Letters: 03/03

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Wraps For Arthritis
I just read your article on using neoprene wraps (January 2003) to warm the joints of arthritic horses. I have a trick that seems to work. I put disposable baby diapers under the neoprene to absorb the moisture and can leave the wraps on for a couple of days. My arthritic Thoroughbred gelding does well with this system.

-Name Withheld
Vermont

That’s a clever system, and we’re glad to hear it’s working for you, but there are a few precautions. The diapers can wrinkle or bunch up and cause uneven pressure on the skin that might cause skin breakdown under a wrap as snug as neoprene.

They’re also not sterile and contain no antimicrobial agents, so you could get a bacterial and/or fungal buildup inside the moist diaper over a period of a few days.

Finally, the materials used in disposable diapers can trigger allergic reactions in some horses. It’s not uncommon for some babies to be unable to wear one or more brands without severe rashes. If you’re going to do this, it would still be a good idea to take the wraps off once a day, change the diaper lining and let both the leg and the wrap dry out exposed to sun and air.

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Sneakers Is Back To Work
I wanted to let you know that Sneakers, the mare with what we considered a career-ending Lyme disease you wrote about in April 2002, is back in work.As you remember, I ’retired’ her in October 2001 with Dr. Jerry Bayer, who had her for eight months. He always left the door open for me to take her back if she demonstrated any sort of recovery. She was with Jerry for six months before I was ready emotionally go see her. To my amazement, I got on her and rode with Jerry on a nice long, relaxing walk in the woods. Then we trotted and cantered without a lame step.

I told Jerry I wanted to ride her again, and he said, ”Why don’t you just take her and ride her for a few months' If she is sound, then great. If not, I will take her back.” What a saint he is.

I picked her up in June and began a long, slow process of getting her back in shape. I saw marked improvement with every week and eventually rode her in a December opening-hunt meet. She was a champ, jumping everything.

I gave her one maintenance cycle of Doxy for 10 days the beginning of November, and Jerry said that I should just plan on doing that again next fall with fall shots, in essence, an annual maintenance program.

It has been so heartwarming to have my girl back but also to know that Lyme disease can be successfully treated and, moreover, to know that there are people out there that are genuinely giving and honest. This whole adventure has turned out to be a real restoration of faith in the human condition.

-Kit Cannon
Virginia

Working With Treats
Horse Journal is well-written, well-researched, and gives me information that I don’t find anywhere else. I can only regret that I didn’t learn about it until a year ago.

I especially enjoyed your article on horse treats (December 2002). As a clicker trainer, I use lots of treats. Although commercial treats are pricey for everyday training, I keep some on hand as ’jackpots.’ It helps to know what horses like best and which treats represent the best value.

Although, I hate to be nitpicky, I have to offer a small criticism. On the cover you have a lovely photo of a woman feeding her horse a treat. Despite its visual appeal, the photo shows a woman feeding the horse right up close to her body.

No matter what training method you use, it’s solid practice of good horsemanship to always feed treats away from your own body. Feeding up close teaches the horse to come into your space for treats and can result in being ’frisked’ and even bitten. Always holding the treat out away from your body, even behind the horse’s nose so that he has to take a step back to get it, which teaches polite treat-taking manners.

-Sarah Benelli
Vermont