April "Ask Horse Journal" Letters

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I have two Quarter Horses that constantly have ticks in their ears, while the others hardly get ticks. Is there a good remedy to keep ticks out of the horse's ear' What is the best way to get rid of these ticks'

Veterinary Editor Dr. Eleanor Kellon responds:

Ear ticks can be a considerable source of pain, making the horse resistant to handling the ears, and in some cases have been known to cause paralysis. Signs include headshaking, ear drooping, rubbing the ear, resistance to having the ears touched. Severe cases may have a secondary bacterial infection, or may actually penetrate the ear drum and cause meningitis.
You can often see them by shining a light into the ear canal, but some of the ticks may be too deep to see. Black, waxy debris may also be present in the ear.

Wiping the ear with a swab or gauze pad (horse permitting) may remove some loosely attached ticks. Do not try to physically remove ticks because 1) the horse is likely to resist, increasing the risk of leaving the tick head behind, and 2) there are likely ticks deeper in the ear that can't be removed by hand.

Oral ivermectin will kill ticks that are attached and feeding. Use a regular deworming dose. You can use permethrin or pyrethrin/piperonly butoxide, at regular fly-spray strength, dripped into the ear canal. Frontline sprayed into the ear also works. Natural pyrethrin, as found in chrysanthemum-based sprays, doesn't work well. To prevent the ticks from entering, wipe the ear and base of the ear with one of these insecticides daily.

Ear ticks often live indoors or in cracks of fence posts rather than the woods. Both the larval stages and adult females may live up to two years in the environment without feeding. A combination of diatomaceous earth at ground level to control young nymphs and premise sprays with insecticides can be used but direct treatment of the ears is preferred.

Safety Stirrups

I am looking for safety stirrups as my treeless saddle doesn't have an open stirrup bar. There are so many kinds and a wide variation of prices. It would help me out if your magazine would review safety stirrups. I ride English, but I'm sure Western riders would like to know about safety stirrups, too.

Associate Editor Margaret Freeman responds:

We did a field trial on both English and Western safety stirrups eight years ago, but there are many new designs available now, so we're working on another field trial of safety stirrups for an issue later this year.

We can tell you about some of the options available now and their specific plus points and price ranges in case a specific type will help you for now. These styles are generally available in most catalogs/tack shops except where noted.

1. Open sided, so the foot can slip out easily. The classic stirrup for children (adults use it, too) is the peacock stirrup with the outside bow replaced by a heavy rubber band. ($30/pair, various brands). ?Safestyle? has the open-side bow next to the horse so it looks traditional from the side but not from the front ($198, Bit of Britain).

2. Release mechanism, which looks normal unless the side bow is twisted by a trapped foot. The bow on one side of ?Kwik-Out? stirrups unlocks ($95).

3. Shaped side. The outside bow has a curved shape or is angled, allowing extra room if the foot becomes twisted. ?Foot Free? has an S-shape on the side ($39). The bow on Awantec stirrups is angled ($132, Dressage Extensions).? Sprenger?s ?Bow Balance? combines a curved bow with a hinged foot pad ($210). Courbette?s bell-shaped stirrup ($44) is wider than a traditional stirrup but looks the same from the side.

Magnetic Therapy

In the article on magnetic therapy (February 2011), am I correct that you induce an electric pulse with PEMF. Is the electric pulse doing the work rather than the magnetic field, as in physical therapy when they use the stim therapy'

Veterinary Editor Dr. Eleanor Kellon responds:

You?re not the first person to wonder if the PEMF effect is actually electric. Unlike electrical stimulation devices for bone, PEMF is noninvasive and works from the surface of the skin. The electrical stim devices used in therapy are for issues like muscle spasm and sciatica.