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[RC] vectors - Lynn White

The vectors are everywhere.  People and horses can be shedders of disease and 
carry on without any symptoms.  A good example is how the HIV virus was first 
spread around the world.  People had lots of time transmit this virus because 
they were not showing signs of illness.  A terrible illness like EBOLA 
immobilizes the carrier so fast that the carrier does not have time to spread 
the disease.  It’s quite easily contained in this respect.  

There’s a whole host of illnesses that horses can carry and transmit without 
showing signs of illness.  Though it’s highly probable that someone’s horse 
gets sick from a horse showing symptoms of illness, it’s also likely that the 
horse could have caught a disease from an apparently healthy horse.  Every time 
our horses drink from a trough they are exposed to whatever all the other 
horses have.   It’s just another risk we take in this sport.   Last year my 
colt came down with Strangles two weeks after I brought my mare home from a 
ride.  Whether my colt got Strangles from my mare who got it at the ride, 
I’ll never know.  It’s not that important, really.  What I do know is that 
I became persona non grata as far as my mare was concerned.  I rode alone for 
the next two months even though my vet told me that I could be around other 
horses within three weeks.  

We all make the decision to accept the risks that we expose our horses to.  
About the only thing we can do is keep our horses’ immune systems strong and 
be aware of the health of the horses around us.  The vast majority of riders 
are considerate of others and I have never seen people knowingly present sick 
or exposed horses to others at rides.  But there are always people new to horse 
ownership or just oblivious that need to be made aware.  The thing I do after 
rides is just watch my horse for a snotty nose or other signs of illness.  
Prolonged aerobic exercise and stress negatively affects the immune systems of 
humans, and it probably does the same to horses.    If my horse gets sick after 
a ride I tell EVERYONE that might have been exposed to me or my horse.  I 
don’t want my horse to be a vector.  

Endurance is a team sport and anything can happen to our equine partners.  We 
just don’t have a whole lot of control on that issue.  I always start every 
season with Plan “A” and by July I’m on Plan “G”.   I’ve 
conditioned and planned for a National Championship and multi-day rides only to 
have the plans dashed by family situations or freak injuries.    Having an 
unexpected end to a season is a drag, but it’s all a part of growing and 
learning in this sport. And this is, after all, just a sport.  If it ever 
stopped being fun I’d quit and take up something I had total control over, 
like biking or knitting. 


"Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people"

-W.C. Fields

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