May 20, 2011

Another Kind of Dark Cloud

Since there are still days I am wearing a heavy coat to the barn, I believe we haven't quite broken the grasp of winter. But unfortunately, that is the last thing us horse types have to worry about right now in our world. Unless today is the first time this week you turned on your computer or looked at Facebook or other horse lists and blogs, you obviously know about the threat of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1).

In the past, many of us referred to EHV-1 as the rhino virus and were concerned primarily about any bred mares. Most often a respiratory disease among our herds, not pleasant, but certainly not deadly that I knew of. Today we think differently as it is neurologic, not respiratory, and it is deadly. Lest I say something medically incorrect, Google & you will find out the particulars. I found a blog post by Tanis McDonald DVM extremely helpful and written in layman's terms.

To date, no cases have been reported in Nebraska, but the Nebraska Department of Agriculture reports that five horse barns in our state are currently under quarantine. The good news is, none of the horses quarantined are exhibiting symptoms at this time and we are about at the end of the incubation period. Horses in these barns were at the Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah, April 29-May 8, where this outbreak was first reported. Since then, cases have been reported in several states, including counties in neighboring Colorado, all linked to this event. This is getting too close to home. A table of states with exposed or infected horses can be found here.

I had entered a competitive trail ride scheduled for this weekend down in Kansas. Hearing about EHV-1, I consulted a trusted vet. He was guarded about traveling out of state and exposing Windy to fifty other multi-state horses until we learned more about what kind of outbreak we were dealing with. It was an easy decision to pull from this competition. There will be other rides.

I still plan on trail riding but limiting my exposure to other horses and popular places. I'll avoid large groups and activities, riding primarily with friends who also stable at home and who aren't around a mass amount of horses. We'll take the trail less traveled. Am I eliminating risk entirely? No. I don't think that is possible. But I am managing the risk by riding with people I know who can track the whereabouts of their horses as easily as I can my own. At this point, the odds are in our favor that we will not contract this deadly disease but I am smart enough to know that no plan is fail-safe. I don't believe the sky is falling, but I do believe horse owners should be aware of what is going on with this disease and take biosecurity measures to protect your horse or herd.

It's always something, isn't it?

What about the rest of you? What, if anything, have you done to change your riding plans?



  1. I think you've got a good plan in place. It is a scary situation.

    We're not changing our riding plans since we really don't go out with other horses I think we're safe. Our little herd has no contact with other horses.

  2. I'm just going to sit tight for, at least, the next 2 weeks, then I'll readjust what I will do, as more info about how far the virus is spreading. I pray that this is controlled, but I'm really thinking that is not going to happen. I hope I'm wrong. Al Dunning says he has never seen anything like this in 50 years of showing. Before I read his comment, I thought that even though I only have 30+ years with horses(10 as a youth, so that probably doesn't count as I wasn't in the show world, but with 20 in the show and training areas since), I've never seen a problem like this so wide spread and so fast. I'm sure it is because of the media, internet, etc, too. Time will tell.

  3. As the weather turns cold, many horses are ridden less and less. It is easy to become relaxed in a horse’s daily care since they are not being used as often. However, horses still require much care and attention throughout the winter.

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  4. As you know, we board and our boarding facility is just a fence away from another facility so there's not really much we can do. Reagan had already decided not to show this summer so at least we won't have to deal with that.

  5. We won't show this summer. I'm interested to see if anyone does show up at the shows that haven't been cancelled (in the next month). Everything this month has been cancelled. I think Al Dunning said some very good things. If we all sit tight for now and stay home, perhaps we can control this outbreak.
    I'm wondering too how this will affect showing in general. Lots of people are already disgruntled at this and that, and then there's the economy. I wonder if we'll just see a decline in horse related events in general.

  6. Good post Tammy,
    We had plans to go horse camping 3 hours from here., next weekend. I had some misgivings about it being Memorial day weekend...then, mid week, as I was having a base line Thermography done on the mare, in prep for a hoof boot and Easywalker horse shoe application...I found out we were in"lock down".

    I was upset, but as the time goes on though
    I thought it a bit broad for us . But now, reading the latest exposed barns in Oregon, It is far more serious than earlier in week.
    I'm only able to ride a boots and no shoes with soft hooves so it's not affecting me yet.

    My stable had taped off the passage paths around the stable other horse owners use to access trails on either side of the road. I'm glad.
    I've plans to go to the coast in June with a fellow blogger from Washington..but now?

    So, safety first, we'll wait and see, staying safe and sound!

  7. I live in a pretty horsey area. All the boarding and training facilities are closed at this time. Nobody coming in, nobody going out (and returning).

    Very few rigs on the road hauling horses, where usually I spot many.

    All the shows in our area have been cancelled thru mid-June.

    So just like everybody else, I'm going to be cautious and keep my horses home until I see how this all pans out. I'll ride at home and work on my ground work - something that can always use improvement! :)

  8. That virus is not in my area, so it's not affecting shows or anything else. If it was, I would probably stick close to the home barn. Right now, I go through the regular immunizations and try to be careful when we go to public trails and shows. I am getting a little more leery of staying at campgrounds. At shows, you know a lot of the people and that they are just as cautious as you are. At public campgrounds, you just don't know.

  9. Sounds like you've got it all planned out and are doing the best you can for the safety of your horses.

    It's a little concerning knowing that a virus can all of a sudden become such a major lethal threat even with all that we do to safeguard our livestock with vaccines and good health care. We really aren't in control like we often times believe.

    Stay safe,


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