By Dr. Melody Campbell, D.V.M April 2021
Finally, the snow is gone and the rainy days have arrived heralding Spring. We all welcome the change as it promises warmer sunny days to come. If we look at horses, like the PARD boys, there are potential problems that can arise with the wet weather. Like many horses, four of our boys live outside year-round. Only our smallest horse, Bobby, lives indoors at night as a treasured guest of Wendon Hills Equestrian Centre. The remaining four boys are protected from the snow and cold during the Winter with their winter blankets. When everything melts and the rains arrive, we can protect their bodies with “rain sheets” (like rain coats for people), but we cannot protect their feet and legs. That can lead to some health problems.
What we know as “mud fever” is part of a complex syndrome called Equine Pastern Dermatitis. This condition can develop when the skin of the lower leg is exposed to continuing wet conditions. It can also be related to allergies to biting insects or contact irritants. Even sunburn damage of white areas involving the lower leg can lead to this condition. There are many complicating factors such as bacterial and fungal organisms, and even mites (they look like little tiny crabs under the microscope!) that can make the problem worse.
Prevention starts with pasture and paddock management. It is very important to have horses in pastures or paddocks that have well-drained soil, not on wetlands or in boggy areas that are continuously wet. In areas where horses congregate, like at feeders or watering troughs or at entrances and exits from fields it can be helpful to stabilize the area with a layer of crusher-run gravel, shale or other aggregate. It can also be helpful to raise these areas slightly to encourage drainage. As they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”!
Management during the wet seasons, which are Spring and Fall, involves keeping the lower leg areas clean and dry. This is where good grooming techniques come in. We all brush our horses at PARD before we ride, but there is a lot of time in between when we are not riding. The boys are checked regularly and they are groomed, and even ridden or exercised, by our wonderful PARD volunteers. Due to Covid-19 restrictions this has been done primarily by Board members and a very small number of select volunteers who are allowed to be on the property. During our program season, usually from June to September, our boys are looked after by many more volunteers and even some of the riders. We cannot thank our dedicated horse lovers enough!
Mud fever can start with tiny scabs on the skin that have pus under them. There can sometimes be patchy hair loss as well. When it progresses, there can be larger areas of thickened infected skin that can be more difficult to treat. Early diagnosis and treatment is very important.
Treatment of Equine Pastern Dermatitis (mud fever) involves sorting out the cause and treating appropriately. The PARD boys have an excellent veterinarian who comes to the farm when they need preventive health care, and also if they have any medical problems. We even have two veterinarians on the Board of Directors! The health of our boys is important to all of us. Treating mud fever involves cleaning & drying the affected areas, and applying topical therapy to deal with infection and inflammation. In severe cases there is sometimes a need to use injectable medications such as antibiotics and medications to deal with inflammation or allergy. Our PARD veterinarian can sort out the best treatment plan.
There are also conditions that can affect the foot in wet environments, like Thrush, but we will deal with those when we take a closer look at the foot and associated problems that can occur in a future newsletter.
By Kathy Carruthers, Program Director
For the first time in PARD’s history, PARD was not able to serve our riders by running a full therapeutic program in 2020 due the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic. This was a great disappointment to our riders, their families/care givers, board members, volunteers, and Instructors.
PARD followed the consistently updated rules and regulations regarding the pandemic put out by the government of Ontario, the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association, Equine Canada, and Ontario Equine in order to remain compliant with all standards. Unfortunately, by following these regulations meant we were unable to run the Tuesday and Thursday riding program.
However, the one independent Rider currently in the PARD program was able to participate in lessons in between lock downs of our therapeutic facility and our host barn Wendon Hill’s facility.
3 of PARD’s Instructors and our Physiotherapist consultant were planning on attending the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association (CanTRA) Conference just outside of Calgary, Alberta but this too was cancelled at the last moment.
The four instructors, Chris, Wendy, Sarah, and I were able to virtually attend several educational courses online hosted by CanTRA that were focused on both humans and equines. The hours logged from attending these webinars are eligible for updating hours for both certified instructors and instructor candidates.
PARD Therapeutic Riding
By Angela Muir, Chairperson
In the future, when I look back at 2020, I’m going to choose to remember the strength and resilience we found in ourselves and each other during such challenging times, as opposed to all the disappointments and obstacles we’ve had to endure. It’s easy to focus on the missed opportunities and connections, and even easier to complain about the sacrifices we’ve had to make. Feeling blue during a pandemic is totally normal, so I take inspiration from our riders and instead try to focus on what we are able to do these days like spending time with my kids and husband hiking and exploring our community.
At PARD, cancelling the 2020 seasons was a hard decision but so important for the safety of everyone involved. Almost harder was the last-minute cancellation of the 2020 Charity Games Show. Less than 24hrs before the event outdoor restrictions tightened up ahead of the ‘second wave’ in the fall. Luckily PARD was blessed by an outpouring of support and understanding from all the registered riders and volunteers. With no regular season and no fundraisers for the year, PARD has been trying to boost our online presence to keep connected with our monthly newsletter. Our instructors also went the extra mile to send personalized Christmas cards to our riders to help lift spirits!
I want to thank the 2020 Board of Directors for all their hard work. With so much going on in their personal and work lives, they continued to advocate for our riders and the program so we could look forward to another season. And to all those supporters and volunteers who continue to look out for PARD and act with our best interest in mind...you know who you are...THANK YOU!
Chairperson | PARD Therapeutic Riding
PARD is very fortunate to have a dedicated group of volunteers form the 2021 Board of Directors. PARD is a registered charity run solely by volunteers. PARD doesn’t receive regular government funding so the Board of Directors are busy all year-round planning fundraisers and writing grant requests. But from June to September the main focus is on delivering high quality therapeutic riding lessons to riders of all ages and abilities. PARD is pleased to welcome three new members to the board this year, and grateful to those returning from last year.
2021 PARD BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Angie Muir, President (2012)
Julia Dean, Treasurer (2007)
Dr. Cathy Rae, Secretary (2012)
Kathy Carruthers, Program Director (1994)
Sarah Magee-Graham, Director (2008)
Crystal Edwards, Director (2010)
Mary Babcock, Director (2018)
Dr. Melody Campbell, Director (2019)
Darlene Pearson, Director (2019)
Phil Adams, Volunteer Director (2021)
Alex Bernacki, Director (2021)
Catherina de Goede, Director (2021)
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