Take Our ‘One Health’ Chal­lenge

You, your horse, our en­vi­ron­ment—the health of all are in­ter­con­nected, and ev­ery ac­tion has a con­se­quence.

Horse & Rider - - Table Of Contents - By Barb Crabbe, DVM

MY AS­SIGN­MENT WAS TO WRITE A FEA­TURE about some­thing called the One Health move­ment. “In­ter­est­ing,” I thought. “Won­der what that’s all about.” A lit­tle re­search re­vealed that the con­cept of One Health isn’t new. In fact, like so many of the ideas mov­ing to the fore­front of medicine these days, One Health is more of a back-to-ba­sics, holis­tic ap­proach to wellness. Sim­ply put, it en­cour­ages cooperation among hu­man health-care providers, vet­eri­nar­i­ans, and en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists (see “One for All, All for One,” page 54). How does it work? Pro­fes­sion­als com­mit­ted to a One Health ap­proach are col­lab­o­rat­ing in many ways. At the fore­front are those work­ing to con­trol the spread of zoonoses, or dis­eases that can be shared by hu­mans and an­i­mals. Six out of ev­ery 10 in­fec­tious dis­eases in hu­mans are spread from an­i­mals. Mon­i­tor­ing disease out­breaks is another fo­cus. An­i­mals share sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ards with us, and disease out­breaks in an­i­mal pop­u­la­tions can serve as early-warn­ing signs for hu­man-health con­cerns. Of course, ef­forts to pre­serve ecosys­tems and the en­vi­ron­ment help guar­an­tee safe wa­ter and healthy food for all. And, fi­nally, strength­en­ing the hu­man-an­i­mal bond has its part within the One Health move­ment, as well. Healthy pets and com­pan­ion an­i­mals mean healthy peo­ple. It’s a great con­cept. But it got me think­ing…what does it all mean for me, or you, on a day-to-day ba­sis? Sure, we’d all love to sin­gle-

hand­edly save the rain forests, or stop the spread of disease in far-off lands. But when we’re out at the barn clean­ing stalls or do­ing late-night barn checks, those seem like pretty lofty goals.

Does that mean we should just for­get the whole thing? Ab­so­lutely not! In fact, ev­ery­thing you do, how­ever small, has the po­ten­tial to make a dif­fer­ence. That’s why I de­cided to in­tro­duce my Six-Month One Health Chal­lenge. To meet it, all you need do is take one small step ev­ery week, one ef­fort to im­prove your own health, your horse’s health, or the en­vi­ron­ment around you.

To help get you go­ing, I’ve come up with 25 sug­ges­tions—one for each week of the six-month chal­lenge.

Are you up for it? Remember, this is a win-win-win, as you’ll be ben­e­fit­ting your horse, your­self, and the en­vi­ron­ment we all share. (And, if you come up with One Health ideas of your own, I’d love to hear them!)

Let’s go.

Weeks 1 Through 13 1. Re­place your light bulbs.

Trad­ing out in­can­des­cent light bulbs in your barn with more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient LED (lightemit­ting diode) bulbs re­duces the amount of en­ergy you use. Plus, once they’ve burned out, LEDs can be re­cy­cled in­stead of dis­posed of in a land­fill. 2. Col­lect, dis­pose of old or ex­pired med­i­ca­tions. Ev­ery horse owner has old med­i­ca­tions lan­guish­ing in the barn. Make a date to round them up and dis­pose of them through proper chan­nels (such as your lo­cal fire de­part­ment) to min­i­mize the chance they’ll end up in wa­ter sup­plies. 3. Sched­ule vac­ci­na­tions. Set up ap­pro­pri­ate vac­ci­na­tions for your horse to min­i­mize the spread of disease—pay­ing close at­ten­tion to zoonotic ill­nesses like East­ern equine en­cephalomyeli­tis and West Nile virus, which can im­pact both hu­mans and horses. 4. Clean ma­nure from pas­tures and loaf­ing sheds. It helps with par­a­site con­trol, thus min­i­miz­ing the need for de­worm­ing med­i­ca­tions (which get into the en­vi­ron­ment). It also helps keep dis­easespread­ing fly pop­u­la­tions un­der con­trol, plus de­creases con­tam­i­na­tion of nearby wa­ter sources from waste-heavy runoff. →

