Without a horse in my care at the moment, moments of direct application of what I've learned at work--aha moments--probably don't hit as often as they will hit when I have The Mare out here. But sometimes these moments do happen. When they do, I'm thankful for the perspective.Three Forks road

Last week I took a vacation out West with a friend of mine to visit some other friends, get some fresh air, play in some snow, and gaze at some mountains. These friends we were visiting have a gorgeous ranch near Bozeman, Mont., with a small herd of Percheron crosses: several half-siblings that not only share the same solid, calming presence, but also a joyful, curious demeanor.

Along with their love of horses and carriage driving, my Montana friends also have a heart for the concept of community, and they have been working with at least one person in the younger generation to teach the importance of responsible horsemanship and husbandry. Their young neighbor has a Quarter Horse that he is learning to ride and care for, and my friends--an experienced veterinarian and his wife, a talented horsewoman--are tireless in their enthusiasm to help him understand and enjoy his horse.

Their ranch is a place of happy solitude with stunning views of hills and mountains all around—the quiet is delightful. My first afternoon at the ranch there was a stir about the place and it turned out that the boy's gelding was having an episode of what appeared to be HYPP (hyperkalemic periodic paralysis). The big sorrel was sweating profusely, seemed reluctant to move, and showed muscle spasms along his sides from his shoulders to his flanks. His third eyelid was visible—the young man said his horse looked like he had a "pink eye." My friends weren't sure of this horse's HYPP status, so my friend drew some blood and off to the diagnostic lab in Bozeman I went. (My friend who was along with me had never been to a diagnostic lab and isn't a horse person, so it was entertaining that our first stop on vacation was the Bozeman diagnostic lab!) Bragg the Percheron Cross

Bragg, one of my friends' Percheron cross geldings.


The results came back later and the horse's potassium levels were such that my veterinarian friend knew HYPP is probably what they were dealing with (plans were in place to get this confirmed with the laboratory at the University of California, Davis). He had incredible insights into the nutritional content of the hay the horse had been eating, and they were communicative with their neighbors about what this potential diagnosis meant.

Understandably, the boy's mom was concerned about what this meant for her son's horse, and for the safety of her son. She researched HYPP online and found an array of information in a number of places: everything from scientifically sound information to online discussions that were alarming and filled with misinformation. I listened as my friends counseled this boy's mother on what was truth, and she soaked in the information, becoming more prepared to make decisions about this horse's care.

I was impacted by how my friends responsibly handled these newer horse owner's fears and concerns, educating her with solid, vetted information, and I was reminded how in my job I also need to ensure my team and I are equipping you with vetted information that you can not only understand but also use.

What is a problem you've encountered in your horse where you weren't sure where to start with your research? What types of offerings on TheHorse.com would help you find what you're looking for better?