Letters: 04/01

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Vaccine Price Error
In regard to the article entitled “Catalog Shopping Pitfalls and Perks” (December 2000), I want to point out that the price-comparison chart showing Triple E vaccine prices is incorrect. The four companies selling the vaccine at $8.02, $7.99, $8.41 and $7.95 are selling Fort Dodge Triple-E FT, which produces immunity for EEE, WEE, VEE, flu and tetanus. The two companies selling vaccine at $4.95 per dose are selling the Fort Dodge Triple-E, which produces immunity only for EEE, WEE and VEE. Therefore, the statement “there’s a pretty big price range” is not appropriate. The chart also has an N/A for Valley Vet Supply, which is incorrect.

It also should be pointed out that my company, Equine Discount USA, offers free overnight delivery of any vaccine order of $200 or more and Bonus Dollar Discounts on orders of $100 or more of any merchandise.

-Vern Wiese
President, Equine Discount USA
Eldon, MO

We double-checked, and you’re right about the vaccine prices. When we made up the chart, we telephoned each of the listed companies — instead of using the catalog — and asked for prices on Fort Dodge Triple-E vaccine and Accel.

As it turns out, only Jeffers and Omaha Vaccine gave us the correct prices for the vaccine we requested. The others gave us prices for Triple-E FT. This error is a lesson for everyone: Be doubly sure that the customer-service representative you speak with understands exactly what you’re looking for when you place an order.

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Legality Of Devil’s Claw
I discovered recently BL Solution, formerly Buteless, is illegal at AHSA competitions (see January 2000). My gelding has been on the minimal dose BL Solution for pain and swelling due to lower flexor tendon problems.

I had read about it in your publication, and after having tried more supplements than I can remember, I thought I’d try this one. The results were astounding. The pain and swelling were gone, and he had no upset stomach problems.

We show open dressage and Arabian dressage, so I wanted to make sure none of his supplements were illegal. I called AHSA to ask. They said any use of devil’s claw, the main ingredient in BL Solution, is prohibited for both dressage and Arabian showing due to its “sedative effect.” I called the manufacturer about the “test-free ingredients” clause in their ad. They told me that this was according to Jockey Club rules. So, in case any of your other readers are now using BL Solution, I thought that this tidbit might be of interest.

I’m glad that I called, because we did get tested at the U.S. Arab Nationals, and I would have lost my reserve championship if devil’s claw had been detected.

-Anne Neville
Naperville, IL

You’re right. Devil’s claw is prohibited under the AHSA Drugs and Medications Rule. However, the AHSA’s Dr. John Lengel said it is due to devil claw’s analgesic effects.

Lengel explained that a number of herbal and plant ingredients are forbidden, “depending upon their potential to affect performance.” We asked for a complete list of forbidden ingredients, but there isn’t one. Lengel explained the AHSA takes these herbal-ingredient questions on a case-by-case basis.

Lengel recommends not using these forbidden products during the seven days prior to competing. We recommend you check with the AHSA Drugs and Medications department directly at 800/633-2472 about any herbal ingredient. Note the name of the person you spoke with and when. Better yet, get the answer in writing.

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Toyota Left Out
I was a bit miffed when I read your towing-vehicle article (February 2001). I just purchased a 2001 Toyota Tundra, which is a Motor Trend Truck of the Year, yet it was not included in your article.

We’ve been waiting for a Toyota that could be our everyday car and haul one or two horses. The Tundra is better than I could have imagined, although I’ve yet to put it to the test of actually hauling. I did have to purchase a new lighter-weight trailer, which weighs 2,800 pounds.

With one horse and a lot of cargo, I will be well under the Tundra’s 7,100-pound towing capacity. If I take both horses, I will need to be selective in what cargo I include.

I realize that you couldn’t review all the available towing vehicles, but I hope that not including the Tundra has nothing to do with it being Japanese (it is assembled in the United States). Still, the big American truck-makers better watch out for the Toyota Tundra. It fits perfectly — it fits in the garage, I can park it anywhere, and it drives beautifully to boot.

-Joan Perry
Hamilton, MT

As you said, it was unrealistic to try to include all potential towing vehicles in our article. The vehicles chosen were basically random. The article was purposely designed so that a reader could sit down with pad and pencil and determine if a particular vehicle would fit their individual horse-hauling needs, just as you did with the Toyota Tundra truck.

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Towing Tips
I was pleased to read your article on tow vehicles (February 2001), which stressed the importance of an adequate towing vehicle. My husband and I have a transmission repair shop, as well as four horses we use for foxhunting and combined training. We tow nearly every weekend during the winter to hunt meets.

While my husband is the stereotypical “more-power” truck guy, there are many occasions we have seen the consequences of people selecting an improper tow vehicle. We have rebuilt their transmissions earlier than they expected, stopped to help when high winds have tossed them about the road, and trailed behind drivers as they crept uphill praying the rig would reach the summit before overheating.

One point you failed to mention, and many salesman neglect as well, is brakes. So often, people tell us the dealer assured them the cute (and pricey) little SUV could pull their trailer. But my husband always asks, “Can it stop the load'” Is it equipped with sufficient brake power and general substance to hold your trailer on the road, and stop it, in less than ideal circumstances' Perhaps this is included in your weight ratings and other official classifications, but we feel it bears separate consideration.

Another matter is maintenance. In the case of automatic transmissions, our shop strongly recommends having the fluid and filter serviced every year or 15,000 miles. This may well be twice as frequent as manufacturer recommendations, but it will give early indication of any impending transmission problems and will extend the life of the transmission. For both automatic and standard-shift units, learn how to check the transmission fluid level correctly and ensure it does not run low on fluid. A hardworking transmission without proper lubrication will spell disaster at the least opportune time.

Many people are confused about using their automatic transmission for towing. A few important things should be remembered, especially with transmissions that have overdrive. Many people believe they should never tow with their vehicle in overdrive. This is not true. When traveling at speed down relatively flat highways, leave the vehicle in overdrive. Disengage the overdrive when travelling at speed on steeper terrain, or any time when the engine begins to “lug.” This means the engine is struggling to maintain the speed under load and needs to operate at a higher RPM to maintain torque.

Second, drivers should manually control their automatic transmission to help in challenging conditions, which includes hills. The compression generated by lowering one gear can help slow the vehicle downhill, helping save the brakes, and the same compression is essential to climb hills. Of course, one should be careful not to exceed the general speed and a safe level of RPMs when using this, or it could damage the motor.

For example, we climb a steep hill (2.5 miles up and back down, with grades up to 10%) every time we haul from home. On the ascent, we take the truck out of overdrive and, with three horses in the trailer, finish the climb in second gear, going about 35 mph, partly due to sharp curves in the road. On the descent, we gear down to second and don’t let the truck exceed 45 mph, using the brakes to supplement compression in holding it there. If we left the truck in overdrive, it would freewheel and gain more momentum, and we would have to ride the brakes the entire way.

-Cindy Martin
Seaside, CA

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Send Us Your Questions!
All questions should be sent in writing to the editorial offices by regular mail, fax or e-mail: Horse Journal, 6538 Van Buren Road, Warners, NY 13164; hjeditor@cs.com; fax: 315/468-0627. We’re sorry, but questions can’t be answered over the phone. All letters will be edited for clarity, content and length.