facebook_pixel

All Articles

12 Things You Should Do If Your Horse Gets Strangles

12 Steps For Managing Strangles At Your Barn

by Robin Knight DVM, DACVIM and Idaho Equine Hospital


This is the fifth in a series of articles about Strangles. These posts were originally published on the Idaho Equine Hospital’s Facebook.

We here at The Sale Horse wanted to share everything we learned about this common but misunderstood disease, so we’ve re-published them with permission from Dr. Knight.

Read Pt. 1: What Is Strangles? 

Read Pt. 2: What is the Guttural Pouch?

Read Pt. 3: Strangles Carriers

Read Pt 4: 10 Ways to Prevent Strangles

Let’s make a plan.

Imagine this: One morning, you head out to feed your horses. You notice that your gelding is acting dumpy and has a snotty nose. You bring him in from the field, take his temperature, and see that he has a fever of 103.5…now what?

1: Get your sick horse away from the other horses

If you own horses or have a boarding stable, you need to have a spot where you can quarantine a sick horse.

A bit of prior planning for isolation will make your life much easier. Setting up panels or an electric fence once you already have a sick horse is never any fun.

How elaborate your isolation set up is will depend greatly on the size and nature of your farm or facility. You should work with your vet to establish a reasonable isolation plan before an emergency arises.

2: Find out if it’s really Strangles.

Work with your vet to get an accurate diagnosis of your sick horse.

Related: Learn how your vet can test for Strangles.

Why is testing important?

The clinical signs of many respiratory diseases can look very similar to Strangles. Advanced tests, called PCR panels, allow vets to tell the difference between many respiratory diseases and Strangles. However, you won’t be able to make these distinctions from home.

Knowing what disease you are dealing with will help you and your vet make a plan for appropriate isolation, biosecurity, vaccination, and treatment.

It’s also important to remember that different diseases will be easier to pick up at different stages of infection.

In short: even if your horse has Strangles, his snot won’t have any bacteria in it until the lymph nodes start rupturing. But, because it’s possible he could have something other than Strangles, you should still get him tested right away!

Respiratory viruses, including EHV 1 and EHV 4, are more likely to be present in nasal secretions early in the course of the disease. This means that prompt collection of samples is important.

However, due to the behavior of the Strep. equi organism, sometimes testing early will result in negative results for Strangles even though the horse is actually infected.

The bacteria does not colonize the surfaces of the respiratory tract. Instead, it invades the lymph nodes within 3 hours of infection. This makes it undetectable by washes or swabs until the lymph nodes actually rupture and drain, which can occur 4-21 days after infection.

This means that you need to be patient in establishing a diagnosis. Even if the first test is negative, it may be necessary to test again at a later date.

3: Separate your horses by risk group.

You should segregate your horses into three different risk groups:

  • Infected
  • Exposed
  • Unexposed.

The three groups need to be separated where they cannot have nose-to-nose contact. Two layers of electric fencing can be used to create a separation wide enough to prevent physical contact.

Note: keeping horses in small groups separated by use before an outbreak occurs is a very good husbandry practice. Keep mares and foals separated from horses that regularly travel and show. Keep horses that only come in for the day physically separated from resident horses.

If all of your horses live together in one large group, all of those horses will automatically be considered exposed once one horse gets sick, greatly increasing the potential cost of an outbreak. Not good.

4: Check for fever…often.

Begin checking the temperatures of the horses in the exposed and unexposed groups twice a day to monitor for new cases. A horse’s normal temperature is between 99 and 101 F.

Any horses with temperatures of 101 F or more should be moved into the infected group.

5: Sterilize…especially your water buckets.

Strep. equi does not survive well in sunlight and dry conditions, but it can last 30 days in water troughs. Clean and disinfect water troughs and buckets daily to limit transmission.

Never ever dip the hose end into the water trough while filling. This is an excellent way to transport the bacteria.

Remember that bleach only works well on non-porous materials, like plastic. It is inactivated by organic material, so be sure to pre-wash any buckets you plan to sterilize with bleach.

6: Delegate someone to care for only sick horses.

If possible, have one person handle the care of the horses in the infected group. This person should not go to the other groups at all.

If that just won’t work at your place, feed and care for the horse in the unexposed group first. Next, care for the exposed group, saving the infected for last.

Wear gloves, gowns, and boots when handling infected horses. This will keep your clothes from becoming contaminated and possibly transmitting disease to the other groups.

7: Give sick horses their own stuff.

Try to have designated feed carts, muck buckets, and other similar items for each group of horses. Contaminated objects, called fomites, can easily transport the bacteria between groups.

If this is not possible, make sure you start with the unexposed group first, then exposed, then sick.

Clean and disinfect all equipment before you take it back to the unexposed group.

Try to have a separate trailer for hauling sick horses. Don’t put any exposed or unexposed horses into a trailer that has been used to haul sick horses without thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting it first.

8. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

No horses from the sick or exposed group should be allowed to go back with the unexposed group until they have been appropriately tested to determine if they are carriers.

9. Make sure everyone knows the plan

Biosecurity plans are different for every farm. These tips are a few of the most important concepts. A great plan requires an on-site evaluation of the facility and complete compliance with all the people at your barn.

Once you have a plan in place, be sure to have a meeting to make sure everyone knows how you plan to manage biosecurity in the event of an outbreak. This can prevent a person with good intentions from accidentally undoing all your hard work at isolation.

10. Remember how biosecurity can help you.

Biosecurity is not fun. It creates a lot of extra work for the short term. However, it can greatly reduce the impact Strangles can have on your barn.

Just to put it in perspective, imagine if your careful attention to biosecurity made it so only 20% of your herd of 100 horses became exposed. Not only would this save you money on treatment, it would decrease the expense of testing horses to determine carrier status by 80% versus if you decide to just turn all the horses out together and let the disease run its course.

Testing of carriers costs in the neighborhood of $200-300 dollars per horse. This means you would be saving up to $24,000 in testing alone. That savings certainly makes biosecurity a good return on the investment of your time and effort.

11. Don’t forget: this isn’t just about money or inconvenience.

Strangles can be a very serious disease with life threatening consequences, like internal abscesses. It should definitely be taken seriously.

Good biosecurity can prevent a lot of suffering in your horses–or even death.

