Last week, my horses had their annual Spring vet appointment. Like last year, we trailered over to the clinic. Unlike last year, I was able to actually enter the clinic barn with them.
In 2020, COVID restrictions required that I hand my horses off to the clinic staff and wait outside alone while the horses underwent their various exams and procedures. While the restrictions were understandable, I find the entire exam process very interesting. I was glad to be able to be an observer once again.
Here are Bear and Shiloh awaiting the start of their exams.
Bear was the first to go on the scale, weighing in at 932 pounds.
Then Shiloh was up. He weighed in at 1076 pounds.
Next we have a photo of Bear while he stands in the stocks to have his teeth floated. At 26 years old, he is starting to have a few dental issues I will need to keep an eye on, but overall his teeth seem to be in good shape for a senior horse.
Then it was on to address the area of skin cancer under his tail that had returned since being removed about four years ago. I opted to have the area treated with cryotherapy, basically a concentrated spray of very cold air to hopefully kill the cancer cells. The metal can used containing that air reminds me of the Tin Man’s oil can in the Wizard of Oz.
Caution graphic added for a touch of privacy. In all seriousness though, if you have a horse with pink skin, it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye out for skin changes around their nether regions.
Bear’s squamous cell carcinoma seems to present on his bottom, under his tail as a red, raised mole-looking spot that never heals over. Apparently horses with pink skin are more susceptible to this type of cancer than their darker skin counterparts. If you’d like to read more about this subject, here is a link to an article written by two veterinarians that appeared in Practical Horseman magazine https://practicalhorsemanmag.com/health-archive/equine_squamous_cell_carcinoma_020910-11482.
By the time Bear was returned to his stall to wake up from his sedation, he had a visitor in the stall next to him named Apollo. Bear trail rode with this horse back in the day. It so happened that some horse friends of mine had scheduled their horses’ exams for right after mine. We got to chat and catch up for a minute between exams.
So the horses are all inspected, vaccinated and have updated negative coggins results. I am awaiting the results of Bear’s ACTH/Insulin/Glucose levels. The numbers will determine if Bear could benefit from an adjustment in his PPID medication dosage or his diet.
While we are on the subject, I would like to give a shout out to the veterinarians and vet techs who help care for horses from birth to death. And let’s not forget the administrative employees who keep clinics organized and running smoothly.
All their interactions with clients run the gamut from the horse owner’s happiest moments to their most stressful and gut-wrenching. I imagine lots of highs and lows. All on the same day. Every day. Surely it is rewarding work. Yet it can’t be easy.
Having a positive, productive, long-term relationship with a local veterinarian and supporting staff is a real boon to the horse owner. One that is much appreciated by this equestrian. Though I sometimes forget to say it, many thanks to all those equine health professionals who work diligently to help the horses in their communities.