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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What a Day for the USA...and a Rough Day for One Appaloosa

Thanks to Florida artist Debbie Sampson for the loan of this patriotic image. Debbie has a clever twist to her paintings: that's a real horseshoe attached to the (painted) hoof. Please note that they do sell stars-and-stripes leg wraps for horses; this painting does not represent real flags wrapped around horses legs!

This image seems sadly appropriate: As you may have heard, a horse in the inaugural parade somehow managed to get his leg stuck in or under a parked truck. The Appaloosa was extriciated and ambulanced through the masses in downtown Washington. You can read the Humane Society of the United States's story about it at this link. It was a joint effort between the HSUS and other animal welfare agencies.

I know: my first thought was to question whether the horse was properly shod for the parade. I tried to find out in advance what advice had gone out to horsemen for preparing their horses' hooves for safety on the street. No one had any answers for me.

I know that ambulances and evacuation trailers were on hand, supplied by the HEART ambulance seen at so many east coast horse shows and three-day events, and the Days End Farm Equine Rescue Farm in Maryland. I am not sure who transported the horse, but I am so glad they were there.

A note to all the farriers and farrier organizations out there who read this blog: your skills with handling horses could be put to great use in the field of equine rescue and disaster relief. The HSUS and other agencies offer rescue training courses, and there are more formal programs and even certifications available, if you would like to be on call for stand-by at events or for disaster situations.

Helping staff and outfit a horse ambulance in your area is a great fundraiser goal for horse groups of all types, as well.

But if my horse was trapped upside down in a trailer or stranded on a hummock in the middle of a flood, I know that I would relax a tiny bit if I knew the person trying to help was a farrier who would have some sense of the horse's reflexes, and be able to assess a situation.

Many vets are already lined up in some sort of a network to help. I don't know who the state police calls when there's a wreck, or a horse falls down a hole, but the vets are already there. And could use a hand.

Another area where farriers can help is teaching local fire departments how to bandle horses in barn fire situations. And reminding owners to set up their barns so horses can be evacuated by firemen who don't know where halters and leadlines are kept (they should be hanging by each stall). Do you think the firemen in your town can put halters on horses in the dark?

President Obama called us all to action yesterday, and to serve. Perhaps with budget cuts to state and national programs, animal rescue training and fundraising is something we could all do to help.

That Appaloosa in Washington is certainly glad those trained personnel were on hand.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission. You only need to ask.

Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page).

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1 comment:

Colleen/HOOFS Fund said...

On the issue of safety, I can add this tidbit: people I spoke with from Fort Riley and Culver Academies before the parade said their horses were required to wear borium shoes. As well, the rider of Mouse makes reference to his borium shoes in her post: http://stori-lundi.livejournal.com/170181.html

On a side note, U.S. Park Police horses, which patrol the monuments and work protests at the WH, Supreme Court, and other slipperly surfaces in DC, wear borium.