MY, HOW TIME flies.
It seems as if we just had the first of three Washington state high school equestrian team District 4 meets.
Local competitors faced some very stiff competition last Friday through Sunday at the state finals.
At the event in Moses Lake, Sequim’s Yana Hoesel had the privilege of carrying the District 4 flag in the opening ceremony.
Here are the results:
• Pole bending: Cassie Moore, fifth place.
• Barrels: Moore, 12th place; Zoe Thompson, 32nd place.
• Trail: Natalie Blankenship, 18th place.
• Working rancher: Blankenship, 11th place.
• Reining: Moore, 21st place.
• Breakaway roping: Moore, fourth place.
• Figure eight: Emma Albright, 21st place.
• Individual flags: Albright, 21st place.
• Freestyle 4s drill team: PA’s Abby Hjelmeseth/Moore/Thompson/Madison Carlson, 11th place; Sequim’s Yana Hoesel, Miranda Williams, Grace Niemeyer, Abbi Priest, 17th place.
Horse owners beware, there’s an outbreak of strangles here in the Pacific Northwest.
The causative organism, Streptococcus equi, is highly contagious, host-adapted and produces clinical disease only in horses, donkeys and mules.
Often it will first present itself as a cold, so pay attention when that happens because by the time you feel a large lump under the throat your horse is already extremely ill.
Call your veterinarian at the first sign because strangles can become fatal.
First the horse experiences a high fever, lethargy, depression, appetite loss and enlargement of the lymph nodes between the jawbones.
Copious amounts of thick, yellow pus begin draining from the nostrils, and before three weeks are up, the abscessed nodes at the throat might burst open to drain.
The disease’s descriptive name comes from the “strangling” noise produced as severely affected horses struggle to draw breaths into their obstructed airway.
You probably don’t have to worry if your horse isn’t exposed to other horses, but if you travel to events with other horses take care not to share any food or water supplies.
The organisms spread from horse to horse through direct contact, such as touching muzzles, environmental contamination and shared equipment, such as feed buckets and bridles. Flies also are carriers.
Strangles spreads rapidly, producing large outbreaks in herds not previously exposed or vaccinated.
The infection is especially aggressive in populations of foals and young horses.
Most horses recover, but fatalities do occur.
During an outbreak farriers, trainers and veterinarians should wear protective clothing or change clothes before traveling to the next equine facility.
In the early 1990s, I got a new horse who, unbeknownst to me, was already infected.
At the time, I kept my horses at a local stable.
This horse was kept in a large field with other horses.
When he was given to me the owner noted he’d lost a lot of weight and thought it was because he was having to fight the others horses for food (which is why she was giving him to me).
Within a few days, the first signs presented themselves in a snotty nose.
I had no history with this horse, and I attributed his depressed attitude toward missing his former pasture pals.
Two weeks in I finally called a veterinarian to check him out.
As soon as the veterinarian saw him he knew what it was.
He brought the horse out of his stall and then proceeded to lance this huge boil under his throat.
When he did a lot of bloody pus squirted out to the ground.
Soon, and to my horror, and the horror of all others at the 50-plus horse stables, almost all the horses were infected.
The entire stable was quarantined until the disease ran its course.
Yep, I was the most hated horse owner there for a long time.
The good news is there were no fatalities.
It took a long time for horses to get their energy back, though.
So beware, because you don’t want your horse infected.
Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.
If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at [email protected] at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.