As so often the extent to which social media dominates our response to events has been highlighted by a crisis. The equine herpes outbreak has littered the internet, with stories rising thick and fast out of the calamities.
Social media is fantastic. It has a role to play, but as a fact finder, it is about as reliable as a bucket with a hole in it. In the “good old days” a yard would have had a disease outbreak. Gradually, through chatting, farriers and vets travelling from yard to yard, the people in the immediate vicinity would learn of this. They would then be able to take necessary precaution and the the outbreak would subside and everything would go back to normal. With social media the news travels at lighting speed. The messages become garbled,and the truth is often discarded along the way.
People, often in good faith, dole out information to others, but there is a reason that vets and scientists spend so long training…Remember, your mates hour on google, does not equal many years of scientific training. If you are ever on any doubt about what to do, please consult a vet. Most vets will offer advice on the phone if you are seeking advice on vaccinations or what do to in the event of an outbreak. Other trusted sources are the Animal Health Trust a charity, providing science and care for animals and Dr. David Marlin, a renowned scientist. You may know of others, and please use them!
We can only do the best we can, and our animals can get sick even when we act to the best of our knowledge. But remember there is no such thing as a stupid question and vets would rather you asked that question. A question may just save the life of your much-loved animal.
Science has proven what we have long suspected, that exercise is effective in lessening the risk of arthritis, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, depression, brain deterioration, and in reducing stress. Exercise is literally one of the best things that we can do for ourselves. Even just walking for 20 minutes a day can have an amazing effect on our health, both physical and mental. It is worth remembering this when we are going about our day to day life. Little thing make all the difference to increase the amount of walking we do. Park in the furthest corner of the car park, take the stairs not the lift, walk across your office to speak to a colleague rather than email them!
Research from a Boston hospital made the same link, that exercise can add 7 years to your life. Fortunately, with horses you automatically get exercise, not only in riding them, but in their day to day care. It is, however, important to ensure that you are looking after yourself while taking care of your horses. It can be all too easy to roll out of bed to the yard and spend time bending over and lifting before you are properly warmed up. Many of the tasks involved around the yard are heavy and involve bending and lifting.
The mental benefits of not spending your free time slumped in front of the television have also been researched. Exercise gives you a more positive outlook, and a longer and happier life. We sometimes moan (especially in the winter) about having to trail around in the dark, wind and rain to care for our horses, and think that we would much rather be watching television. However, that time is better spent outside than inside, the ongoing benefits are greater than we appreciate when our feet our wet, and rain has made its way inside our jackets. So, remember as you battle through the wind, this is good for you!
Joking aside, remember exercise is good for you, and now science has proven it.
I have been reading Dr David Marlin’s posts about cooling horses and dogs. For anyone interested you can find him on Facebook (click here). Dr David Marlin is an esteemed scientist, he knows his stuff! Yet there are endless comments from people who say they don’t believe him because they haven’t seen it happen.
Why do we feel the need to see things with our eyes before we believe them? Why do we assume we know best because we had dogs or horses for years? Why do we feel our anecdotal evidence has more weight than scientifically proven facts? I don’t know, there must be some psychological reason.
People forget simple laws of physics, or perhaps were never taught them. Maybe the blame should be placed with the schools! The rise of the internet has made everyone a keyboard expert, and drowned out the voices of the genuine trained and qualified experts. Think of all those certificates you can buy over the internet, giving you all manner of qualifications for things, after a few emails and video.
Whatever you want to know you can google it, which is great, but runs the risk that the information you are reading has been written by someone with a misguided view. In the old days you went to library and looked something up in a book that someone had painstakingly written. I’m not saying everything in books is true, but the chances were that if you had sat down to type out a whole book on over-heating in horses and dogs, the chances would be that you knew your stuff!
The internet can be a minefield, check your sources, and remember science exists even if we can’t see it. We can’t see gravity. We can’t always see the equal and opposing reaction to every action. It doesn’t mean they are not there. In general people are not trying to misinform, they believe the myths they are passing on. Don’t be one of them!
Dealing with our crazy British Weather can be a challenge. One moment we are sliding around in the mud and the next day the temperature has shot up 10 degrees and we are all dripping with sweat and covered with flies! We can’t do anything about the weather, but we can try to work around it.
Often it is not the heat, but the temperature change that causes the problem. Horses, like us, adapt to different climates over time, it is the quick temperature change that catches us out. Every time there is a mini heatwave the internet is flooded with “experts” discussing cooling horses or dogs down.
Be aware of these so-called experts, some the advice they are giving is dangerous. If you want trusted scientific advice on dealing with horses in the heat, please read Dr David Marlin on Facebook by clicking here.
Circulating on Facebook is the myth that you shouldn’t turn your horses out with a wet coat, as the water will heat up on your horse and cause it to overheat – this is not true! The water will evaporate and cool the skin.
Remember that social media is no replacement for veterinary advice and science. If you are in doubt about your horse’s health please consult a vet.
It can be difficult to work your horses during heatwaves and it is all too easy to feel resentful about your entries fees so carry on regardless. Just remember if you always ride your horse at 7 in the morning before work, and then take it competing in a heatwave in the afternoon, the temperature difference will be extreme. The cost of the veterinary care if your horse suffers from heatstroke and associated conditions, will be far greater than your lost entry fees.
Our horses rely on us to keep them safe – don’t let them down…