Understanding

There are many people out there who, in this winter season, are doing more than their jobs. These are the people leading disabled kids around a chilly indoor arena on patient, donated horses -- a highlight of most of these kids' weeks. They are the people planning spring and summer events for the multitude of non-profit organizations scattered throughout the world that assist horses, or horse people, in having better lives.

They are the people who give of themselves to others. They are the officers, the volunteers, the caretakers, and the fundraisers. They are the ones who make the speeches, and the ones who work behind the scenes. They are the educators and the motivators.

They are the ones who will make our next generation of riders better horse people, and who make the lives of horses better today.

It's after the holidays. The new year has been rung in and echoed away. And we are back in our routine of working, fighting the weather, and trying to fit in a little personal life. So, you say, how can a person that busy find any time to read a good book, much less do any good as a volunteer for a horse organization?

You don't have to be the president and take on total leadership to help a group. An organization might need a volunteer for an hour a week. Or need someone to call three local businesses for donations to an event or program. You might even just drive your neighbor's kid to the same 4-H horse club meeting to which you're taking your own kid. Or offer to feed and water your neighbor's horses while they are away one weekend.

This is a good time of year to decide which groups will get your help in 1999, and how you will help. Your task could be as simple as getting others organized to do the work--that sounds like you are getting out of the physical labor, but organization is not a talent everyone shares!

Already involved in a worthwhile cause? Then get a friend working with that group, too. If you care enough about it to spend your valuable time, then surely you believe enough in it to offer the opportunity to a friend.

One way a local horse group has found to raise money each year is by holding a used tack sale. It's amazing how many "extra things" you can find around your barn and in your tack trunk that you don't mind donating. That purple nylon halter that you got as a gift and have never used...makes a great donation! And I bet your horse friends all have similar items, or even nicer ones like older saddles that don't fit any of the horses in the barn or bits and bridles that are still safe and usable, but are just hanging around. (And if your local group doesn't have that kind of sale, ship those things to me and I'll put them in the used tack sale our local riding for the handicapped program holds each year!)

Wrap-Up

On page 58 you'll find the 1998 AAEP Convention Wrap-Up. This 48-page special section is devoted to bringing you the highlights of what the world's leading veterinarians and equine researchers have been working on this past year, and what they are talking about for the future.

Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) was still a hot topic in 1998. While there has been no overwhelming breakthrough on a workable vaccination, definitive treatment, or complete cure, there have been many small, important steps taken in understanding and treating this disease.

Steve Reed, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM, of The Ohio State University and a member of The Horse Editorial Advisory Board, and his colleagues have labeled EPM "the most significant equine disease in the Eastern United States because of its potential to cause tremendous economic losses."

(For more on EPM see AAEP Wrap-Up page 25.)

Top veterinarians are not just interested in the disease du jour or how to perform a new surgical technique, they also discussed topics such as equine welfare, various forms of competitions, and the national, and international, politics of disease control.

The latter was brought up during a discussion of equine viral arteritis (EVA), vesicular stomatitis (VS), contagious equine metritis (CEM), and a host of other acronyms that spell problems for our horses. Often, it is not only the physical symptoms that are a problem, but the national and international barriers that are thrown up when some of these diseases take place in our country. VS is a perfect example. While it is not a nice disease, causing blisters on the mucous membranes of the mouth and teats and on the coronary band, it rarely is deadly. It is found in many parts of North and South America. It affects cattle and pigs as well as horses.

Therein lies the rub.

There is no way to discern the symptoms of VS from foot and mouth disease, a deadly, highly contagious virus that occurs in many mammals, including cattle, pigs, and sheep. That means both diseases are at the top of the hit list for countries around the world to try and keep out. So, when VS occurs here, other countries are not happy and show their unease by closing borders to states where the disease is occurring. Therefore, leaders of states like Kentucky, which ships many high-priced horses out of the country throughout the year, feel they cannot afford even the possibility of appearing to allow a VS-positive animal within its borders.

Realism must take hold at some point, and it will be up to the veterinarians and researchers to keep our horses moving.

Behavior

Sue McDonnell, a PhD in equine behavior at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center, has given us a beautiful reference on the whys of horses in her new book Understanding Horse Behavior. "Why does my horse (fill in the blank)?" is asked by horse owners every day. McDonnell, through her studies of wild and semi-feral horses, as well as the domestic type, has uncovered the answers to many of our questions. She is worth listening to, and her book is an absolute necessity to any horse person who has asked the question, "Why?" (You can learn more about the book and order online at www.exclusivelyequine.com)

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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