Wednesday, October 24, 2012 Altzayanca

Blog by Dr. Laura Wolfe, Photos by Karen Kennedy, Icon Studios

My day started at 6:15 at the “Hotel Juvenile”. My roommates and I got ready and organized for another day of lectures and fieldwork. After a breakfast of coffee and pancakes our team headed to the CATED center for morning lectures. Dr. Rob Franklin did a very apt presentation on burro nutrition, which clearly illustrated to me how these donkeys are able to survive on so little sustenance. Burros’ energy requirements are only 75% that of horses, they require more fiber and are more efficient cellulose fermenters. He addressed some of the issues facing these little burros that we have all been observing over the last few days. Many of the animals wear muzzles for various reasons while they are working and they aren’t allowed to graze freely. They are typically kept in small pens or tethered out for grazing. Dr. Julie Wilson talked about different perspectives of putting together the medicine aspects of an equitarian project. That we should find out what usual health care is available and what the locals’ wants and needs are. She also did a brief overview of what medical conditions we might see that are significantly different than those most of us see in in the United States. As a practitioner in Florida I see some of the same conditions related to flies, ticks and culicoides, but I have never seen a cutaneous tuberculosis lesion nor have I seen vampire bat bites! Many of the animals suffer from malnutrition which is only exacerbated by parasites and poor dentition. She encouraged us to remember to utilize our superior physical exam skills and all of our senses since in most cases that would be what we would have to rely on. Then Dr. David Turoff

spoke about his approach to dentistry on equitarian type trips.

We arrived in the town of Altzaynca around 11 AM to start the clinic day. Whereas yesterday we arrived to find the tents set up and what seemed like hundreds of burros awaiting us, today was more low key. The patients seemed to trickle in throughout the day. Some of the animals arrived in the backs of pick-up trucks or open trailers. Some arrived with a vaquero on horseback leading a half-dozen other horses. A few burros arrived with their owners perched somewhat precariously on their hindquarters. I was assured that this was the standard way of riding them!

A donkey arrives to receive health care services.

Riding in style on the burro’s back end

At one point during the morning I saw a truck pull into our area pulling what looked like an old -fashioned circus cage containing an adult tiger and behind that a trailer carrying a llama and small pony. Thankfully the tiger didn’t stay. Not sure how that would have gone!

We saw around (60) equids today, most of which were horses. Overall they seemed to be in better body condition and had fewer problems.


Well cared for horses from today’s caseload


Many of the equid owners showed affection for their animals at this village

The medicine tent’s caseload was predominately healthy looking horses with a history of cough. Only one had significant signs of recurrent airway obstruction, though the others had mild indications of lower airway irritation. The owners were advised to wet their animal’s feed and do their best to avoid dust. The reproduction team was kept busy with numerous pregnancy checks.

The “Casco” (hoof) tent (farriers and lameness) saw some interesting cases where there was simply a lack of routine hoof care. In one particular case the hoof wall had actually folded under and the horse was actually walking on its outer hoof wall.

Those at the surgery station performed castrations, and enjoyed discussions on the strengths of different castration techniques.I had the opportunity to assist on a castration with Dr. Merriam and one of my roommates, Dr. Sabine Buerchler, utilitzing a “Henderson” clamp. That was a first for me.

Dr. Luis Velazquez provides a review of anatomy and techniques for castration for Mexican veterinary students with input from Dr.

Laura Wolfe and Dr. Sabine Buerchler

Our afternoon was fairly slow for all but the dentistry tent (that’s the norm!) and found many of us struggling (I speak for myself) to master the art of knot tying in an attempt to make a rope halter. Thanks to Dr. Tracy Turner, Master Saddler Matthew and Dr. Heather Ross for their assistance.

A high five to say thank you for the FullBucket supplement

One of many beautiful young horses in Altzayanca

As evening arrived we made our way back to the CATED center through a fairly rich agricultural area with fields of corn, agave, peach trees and irrigated alfalfa overlooked by picturesque mountain back drops.

The evening held more interesting lectures and pictures from Dr. Larry Kelly on different dental pathologies and treatments. Dr. Joao Rodrigues from Portugal had a fantastic slide show featuring the donkeys he treats in his practice in northern Portugal, showing some very interesting problems associated with maleruption and supernumerary teeth. Dr. Becky Bott , one of our three animal scientists, spoke about her research on horses at Native American Reservations in South Dakota and an Equitarian program she is trying to initiate there. Dr. Anisha Aiyappa from England spoke about her experiences working as a veterinarian in various countries including India and currently here in Mexico. She emphasized how understanding the culture of the people you are working with and their needs is imperative to truly make a difference.

Then back to the “La Trinidad” for dinner, showers and bed to rest up tomorrow which is expected to be a high volume caseload day.


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