Because carriers can shed bacteria for years, your horse could seem completely fine and still infect other horses.

12. Gather your supplies.

Good biosecurity is easier to accomplish if you have your barn stocked with everything you need ahead of time. Consider spending a little time and money getting all the supplies together before a horse in your barn gets sick. Most of what you’ll need is available on Amazon, so you don’t even have to go to the store!





Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

FTC Disclosure: The Sale Horse, LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means we get a small commission if you buy through our Amazon store or by following our links and making a purchase.

Idaho Equine Hospital – Nampa, ID

Read These Next

Shop Horses For Sale

January 4, 2017 / by / in ,
17 Inspirational Horse Quotes & Resolutions for 2017

Make this year the year you make it happen.

by Claire Buchanan / @hellofromclaire


This New Year are you thinking about becoming a goal crushing, dream chasing, milestone making BAMF? You totally should and totally can.

Here are 17 pretty horse pictures, quotes and ideas to inspire the action needed to git ‘er done now or whenever. 

1. Believe it and you’ll achieve it

Write it down. Draw it. Think about it. You are the culmination of your thoughts and they are more powerful than they seem.

2. Value the experience

Memories and knowledge will last a lot longer than the new pair of jeans you probably don’t actually need. 

3. Make good choices with your time

The best things aren’t online.

Find Horses For Sale

4. Get Hungry

Find that one thing that makes you so hungry it keeps you up at night. Then wake up and eat it for breakfast.

5. Get uncomfortable

Part of learning new skills is understanding that you don’t understand. Feeling stupid isn’t fun, yet it’s a necessary stage of the process. Becoming OK with this discomfort is imperative to achieving new abilities. 

6. It’s OK to have a few glitches

Hardly anyone gets it right on the first go. They were really bad for a long time and that’s what made them good

Listen: Freakonomics Podcast – Failure Is Your Friend


7. Try, try again

You can always rebuild and try again. It might feel embarrassing but, trust me, no one is laughing at you. In fact, people will admire you for the courage to try in the first place.

Watch: Try Something New For 30 Days


8. Work on maintaining a Positive Mental Attitude

Don’t let the haters bum you out. If people do laugh at you or try to put you down (because haters are just gonna hate) just smile and mentally tell them to F off. Seriously. You will live such a better life and living well is the BEST revenge.

9. Make your circle count

Sometimes getting rid of the energy-vampires sucking all the awesomeness out of you isn’t easy for so many reasons. Yet, the sooner you can identify these unsupportive types of people the sooner you’ll be free to pursue your potential.
horses for sale - Surround yourself with people who believe in your goals

10. Dream big or go home

Don’t be intimidated by the size of your goals. 

Read: 5 Reasons to Dream Big, Even When You Think You Have No Business Doing So


11. Light the fire

The pressure of competition will make you step up your game in surprising ways. 

12. Keep moving forward

Make all your goals look like this picture: everything moving forward. It doesn’t have to be fast or perfectly straight but keeping the momentum going is all that matters. 

13. The view will so be worth it

What you want will not happen right away. Beyonce wasn’t built in a day. It takes time to create great things and develop the life you want. Don’t be discouraged by the height of the mountain you have to climb.
get smarter about buying and selling horses - the sale horse blog

14. Keep those dreams a burning

Making changes and taking risks will be hard. Duh. However, giving up on a dream will be a slow quiet pain that haunts you in worser ways.
horses for sale - motivational horse quotes

15. Perfection shouldn’t be the goal


16. No time like the present

Don’t let your age be an excuse for not pursuing the experience you really want. As Robert Plant said, “There are two paths you can go by, but in the long run there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

Read: 35 Celebrities Who Became Famous Later In Life & Proved Giving Up Wasn’t An Option


17. YOLO and stuff

Stop wasting time on things that hurt you. Many of us have spent a stupid amount of time trying to make bad horses good, hoping crappy relationships magically turn awesome and wishing terrible jobs would become terrific.

Yet, the outcome is always the same: ? ?

Identify those situations. Learn from them then find a good horse, focus on quality partnerships, and seek out fulfilling career opportunities. Happy 2017!

get smarter about buying and selling horses - the sale horse blog





Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

Shop Horses For Sale

Read These Next

December 29, 2016 / by / in , ,
Team Roping Products and Services Worth Trying In 2017

5 companies rethinking how we learn to rope and the type of gear we use.

by Claire Buchanan / @hellofromclaire


Look, I get it. Tried and true feels nice. It’s easy to get comfortable choosing the same things over and over.

I do it, you do it, we all do it, but sometimes that lets us settle for mediocre or plateau in our progress.

New Year’s resolutions for personal improvement are right around the corner. If you are a self-aware roper seeking to improve your horsemanship and roping skills, these five companies are offering some interesting solutions worth paying attention to this year.

Skip to:
Total Team Roping
A Smarter Wrap For Steers
A Different Dally Wrap
Shoulder Relief Cinch
Impact Gel Technology

Get serious about getting better this year.

Personal Team Roping Training

What Is It?
TotalTeamRoping.com
is a monthly subscription service managed by Bret Beach, Clay O’Brian Cooper and Charles Pogue. TTR provides access to a giant library of educational roping videos on just about every topic.

If YouTube is the Honda Civic of roping videos, this is the Ferrari. Yet, that’s not even the cool part.

The coolest part is the ability to send a video of yourself roping and get thoroughly coached on exactly how to get better.

You do it on your time, in your pen, at your pace. Easy, breezy, beautiful…team roping.

TotalTeamRoping.com Video Subscription Service


Why You Should Care:
You basically get to practice with the pros.

It’s easy to plateau when you rope with the same people over and over again. This service gives you professional tips from people who are A LOT better than you, which is exactly how you improve.

Plus, hauling miles to a clinic and paying some $300+ for what can feel just like a group lesson sort of sucks. This is especially true if you are shy or inconveniently located near zero roping schools.

Product Details

Tiered pricing starting at $25

  • Personalized coaching video options
  • Access and perks vary based on plan
  • TTR members enjoy 24/7 access to over 1,500 timeless instructional videos
  • TTR releases at least four new videos every week
  • Videos are aimed at team ropers of all levels
How It Works:
This site is truly set up for self-learners and ropers who are comfortable analyzing their flaws (duh, that’s the only way to get better).

