Letters: 01/03

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Fort Dodge Response
The article that appeared in the November issue of Horse Journal titled “WNV Vaccine Status,” includes statements that we believe require clarification. The article states: “The USDA has issued only another one year conditional, rather than full, license to Ft. Dodge for their WN vaccine.”

Conditional licensures are issued by the USDA, usually in either six-month or one-year increments. The re-issuance of the conditional license, rather than full licensure, was due to the USDA receiving efficacy and potency data around the time of the re-issuance. After evaluation of this information, the USDA will consider full licensure. Fort Dodge is optimistic full licensure will be soon. The re-issuance of the conditional license does not indicate a problem has come up — it confirms the vaccine will be available while the USDA completes their review of all the necessary data.

The article also states: “Vaccinated horses were better able to control appearance of virus in the blood but neither group developed encephalitis. Because of this, the vaccine’s ability to actually prevent disease remains unclear.”

As is the case with other encephalitis viruses, in healthy horses the prevention of viremia precludes development of clinical signs of WNV. Clinical signs of WNV only occur following a viremic stage in the infected horse. By preventing establishment of the viremic state, further progression of the WNV disease is halted. This is the same mechanism by which sleeping sickness vaccines work. There are many variables still undefined regarding why some horses develop clinical signs of disease, while some don’t. This would apply to field exposure to the WNV, as well as experimental challenge.

Some of these variables are easy to define, such as age-related immune status, nutritional status, pre-existing illness, as well as other underlying factors, which may not optimize the immune response of the horse. While no vaccine is 100% effective, the WNV vaccine appears to be performing well.

-John Tuttle, DVM
Fort Dodge Animal Health

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Girth Galls Help
Your article on girth galls in November brought back some memories.?? Years ago, we had a horse that developed sores in front of his girth, no matter what we did.?? His skin was particularly “wrinkly” in his armpit and he was chafing.?? We tried some anti-chafing products, but the thing that worked best was spray deodorant (not an antiperspirant).??You have to be sure to buy one with a high talc content.?? Spray it on before the ride (yes . . . you and your horse will look silly), then take it with you to touch up after much sweating at lunchtime.??It always worked and was an inexpensive solution.

-Paula Vervaet
New York

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Switching From Peacocks
I have peacock safety stirrups and, fortunately, never had to “test” them in real life. However, I have had them cause three “accidents” as a direct result of the metal hook that holds the band on at the top of the stirrup.

Twice my pants snagged on this hook, and I was momentarily suspended from my stirrup while trying to get loose. Then one day the hook snagged under the bottom of our mailbox while I was getting our mail.??My horse stepped sideways, and the entire mailbox came flying off the post onto the ground below us.

It was only the fact that my Arab gelding, Superr Starr, was living up to his name and stood quietly during each of these accidents that saved me from injury. After each incident, I have sworn that I’m going purchase another safety stirrup but didn’t. Thanks to your November article I can choose which ones to purchase.

By the way, I’m an older rider who doesn’t feel the least bit self-conscious about using safety stirrups or wearing a helmet every time I ride. I’d rather have someone think I’m a wimp than be dead or disabled.

-Midge McGinnis
Oregon

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Stirrup Expert
I really got into the article on safety stirrups (November 2002). We have a small Rocky Mountain Horse farm and use a lightweight plantation saddle with traditional irons to train our horses. However, I was so impressed with the information on the safety stirrups that I may start a collection and purchase all of them, now that I’m an expert.??

-Ray Gonsalves
Nicolina Farm
New York

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Storage Of Sideways Eye Stirrups
I bought a pair of double-S/sideways eye irons from an Icelandic gent at Equitana two years ago.?? I absolutely adore them.?? They are so easy to pick up correctly.?? The broader tread gives fantastic support when I’m jumping.?? My feet are more comfortable than they were in my Fillis irons. However, I wish he’d showed me how to run them up properly.?? Thank you for doing that in your November article!

-Christine Tindall
Michigan

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Devastating Fall
Thanks for your November 2002 article on safety stirrups.?? In 1991, I thought the Kwik-Out stirrups were too expensive. And, while I procrastinated, I fell off my horse and my rubber boot (bad idea!) got caught in the stirrup, and I broke my ankle. The force bent the steel stirrup. The doctors and physical therapy cost $5,000, not to mention giving away 12 pairs of high heels due to my tendon and ligament damage. It took more than six months to heal (no pun intended). I’ve used safety stirrups ever since.

-Susan Ajamian
Delaware

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Dog Attack Advice
In your November issue, I read the letter about the dog chasing the horse and rider. I, too, used to be terrified when riding and a dog would come charging out on the road after us. Then I saw how a friend handled it and adopted her method, which has yet to fail me no matter what kind of dog I’ve been faced with.??

First, always face your enemy.?? The dogs are always braver when they are behind you and you or your horse can’t quite see what they’re up to.?? Most of the time just facing it is enough to stop a charging dog.?? When he sees you aren’t afraid he is less likely to keep advancing.?? If he does keep coming, press your horse forward and run at the dog.?? That usually does the trick.??

If you ride toward the dog and he comes back, keep charging at him until he gives up.??Believe it or not, this method can break the dog of the horse-chasing habit, which does the dog owner a favor.??Once you have charged the same dog ride after ride they don’t even bother chasing.?? The upside for you and your horse is gaining the knowledge that you’re not afraid of charging dogs along your ride.??No one gets hurt, and the horse and rider remain calm.

-Jackie Kopp
Pennsylvania

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Vinegar “Weapon”
I have another suggestion about facing an attacking dog. I used to trail ride carrying a weapon — a squirt gun filled with vinegar.?? After one carefully aimed shot to the dog’s face, the neighborhood bully ran home with his tail between his legs and never bothered me again.

-Susan Williams
California

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Stay Mounted
I disagree with your advice about how to handle a dog attack. The rider ends up on the ground trying to hold on to a panicky horse — usually more difficult than staying on his back — and putting himself in jeopardy from the dog, which is much more likely to attack a human than a large horse.

What works in most dog situations — assuming that you haven’t been thrown off-balance by the initial attack — is to stay on the horse, turn him to face the dog, and quietly urge him forward. Facing the danger keeps the horse from bolting, and the dog almost always retreats. The horse learns that the dog is not so formidable after all. I tried this ploy after being regularly harassed by a large mastiff-type dog that lives in my riding area and have all but cured him of attacking horses. He comes out barking, se es who it is, and slinks back home.

-Sally Warthen
Virginia

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Caught An Important Typo
I just got my November issue and wanted to point out a little “oops” in the article about aspirin.?? It states that “A gram is 65 mg.” That is incorrect: A grain contains 65 mg, and a gram is 1000 milligrams.??That makes the article dosages confusing, in light that it states in the previous paragraph that, “The recommended dosage for horses is usually about 7.5 to 15 grams, once or twice a day . . . aspirin, which comes in large boluses of 240 grains each.” I love your publication and find it useful.??I hope that little clarification of the dosing terms is helpful.

-Julie Harris, R.N.
Triple H Equestrian Center

We did have a typographical error in the words grain vs. gram, but the dosing information is correct. To clarify, the note on the boluses containing 240 grains each is correct (240 grains = 15.6 grams). In addition, we had a typo in our conversions chart in December: 1 g=1000 mg, not 100 mg.