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2003/12/17

Horse Emergencies May Require A Race To A Vet If you've ever had to deal with an equine emergency, it can make you feel like you just sprinted down the track at the Kentucky Derby. When a horse emergency occurs, be ready to take the proper action so you and your horse will both be winners, experts advise. "One of the most important ways to prevent equine emergencies is to observe your horse's surroundings," says Candise McKay, a large animal veterinary technician in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University. "Make sure to correct or change dangerous situations, such as a broken fence, which may provide the perfect opportunity for your horse to get hurt." When turning your horse out to pasture, McKay suggests removing halters because horses are known for sticking their heads through a fence or gate and getting stuck. Eye injuries should always be considered an emergency, she stresses. "If your horse has a laceration or ulcer on the eye, do not administer cortico-steroids," says McKay. "If the name of the medication ends in the letters -one,' then it may be a cortico-steroid. If applied, it may prevent healing of the eye wound. If you don't know what kind of eye medications you have and specifically what they are for, don't use them." Another common health issue for horses is colic, which is abdominal pain and has numerous causes. This is a serious problem for horses. "If your horse is colicky, the best action to take is to walk and keep your horse standing up until the veterinarian arrives," says McKay. "A horse can twist its intestines if it lies down and begins to roll around. Usually, surgery is required to correct this condition." Heat exhaustion can be a problem for many horses because Texas summer temperatures can be extreme. The inability to sweat may cause heat exhaustion in horses, and horses with this condition may pant excessively during and after exercise in an effort to cool themselves. Immediate shade and adequate water is necessary. "If a horse becomes overheated, start hosing it down or soak towels in alcohol and ice cubes and put them on the horse to try and cool him down," explains McKay. "Do whatever is necessary to lower its temperature." When transporting a sick horse to the veterinarian, be aware of problems that may arise in loading the horse into the trailer. "If you have a horse that has trouble walking, you can back the trailer up to an area where they don't have to step up," McKay adds. "Be careful when the horse enters the trailer initially because some may stumble and fall forward and you could become pinned. If a horse goes down in the trailer, it is sometimes better to leave it down than to try to help it up because it may just fall again." Equine injuries may be unexpected, but they should be planned for. A little forethought and preparation will help horses and their owners finish strong against health emergencies, McKay says.

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