I caught up with Dr. Bonnie Barr, an equine internal medicine expert working as part of the Kentucky team taking care of World Equestrian Games horses.
Q. Bonnie, tell me what you've been doing so far.
A. I'm in the veterinary clinic up there (at the Kentucky Horse Park). If team vets come in, and for example, if they have a medicine-type question, if they have a question on bloodwork, if they would like us to look at the horse ... we work on a consulting basis helping them. We've also been helping check in the horses coming out of the quarantine from Cincinnati, see that they walk off the van OK, take their passports back to the veterinary clinic, etc.
Q. Are horses still coming in?
A. Yes, some of the para-dressage horses came in yesterday (Saturday 10/3).
Q. What are some problems you've seen so far.
A. (On my watch), I saw issues with some of the endurance horses. It was so hot right before the Games started, we had 90+ degree weather. People were really worried about the horses tying up – that's when muscles start to cramp and get really hard, and then it's very painful for them to move around. We used fluids to help flush out their systems.
Q. I hear the noted Dr. Jean Marie Denoix from France is here. Tell us about him.
A. He's a well-known ultrasonographer, and that's what he's doing at the World Equestrian Games. He travels all over the world and does ultrasound clinics. He's phenomenal. We had a horse that tied up and he ultra sounded it and (with his skill) you could see (precisely) where one muscle was more inflamed than another. He's known worldwide, but he's willing to do anything. It's great.
Q. You've done two lectures at the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital Pavilion. One was on botulism, the other on biosecurity for the traveling show horse. Let's start with the botulism one. Give us a takeaway.
A. So botulism is a neurologic disease that causes severe and generalized weakness in the horse. Certain areas of the country you see it more, and central Kentucky would be one. But there is actually a vaccine that's available that's 100 percent effective, and I talked about the importance of getting your horses vaccinated. But say you're in a situation where you have one (unvaccinated) horse that comes in with what looks like is botulism, and you have a seven or so other (unvaccinated) horses that don't have it. The vaccine is usually given in doses that are 30 days apart, but in that situation, you should give all the other horses the three doses every seven days.
Q. And what are some takeaways from the other lecture: biosecurity for the traveling show horse.
A. Well, No. 1, make sure your horses is up-to-date on its vaccines, but the other points I discussed were the importance of day-to-day hygiene. Once your horse is there in the new environment, make sure it doesn't touch noses with other horses. Don't let other people pet your horse – you don't know what other horses they've been petting. And make sure the stall has been cleaned out to the best of your ability.
– Leslie Guttman
About the Author
Leslie Guttman is an independent journalist and freelance writer whose work has appeared in such publications as the Washington Post, Salon, Orion, and the San Francisco Chronicle, where she worked on staff for over a decade. Her awards include being honored by the Society of Professional Journalists for outstanding journalism. She's also worked as an editor at Wired magazine, and her public radio commentary has been broadcast nationally on Marketplace.