5. Adopt a strate­gic de­worm­ing pro­gram. A de­worm­ing strat­egy based on fe­cal egg counts will help con­trol par­a­site pop­u­la­tions to im­prove your horse’s health, min­i­mize pres­sure on de­worm­ing med­i­ca­tions, and re­duce chem­i­cals in the en­vi­ron­ment. 6. Col­lect, re­cy­cle bal­ing twine. Many feed stores ac­cept bal­ing twine for re­cy­cling. If this op­tion isn’t avail­able, con­sider find­ing an artist or crafter who’ll re­pur­pose the ma­te­rial for cre­ative projects. Your ef­fort will not only keep bal­ing twine out of land­fills, it’ll help pro­tect wild birds from be­com­ing en­tan­gled in bal­ing twine they’ve used when build­ing their nests. 7. Col­lect, re­cy­cle plas­tic feed bags. These bags can usu­ally be re­cy­cled along with other “film plastics” to keep them out of land­fills. (See a cool re­cy­cling tip on page 24.) While you’re at it, gather all your plas­tic shop­ping bags—they can usu­ally be re­cy­cled along with feed­bags. 8. Scrub wa­ter troughs. Min­i­mize the risk of disease-car­ry­ing mos­qui­tos’ pop­u­lat­ing in stag­nant wa­ter troughs. If you have a pond on your prop­erty, clean out de­bris to elim­i­nate mos­quito-breed­ing ar­eas. If pos­si­ble, in­stall a bat house nearby—bats can eat thou­sands of mos­qui­tos daily. 9. Get a barn cat. You’ll have an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly

method of ro­dent con­trol and you just might save a life if you adopt from a shel­ter. As an ex­ten­sion of this ro­dent­con­trol ac­tiv­ity, check and re­place grain-stor­age con­tain­ers with ro­dent-proof al­ter­na­tives, and clean out ar­eas in your barn where grain has spilled to nix the on­go­ing ban­quet for these disease-car­ry­ing ro­dents. 10. In­stall gravel around wa­ter troughs, gates. Re­duc­ing mud in high-traf­fic ar­eas helps con­trol both flies and mos­qui­tos to pro­tect your horse from disease. It also re­duces ground­wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion from ma­nure-heavy runoff. While you’re work­ing on your drainage, check and clean cul­verts that may be blocked and caus­ing wa­ter buildup. 11. Do­nate old tack. Pre­serve re­sources and help sup­port or­ga­ni­za­tions that pro­tect horse health by do­nat­ing tack, horse blan­kets, and other sup­plies you don’t use to a lo­cal res­cue or­ga­ni­za­tion. While you’re at it, clean out your clos­ets and do­nate old rid­ing clothes. Most horse res­cues will sell what they can’t use them­selves, us­ing prof­its to help sup­port their ef­forts. 12. Vol­un­teer at an equine res­cue fa­cil­ity. Res­cue or­ga­ni­za­tions work hard to pro­tect horse health and strengthen the hu­man-an­i­mal bond by re­mov­ing horses from abu­sive sit­u­a­tions and find­ing fos­ter homes and adop­tion place­ments. Sup­port their ef­forts by vol­un­teer­ing what time you can. 13. Col­lect, re­pur­pose old horse­shoes. Find an artist who uses shoes for metal sculpt­ing, or gather shoes for scrap- metal re­cy­cling. Feel­ing am­bi­tious? Con­sider set­ting up a pro­gram to col­lect shoes from lo­cal barns and far­ri­ers, do­nat­ing pro­ceeds from re­cy­cling to a lo­cal horseres­cue group.

