Polo Players Edition

AUG 2018

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

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POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 59 can develop terrible secondary systemic disease, including kidney problems, tying up, neurologic issues, and other organ dysfunction. If you have recognized that your horse is suffering from heat stroke, call your v eterinarian. In the mean time while you are waiting for your veterinarian's arrival, your goal is to decrease your horses core body temperature as quickly as possible below 102°F. Remove all tack from the horse. Better prognosis are seen when this disorder is treated early and effectively, so act fast and rapidly cool your horse! Move your horse into a shaded, well-ventilated area (use fans, if possible). Apply cold or ice water hydrotherapy to your horse's entire body. Alcohol baths can also be utilized over the horses neck, thorax, and abdomen, if available. In humid environments where water may not evaporate as effectively, use of a fan and water scraper can help remove heat from the horse faster. Use of a water scraper will allow for water (and thus heat) to be continuously scraped off. Continue reapplying more cold water and scraping it off until your horse is once again back to normal body temperature (99-101°F). Ice packs can be placed over the jugular furrow of the neck to enhance cooling, but do not cover the entire neck. Water should be offered to your horse of a variety (cold, lukewarm and electrolyte supplemented) to help encourage drinking. Now that we have discussed how you should handle an episode of heat stress within your polo string, here are several points of what not to do during such an attack. First off, do not make your horse move. The more your horse moves, the more heat is produced within the bodies' muscles. The goal is to cool down your horse, not continue to heat them up! Second, do not withhold water from your horse, as they are most likely dehydrated. Many people are under the impression that they should not allow their horses to drink water when they are hot due to hyper-distension of the stomach that can lead to colic, but not only can a horse's stomach hold between two to four gallons of liquid without becoming too distended, but allowing several swallows of cool, fresh water is necessary every few minutes to combat heat stress. T hird, do not use wet towels or blankets on your horse to try and cool them as this can prevent eliminating heat through convection. Fourth, it is also important not to use certain tranquilizers, like xylazine or detomidine, (unless under the direction of your veterinarian) as they have been show to cause respiratory distress. Be sure to monitor your horse throughout cooling to ensure they do not get too cold. When your veterinarian arrives on the scene, she will do a thorough physical exam on your horse. An antipyretic will most likely be administered to help lower body temperature (dipyrone or Banamine). Non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs (Bute and Banamine) should only be administered to a dehydrated horse under veterinary guidance due to the detrimental effects these drugs can have on a horse's kidneys. Your veterinarian may want to run some intravenous fluids on your horse to help restore blood volume, hydration level, and correct any electrolyte imbalances your horse may have. Your veterinarian may also suggest running some blood work in order to evaluate all body systems, your horse's hydration level, electrolyte levels and organ functions. Even after the initial heat stroke episode has been treated, continue to monitor your polo pony for any signs of deteriorating condition. Your horse can still develop health problems even two to seven days after an episode of heat stress, which makes having your veterinarian assess your horse all the more important after an initial episode. Heat stress can induce myopathies (muscle problems or tying up), laminitis, kidney dysfunction, liver problems, colic, and even cause gastrointestinal ulceration. Preventing heat stress is the best way to combat this terrible condition. Good news though, this does not mean you have to stop riding and hang up your mallets in the summer time! It is critical that you track your horses feed intake, body condition, and weight during the summer months as the heat does causes additional s tress on ponies. Provide electrolyte supplementation to all your polo ponies during the hot summer months. All of your horses should have free choice access to a salt block or loose salt. Electrolytes stimulate thirst so free choice water should be available. To help keep your horses more comfortable, turn out during cooler parts of the day (early morning, evening, or overnight), provide shade during turn out, watch for sunburns (especially on light colored skin and apply masks or even sunscreen), put fans in stables to keep airflow circulating, provide access to clean, cool water at all times (buckets and tanks may need to be cleaned more in the summer time), clip long haired horses, provide access to a salt block, and watch your horses for normal sweating. Ensure that your horses' are fit and acclimated to the environment in which you are asking them to perform. It is best to ride during the cooler parts of the day (morning and evening), but if you have a competition in the middle of the heat of the day it may be best to exercise your horses at that time so they can grow accustomed to the heat. Again, the Rule of 150 and above will help give you a rough estimate of when you should not be riding or when you should be taking more precautions during your rides. Heat stroke is and should be treated as a medical emergency in any equine athletes as it can have very serious side effects and can occur quite suddenly. When in doubt about your horses and their ability to compete in summer conditions, contact your veterinarian. By putting these simple tips into practice you and your string should be able to beat the heat and be out competing at your best throughout the summer. (continued from page 17)

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