Once you sign up, you’ll have access to over 1,500 super helpful instructional videos. The videos are divided into easy-to-search categories and have solutions for common problems.

Each component of the video is slowly broken down using easy to understand terminology, so you’ll have no trouble implementing the tips.

Learn More 

 

How To Use It:

One-On-One Video Coaching – In our opinion, this is the best part of this service. Basically, you upload a video of yourself roping steers (or even just roping the dummy) and you receive a fully analyzed TTR video. They will literally draw on top of your video — like a sports replay — to show exactly what is happening while providing constructive feedback on ways to improve.

The Library – The best way to take advantage of this library is to take 10-30 minutes before you rope to watch a couple videos.

Get inspired, get educated and set up a plan for yourself based on your personal training goals. By the time you hit the practice pen you’ll be equipped with at least a couple new tools that will seriously improve your game.

Q & A Arena – Members may ask questions about specific scenarios and get real answers in the Q&A Arena. No wasting time trolling the internet for results.

Horn Wraps

A Smarter Wrap for Steers

What Is It?
The RES Smart Horn Wrap
features a faster and easier attachment method using Velcro® straps instead of buckles. You can’t see in the product photos or read this in the description, but there are some extra neat features happening here.

RES Smart Horn Wrap

RES Smart Horn Wrap

Why You Should Care:
Putting on horn wraps is kind of annoying. Making it easier for you and your chute help will make everyone happy. Also, these might make your steers happier so they don’t cheat you.

Product Details

$25

  • Very tough outer shell featuring the RES closure System with Replacble Velcro® brand closures.
  • This wrap is easy to use with Velcro® brand closures between the horns and at the tips of the ears.
  • Comes with 2 replaceable straps.
How It Works:
The features they don’t write about in their product description includes a dally rubber connector under the jaw to help get a snug fit without needing to suck down a strap. This also acts as a breakaway safety feature if the wrap gets hung up. They say in their video this is both a weak point and a benefit.RES Smart Horn Wrap

The extended design of the rear strap keeps the wrap from sliding forward into the eye. By omitting extra fabric and straps, this horn wrap is cooler and alleviates horn pressure with extra open space between the horns. A more comfortable wrap means your steers stay fresher longer and are less likely to duck or tilt their head to avoid horn pain.

 

Related: Spin To Win Article: Keep Your Steers Fresh

 

Plus, the Velcro® in the middle is totally interchangeable. Swap out colors to easily sort steers between owners or simply identify the fast or slow runners.


A Different Dally Wrap

What Is It?
This is probably the wildest equipment innovation on this list. The Dally Post and NevaWrap are a totally different way to think about wrapping your horn.

Instead of spending the entire lifespan of your saddle rewrapping it in strips of rubber why not just make the whole thing rubber? Kinda makes sense!

Dally Post and NevaWrap – by 7K Innovations

dally post saddle horn cap chute remote control

Featured above with a built in chute remote. You would hopefully never misplace the remote again.

Why You Should Care:
According to their website these last about 18 months or 500 runs. You would have to buy 11+ regular packs of the cheapest horn wraps in order to break even on the cost of one of these Dally Posts.

How many runs = one pack of regular dally wraps? We don’t know. Do you know? Tell us!

These are also supposed to have 50% more surface traction than regular rubber strips.

Product Details

$150.00

  • Choice of Surface Finishes
  • Get a Chute Remote Upgrade for Priefert ($100.00), Red River ($100.00), Quicksilver ($100.00), Tarter ($100.00), Other Chute (call for availability) ($100.00)
  • Engraving options
nevawrap

Used Nevawrap: 18 months, over 500 runs.

How It Works:
First you get the Dally Post. Then you get the NevaWrap which is the actual “wrap.”

The peeps over at Revolution Ropes explain it best so we’re just going quote them:

“A push button conveniently located on top of the cap releases the bearings in the locking pin, which allows the cap of the Dally Post to be removed.

The NevaWrap slides effortlessly over the Dally Post and the cap snaps back into place. The push button is recessed to avoid hand injury or accidental activation. An over-sized safety hole insures the cap won’t accidentally come off. One-way interlocking elements prevdent the cap from rotating or being installed incorrectly.”

Learn more 

A Better Saddle Fit

When your horse feels well, they work well. When they work well, you rope well.

Here are two companies making innovations to help your horse feel best in the roping pen and beyond.

Shoulder Relief Cinch

What Is It?
This company is changing the way we think about cinch fit. Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Cinch is designed to actually change the position and angle of the billets to prevent the saddle from interfering with the shoulders.

Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Cinch


Why You Should Care:
If your horse is a big mover, has large shoulders or other conformation issues it’s likely you’ve experienced saddle fit difficulties that lead to soreness. When you sore your horse roping they start cheating you and it sucks.

Product Details

$139.95 – $169.95

  • Comes in virtually every size imaginable
  • Shoulder Freedom – Intelligent design allows for full range of shoulder motion under saddle, without interference from the tree.
  • Elbow Comfort – Cutaways in the cinch move it away from the horse’s elbow for additional comfort.
  • Removable Liner – A thick 7mm neoprene liner (also available in fleece for extra $30 – see drop down menu) attaches with velcro for easy cleaning and interchangeability. Neoprene is standard.
  • Top Grade Leather – Made of ultra-durable high-end saddlery leather.
  • Better Saddle Fit – It even improves freedom of motion on horses with properly fitting saddles!
How It Works:
The ‘W’ shape of the cinch creates clearance for elbow movement but is still wide enough to disperse the weight of a steer. This innovative ‘cutback’ design helps the saddle stay in place and out of the way of shoulder movement.

The peeps over at Total Saddle Fit explain it best here

Impact Gel Technology

What Is It?
This material is insane and super cool. Impact Gel is a polymer derived mostly from soybean oil designed to seriously absorb shock, weight and heat.

You’ve most likely come across Impact Gel in shoe insoles and iPhone cases. It’s also used in many other sports industries to protect against high impact injuries such as football headgear, hockey pads and NASCAR driver protection.

Impact Gel Felt Contour Pads


Why You Should Care:
Your horse gets to share the same significant protection as top human athletes and military defenses. The inventor, Matthew Kriesel, has envisioned the material eventually being used in blast-resistant panels in buildings and military vehicles. Whoa.

