Letters: 07/02

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Keep Devil’s Claw Available
I was extremely interested in the March 2002 “Contraband in the Barn” article that addresses the current process of removing our access to all herbals and nutraceutical ingredients found in many of our horse supplements. ??

I have a Quarter Horse who is over 20 years old and has navicular disease in both front legs and arthritis in both hind legs. Without the daily use of the herbal devil’s claw, I would be forced to retire him. Now, I can continue to trail ride and compete in local “fun” shows that my riding club sponsors.

Prior to my knowledge of devil’s claw he would come up limping for several days after every easy riding session. My veterinarian at first recommended giving him bute the day before I planned on riding him, but I decided this was not an option due to his chronic colic episodes (over six incidents the first year I had him). Since putting him on devil’s claw daily for the past year he no longer limps after every ride and actually acts like a six-year-old again.

In an effort to support the inclusion of these products in the DSHEA bill, I have written the American Horse Council in addition to both of my state’s U.S. Senators and my local state Representative requesting their support for this action as this issue is extremely important to me.

-Kathy L. Cate
Mississippi

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Horse Pal Fly Trap Works
Thanks for the tip on the Horse Pal Fly Trap (April 2002). When we first set it up, it was near several pieces of equipment, and while it caught some flies, it wasn’t effective. We realized our mistake and moved it to the middle of the pasture, fenced in with polytape, but away from any other building or equipment. The number of flies it is catching is amazing and gratifying. ??And yes, the horses do hang out near it! It’s primarily catching horse flies, but some ordinary houseflies, too.

In addition, I spoke with Neil Newman, the manufacturer, about the Horse Pal, and he had some good advice on emptying the trap: When you empty it, cover the mouth of the jar with something flat, so that any live flies can’t escape. Never use insecticide, which would have been my first impulse, to kill any of the flies near the trap as it keeps the flies away from the trap later. Instead, drown any remaining live flies. If you do forget and “accidentally” get insecticide on the trap, wash it thoroughly with soap and water.

-Karen Havis
North Carolina

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Boarding vs. Home
Although I missed your article about boarding vs. keeping horses at home, I have read the recent letters and I do have a response:

If you board your horses responsibly:

• You do know that your horse has shelter, water, shade, fly spray, turnout blankets and boots, as applicable.

• The water pipes won’t freeze because the barn staff will have left the hot water trickling overnight, but if they do freeze, your barn manger will know how to thaw them.

• You will be allowed to ride at your convenience or you will be kept informed of any restrictions.

• The barn staff will be able to keep you informed of all your horse’s health concerns because they will be horse people, not former fast-food workers.

Have you ever come home to find your horse stuck in the fence, or rolling in agony' Not if you board at a good barn. At home, hurt and sick horses have to wait until someone comes home from work, or the grocery store, or the doctor’s office. In a good barn they are seen immediately, the owner and vet are called, and treatment is started.

In a good barn, the equipment is safe and functional. The feed is kept rodent- and moisture-free and fed at the same time every day. The pastures, stalls and buckets are cleaned daily. The horses have fans and shade in the summer and turnout rugs in the winter, so outside access isn’t relegated to perfect weather.

Anyone who boards at a barn that provides less deserves to feel guilty. Intelligent, responsible people do not. They know that while they’re at work, someone is watching their horses. They can be happy and relaxed because they know they’ve done their homework and found a place to provide everything their horses need. They don’t have to scramble to do everything themselves, and they don’t have to lord their superiority over others.

-Ellen Sadler
Missouri

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What About Wasps'
I appreciated the information about fly control in your April issue, especially the detailed comparison charts and the research into what does and doesn’t work. However, you didn’t mention the use of beneficial wasps, which after four years of use, we have found to be tremendously helpful with no environmental downside. They have no interest in stinging anyone — their job is to destroy fly larvae. We use them throughout our property, as well as in the barns (in the stall corners, near hay storage, near faucets and other damp spots), and have seen a visible reduction in the fly population. We do still spray our horses but not as frequently. We also spray the stall bedding regularly with an odor-killing enzyme product to reduce that fly-attracting smell. Your readers might want to consider these tiny wasp warriors as an addition to the arsenal of weapons in the fly wars.

-Elizabeth Testa
Colorado

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Send Us Your Questions!
All questions must be sent in writing to us: Horse Journal, 6538 Van Buren Road, Warners, NY 13164; or hjeditor@cs.com.

All letters must contain the writer’s contact information. All letters will be edited for clarity, content and length. Questions can’t be answered over the phone.