By Dr. Julie Wilson
Today was spent at what is known as the rubbish dump. The site is on a broad dirt road on the outskirts of San Pedro Sula where a dumpster is located alongside a ramp to facilitate dumping garbage from the horse drawn-carts. Large trucks and smaller overloaded pickups rumbled by all day. The flies were very numerous with such easy eating, and it was soon clear that the horses in the area were being seriously affected by them. The two main themes that emerged from the cases today were swollen, runny, itchy eyes due to face flies and ill-behaved horses. Our joint team of Equitarians, World Horse Welfare and Universidad Nacional de Honduras faculty and veterinary students saw 45 horses during the course of the day. The students were very intrigued by our eye case management when we immediately reached for fluorescein strips to check for corneal ulcers. Equine ophthalmology was not a subject they had studied yet (they are just sophomores!). They also had not yet seen how to flush a nasolacrimal duct. Our standard protocol became check for ulcers, flush the nasolacrimal duct(s), apply an ophthalmic ointment with dexamethasone to reduce inflammation if the cornea was okay, and ask the harness team to make them a fringe browband. Some of the ranker horses had to be tranquilized to flush the nasolacrimal ducts. Getting a needle in the jugular was very problematic for several, leading to repeated req
uests for Dr. Turner to apply the “Vulcan death grip” to the loose skin
below the throat latch. Perseverance was ultimately rewarded, which was another good lesson for the students and owners. The farriers also had to put up with the horses’ short tempers, and unfortunately one of the farriers was double barreled in the late morning, and was unable to continue shoeing for the rest of the day.
The thinnest horses today were 2/9 on the Henneke scale, but once again many of the thin ones were covered in ticks. A recently orphaned foal also had lice. The local dogs were in rough shape, and one friendly pup that appeared to have mange was rewarded with a therapeutic bath, leftover lunch and deworming. Dr. Turoff stayed busy at the dental station, and ended the day with an older stallion that had overly worn 2nd upper molars (Triadan 110 and 210) and severe overgrowth of the corresponding 2nd lower molars. The students greatly appreciated the chance to both see the lesions and take part in reducing the overgrowths with the Swiss Float. The Equitarian coloring books were again popular with the children, and helped keep some of the more mischievous boys from repeatedly getting underfoot. One horse owner, who appeared to be better off than most, brought several Iberian stallions for health care and farriery and actually paid for the services. That money will hopefully go towards buying more ivermectin and horse shoes as we ran out of both during the day. Thankfully, a number of tubes of paste wormer were available for the late afternoon horses, and a few more horseshoes were located at a local shop. The long day ended with a very well received but lengthy presentation by Dr. Turner on examination of the foot, including imaging.