Weeks 14 Through 25

14. Clean, re­pair gut­ters and down­spouts. Op­ti­mal drainage re­duces mud, pro­tect­ing your horse from disease and pre­vent­ing ground­wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion. If you have ar­eas on your farm where stag­nant wa­ter col­lects, dig trenches or in­stall french drains to en­cour­age bet­ter drainage. 15. Share a ride. Go­ing to a horse show, trail ride, or other event? Team up with a friend to min­i­mize pol­lut­ing ex­haust and other im­pacts of trucks and trail­ers on the road. 16. Set up solar pan­els. Con­sult with a solar-en­ergy com­pany to see whether pan­els could be in­stalled on your barn roof to pro­vide power. Is your prop­erty gated? Even if solar power isn’t prac­ti­cal for your whole barn, you may be able to use it to power a fa­cil­ity gate. 17. Set up a re­cy­cling cen­ter at your barn. Is your barn trash can over­flow­ing? Many of the things you toss can be re­cy­cled. If you’re not sure what can be re­cy­cled where, a quick In­ter­net search will give you great ideas. Start small by set­ting up bins to col­lect card­board, plas­tic, and glass. Re­solve to make your re­cy­cle bins bigger and bet­ter-filled than your trash can. →

18. Col­lect cans, bot­tles at events. Horse shows can be thirsty places, and show-venue trash bar­rels of­ten over­flow with pop cans and plas­tic wa­ter bot­tles. Col­lect these items and re­turn them to a re­cy­cling cen­ter. If your state has a re­turn-for-cash pro­gram in place, you might even make enough money to pay for a class or two. Bet­ter yet, do­nate prof­its to a healthre­lated char­ity. 19. Con­trol wa­ter waste. Wa­ter is one of our most pre­cious re­sources, and clean sup­plies are es­sen­tial for healthy hu­mans, an­i­mals, and ecosys­tems. In­sti­gate wa­ter con­trol by check­ing and re­pair­ing or re­plac­ing leaky hoses, in­stalling low-vol­ume fix­tures in your wash rack or tack-room sink, and mak­ing sure back-flow de­vices on spig­ots are work­ing prop­erly. 20. Col­lect, re­cy­cle horse-show rib­bons. Do you even know where all those old rib­bons are stored? Dig them out and make a do­na­tion to a lo­cal 4-H group, horse camp, or other youth eques­trian or­ga­ni­za­tion, or check out rib­bon­re­cy­cling.com. Rib­bons can also be re­cy­cled as tex­tiles along with old, torn sad­dle pads or horse blan­kets. Good­will of­fers an ex­ten­sive tex­til­ere­cy­cling pro­gram. 21. Adopt a biose­cu­rity plan. If you travel to horse shows or other events where horses con­gre­gate, es­tab­lish a plan that in­cludes car­ry­ing your own wa­ter buck­ets and dis­in­fect­ing stalls upon ar­rival to help re­duce the spread of disease. 22. Or­ga­nize, re­pur­pose pal­lets. Most barns have a sup­ply of wooden pal­lets left over from hay and grain de­liv­ery. Gather all those old pal­lets and re­pur­pose them to build trail ob­sta­cles or jumps. And any time you have scrap wood you can’t use, haul it to a re­cy­cling cen­ter in­stead of throw­ing it in the burn pile or tak­ing it to the land­fill. 23. Vol­un­teer at a hand­i­cappedrid­ing pro­gram. Horses make a di­rect im­pact on hu­man health in pro­grams for the hand­i­capped. Do­nat­ing your time at a lo­cal fa­cil­ity pro­motes this im­por­tant hu­man-an­i­mal bond. 24. Leave no trace. Do you trail ride or horse camp? Carry cer­ti­fied weed-free pel­lets or hay to re­duce the chance of in­tro­duc­ing non-na­tive veg­e­ta­tion that can threaten frag­ile ecosys­tems. Stay on trails; clean up camp­sites af­ter use. Want to go one step fur­ther? Vol­un­teer to help clean up and main­tain trails. 25. Set up a composting cen­ter. Composting or­ganic waste turns ma­te­rial that can harm the en­vi­ron­ment into some­thing ben­e­fi­cial. Start small by composting or­ganic ma­te­rial from your kitchen, or take on the larger project of turn­ing your ma­nure bin into a composting area. Ma­nure composting re­duces par­a­site loads in your horse, lessens the need for de­worm­ing chem­i­cals to be in­tro­duced to the en­vi­ron­ment, elim­i­nates the need for ma­nure dis­posal, and po­ten­tially pro­duces a prod­uct—fer­til­izer—that can be used to grow food for hu­mans and an­i­mals.

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