Today brought wonderful working conditions and a very pleasant experience with people of the Guaymí tribe on their reservation’s fútbol field.  Although we only treated 16 horses, it was a respite from the past two very full days.


first patient was visibly sick with a photosensitivity/contact dermatitis condition – peeling pink skin on the nose, face, shoulders, and rump, and exhibiting respiratory distress.  We gave her topical hydrocortisone cream, systemic dexamethasone, and suggested that topical aloe vera might help reduce both the inflammation and itch. On the positive side, we learned that this owner was responsible for the excellent-looking hooves and shoes on some of the horses.  He was praised and worked with farrier Jerry for a bit perfecting his craft.

      One 23 year old indigenous girl had walked an hour on foot with her horse (who was not broke to ride) to get to us.  She showed us how her horse walks on grassy ground, without problems, but made the comment that the mare was lame on rocky soil.  The mare also wore only one shoe, on her sore foot.  An old, full thickness hoof wall defect on the outside of the hoof wall suggested a preceding abscess, so the shoe was pulled with the permission of the local farrier, The dead hoof around the potential site of infection was cleared away from the outside, and iodine was applied to clean the area.  The local farrier gladly agreed to put the shoe back on in a few days once the hoof had been well cleaned out. With his impressive work, we were confident that this horse would likely improve.

A second hoof debridement and 3 castrations were performed, including one on an unbroken young horse who was unapproachable, requiring severa

l doses of sedation before anesthesia, and a prolonged recovery which was carefully monitored.  Another interesting case of the day was an extremely well cared for and trained horse (shake hands, lie down) who had a history of difficulty urinating and increased water consumption. After finding a very full bladder, the team inserted a urinary catheter to drain the bladder and get a sample for urinalysis. Almost 3 liters of very dilute urine was drained. No stones were found, and further decisions for treatment were postponed until we could get the results of the urinalysis and blood test results for kidney function. Renal failure was suspected.

We enjoyed seeing the traditional dress of some of the women in the village – bright colors and bold patterns, as well as hearing their language which did not sound at all like Spanish. We were surprised that some of the adults did not understand Spanish at all.  The owners seemed very appreciative and we made a great connection with the head of the community, leaving a handful of coloring books for the children who were still in school while we were there.  Several bold-seeming young boys melted at the sight of coloring books and crayons. We read the books over and played the Memory game twice before taking a break to watch over Dr. Paul’s shoulder during one of the castrations.

After cleanup, we eagerly accepted their offer to visit an artesanía (craftwork) shop just down the road and enjoyed the river view, handmade jewelry, and dolls, and learning a bit more about the culture of the Guaymí people.  Early evening brought a visit to the beach for most of us to wade in the strong surf while Dr. Adrienne worked hard back at the hotel to arrange our accommodations for the next night and a visit for a few of our group to the Costa Rica public veterinary school for the following week.  This partnership we hope will blossom into a huge step for this project!

Angie Gebhart, Dr. Julie Wilson, and the rest of the Costa Rica Equitarian team


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