Every day and every community brings a new “flavor,” as would happen in any place. Last year’s Costa Rican workshop veterans remembered this location as a very “edge of your seat” place, and today didn’t disappoint. We noticed a striking differe

nce in horsemanship at this location, Progreso, near Bahía Drake. Many, many young horses, nearly unapproachable to deworm, but just crawling with ticks, flooded through the gates of the rickety corral. We are happy to report that everyone in our group stayed safe, even though the location was less than ideal and a rowdy stallion broke the back window of Dr. Ricardo’s car. None of the horses wore sturdy halters – most were restrained with 50 feet of rope looped around their heads and fence posts, perilously close to low corrugated tin roof edges.

Most owners requested dewormer, which we distributed carefully because of a limited remaining supply. We chose to begin spreading pour-on on some of the more wild ones to save our ivermectin and fenbendazole for ones that we could control long enough to ensure their intake of the dewormer! One yearling even had so many ticks that his ear drooped. Body condition scores seemed dependent on the owners, but the majority were very low. Job descriptions of today’s horses varied from tourism to farm work to kids’ horses, although very few kids or women were present. Quite a few castrations were done on the lawn of the local church next door, but almost an equal number of opinionated stud horses pranced out of the work site.

A horse in poor shape presented with gravel of his hoof, and it was remarkable that he got along as well as he did with its severity. Betadine, a thorough cleaning and some farrier care helped. Open wounds were present on an alarmingly high number of horses, both from accidents and saddle sores (poor horsemanship in general). Dr. Adrienne encountered a saddle in horrible shape, whose owner had tried earnestly to patch it up with nails, wood, and whatever else he could, but it was so old and dilapidated, causing his horse so many back wounds, that we had to come up with a solution. The Equitarians took the saddle with promise to send another one in just a few days, from Dr. Ricardo’s vet and

tack shop in Puerto Jimenez. (Part of the rationale for this was to make sure the man did not ride the horse for a few days.) We are sure the saddle will be a vivid testament to the necessity of Equitarian work and a reminder of the good that we can make in even one horse’s (and human’s) life.

Among “routine” dental cases, Dr. Turoff received a patient with an enlarged right facial crest, sinusitis, and a nose that was deviated to left. It turned out to be not a dental issue, but paralysis. The horse had been kicked a month ago; dexamethasone was administered to reduce swelling but not a lot could be done so long after the fact.

Nasal discharge and some respiratory problems were again prevalent, along with a surprising (optimistic) number of owners who were very concerned about anemia. The owners know well of the risks of tabanid fly and vampire bat bites, and subsequent disease spread. It was promised that they would be contacted by Dr. Ricardo with any positives once the “unofficial” EIA tests are run at the end of the week. Performed in non-laboratory conditions, our test does not provide faultless results and further testing of any positives by the federal laboratory is strongly urged. Several owners that had come to the Equitarian project the year before were able to tell us that their negative horses had been subsequently tested officially with the same negative result.

Almost 70 horses in total were observed today before we returned to the eco lodge where we stayed last night to help the owners of the lodge with a young horse that had recently been in a traumatic accident while tied. The young filly had severed her right hind deep flexor tendon, as well as suffered a laceration and puncture wound to her opposite-side stifle. All the doctors were incredibly consoling to the owner of the horse, but all knew the right decision had to be made. We returned at the end of the day to help this horse “free her soul” from her dilapidated body and helped the lodge owners with a respectful (and almost ceremonial) burial.

We are off to an indigenous people reservation tomorrow and hope for a great veterinary and cultural experience!

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