I am Jim Ford this year's President and would like to share some information with you. Since there are going to be many members out of the area on March 8 which is our regularly scheduled meeting time, the decision was made to reschedule the meeting for March 15 at 7:30. The meeting will be held at the Rock N Horse Arena which is located on the west side of Hiline at 10555 N Hiline Rd, just north of where I86 crosses Hiline. Dr. Lonna Gerstner, with the Hawthorne Animal Hospital, will be a guest speaker and will discuss the Neuropathogenic Strain of Equine Herpes Virus as well as some first aid advice for anyone riding into the back country. This meeting will be open to the public and should be of interest to anyone who owns a horse.
I have also been able to pull together some information on the this virus that seems to have affected some horses here in Idaho which I will include here. The neurological form of this virus has a grimmer outcome than other forms of virus. Dr. Barton, the State Veterinarian, says some horses can recover from the virus, but others don’t. Some get so debilitated and down that they can’t rise, they can’t eat, they can’t drink, and many times those neurologically impaired horses are euthanized.
Horses start showing symptoms with a fever. If they have the virus they could then start showing weakness, "drunk" walking, a weak stream of urine, and a lethargic tail. Pregnant horses could have late-term abortions.
The virus is spread through nasal secretions or the tissue of the aborted fetal tissue. However, it’s most commonly spread from a human as they work with the horses. The State Department of Agriculture encourages people to disinfect stalls before use, never share water or feed buckets between horses and avoid unnecessary contact with other horses. Barton is encouraging people not to transport their horses anywhere if they don’t have to.
Dr. Seth Lundquist of Alpine Animal Clinic, suggested that it would be a good idea for each of us to “self quarantine” and not take our horse anywhere, just keep them on our own property for the next two to three weeks. If there is no further outbreaks of the virus, then we should be safe to continue with our rides as planned. I asked about the ride on the third week of March and he stated that it should be safe to continue with plans for that ride if there are no further outbreaks.
Idaho is blessed with thousands of square miles of open public land. However, access to the back country is by a network of fragile trails. Just as our roads need constant repair so do back country trails. When trails become washed out or blocked by natural downfall and overgrowth, people stop using them. Under use of a trail is as bad as over use. Horse back riders, hikers, back packers, mountain bikers, dirt bikers, and trail runners, all share the same trail. PRBCH would like to promote cooperation among these trail users through planning, volunteer service, public education, and negotiation with government agencies.