Polo Players Edition

SEP 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 17 vaccination early in the week. He always got stiff and sore after vaccination, and the owner had been doing some massage and maybe some chiropractic work on this horse. When they called me, it didn't sound good. I loaded up some supplies and headed down to look at that horse. When I walked into the barn I could smell that horse—a sickly sweet odor put off by clostridial organisms. The horse was standing out in the arena, holding his left hind leg up. The whole leg was cold and swollen, with gas bubbles under the skin all the way up the leg," recalls Randall. "I got him started on antibiotics, clipped his whole hind leg from hock to croup, and figured out where the major problem areas were. We cleaned those up and made a number of incisions to open them up, let the gas out, and start drainage. The tissues were dead and rotting. We didn't have to use any anesthesia to make the incisions because he had no feeling at all in those tissues. These were incisions 8 to 12 inches long," he says. "We called the owner and asked about possible euthanasia. The horse was insured for a fair amount of money and I told the owner the chances of surviving this infection were poor and it would be completely reasonable to euthanize him, but we'd have to call the insurance company first. The owner didn't want to do that; he told me to save the horse if I could. So we got the horse loaded and took him to our clinic. He was already starting to feel better, just from the antibiotics and opening up those areas; you could tell by the way he acted," says Randall. "We kept him in the clinic about a month and he ended up sluffing an area in his left thigh as large as half a watermelon. He had a hole that big, where all the muscle was gone. His sciatic nerve kept functioning, however, and his hip joint was ok, so he survived and was able to keep going." Randall recalls. Some horses aren't this lucky. Randall tells of another horse that arrived one evening at a barn where he happened to be, with an infection at an injection site. The injection had been given on top of the gluteal muscles (rump area). "There was a noticeable swelling. I gave the horse some antibiotics, loaded him in a trailer and took him to the clinic, and he was dead when I got there. The owner was the one who gave the injection, but was quite upset about the outcome," Randall says. The first ivermectin deworming products for horses were injectable and there were a few incidents of clostridial infections with those. "I think this risk was mentioned on the label. Here at our clinic we probably used about 3000 doses of it during the time it was available as an injection, and it was my favorite dewormer. We just always gave the horse an injection of penicillin in the same region, at the same time." This eliminated the risk because penicillin is very effective against clostridia. "We never had any trouble with those injections. I have no idea what the incidence of reaction and infection might have been. The company later went to an oral product, partly because of the injection reactions but mainly as a marketing tool because it was easier for horse owners to give it orally," says Randall. Proper ways to use Banamine "Regarding flunixin, it is less risky to give it orally or by IV injection rather than as an IM injection," says Randall. "There are times you need to give it when a horse is flopping around on the ground with colic. If you are going to have any flunixin products on hand, however (whether the paste or injectable), you need to be able to assess that horse reasonably well and know whether you should actually give this drug. That means you need to be able to take a pulse, listen to gut sounds, and look at the gums, to know if the horse is shocky," he says. "An owner called one night, wanting me to come to the fairgrounds (about an hour away) and give fluids to a horse. This was about 11 p.m. The owner said the show vet had looked at the horse and said it needed fluids. The owner had given the horse an injection of Banamine about 7 p.m. and it wasn't doing well. I asked about the history on the horse. The owner said it wasn't eating well that morning so they gave it Banamine. This means the horse was sick all night by the time they discovered it was off feed that morning, and probably sick the day before. They simply didn't want to haul the horse to a vet because they had to show some horses the next day. They just kept giving it more Banamine, and a day or two later, after the show, they hauled the horse home—where their vet did surgery on it—and the horse died. The owner just assumed it couldn't hurt the horse to keep giving it Banamine!" says Randall. When Banamine first came out, about 1980, people considered it a cure-all. "We thought we could just give a shot of Banamine and make the horse better. But When giving shots of Banamine in the muscle rather than in the vein, you risk getting a clostridial infection like this horse did in the croup area. (continued on page 58)

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