From Endurance to Dressage
I was going to blog about the EHV-1 virus today, but then I realized everyone has read everything about it that they want to already. So I decided to blog about something else. ... chirp. chirp. chirp. (That's the sound of crickets chirping in the silence.)
But then I couldn't think of anything else to blog about which left me with a blank page.
So I started wasting time by pretending that I was blogging by looking through the Google searches that bring people to this blog and website. EVERY SINGLE Google search aimed at this site was about EHV-1 in Bakersfield.
So I am back to blogging about EHV-1 and EHM. I wish I had something new to add. I think by now everyone knows that it can be a fatal disease. Most people know that it is transmitted primarily by horse to horse contact, but it can also be passed from horse to horse by sharing brushes, feed buckets, grooming tools, farrier tools, and other implements. It can also be passed from your hands or clothes.
Most everyone is also aware that a fever is one of the first symptoms followed by loss of coordination, urine dribbling, loss of tail tone, hind limb weakness, leaning against something for support, and an inability to rise. If you see any of these things, you should probably be worried, and get your horse isolated as soon as possible.
Most people are probably most concerned with just how long this thing is going to last. I'll admit it. It's rather inconvenient. This is the start of the show season. People are gathering points and qualifying scores for championships later this fall. The weather finally cleared up (well almost) and trail riding is well under way. Babies are being born right and left and breeders want to show them off. This is really inconvenient.
Okay ... I know. Not very politically correct, but I know it's what many people are thinking. Bizarrely - is this even a word? - it is actually VERY convenient for me. WHAT? Again, I know. Not very politically correct, or even sensitive. But here are the facts:
The social media sites and blogging sites were blazing hot on Sunday with talk about the EHV-1. The possibility of a fatal disease striking your horse prompts many people to take evasive action. I don't tend to get too excited about internet rumors and reports of horrible news until I get a first hand account of what is happening. And even then I don't panic. I also like to hear it being said from an expert. I scoured the internet for non-inciting news yesterday and landed on several blogs and sites that gave honest information that didn't seem to exaggerate the seriousness of the "outbreak." If you're interested in reading some of these posts, scroll down to the bottom of this post.
Many of you may not know the difference between Equine Herpesvirus-1 and Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy. First of all, there are actually nine equine herpesviruses, but only three of them, EHV-1 (the one we're worried about), EHV-3 (which causes a venereal disease), and EHV-4 (which causes a non-fatal upper respiratory tract infection) pose a serious risk to domesticated horses.
The vaccine that we give for EHV-1/EHV-4 (Rhinopneumonitis) does not protect against EHM. There is no vaccination for EHM. Once affected with EHM, the standard form of care is simply supportive. Treatment may include intravenous fluid and anti-inflammatory drugs.
By about age two, many horses become infected with EHV-1 by contact with their dam. The virus is usually inactive, but may become reactivated by stress or contact with an affected horse. EHM is caused when the EHV-1 undergoes a mutation of the genome. [a very, very simplistic explanation!]
So what can we do about EHM? Interestingly, the literature I read strongly urges horse owners to NOT remove any horses from a site where a suspected case of EHM has been present until cleared by a veterinarian. Oops. That's what just happened. So what do we do now? Don't share tack, brushes, feed buckets, or any other communal items. Wash your hands and change clothes if you even suspect a horse might be ill. The disease is spread by horse to horse contact. DON'T allow horses to touch noses.
All the websites and blogs are reporting essentially the same thing. A case or two of the nuerologic version of Equine Herpesvirus-1 have been confirmed with a few other horses being treated as though they are positive. Most experts are recommending a quarantine period for animals suspected of being infected. The next few days should reveal a more complete picture.
For More Information:
Our 11-mile trail ride turned into an 8-mile trail ride. At the entrance to the park, we came upon some very uneven trail hidden in the grass, and Speedy pulled a shoe. Thank goodness for all those endurance gizmos that I just can't quit using. I pulled out my Easyboot, popped it on after not having used one in nearly a year, and came back home without tearing Speedy's foot up. I immediately placed a call to the World's Greatest Farrier who agreed to come over and reset the shoe on Sunday. Yes, I hiked back to find said shoe. Anything to make my farrier happier.
The chiropractor appointment is cancelled, and I am not going to the schooling show in Moorpark. WHAT? I know ... pulled a shoe, no chiropractor, AND no show! How can it get it any stinkier? There's a reason. A recent outbreak of Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHV-1) has been traced to horses who attended the National Cutting Horse Associations’ Western National Championships in Odgen, Utah on April 30 – May 8, 2011. California horses who participated in this event may have been exposed to this EHV-1 virus.
What does that have to do with the chiropractor and the show? I know that's what you're asking. Apparently riders at the Ogden show returned to Bakersfield and showed on Saturday at a facility in town. It has been reported that at least one horse has died already and several others are being treated. When the competitors at the local cutting show heard about the virus, many left the show grounds and escaped quarantine. Those horses returned to their own barns where they may or may not be contagious. The California Department of Food and Agriculture encourages owners of horses who participated in the Odgen, Utah event to isolate and monitor their horses for clinical signs of disease. They also recommend immediate separation and isolation of identified suspect cases and stress that implementation of appropriate biosecurity measures are key elements for disease control.
Since the EHV-1 organism spreads quickly from horse to horse and the neurologic form of the virus can reach high morbidity and mortality rates, I think it would be safer for the horses at the schooling show if Speedy G and I stay home, especially since the incubation period of EHV-1 is typically 2-10 days. Just in time for our arrival at Moorpark!
The barn owner where we were supposed to meet the chiropractor feels the same way. She has put her barn on lock-down: no horses in, no horses out. Cha Ching's mom isn't going to the hunter/jumper show at PDM tomorrow, either. Her barn owner doesn't want horses coming and going for the same reason, neither does her trainer.
Over kill? I don't know, but horse-to-horse contact, aerosol transmission, and contaminated hands, equipment, tack, and feed all play a role in disease spread. And while there is no specific treatment for EHV-1, a sick horse will probably get intravenous fluids, anti-inflammatory drugs, and other appropriate supportive treatment. Prognosis depends on severity of signs and the period of recumbency. In other words, recovery is not likely.
There are many shows this summer. Missing a show is a bummer, but being a responsible horse owner in our equestrian community means doing what's best for the whole herd, not just our own ponies. Which brings up the whole de-worming situation, but I'll save that for another post.
If you want to read more about the California Department of Food and Agriculture's recommendations, click here.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read