The authority for sports coverage in the Fredericksburg region.
Betsy Carter’s Horse Scene: Have eye for Lyme
YOUR HORSE MAY have Lyme disease, and you do not even know it. The prevalence of Lyme disease has increased this season because of last year’s warm winter and this year’s early spring, which allowed ticks that carry the disease to thrive.
You may not know your horse is infected because the symptoms are so nebulous and common. A horse with the disease will occasionally show lameness and inflammation in the hip, hocks, stifles or back. Pain and joint medications are usually prescribed for lameness.
However, the lameness will return if your horse is infected with Lyme disease. Horses can become irritable when touched, such as in grooming sessions. The animal will pin its ears, stiffen its back, swish its tail and even try to move away from you A rider may interpret the horse’s resistance to leg cues, reluctance to bend well through corners and difficulty in steering as sour behavior. But eventual kicking out or bucking should raise the red flag for riders.
Neurological symptoms are also part of Lyme disease and may manifest as stumbling or crookedness. The illness also compromises the immune system, which could lead to allergies.
A good veterinarian will recommend an inexpensive blood test for the disease. A positive diagnosis can actually be good news, because the cure is simple, inexpensive and effective. The horse is put on a regimen of 2.5 grams of doxycycline twice a day for 21 days.
In five days, most of the symptoms disappear and the rest will be eradicated over the following two weeks.
If the disease was diagnosed in its early stages, the cure is absolute. A horse that has had the disease for a lengthy period may require additional treatments should symptoms flare again.
Horses suffering from Lyme disease for many years likely will have irreversible neurological and joint damage. A quick test for presence of the disease can prevent a host of ailments that your horse might experience.
Oct. 5–7: Morven Park Fall HT
Oct. 6: Woodpecker Farm; Summerplace; Hunter Experience; Kelly’s Ford; Unbridled Grace @ The Patrick Henry Boy’s and Girls Home; VADA/Nova schooling show at Compass Rose Farm.
Oct. 7: TPF Dressage and CT @ Culpeper; Elmington; South Run; Compass Rose Farm Dressage.
Oct. 12–14: Va. Regional Pony Club USPC National Test
Oct. 13: Silver Star; Bellemount; Fox Chase; Four Oaks; Shen-VADA Dressage; Sandstone; MP at Deep Run.
Oct. 13-14: House Mountain
Oct. 14: Lake of the Woods; EKG; Moriah; Fox Chase; Rivanna.
Oct. 20: BBHSA; Lake of the Woods; Silver Lining; Sunrise HT, CT, Dressage.
Oct. 21: Hazelwild; Moriah; Speakeasy; GRHSA; Silver Lining.
Oct. 23–28: Washington International Horse Show
Oct. 27: Whitestone; Coventry; Evergreen Dressage; Willow Way Dressage.
Oct. 28: BHSA Hunter Classic
Betsy Carter can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia St., Fredericksburg, Va. 22401; or by fax at 540/373-8455.