AS YOU WAIT FOR YOUR VET­ERI­NAR­IAN

EQUUS - - Eq Handson -

• Keep the horse still. Your horse can­not “walk off” these cramps, and forc­ing him to move may cause fur­ther in­jury to his mus­cles. Keep him stand­ing right where he is un­til your vet­eri­nar­ian ar­rives. If you must move the horse for safety or to get treat­ment, bring a trailer to him and move him only the min­i­mum num­ber of steps.

• En­cour­age him to stay calm. Keep a buddy with him or of­fer him small bites of hay. Stress can make this con­di­tion worse, so do what you can to make the en­vi­ron­ment sooth­ing.

• Of­fer wa­ter, pos­si­bly with elec­trolytes. Wa­ter with dis­solved elec­trolytes may be help­ful, if your horse will drink it. If he won’t, of­fer him plain wa­ter, too.

• Warm up or cool down the af­fected mus­cles, ac­cord­ing to the sea­son. If it’s a hot sum­mer day, sponge cool wa­ter over your horse. (Con­trary to the old myth, splash­ing cold wa­ter on hot mus­cles will not cause fur­ther cramp­ing.) In cold weather, place a blan­ket over your horse’s hindquar­ters to warm him up.

• Watch for uri­na­tion. The color of the urine will of­fer im­por­tant di­ag­nos­tic in­for­ma­tion for your vet­eri­nar­ian. If your horse uri­nates while you’re wait­ing for her to ar­rive, take note of the color or, bet­ter yet, catch some in a clean, empty con­tainer.

• Mon­i­tor your horse for other com­pli­ca­tions. The meta­bolic im­bal­ances as­so­ci­ated with fa­tigue can lead to other is­sues as well. Syn­chronous di­aphrag­matic flut­ter, called “thumps,” is one pos­si­bil­ity---look for a dis­tinc­tive jerk­ing, or tic, in your horse’s flank that matches the rhythm of his heart­beat. Hy­per­ther­mia (over­heat­ing) can de­velop when a horse can no longer cool him­self by sweat­ing ---look for ag­i­ta­tion, pant­ing through the mouth, ex­ces­sive sweat­ing and skin that is no­tice­ably hot to the touch. Dark mu­cous mem­branes and skin that does not snap back into place af­ter be­ing pinched are signs of se­ri­ous de­hy­dra­tion. A horse who is ex­haust­ing his fluid re­serves may de­velop an­hidro­sis, the loss of the abil­ity to sweat. If you no­tice any of these other signs start­ing to de­velop, call your vet­eri­nar­ian with an up­date; she may de­cide your case is be­com­ing crit­i­cal.

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