We have been busy over the past week at the National Junior High Finals Rodeo in Huron, South Dakota, where we had more than 1,200 horses on the grounds from all over the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Here’s a look into what we have been up to:
Colic is a general term for any abdominal discomfort and is the leading medical cause of death in horses. Horses colic for many reasons while they are traveling. Most of the colics that we have seen have been due to the stress of hauling thousands of miles along with not drinking enough water. When they don’t drink enough, their gastrointestinal contents dry up and they form impactions.
In order to help them pass an impaction, we hook them up to IV fluids and monitor very closely by ultrasounding the abdomen, palpating them rectally, taking fluid off their stomach with a nasogastric tube, and monitoring vital signs. Some horses may need IV fluids for days before they pass their impaction. Other horses have twisted guts or displacements that need to be corrected surgically.
On the State Fair Grounds, we can manage impaction colics and gas colics, but when they become surgical, we send them to a referral center.
Tying up is also known as Equine Exertional Rhabdomyolysis. This condition has been known for more than 100 years and used to be called “Monday Morning Sickness” from when the draft horses would rest all weekend, still eat their grain, go back to work Monday, and then tie up.
Tying up is when the muscles become very painful and cramp after exercise. The sporadic forms of tying up are due from deficient electrolytes, overtraining, or exercising a horse that is infected with herpes or influenza.
The clinical signs and severity of tying up can vary from hardly being noticeable to large amounts of muscle necrosis (muscle death) and kidney failure. Blood samples should be taken by your veterinarian to check how much muscle necrosis is going on and kidney function.
Prevention of tying up depends on why your horse is tying up which can be determined by your veterinarian. We have been treating tying up horses with IV fluids, muscle relaxors, and pain medications on the grounds. Many of them are back to feeling normal within a few hours of treatment which makes us think that this may be caused by not drinking enough and not having enough electrolytes.
We have seen a variety of lamenesses this year but mostly injuries and arthritis of the hocks and stifle. These injuries often require X-rays and injections with steroids and hyaluronic acid.
The hardest part about rodeo medicine is when a horse is presenting lame and needs to be used that night. Often times, we highly recommend that they let their horses rest for three days after joint injections and that they borrow a horse if possible.
Next year, Des Moines
The National Junior High Finals Rodeo will be held in Des Moines, Iowa next year. Make the trek down there to see the world’s best junior high rodeo contestants battle it out for the title!
Questions? Send email to Eric Knock, DVM, at email@example.com or send mail to 321 E. 14th St., Miller, SD 57362. Eric Knock owns and operates Prairie View Vet Clinic in Miller, Redfield, Wessington Springs and Highmore, S.D.