30 Nov My Pasture is Hurting Me!
Part 3 of a series
We see the same types of injuries over and over and while your horse can’t tell you how he got hurt we have the “Most Wanted List’ of the worst offenders!
Horse Enemy Number 1 – Bucket Handles!
We all have them, plastic buckets in every color, size and shape imaginable. They all come with a steel handle that has been rolled back to hold a metal clip that secures the bucket. When they are brand new they come with a rubber cover for safety but after a few months of use the plastic cover is gone. Now you have an eyelid ripper.
Here is Georgia we have bugs, especially gnats. They love hanging around your horses eyes and making them swollen and itchy. Your horse needs relief and starts rubbing on the first thing he can find. Unfortunately the eyelid gets hung on the bucket handle and the horse pulls back. You’ll be calling with a bloody, dangling eyelid that requires and emergency repair.
Horse Enemy Number 2 – T Posts
I prefer to call them “horse shish kabobs”! These are tough steel posts that are driven into the ground and used to mount fencing. T Posts are so tough they can withstand pounding by a tractor post driver so you can imagine when your running horse loses his footing or doesn’t see the post and slams into the post. The injuries becomes more severe when horses rear or kick over T posts. I have seen horses impaled through the entire shoulder and into the thorax and into the groin and abdomen. The results are not pretty.
T Posts are the most inexpensive form of fencing and they work will in large acreage and low stocking rates. They are NOT suitable for small pens and having horses on both sides of a T Post fence. You can improve T Post safety by using plastic caps.
Horse Enemy Number 3 – Tree Branches
In the south we gets lots of thunderstorms. The worst ones come in clusters at night as storm fronts move through. The lightning flashes, the thunder claps and horses get spooked. We see this time and again when a horse has run into a tree branch and injured the eye.
Horse Enemy Number 4 – Broken Fence Boards
This was is obvious, horses like to walk and run alongside fences. The broken board is deflected into the horses’ space and you’ve got a nasty wound.
Horse Enemy Number 5 –Aluminum Gates
These lightweight gates are cheap and easy to hang. But the aluminum is molded with sharp edges that will cut a horse’s foot when they stand and paw at the gate. Worse than that when challenged these gates bend when hit by a running horse. They are a poor investment just waiting to be replaced.
Horse Enemy Number 6 – Barbed Wire
What can I say! Barbed wire was designed to be used on the range to contain cattle. Cheap and effective for cattle barbed wire is best used in very large spaces of hundreds of acres and needs to be well strung and braced. Horses should never be enclosed on both sides of a barbed wire fence. No worries though, I’ve got lots of suture material.
Horse Enemy Number 7 – Broken Buckets
Horse love to chew on buckets and break down the lips of buckets. Once the edge is broken it becomes a plastic knife. It’s time for a new bucket when this happens.
Horse Enemy Number 8 – Single Lane Fencing
Horses have opinions. When horses are pastured with horses on both sides of a single type of fence there is going to be trouble. It doesn’t matter what type of fencing is used; wood, wire, plastic are all going to be trouble when horses fight over fences, kick at each other or sand there and paw into the fence. Horse always do best with a lane in between paddocks and pastures. Even better design your lane to be at least as wide as your tractor or truck for future repairs.
Horse Enemy Number 9 – Guy Wires
These steel cables are used to stabilize large posts such as electrical utility poles and light posts. When a running horse hits once of these cables bad things are going to happen. One patient basically severed his entire front leg while the other broke his leg. If you have guy wires in your pasture you should create a wooden barrier to keep horses from running into these cables.
Horse Enemy Number 10 – Farm Implements
Are you really that lazy! I am stunned when I see tractors, trucks, bush hogs, arena graders etc. all left in the pasture or riding arena. Horses do silly things, it’s a matter of time until someone gets hurt.
I want you to think like a horse! Imagine what it is like to be out in the dark or in a storm. Looks for hazards that might result in injury. Replace broken buckets and feeders before you have to make a call for emergency care. Perhaps you need to improve your fencing or restring some wire. Have a barn party and you supply the pizza, bring your own hammer!
Charlene B. Cook DVM