In other words, your horse is getting some critical defense from shock.

Product Details

Prices range from $150-$280

  • Handcrafted and sewn in the USA
  • Heavy duty wear leathers ensure years of durability
  • Fleece lined options
  • Wool blends and blanket tops
  • Wither cutout
  • Contoured shape
How It Works:

This polymeric material ensures an impact never even reaches the surface it’s protecting by transferring the shock laterally throughout Impact Gel Padsthe dense network of molecular connections. Learn More 

In a very unscientific nutshell, it’s kind of like crowd surfing at a concert; lots of hands holding you up, passing you around until you’re gently put back on the ground.

 

What We Wish They Would Make:
Skid boots, bell boots and steer horn wraps! This would be so handy.

If you haven’t watched sales rep unsuccessfully crush M&Ms between the Impact Gel using a hammer, you can watch this video of a guy getting his hand run over to experience the same effect:





Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

Find Horses For Sale

Read These Next

FTC Disclosure: The Sale Horse, LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means we get a small commission if you buy through our Amazon store or by following our links and making a purchase.

December 17, 2016 / by / in ,
Practical Gifts – Reined Cowhorse

A Practical Guide to Shopping for the Reined Cowhorse Person in Your Life

We rounded up these must-have gifts for the Cowhorse person in your life. Nothing cutesty or decorative here…your NRCHA enthusiast will put these right to work!

The best part is they’re all available on Amazon. No need to even put on pants! Shopping…done.

Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - Show Bag Essentials

1. Show Bag Emergency Kit

Put a show bag together with essentials and lifesavers.

  • Grooming bag from Classic Equine
  • Grooming kit
  • Scissors, just in case!
  • Box of jumbo safety pins for last minute show number re-fastening
  • Electrical tape for errant polo wrap velcro
  • White rags for dust removal
  • Show Sheen
  • And the essential…Pepi Spray

Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - Make Travel Easier

2. Make Travel A Little Better

Anyone that goes to a lot of shows will appreciate everything on this list.

  • Hay bag for long trailer rides
  • Extra buckets. You can’t have too many!
  • Expandable hose. This one is extra heavy duty and comes with a shutoff
  • Sprayer
  • Leather Punch for emergency repairs
  • Extra extension cords are always useful.
  • Box Fan. Even in winter, these can be handy for drying hairy horses with coolers on.
  • Box Fan Hanger. Skip the ugly twine string.

Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - Futurity Colt Starter Kit

3. The Futurity Prospect

Did your cowhorse friend buy a yearling this year? Here’s a starter kit.

  • Jeremiah Watt Snaffle. These bits feel really good for training, and they look nice enough to show in.
  • Working headstall with good brass hardware
  • Double stitched split reins
  • Rope halter
  • Neoprene cinch – easy to sterilize after the inevitable two year old girth itch, comes in short lengths, and the roller buckle helps cinch up smoother for goosey colts.
  • SMx Air Ride pads are perfect for young horses because of their weight and thickness
  • Tie Rings are great for safely teaching colts to stand tied
  • Colt flags come in handy for starting colts and moving cows

Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - For the Bridle Horse

4. The Bridle Horse

Special gifts for special horses.

  • Everyone loves a pretty bridle bit.
  • Show legal chin straps have a way of disappearing–stock your cowhorse friend up!
  • Wool show blankets are always a winner
  • Skid boots
  • Sport Medicine Boots. Even if your friend doesn’t always use them, they’re great to have as a backup
  • A pretty one ear headstall for show, like this one from Martin
  • A set of work romals to help fancy rawhide ones last longer
  • This handsome mohair cinch

Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - The Performance Horse Vet Box

5. The Performance Horse Vet Box

Give the gift of preparedness with a vet box full of essentials for show horses. Here’s a few ideas–feel free to fill it up with your favorites!

  • tackle box is the perfect place to store all your doctoring supplies
  • Vet Wrap is great for all kinds of things–not just injuries
  • An ice boot might not fit in the tackle box, but it’s easier to use than ice packs and very effective for cooling swollen legs.
  • Rolls of gauze and Elastikon
  • Betadine
  • Tubes of electrolyte paste for dehydrated, overworked, or heat exhausted horses
  • Duct tape for hoof packs
  • Magnapaste for helping to draw out abcesses

Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - A Year Round Wardrobe

6. A Whole New Wardrobe

Show horses need a lot of accessories. Get a year-round wardrobe for the cowhorse in your life.

  • Heavy winter blanket – These blankets from Country Pride are a bargain. Super warm and really tough!
  • A waterproof turnout sheet is good for warmer days or even layering with a heavy blanket.
  • For the real cold times, get a detachable neck warmer to keep slick show horses from shivering
  • Sleazys come in every ridiculous amazing color and pattern you can think of. They’re nice for slicking down any fuzzy winter hair.
  • Tail bags keep tails nice at shows or during the winter when it’s hard to wash them
  • Coolers wick moisture away from sweaty horses and keep them from getting chilled.
  • fly sheet is nice for summer if you live somewhere with bad bugs. Choose one with UV protection to keep show horses from bleaching out
  • fly mask is a good thing to have around year-round. It can keep dust and debris out of healing eye injuries.

FTC Disclosure: The Sale Horse, LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means we get a small commission if you buy through our Amazon store or by following our links and making a purchase.





Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

Read These Next

Find Horses For Sale

Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - A Performance Horse Vet Box
Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - The Futurity Colt Starter Kit
Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - Show Travel Essentials
Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - Show Bag Essentials
Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - For the Bridle Horse
Reined Cowhorse Gift Ideas - A Year Round Wardrobe
December 14, 2016 / by / in ,
10 Tips for Preventing Strangles

10 Tips to Help Prevent Strangles

by Robin Knight DVM, DACVIM and Idaho Equine Hospital


This is the fourth in a series of articles about Strangles. These posts were originally published on the Idaho Equine Hospital’s Facebook.

We here at The Sale Horse wanted to share everything we learned about this common but misunderstood disease, so we’ve re-published them with permission from Dr. Knight.

Read Pt. 1: What Is Strangles? 

Read Pt. 2: What is the Guttural Pouch?

Read Pt. 3: Strangles Carriers

How to prevent strangles
Glamorous!!

How to prevent strangles
NOT glamorous!

