Words of warn­ing

EQUUS - - Eq Case Report -

of them, even though his case was by far the most crit­i­cal. Ar­ne­sen said he’d never seen a horse sur­vive if he had to draw more than two gal­lons from his chest. Parker had had more than six gal­lons drained.

Af­ter my ex­pe­ri­ences with Parker, I be­gan to hear of other cases of ship­ping fever. I met one woman who had re­turned from a trail ride and brought her horse di­rectly to the vet­eri­nar­ian be­cause she thought he had a lame­ness is­sue. The horse was stum­bling on the trail and just seemed like he “didn’t feel good.” The horse had been trail­ered six hours, then tied to a high­line overnight. The signs ap­peared the next day. The woman was sur­prised to find out the “lame­ness” was ac­tu­ally ship­ping fever. I was sorry to hear that the horse died within the first 24 hours, af­ter a lit­tle over two gal­lons of fluid were drained from his lungs.

While I was still con­tend­ing with Parker’s ill­ness, a friend of mine re­turned from a trail ride out West with a group of sea­soned rid­ers who have spent many years trai­ler­ing their horses. When she ar­rived home af­ter the 20-hour drive, she could not get her lit­tle mare to un­load---the horse just stood with her head down and would not move. She had ship­ping fever. Af­ter nearly three months of an­tibi­otic treatment, the mare did sur­vive, but un­for­tu­nately her lungs have so much scar tis­sue that she can no longer be rid­den on trail rides.

When I tell peo­ple what hap­pened to Parker, I usu­ally get one of two re­ac­tions. If the per­son knows about the dan­gers of ship­ping fever, they try hard not to tell me how stupid I was to travel so far with a very large horse who could not get his head down to clear his air­way of the bac­te­ria that builds up in­side the trailer.

More fre­quently, how­ever, the reaction I get is to­tal dis­be­lief that a horse could get sick from rid­ing in a trailer. Peo­ple will tell me they have hauled horses from Texas to Seat­tle to Min­nesota and back and never had any prob­lems with ship­ping fever. I al­ways re­ply, sin­cerely, that I hope they never do. But I do urge them to look into the rec­om­men­da­tions for help­ing to keep a horse’s air­ways healthy on long trips.

I’m happy to re­port that Parker made a full re­cov­ery. He has full lung ca­pac­ity and has re­turned to his pre­vi­ous fit and ath­letic self, and we are once again par­tic­i­pat­ing in stren­u­ous ranch ver­sa­til­ity events. Even though I’m ex­tremely care­ful with how I ship now, we had a slight scare when he de­vel­oped a cough shortly af­ter we re­turned from a trip. Af­ter phone con­sul­ta­tion, I drove to Pott’s clinic im­me­di­ately to pick up an­tibi­otics. For­tu­nately, the cough dis­ap­peared quickly. Per­haps it wasn’t a res­pi­ra­tory prob­lem at all, but I’m not about to take chances. I know what ship­ping fever is now, and I never want to deal with it again.

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