Letters: 12/06

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Thank you so much for your October article on the use of Acepromazine. I consider myself an old-fashioned horseman, and I have personally railed against the improper use of tranquilizers to anyone who will listen. I was a lone voice without any objective support until your article validated my strong beliefs.

I have seen that it is not an uncommon practice for people to use Ace to make it easier for them to ride their horses. I even know of situations in which trainers will Ace horses to allow clients to ride them out foxhunting.

I am sure that this is due in part to the current climate that advocates drugs as the solution to all of our personality quirks and moods. In our culture, this pervasive use of drugs to solve problems apparently even extends to controlling the conduct of our children and pets.

I guess that it should be no surprise that if you go to any online equestrian bulletin board you will see discussions of the best ”calming supplements” to use for a nervous, flighty or spooky horse. People are always looking for the quick fix to deal with the perceived symptom rather than to do what it takes to find the source of the real underlying problem. Often, the hard truth is that the rider is just ”overmounted,” that the rider needs to spend more time in lessons, the horse needs more training, or that the horse is just inappropriate for the rider’s chosen activity.

Whatever the reason, administering drugs is just not horsemanship. To me, ”horsemanship” means putting the welfare of the horse first. And tranquilizing the horse so that it is more rideable has got to be the antithesis of horsemanship.

Valda Winsloe

Internet

Hoof Boots

I read with interest the October article on hoof boots. I’ve tried Easyboots and Old Mac’s. I would like to point out that the Easyboot, after about a year of use, suffered cable wear and breakage. If it wasn’t for that, I would be interested in trying with the gaiter. I had difficulty in keeping the regular model on as well.

Old Macs are tough, but bulky. Safety strap and/or buckle wear and break after about a year. However, the local boot repair can fix them up. I guess horse boots are like people boots, you eventually have to buy new.

Jaimie Coffey

Nebraska

Editor’s Note: Easyboot sells replacement kits for the cables, so there’s really no need to buy new boots due to a broken cable.

Rain-Rot Suggestions

I was reading your October article on rain-rot treatments and was a little shocked to see that you didn’t mention Shapleys M-T-G or Calm Coat. I’ve used M-T-G for years on rain rot and scratches, and it’s my miracle fix. I am from Maryland and mostly work with foxhunters. We get some extended wet periods here and with blanketed hunters we tend to see a fair amount of rain rot, even when all of the horses are groomed on a regular basis.

To treat them I would wash the affected area with an iodine scrub, as you stated then, once dry, I apply the Shapleys M-G-T. It is oily and requires a lot of shaking up, but 18 to 24 hours after the first application the scabs come right off with a little currying.

I was also surprised you didn’t mention Calm Coat. It doesn’t seem to help with the most severe cases, but it is gentle on sensitive skin.

I understand you can’t fit every treatment into your articles, but these two products have helped me relieve a lot of discomfort for my horse and horses that I have cared for.

Angie Weaver

Maryland

Veterinary Editor’s Note: We haven’t used M-T-G in a trial on rain-rot treatments, but we do have experience with its use. M-T-G is based on one of the oldest antibiotic and antifungal compounds known: sulfur. The yellow powder used to dress open wounds in the early part of the 1900s was sulfur. The sulfur is what gives the ”rotten” smell. Some people find the heavy oil too messy and, while it does keep out moisture, it also attracts dirt. Sulfur also has a skin dissolving, chemical ”peel” effect that is good for dandruff and helps dissolve the rain rot crusts, but it can be too irritating for some horses. Sulfur in the form of sulfur mustard is a particularly nasty form of chemical warfare. Hairless areas treated with sulfur need to be protected from the sun, and some horses may have a true sulfur allergy.

We like Calm Coat, too, and agree that it is gentle. However, we’ve found it to be of limited use with scab formation, since it has trouble getting down to where the organisms are actually hiding under the scabs and has limited antimicrobial properties.