How to Derail a Dinner Party

Biosecurity. It sounds like the name of a mediocre Sci-Fi crime fiction thriller. It is not a glamorous topic. Bringing it up might even stop a pleasant conversation dead in its tracks. 

However, it may be the most important topic of all when it comes to Strangles.

The point of biosecurity is not to eliminate all possible exposure of a horse to Strangles. If you actually want to use and enjoy your horse, that’s going to be pretty much impossible.

Biosecurity is more about recognizing how Strep. equi behaves, how it is transmitted, and how it is killed so that you can utilize common sense strategies to decrease your chance of exposure.

How to prevent Strangles - Make sure to leave a gap between pens so horses can't touch noses

1: No Play Dates

If your horse is showing signs of illness, isolate them from your other horses and work with your vet to get an accurate diagnosis.

Do not haul them or expose them to other horses if you suspect that they are sick–even if you think it’s just a cold. Remember, nearly 80% of horses with Strangles don’t get an abscess under their jaw. More than 25% don’t even get a fever!

2: Less Mingling

When hauling: if you are only at a location for the day, leave your horses at your trailer or keep them with you.

Even if there’s no visible sick horses around and yours are healthy as…well…a horse, do not use common tie rails or put them in an area where they will have nose to nose contact with other horses. At least 1 in 10 horses that gets Strangles will remain a carrier without treatment. These horses usually won’t have any visible signs that they’re contagious.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money

If possible, leave your horse at your trailer when hauling instead of tying to shared rails.

3: BYOB

Bring your own buckets. If you don’t have your own with you, wash any bucket you use with soap and water at a minimum. You can also soak them in dilute bleach…which brings us to a little known fact:

4: Bleach has a secret weakness

One important thing to remember about bleach: it is very quickly inactivated by any organic material. This means wood, leather, poop, mucous, and more.

If you are using bleach to sterilize, make sure to pre-wash first so you get any residue out of the way. Don’t forget that bleach will only work well on nonporous materials like plastic.

How to prevent Strangles - Water buckets are a common source of bacteria
NOPE: The end of the hose can be contaminated, so don't stick it in the water while filling buckets.

How to prevent Strangles - Water buckets are a common source of bacteria
YES: Hold the hose above the bucket while filling.

5: While we’re talking about water buckets,

The end of the water hose can become contaminated if it is dunked into a bucket while filling. Make sure you hold it above the water while you are filling your buckets. This is a good idea at home, but extra important when travelling or showing.
Strangles Biohazards

6: Sharing isn’t always caring

Bring your own grooming equipment and tack. Do not swap equipment between horses. Contaminated bits are a very effective way to transmit bacteria.

Remember fomites?

How to prevent strangles - avoid petting horses other than your own

7: This is no petting zoo

As tempting as it is to pet other horses, avoid it. If they rub their nose on you, you may carry bacteria back to your own horse.

Try to prevent other people from petting your horse as well.





Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

Separate horses by use. For example, horses that have been hauled to shows should not be able to touch noses with mares and babies.

8: Divide and conquer

Separating horses that travel and show regularly from the stay-at-home types in your herd can really limit the number of exposed horses should someone accidentally pick up something at an event.

Separation must extend beyond a fence line to prevent nose to nose contact.

9: Take a test

Make sure Typhoid Mary didn’t wind up in your trailer by testing any new horses that will be entering your herd. This is a very effective way to prevent your new horse from infecting the others.

A PCR test from a guttural pouch flush is the most effective way to find out if a horse is carrying Strangles.

In addition to testing for Strangles, new horses should be isolated for at least 2 weeks to limit transmission of other contagious diseases, such as EHV and influenza.

Strangles Carrier - Mary Mallon spread Typhoid to more than 50 people in the early 1900s.
Strangles carrier- Having a new horse tested for Strangles before introducing him to your herd could save you a LOT of trouble long term.
Having a new horse tested for Strangles before introducing him to your herd could save you a LOT of trouble long term.

10: Seriously, take a test

If you have had Strangles in your herd, please test your horses to see if they are carriers. You might be saving your friends and fellow competitors from a similar heartache.

Strangles is a disease which requires that we all be responsible owners.

It could conceivably be eradicated if we all worked together to find and eliminate carrier infections.

Hey, you didn’t mention vaccinations!

Vaccination for Strangles is a big and somewhat controversial topic. Don’t worry–we’ll cover it in a later post! Remember, vaccination does not ever preclude the need for biosecurity.

Idaho Equine Hospital – Nampa, ID

Read These Next

Shop Horses For Sale

December 12, 2016 / by / in ,
11 Ridiculous Horse Gifts For Your Christmas List

Horse Gifts You Probably Didn’t Know Existed That You Will Totally Want This Holiday Season

by Lisa Whinfrey & Claire Buchanan


1. This LED breast collar

Who needs rhinestones/studs/fringe/silver/anything else on your breast collar when you could just have a Lightsaber Chest Shield instead?
LED Breast Collar

2. Rudolph The Reinhorse

Why sit on Santa’s lap when you could just sit on your horse?
rudolph-the-reinhorse

3. Stable Cologne Spray

Finally! Now you can have clean clothes but still smell like a barn!  Also available in Fresh Hay, Dirt, and Saddle scents just in case you wanted to round out that olfactory equine experience.
screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-11-51-24-am

4. Gift the experience of a horse without a real horse

Combined with a spritz of Stable Cologne, this will basically eliminate the need for an actual horse. Literally includes a FREE cowboy hat!
screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-12-59-47-pm

5. A gift to turn your cow dog into a cow horse

Don’t let Fido feel left out this holiday season.
screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-1-06-26-pm

6. This totally absurd lazer unicorn cat sweatshirt

What is even happening here? We don’t know but we like it!
unicorn_sweatshirt

7. …Or this Space Santa unicorn-tamer sweater

A magical Spaceicorn obviously beats a silly sleigh and reindeers.
screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-10-53-42-am

8. This poop paper holder

It’s kinda like mucking stalls but with the comforts of home.
screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-12-21-53-pm

9. This wine holder

This object pretty much looks like the best party you could ever have. Wine + Horses? Yes, please and make it a double. ?
screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-12-37-47-pm

10. Actually, just take it up another notch

Let your wine make you feel even more magical.
screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-12-51-19-pm

11. Or just turn your real horse into a fake unicorn with this attachable glitter horn

You may have already known you need this, but we found it for you. You’re welcome.
The Sale Horse Girls
unicorn_attatchment

FTC Disclosure: The Sale Horse, LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means we get a small commission if you buy through our Amazon store or by following our links and making a purchase.





Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

Read These Next

Find Horses For Sale

December 9, 2016 / by / in ,
An Ode To The WNFR

The WNFR

Descending into that city on my cheapo-air flight
I mentally get prepared to do no sleeping at night

 

It’s that time of year at the start of December
two weeks in Vegas most won’t remember

 

The best arena cowboys come to town
the suspenders snap on the rodeo clown

 

Sin City is getting ready to transform
As Cowboys and Wannabees take it by storm

 

 

13640889_1272173802793303_3602519837427303038_o

 

 

The people watching is absolutely grand
The crazies come from all across the land

 

We’ve got women rocking purple hair
The guy in muck boots who just doesn’t care

 

Girls who left their room without pants
shameless Brazilians that know how to dance

 

 

The Official NFR Experience

 

 

Another head adorned with an oversized headband
Winter legs on display, that are overly spray tanned

 

Too many squash blossoms to count
Which must cost an ungodly amount

 

South Point is where the real hands reside
But you better win big to afford that cab ride

 

 

The Official NFR Experience

 

 

Prepare to pay 7 dollars for a bottle of water
Vegas in December should really be hotter

 

Enjoy watching the rodeo athletes compete
Winning ten days of competition is quite the feat

 

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas or so they say
Come to Sin City in December and have a stay

 

 

The Official NFR Experience

Tayler Teichert - The Sale Horse

About Tayler Teichert

Tayler Teichert was raised on ranches all over the west. She is the youngest of seven children. She is a full time ranch hand and loves classy ugly sweaters. When she isn’t being a bad ass somewhere near cows and horses she likes to be a freelance photographer. Tayler writes to entertain not inform and contributes to several online publications.

December 2, 2016 / by / in ,
What is a Strangles Carrier?

Why Some Horse Facilities Get Strangles Year After Year After Year…

by Robin Knight DVM, DACVIM and Idaho Equine Hospital


This is the third in a series of articles about Strangles. These posts were originally published on the Idaho Equine Hospital’s Facebook.

We here at The Sale Horse wanted to share everything we learned about this common but misunderstood disease, so we’ve re-published them with permission from Dr. Knight.

Read Pt. 1: What Is Strangles? Here

Read Pt. 2: What is the Guttural Pouch? Here

Have you ever heard of Mary Mallon?

No? Not much into studying human disease?

How about Typhoid Mary?

Mary Mallon, more commonly known as Typhoid Mary, became famous for being the first subclinical carrier of Salmonella typhi in the United States. A subclinical carrier shows no outward signs or symptoms of a disease, but is able to spread it and infect others.

In the early 1900s, 51 cases of typhoid fever resulted in three deaths. All these cases were directly attributed to her.

The story of Typhoid Mary is significant to horse owners because Strangles, like Typhoid, is a disease that is maintained by subclinical carriers.

Strangles Carrier - Mary Mallon spread Typhoid to more than 50 people in the early 1900s.
Strangles Carrier - unlike Ebola, Strangles doesn't have a host species
Ebolaviruses are thought to be maintained in bat populations.

Strangles carrier - unlike Anthrax, strangles cannot survive in the ground
Anthrax bacteria (shown here) can survive in the soil for decades.

Strep. equi, the bacteria that causes Strangles, can’t survive for long periods of time in the environment like Anthrax can.

It is not maintained and spread by a different species, like Ebola.

Instead, it survives in these Typhoid Mary horses–called subclinical carriers, or shedders.

The best strategy to decrease spread of Strangles is to be diligent about identifying these carrier horses. We have ways to treat them and stop them from being carriers.

Poor Typhoid Mary did not have this option and was eventually forced to live out her life in seclusion on North Brother Island off the coast of New York.

Strangles Carrier - Mary Mallon spread Typhoid to more than 50 people in the early 1900s.

What defines a carrier?

A 2015 study by Dr Lauren Duffee defines a Strangles carrier as a horse that tests positive for the disease more the 40 days after the original diagnosis.

Related: Read more about this study in Part 2

Related: Read the full study in the Journal of American Veterinary Medicine (JAVMA)

How many horses become carriers?

Different studies have different ranges of horses that become carriers after a Strangles infection. Most papers have a 10-20% incidence rate, however, Dr. Duffee’s 2015 study showed as many as 40% of horses classified as carriers.

Note: Dr. Duffee and her team were only able to test 57% of the horses in their study that were initially infected. It’s possible this may have skewed the results.

Regardless of the figure you use, carriers are very common.

Strangles Carrier - just like Typhoid in humans, Strangles can survive in equine populations through subclinical carriers
If 10 horses get Strangles, as many as 4 of them are likely to be carriers.

If you have 10 horses in your herd and you get a Strangles outbreak, you can expect that at least one, and as many as 4 of those horses will still be shedding contagious Strep. equi bacteria long after all the horses have recovered and appear completely normal. This means that they may be able to infect other horses.

One report averages the amount of time a horse sheds bacteria at about 4.5 months. However, some horses can shed for years.

If carriers don’t show any signs of illness, how do we find them?

Classically, vets used cultures to identify horses that were shedding the bacteria. This means that the actual bacteria were grown on a special plate. To culture a bacteria in this way, you need a fairly high concentration of the organism in your sample. This means it can miss a lot of horses that are actually still carriers.

The most current way to test utilizes PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to detect DNA from the bacteria. PCR is much more sensitive than culture and will be positive with fewer numbers of bacteria present.

Strangles carrier- A PCR test is much more effective than a culture
An example of the machine used for PCR tests.

How do you collect a sample?

The three ways samples are commonly collected are:

Swab

Ever had that big Q-tip rubbed on the back of your throat at the doctor’s office? It’s pretty much just like that.

Nasopharyngeal Wash

A fancy way to say pouring sterile saline into the back of a horse’s throat and then collecting it as it runs back out their nose.

Guttural Pouch Wash

An endoscope is used to flush out the pouches located deep in the throatlatch of a horse.

