a shoe with clips to help protect the hoof as it is missing some of it's hoof wall.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Reader Question on Bug Bites

Trying to help May from East Texas who has a horse with bug bites on his neck. Her other horse is not affected. Fly Spray doesn't seem to work on the affected horse. I told May what I do to treat a horse with bug bite like bumps which get irritated, scratched, then open. If bugs are attracted before then they for sure will be with an open sore.

It may not necessarily be bug bites, it could be an allergic reaction to an ingredient in the horse's feed, or any weed the horse may be able to graze on. In that case, the Vet may tell you to use Tri-Hist. If it is an allergic based reaction then ask the Vet for some feeding options as well. You may want to feed loose hay rather than tightly packed flakes to help get the dust and spoors out.

In any case a product called M-T-G, which is a sulfur - mineral oil based product, works well to sooth the irritated skin. I hose the horse off and scrap or brush the salt off his hair. I do not generally use soap before hand. I'm from the school that rarely gives the horse a bath, just prefer to hose them off from time to time. I guess I tend to think that washing too often with soap products is un-natural and can remove some of the natural protective oils the horse has on it's skin.

When I use M-T-G, which stands for Mane, Tail and Groom, and for the record my wife taught me to use this, I wear rubber gloves as the sulfur-mineral oil based M-T-G really soaks into your hands and you will be smelling like Frankenstein for a time to come. I use a wet rag to apply the M-T-G and really rub it into the skin, cause you know once you turn that horse back out, he's going to roll. You can leave him tied up to dry for a spell as well.

A light weight fly sheet can be used to protect the horse from bug bites, if it is bug bites. I don't really think the East Texas humidity makes this a good option. In any event, just rinsing off your horse and grooming him will give him some relief.

I recently read a quote, I think from the September issue of Western Horseman, to the effect that grooming your horse let you get to know each other and learn each other's personality,....boy ain't that the truth. Good luck May and safe journey.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cowboy Humor - Cowboys and Indians?

Three strangers strike up a conversation in the passenger lounge in Bozeman, Montana, awaiting their flights. One is an American Indian passing through from Lame Deer. Another is a cowboy on his way to Billings for a stock show. The third passenger is a fundamentalist Arab student, newly arrived at Montana State University from the Middle East.

Their discussion drifts to their diverse cultures. Soon the two Westerners learn that the Arab is a devout, radical Muslim. The conversation falls into an uneasy lull.

The cowboy leans back in this chair, crosses his boots on a magazine table,
tips his big sweat-stained hat forward over his face. The wind outside blows tumbleweeds, and the old wind sock flaps; but no plane comes.

Finally, the American Indian clears his throat and softly he speaks, "Once my people were many,! we are few."

The Muslim student raises an eyebrow and leans forward, "Once my people were few," he sneers, "and now we are many. Why do you suppose that is?"

The Montana cowboy shifts his toothpick to one side of his mouth and from the darkness beneath his Stetson says in a drawl, "That's cause we ain't played Cowboys and Muslims yet".

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rifle Scabbard Question and Tips

I received a question from Josh about hanging a rifle scabbard. ”I have a question on my rifle sheath (scabbard). Every which way I position my rifle sheath it either rubs on my horse or it is uncomfortable. Can you show me how you solve this problem?”

Josh, thanks for your question. I hang rifle scabbards differently based on the saddle I am using. For the past several years I am using a rifle scabbard hung on the off side (right side of the saddle when you’re sitting in it) with the scabbard connected to the cinch D ring using a latigo or connector strap and a snap hook, and to the back of the cantle using the same thing. See pictures left.

I can move the scabbard around somewhat to position for best comfort. Good for you for considering your horse’s comfort as well. A poorly hung scabbard can gouge or wear on the horse if you are not careful. I have a piece of sheepskin with two slots cut into it where I run the front latigo or connector strap through lining so it serves as a buffer where the scabbard could gall or otherwise wear on my horse’s barrel, see picture right.  Hope this helps.  Safe Journey partner. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Little Mare Called Reckless

I was sent the story of this amazing horse, called Reckless, and a heck of a story it is. This was a horse purchased by the Marines during the Korean War to carry ammunition to gun positions. A Marine Lieutenant named Eric Pedersen reported bought Reckless, a smallish mare, from a Korean boy who needed money to buy an artificial leg for a family member.

