by: Angie Gebhart and Dr. Dave Turoff
August 19, 2012
Our work today was in a town called Saqsaywaman, famous for its smaller-scale Incan ruins. Our worksite was beautiful, nestled in between mountains, but quite uneven and space had to be used well. A multitude of entry and exit points to the worksite, including tourists on horseback passing through periodically, made for slight chaos. Many of the horses in the morning were brought there by young boys hired to be wranglers for tourism, and they did not know much about the horses’ health histories. We got a slow start to the day, waiting for the owners to show up. Another difficulty of the day was that many horses showed up without any form of halter or lead rope, wandering in as part of a herd. Some of the horses had a 20- or 30-foot rope around their necks by which they were led, but sometimes there were one or more horses on the end of the same rope. Needless to say, the few donated halters and lead ropes we brought along were well-used and appreciated. Six horses were castrated today, with routine ease. It was interesting to see many horses that presented with shoes on, courtesy of a local farrier, although a few were so worn down that only a half or portion of the shoe remained. Upon explaining to the owners the importance of trimming and shoeing properly to maintain the position and protection of the internal structures of the foot, it was interesting to see some of the owners clearly surprised that the hoof had these intricate structures that dictated how the feet should be trimmed. One or two of the men who were clearly responsible for the hoof care of the majority of the animals circled around the farrier station where they learned better ways to
fit shoes and how to use the tools. A correction from yesterday’s blog: VIDA DIGNA, an animal welfare organization based in Peru and headed by Maria Teresa Guzzinati, is responsible for putting horse owners, and specifically up-and-coming farriers, in contact with proper farrier tools that we so take for granted. VIDA DIGNA has also already donated a few of these supplies. Quite a few saddle sores were evident, which we cleaned with chlorhexidine with sedation in the majority of the cases. Another recommendation we could make to the owners of these animals was that they apply honey to the wounds daily to soften the tissue and aid in healing – an available remedy. On every trip, there is a least one
dental case which justifies the entire effort. Today, we were presented with a horse in his mid-teens with rostral hooks on his upper first cheek teeth so long and sharp, as a result of malocclusion, that in a few months the hooks would have grown so long as to prevent the horse from closing his mouth or chewing at all. In the absence of veterinary intervention, the horse would have been doomed to die of starvation for pure physical inability to eat. After sedation, and about 40 minutes of careful grinding with the portable, solar powered equipment we have with us, the dentition of the horse was restored to full functionality. There is not much in life more satisfying than watching a horse graze normally for the first time in years. Of course, the anatomic abnormality remains, so we impressed the owner with the importance of returning with the horse when we return next year, to avoid the recurrence of the condition. In total, 103 horses were treated today in Saqsaywaman, the majority of them being used in tourism.