HANDS ON

EQUUS - - Equus -

• WATCH OUT FOR WASPS

• HAY STOR­AGE CHECK

• SIGNS OF A HOOF AB­SCESS

• 'ROOMING VAC­UUM

Noth­ing can ruin a glo­ri­ous trail ride more quickly than a swarm of an­gry wasps. And if it seems like runins with these sting­ing in­sects are more com­mon at this time of year, it’s be­cause they are.

Ear­lier in the sum­mer, wasps were busy col­lect­ing pro­tein-rich food--mainly dead in­sects and animals---to take back to nests where lar­vae were ma­tur­ing. They weren't likely to bother

with hu­mans un­less their nest was dis­turbed. By late sum­mer and early fall, how­ever, the lar­vae have ma­tured

mean­ing there are many more wasps, all seek­ing food only for them­selves.

foods and may be­come ag­gres­sive and per­sis­tent in their quest. As a re­sult, wasp stings---to hu­mans and horses--are more likely at this time of year.

If you come across wasps while rid­ing, leave the area as quickly as you safely can. If you are alone in the space and have the con­fi­dence to do so, a brisk gal­lop away from the area is a good so­lu­tion. If you are rid­ing with a group, how­ever, ev­ery­one may not be ca­pa­ble of a speedy es­cape, and start­ing one unan­nounced can lead to chaos and falls. In­stead, keep your wits and com­mu­ni­cate as clearly as pos­si­ble with other rid­ers. It may be best to split into two groups, with rid­ers who have al­ready come up to the area mov­ing ahead, while those who are in the back of the group chang­ing course to avoid it. If a horse is stung and pan­ics, at­tempt­ing to hold him still may es­ca­late the sit­u­a­tion. A rider bucked off by a stung horse is also likely to land in the cen­ter of a swarm her­self. In­stead, a brisk trot out of the area---keep­ing the horse’s head el­e­vated to re­duce the chance of buck­ing---may al­low the horse some emo­tional com­fort while giv­ing the rider a bet­ter chance of stay­ing mounted.

Once the im­me­di­ate cri­sis has passed, check horses and rid­ers for stings. If a stung rider is known to be al­ler­gic to in­sects, seek help im­me­di­ately. Oth­er­wise, an ice pack and dose of an­ti­his­tamine once you re­turn to the barn may be all that is needed. The sen­si­tiv­ity of horses to stings varies greatly; most will have only lo­cal­ized swelling at the sting site; oth­ers will break out in more dif­fuse hives. In these cases, your vet­eri­nar­ian may pre­scribe an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory or steroid med­i­ca­tion.

Hos­ing the area with cool wa­ter will also bring the horse some re­lief. A skin in­fec­tion may de­velop at the site of bites days later, so keep an eye on the area even after the ini­tial swelling is gone. Very few horses will have a sys­temic ana­phy­lac­tic re­ac­tion to wasp venom. If a horse has pro­found swelling, trou­ble breath­ing or seems oth­er­wise dis­tressed fol­low­ing a sting, call your vet­eri­nar­ian im­me­di­ately.

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