Strangles carrier-The swab method isn't that effective for finding Strangles in horses with subclinical infections.
The swab method isn't that effective for finding Strangles in horses with subclinical infections.

Which collection method is best?

At Idaho Equine Hospital, the guttural pouch wash is our preferred method of collection.

Using the endoscope ensures a good sample is obtained. It also allows us to see the guttural pouch at the same time. We can then look for evidence of pus or chondroids in the pouch. Many, but not all, carrier horses will have these.

If these problems are identified, we can immediately begin treatment of the pouch. This can include flushing, removal of chondroids, and often putting antibiotics directly into the guttural pouch.





Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

Is scoping really necessary?

Any horse that tests positive, no matter what sample collection was used, will need endoscopy to check for chondroids. No amount of antibiotics will fix chondroids. They must be flushed out or surgically removed.

Using the endoscope as the first step of testing can eliminate extra steps. Waiting on test results and scheduling a separate appointment for endoscopy prolongs the time it takes to clear the horse of the infection.

Guttual pouch - an endoscopy procedure is used to see down a horse's throat
Dr. Shane Smith performs an endoscopy at Idaho Equine Hospital

Strangles Carrier - an image from an endoscopy of the guttural pouch showing a single chondroid
An image from an endoscopy of the guttural pouch showing a single chondroid.

Other advantages to the endoscopy

Swabs of the horse’s nose and throat have also been shown to have lower sensitivity than wash samples.

To determine that a horse is definitively negative by swabs, three separate samples are recommended.

We find that the expense of three farm or office visits, plus three culture and PCR tests typically costs more than sampling with endoscopy does.

I’ve had a Strangles outbreak…now what?

Unfortunately, to truly ensure that there are no carriers in your herd, all of the exposed horses need to be tested. Remember, at least 10% of horses become carriers. Depending on the size of your herd, this can be a very expensive and logistically challenging proposition.

Clearing a herd of strangles obviously requires close work with your veterinarian.

Being sure Strangles is gone from your entire herd can be costly–but very necessary!

The importance of biosecurity

The expense of having an entire herd tested for Strangles highlights the importance of biosecurity.

Limiting the number of horses that are exposed to Strep. equi during an outbreak can be done through isolation of affected horses. Separation of exposed and non-exposed horses is also very important. Taking these measure can help lessen the economic impact of a Strangles outbreak on your farm.

Strangles carrier- Having a new horse tested for Strangles before introducing him to your herd could save you a LOT of trouble long term.
Having a new horse tested for Strangles before introducing him to your herd could save you a LOT of trouble long term.

An underused way to help prevent Strangles

Testing for carriers of strangles is widely underused as a preventative measure.

Identifying carrier horses before they enter a herd may not be the most enjoyable way to spend your dollars. But, think of it this way: if you prevent an outbreak, you could be saving yourself far more than the cost of the test. 

It’s sure something to consider if you are buying a new horse…

Idaho Equine Hospital – Nampa, ID

Read These Next

Learn how a Strangles carrier can be an infection risk for years and what you can do to prevent it.
November 29, 2016 / by / in ,
What is the Guttural Pouch?

How Strangles Can Hide Inside Your Horse

 by Robin Knight DVM, DACVIM and Idaho Equine Hospital


This is the second in a series of articles about Strangles. These posts were originally published on the Idaho Equine Hospital’s Facebook.

We here at The Sale Horse wanted to share everything we learned about this common but misunderstood disease, so we’ve re-published them with permission from Dr. Knight.

Read Pt. 1: What Is Strangles? Here

What is…?

On mobile: tap to see definitions!

CHONDROIDS

Dried balls of pus in the guttural pouch.

TRACHEOSTOMY

A surgical incision in the windpipe made to insert a breathing tube.

GUTTURAL POUCH

An air chamber in the neck just behind the skull and below the ears.

DYSPHAGIA

Difficulty swallowing.

ENDOSCOPE

A long, flexible camera used to see inside a horse’s throat.

INSPISSATED

Thickened or congealed, dried up.

You think you know the signs of Strangles…

Horses infected with Strangles (Strep. equi) always have snotty noses, a high fever, and swollen lymph nodes under their jaw, right?

Not so much.

A 2015 study published by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) found that many horses involved in outbreaks will not manifest all of the classic signs even though they are infected.

In the study:

  • only 72% of infected horses had a fever
  • only 62% had the classic snotty nose: nasal discharge containing pus and mucous
  • only 22% had external abscesses under their jaw

To put that in perspective…

…if Strangles was only diagnosed if a horse had external lymph node abscesses, you would misdiagnose nearly 80% of the horses that were actually infected.

So, while abscessed lymph nodes are strongly suggestive of Strangles, the absence of them is not a very accurate way to rule out the disease.

Related: Read the full JAVMA study

Guttural pouch - this foal shows the classic swelling in the submandibular lymph nodes
A recent study shows that less than 25% of horses infected with Strep. equi had abscesses under the jaw. This foal shows the classic swelling.

If not under the jaw, then where?

We learned in Part One of this series that Strep. equi causes abscesses in the lymph nodes. Just because a horse doesn’t have a visible abscess under its jaw doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an abscess somewhere.

Let’s head between the ear and the throatlatch to find the guttural pouch.

Guttural Pouch Anatomy
The Eustachian tube runs from a horse’s ear to its throat. The guttural pouch is an outpouching of this tube. Several vitally important structures run through it, including the nerves that control a horse’s ability to swallow.

Immediately beneath the pouches lie the retropharyngeal lymph nodes. These lymph nodes commonly become abscessed when a horse is infected with Strangles.

This is significant because these lymph nodes are located deep within the tissue of the throatlatch. This can mean the swelling and abscesses may not be detectable externally. At Idaho Equine Hospital, we’ve seen many cases where these are the only lymph nodes that abscess.

Thus, a horse can have strangles and not have any swelling or abscessed lymph nodes under their jaw!

Get Smarter About Buying and Selling Horses

Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

What happens with these internal abscesses?

Abscesses in the retropharyngeal lymph nodes will break and drain pus and lots of bacteria, just like abscesses in the lymph nodes under the jaw (called submandibular lymph nodes).

However, instead of breaking externally, these break and drain into the guttural pouch.

The guttural pouch opens into the throat through a slit-like opening, so some of the pus will typically drain into the horse’s throat and eventually out of their nose.