Loved and well cared for by the Marines, Reckless was eventually promoted to Staff Sergeant after an amazing record of service in a very dangerous environment where she was wounded twice. The story could also be called "The Little Mare That Could".

Watch the video story on this horse prized by the Marine Corps.

To read the entire story of this little mare called Reckless, go to her memorial website.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saddle Wear Spots on Horse

Received this question via e-mail from Arlo....”My brown horse is getting white spots, some are oblong, on his back and somebody told me I needed a better saddle pad. Does this generally solves this problem?”

Arlo, I would say that the most common cause of white spots or dead hair on a horses back are a poor fitting saddle. See picture at left. Really no such thing as a saddle that fits all horses. And the most common area on the horse's back is where the bars of the saddle make contact with the horse's back. Sometimes there is uneven contact or pressure from the bars because of poor fit and that puts additional pressure on the horse's back. The picture left is a good example of that on this old roping horses of mine who I bought with these obvious saddle wear marks. He was grossly underweight at the time which can add to the effects of a poor fit.

There is only very little you can do with different saddle pads to make that saddle fit better to eliminate the problem. Of course it is necessary to have a good pad and for it to be kept in good condition. I only use a felt pad and for the last five or six years been using the Impact Gel pads which have impact absorbing gel in place's where the saddle and rider's weight are mostly felt by the horse. I have seen some pretty sweated up and crusty pads, from which the accumulation of salt from sweat can cut the hair, kill it and turn it white. This is most common, from my experience, towards the rear of the saddle pad. I lay my pads, upside down, see photo right, and scrap them with a grooming brush to remove excess salt buildup (and hair buildup) so the pad is softer on the horse's back. In the hot summer months, like now, I do this before every ride. I have seen the beginning of white hair on some horses and if you act early enough you can keep from killing the hair and making it permanently white.

If I were you I would lay my bare saddle on my horses back and check for fit. Ensure that you have some room in the gullet where the saddle fits over the horse's withers. Check for consistent contact along the bars of the saddle with the horse's back. If this is where you are seeing the white hair, chances are it's from the saddle. Make sure your sheepskin lining is intact and not in need of replacing, and maybe a new felt saddle pad is in order. Good luck and safe journey.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tracking - Aging of Sign

One of the harder things to do in a climate that lacks noticeable changes, such as desert environments without moisture or substantial winds, is the Aging of Tracks. There are various factors and components of nature that will help in the Aging of Tracks which would provide discernible changes observable to the tracker  usually in degradation of sharp edges and the changing of the color. Some of these natural factors include:

Moisture such as Fog or Dew - will usually fluff up the topsoil (as the soil absorbs moisture and expands) and make the track appear spongy.

Rain will wash away tracks beginning with the sharp edges, however compressed tracks may leave darker areas where the moisture ran to the lowest part of the compression. Light rain may dimple or pock mark the pressure release. Rain can deliver a timeline for the tracker.

The Wind will erase gradual edges and soften sharp edges. Take note of your environment and judge accordingly.

Heat. Dries out the moisture (providing discoloration) in the ground and combined with gravity, cause the edges to crumble.

Gravity. Causes sharp, regular edges, alongside the compression of tracks/sign to deteriorate over time.

Thumb Test. The tracker, using his thumb, presses down into the soil to produce a sample that he can use to judge age of the track compared to the impression, edges, and coloration of his thumb print.

Cold. Slows down the aging process by retaining moisture.

Animal Tracks. Consider the animal traffic in the area and apply it to the analysis of evaluating the age of the sign.  In the desert during the hottest months, often lizard tracks across other ground sign indicate that the ground sign was presented no later tha the early morning hours, providing a time line to the ground sign. 

Print A at Right is 36 hours old. Note rounding or smoothing of edges defining the track. Light wind has made distinguishing print marks of the footwear very difficult to read.

Print B is 4 hours old. Note the print has retained the sharp edges of the track. With a light wind and time, this track's sharp edges will round and the depression caused by the pressure release will fill in.

One of the best things you can do is to find an area that will not be disturbed, lay your own sign each day and check the changes as it relates to the weather and environment.