Our first day of work on the Costa Rican Osa Peninsula brought about 25 horses and a very “personalized” relationship with horse owners, an invaluable effort that helps to assure responsible ownership and enthusiasm among locals for equitarian work.
Yesterday’s roads were remembered as glamorous as we climbed trenches and sometimes bottomed out on gullies in our rental cars on the jungle hills. Most likely we were only 4 kilometers from Puerto Jimenez, but it took us a good hour to climb. We were lucky to join up with Jerry Rapp, a retired farrier and outfitter who now lives in Costa Rica and is the newest member of the equitarian farrier team, and fortunately for us, happens to know the fauna well. Macaws and toucans, “bird
of paradise” flowers, mango, balsa, and “gringo trees” (with bark that’s red and peels!) were spotted on the way up.
A family hosted us at their picturesque farm valley near La Balsa/Miramar. Extended family and neighbors from up to 2 hours away brought their small criollo-type horses that are used for human transport, packing tourist suitcases, and herding cattle. Body condition scores were generally low (1.5-3.5) in these slight-built horses, of course resulting in several very superficial saddle sores, but owners were generally very accepting of changing or cleaning their saddle pads. In general, we saw good saddle fit. A record-keeping system courtesy of Julie Wilson made sure owners knew the exact treatments and recommendations for each horse and could take home carbon copies of this year’s records.
Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) history was closely recorded, as the majority of horses were seen at last year’s workshop. Owners seemed knowledgeable of the disease’s seriousness, thanks to last year’s educational efforts. It was encouraging to see continued participation and information retention such as this. Dr. Adrienne has begun an initiative among local owners to create fly traps for the tábano (tabanid) fly, a pos
sible vector for EIA and other infectious diseases, as well as a cause of considerable discomfort among these working animals. We took many blood samples on these horses.
Three castrations were provided (one of which was a crypt, the other of which was removing the second testicle after a first had been traumatically removed), two pregnant mares were presented, and several horses had a productive, mucoid cough for which antibiotics were carefully dispensed. Two Onchocerca cervicalis parasite infestations just behind the poll and one vampire bat bite were presented, as well as a unilateral mastitis for which Excede was given with instructions to the owner on how to give a second intramuscular dose in four days. One horse was given an immune stimulant for a severely apathetic attitude. Relatively routine dentistry (enamel points and hooks, one retained cap) was provided. Ticks were rampant, especially around eyes, ears, the nose, and anus although it was notable to see one horse bleed bilaterally through the nose after intranasal ticks were removed. Ivermectin and topical Frontline were applied to all equines. A local farrier supplies shoes for some of the horses, but shoes were remarkably small for the feet. The hooves were generally of good size and conformation but cracks and flares were addressed. It was exciting to see a few owners enthused about trimming, and farrier Jerry directed them as they learned to use the rasp. We left basic farrier tools for some of the eager men to continue the work in the community.
After spending the entire day in the field, we got back to Puerto Jimenez where Dr. Paul brewed tomorrow’s anesthetics in a hotel microwave. The rest of us headed to the favorite local restaurant for “refrescos”. We will run the EIA blood samples we took at the end of the week. Tomorrow we expect to see many more horses in two communities above Drake Bay (Bahía Drake), where last year’s EIA prevalence of over 30%, so we will get an early start! Hopefully we don’t run across any sloths trying to cross the road, or we hear our trip may be delayed by days!
Angie Gebhart, Julie Wilson, Judy Batker, Adriana Huerta, Adrienne Otto, and the rest of the Costa Rica Equitarians
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