Your Stable Team

By Marcella Peyre-Ferry

Saddle and Bridle Magazine Equine Articles


Crane logo The value of many in the care of one horse. . Written for Saddle & Bridle magazine by Maracella Peyre-Ferry.
© copyrighted horse article.
It takes a whole team of people to keep your stable running smoothly. It starts with someone doing the daily dirty work of cleaning stalls, feeding, cleaning tack and grooming. It takes someone with a green thumb to keep the pastures looking fresh, weeds trimmed and the fences secure. You have riders, riding instructors, trainers and exercise riders to keep the horses in shape.

A big barn will employ dozens of people, while the small farm owner might be the one person filling all those duties. Either way, all barns also depend on the professionals - the feed dealer who makes sure you have the right nutrition, tack store that keeps you supplied with everything you need, the farrier and the veterinarian. Even if you pick up your own rasp to trim hooves and get your annual vaccines by mail order so you can give the injections yourself, you still have the professionals as back up in emergency.

I recently found that getting everyone to work together as a team is vitally important to your horse's well being. In my role as exercise rider, I noticed that my gray Saddlebred was hesitant to work. He was not his happy self. As a trainer, I watched him on the lunge line and didn't see any real problem, so I had my husband ride him while I watched. With the extra weight on his back he looked slightly lame, so I checked him out as a vet tech might, looking for an injury or heat in his legs. Since I found nothing, I gave him time off from work with the thought that rest helps almost everything.

In this case, rest didn't help. Just when it looked better, it came back worse or moved to another leg. Since I had to admit I had no idea what was going on, I called the vet. She couldn't find anything so she gave him a pain killer and muscle relaxant to see if that would help. It didn't. When the farrier looked at him the first time, he pointed out some thrush I was missing, but that cleared up, and still he was sore. The second time he saw him, the farrier suggested it might be Lyme Disease. The vet's next step was x-rays, and she didn't think Lyme was likely, but I trust my farrier, so I asked her to draw blood to test for Lyme just in case there was nothing on the x-rays. She did it, but said she would hold off on running the test since she didn't think it would be necessary.

You can probably guess the outcome. The x-rays were clean and the blood test was positive for Lyme. My gelding is nearing the end of 30 days of medication, and hopefully he will soon be back to his old self. Fortunately, he was the only horse in the barn that was affected, and now I know the symptoms to look for if something similar occurs again. Next time, I won't waste so much time. I worked for trainers for many years as a teen and young woman, I read all the equestrian books and publications I come across, I go to educational seminars, and I've had so many horses through my own barn over the years that I have a wealth of experience to draw from. Even so, I still have to remind myself that there are a lot of things I don't know.

I'm not alone. In this case, the vet was not on the right track either, and the farrier only had the right guess the second time he saw the horse's problem. Any one of us working alone would have been helpless. It took all three of us contributing ideas and trying different things to finally come up with the right diagnosis. Only then could we find the solution.

Working together is not limited to horse health issues. That pretty pasture may be the result of consulting with your extension agent to have the soil tested, then with your farm supply dealer to get the latest hybrid seed that fits your field conditions. Riding and training problems are where we can work together best, with trainer and rider developing a plan to develop a horse to his highest potential.

When something goes wrong with your horse, either under saddle or in the barn, of course you will draw on your own experience first to find a solution. But if you don't see the kind of results you want, look to your support people and the professionals. Don't stop at just one idea and give up when it doesn't work. Horsemen are part of a bigger community. Let's all be willing to work together.

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