By Patty Wilber
It is SPRING! Has been for a while. (I suppose everyone knew this already!)
The days are getting warmer. Well, some days.
Here is how THAT works in NM in spring:
Monday, 80F in the afternoon. The hair is coming off the horses in clouds and they sweat whenever I make them do anything over a slow jog.
(The whole shedding thing is fun! Toots is losing her long white winter hair and becoming more mottled. LT is dropping her pale winter coat so her spots and gold summer hair are showing. Lacey is chucking her very dark winter attire and right now her gold-toned summer coat is showing through in bizarre patches. One year I am going to take one pic/month to show the color changes of these girls–better do that soon as I must eventually sell two of them–at least that was The Plan!)
Tuesday: Cooler, and LOTS of wind and then SNOW.
Wednesday, 23F in the morning and more snow. The horses are all cold because their hair fell off Monday.
Thursday, 60F by the afternoon and the horses are covered in mud because they rolled while there was still damp ground to roll on. Why do they do this? It just makes more work when I have to get ready to ride!
We got to Spring ahead.
I was doing a lot of cooking while I was trapped indoors by the pesky setting of the sun (and I was really enjoying it, too.) Not any more though. Am at the barn.
All that extra day light at the end of the day is a good thing because now that it is warm, people are thinking about getting back to riding and business has picked up to the point where I am… over extended. Surprise, surprise.
Just last month I was whining to another East Mountain trainer that I might not have ANY outside horses in the barn. Be careful what you worry about.
Now I have got three outside horses and three of my own to ride. And two more probably coming at the end of the month.
These three outside horses are all over 16 hands in height while my three are barely breaking 14 hands, so it is quite the contrast!
Spring means spring shots.
I recently read an article suggesting that we tend to over-vaccinate dogs, and that research has indicated that the normal series of puppy shots might be enough for the dog for eight or more years.
So, I did a very little bit of research on horse vaccines and the diseases for which I vaccinate. Not enough to make any decisions yet…
But I found: Over vaccination can result in decreased immune system function.
Horses are weirder than humans, immune system-wise. Humans can form very long term immunity to various diseases for which we have been vaccinated, but horse’s produce immunity which may last only a year.
Horses produce antibodies just as we do, using the humoral immune system, but another branch, the cellular immune system, may have a bigger role in horses than in humans.
Vet’s often like the frequent vaccination schedule because it can cause people to visit the vet and thus keep up with other health needs of their animals.
Some of the things I vaccinate for are mosquito borne and pretty unlikely to occur to my horses. What are the odds I want to play?
Vaccinating older horses might not be necessary…
In humans, if about 80% of the population is vaccinated for a particular disease, the illness is unlikely to break out because there are very few “naive” or susceptible hosts to infect. In effect, the unvaccinated free-loaders are protected by those that are vaccinated. This is called “herd immunity”. It applies to horses, too. So, if I failed to vaccinate, would I be putting other peoples horses at risk?
These and other questions remain incompletely answered. Guess I better make a decision soon though, before “spring shots” become “summer shots.”
The first Spring buckskin point show is coming up this weekend. Toots is semi-ready to show but I might toss LT into a thing or two, too. Both these girls are reiner/cowhorse types, so we are sticking to the Saturday events for this show: Ranch trail, ranch pleasure, reining (we are not ready for cow competition yet…bummer). But, I am still planning to push cows home for those in the cattle events if they need me (and if LT–and maybe Lacey–) can handle it. Toots can!
With the extra paying guests, my girls get fewer rides per week, at least until the semester ends at the start of May. This is ok for level-headed Toots. It is not so ok for my Fizz Kid, LT. LT is super busy minded and without a really regular schedule, her sessions can be a little bit less than satisfactory.
Lacey is packing this summer, so if she never makes the show ring, this season, oh well, she still has a job.
Next Spring will be fine.