Whereas yesterday brought a majority of “ranch” horses, we treated over 70 horses today, of which most are used to haul “los turistas” (tourists) from the hideaway cabins to the eco-tourism adventures around Bahía Drake (Drake Bay) on the northwest side of the Osa Peninsula. The roads today also did not disappoint, of course – our brave veterinarian drivers tried their hands at water crossings and narrow wood bridges! We “set up clinic” at a Canopy Tours (zip line) headquarters near Planes.
Overwhelmingly high numbers of horses with respiratory problems were presented today. We suspect something environmental – from the kickup of the dusty gravel roads during the dry season or something more exotic. Nasal drainage, cobblestone nasal mucosa, severe raspy respirations, and a mucoid cough, only occasionally with blocked sinuses, found by tympany of the nose, were encountered. Dr. Ricardo hypothesized a Rhinosporidium fungal infection. We opted to try the immune stimulant, EqStim, while Dr. Ricardo researches oral antifungal treatment options that might be affordable in Costa Rica.
Fortunately, we went from castration to castration, seeing at least 7 today, mostly routine but one double cryptorchid, with a bipartite testicle, perhaps secondary to a congenital torsion.
The body scores came in substantially lower today, meaning very skinny horses. Body condition scores seemed to be correlated with the owner, which was productive to realize – health may not simply be at the hands of the seasonal environment. The majority we saw today eat only pasture, but at this time of year it’s very dry. We recommended a lot of corn oil (easily accessible in this region), concentrate, vitamins, and minerals, and hope that the owners follow through.
It was remarkable to see the docility of the animals today – kids jumping on and off, veterinarians scraping ticks out of their ears and taking blood samples with hardly even a flinch of the head. We saw the oldest horse of the trip so far, who was 16 years old
. It was hard to watch him get around with his long, laterally splayed feet. A mild trim seemed to immediately provide some relief, and the owner was sent home with a rasp courtesy of farrier Jerry and Adrienne and instructions for frequent trimming, as well as anti-inflammatory (NSAID) to help during his “worst” days.
Ticks were again a huge concern, especially on the ears and anus. Some owners said they use “Garrapatacía,” a topical tick repellent (amitraz), when the ticks get bad, and it was definitely evident which horses belonged to those owners that
took this step. We encouraged the Garrapatacía use against these nasty creatures they call garrapatas.
A small number of children came to watch both before and after school, and the boys watched the surgeries with fascination, taking pictures with their camera phones. Each “student surgeon” received a coloring book – we read through them with interest and played a “memory” game about horse care. They already seemed to know a lot! Thirty books were sent with them to the school to distribute when they went in the afternoon, and we got word that they were all gone by the end of the school day.
We tried “casado” for lunch, translated literally to “marriage,” a mix of rice, beans, veggies, meat, salad, and tomatoes (meaning you had everything), made by a village grandmother. We are all very partial to the food! Love it all!
We also saw an alarming number of vampire bat bites today, making those of us sleeping outside in hammocks at our eco lodge on Drake Bay tonight a bit nervous! We hear the main species that come near to humans are fruit bats, luckily, which are no worry to us in the jungle!
Angie Gebhart and Julie Wilson, and the rest of the Costa Rica Equitarians