Because of this drainage and lack of visible swelling under the jaw, a horse with only the retropharyngeal lymph nodes involved can easily be mistaken for a horse with “just a cold” or a sinus issue.

Guttural pouch - an image from an endoscopy showing normal entrances
This image shows the back of a normal horse's throat. The two white lines near the top of the picture are the openings to the guttural pouches.

Guttural pouch - an image from an endoscopy showing damage
This horse has extensive scarring and damage to the opening of the guttural pouch because of a long-standing Strangles infection in the guttural pouch.

How Strangles Got Its Name

Before these abscesses rupture, they can become so large that they compress the horse’s throat to the point that it becomes difficult for them to breathe.

This is where the term “Strangles” comes from.

These horses can require a tracheostomy–a procedure where an incision is made into the windpipe. Then a small tube is inserted to allow the horse to breathe more normally.

These horses breathe through the tube in their trachea, bypassing the upper airway, until the abscesses resolve.

Once the tube is removed, the tracheostomy site will heal on its own. Most horses recover well from the procedure.

Guttural pouch - abscesses in the lymph nodes near the guttural pouch can have serious complications
This mare had a tracheostomy performed because large abscesses in her retropharyngeal lymph nodes were compressing her upper airway making it very difficult for her to breathe.

What happens when the abscesses rupture?

Problems can arise when the abscesses rupture and the pus does not completely drain from the pouches and becomes trapped there.

As you might imagine, having a bunch of pus and bacteria hanging around creates a great deal of inflammation in the tissue that lines the guttural pouch. This tissue is very thin and overlies very important nerves.

To see the extent of the damage in the guttural pouches, a vet must perform an endoscopy–or, in layman’s terms, “scope” the horse.

Guttual pouch - an endoscopy procedure is used to see down a horse's throat
Dr. Shane Smith performs an endoscopy at Idaho Equine Hospital

Down the Wrong Pipe

When the inflammation in the pouch begins affecting the surrounding nerves, a horse can have difficulty swallowing–called dysphagia. Horses that are dysphagic will show signs of feed material coming out of their nose. They may also cough when eating, or may have water come out of their nose when drinking.

Note: The amount of coughing with this condition is variable and does not always correlate well with the severity of the disease.

The main complication with dysphagia is that horses may breathe feed material into their lungs because of their trouble swallowing normally. This can result in pneumonia, which can be life threatening.

Serious Complications

If these horses are treated early in the course of the disease by flushing the pus out of the guttural pouches and support with anti-inflammatories, the function of the nerves can come back and the horse’s ability to swallow can return to normal.

However, there are cases where the inflammation in the guttural pouches was not addressed for many months. This can lead to extensive scar tissue formation, resulting in permanent and irreparable damage to the nerves.

For these horses, there are not really any practical treatment options. The prognosis is grave due to their inability to eat and likelihood of developing aspiration pneumonia.

Guttural Pouch - pus can become trapped and must be flushed or surgically removed
Dr. Jamie Higgins flushes the guttural pouches to help resolve large abcesses that are compressing this horse's airways.

This is pretty gross, but…

Another complication that can occur when pus remains in the guttural pouch is the development of chondroids.

Chondroids are balls of dried out (called inspissated) pus that stay in the guttural pouch. Imagine a bag of variable sized rubber SuperBalls stuck in your throat…not pleasant.

Guttural pouch - Chondroids are highly contagious dried balls of pus
Bouncy balls – FUN!

Guttural pouch - chondroids are balls of dried pus trapped in the guttural pouch
Chondroids – Not fun.

These chondroids often have to be removed surgically. They can be too large to allow a veterinarian to flush them out of the opening of the guttural pouch.

Like inflammation in the guttural pouches, treatment early in the course of the disease will help the horse’s prognosis. It’s best to flush the pus out of the pouches before it dries out and becomes inspissated.

Silent Spreaders

Horses with chondroids can also have trouble swallowing, but they often show little to no outward signs of illness.  They can continue to shed bacteria into the environment.

These horses, called inapparent carriers or subclinical carriers, are an important part of understanding how this disease can continue in certain herds, as well as spread to new horses.

Carriers may have visible signs of disease in their guttural pouch. But, to make things more complicated and confusing, some of these horses appear totally normal on endoscopy but still shed bacteria.

This means that specialized testing must be used to accurately identify carriers. We will delve into identification and treatment of carriers in an upcoming post.

Did you find this post helpful?

If so, please share it! You will be helping us get this information out to more horse owners so we can help lessen the impact of this disease on all of our beloved horses!

What’s Next?

In Part 3, we’ll learn more about carrier horses, including the best ways to test them. We’ll also discuss how often a horse that’s infected with Strangles becomes a carrier.

Idaho Equine Hospital – Nampa, ID

Shop Horses For Sale

Read These Next

November 19, 2016 / by / in ,
What Is Strangles – An Introduction to a Misunderstood Disease

The snotty truth about Strangles…

by Robin Knight DVM, DACVIM and Idaho Equine Hospital


This is the first in a series of articles about Strangles. These posts were originally published on the Idaho Equine Hospital’s Facebook. We here at The Sale Horse wanted to share everything we learned about this common but misunderstood disease, so we’ve re-published them with permission from Dr. Knight.

If you’re reading this to find a magic cure…

…or some awesome tips that will prevent you from ever needing to worry about your horse getting Strangles, you may be disappointed. Despite what a Google search may tell you, Strangles is not a straightforward disease.

Strangles has been around since the 1200s, and so far, we have failed to come up with a foolproof way to get rid of the disease.

However, we know more about Strangles than ever before. We have come a long way in understanding how it survives in the equine population by subclinical carriers. Tests to identify these carriers are improving.

Strangles 101

What is Strangles?

Strangles (sometimes called Equine Distemper) is an infection in horses caused by the bacteria Streptococcus equi ssp equi–Strep. equi for short.

 


 Extremely common


 Highly contagious through direct contact but does not easily spread through the air


 May require veterinary intervention

Symptoms of Strangles may include:

Not all horses who are contaminated with the bacteria will show signs of illness. These kinds of horses are called subclinical carriers. It is also important to remember that a horse may still have Strangles, even if they don’t show these classic symptoms.

Horses may show:

High fever: Normal temperature in horses is between 99-101 Fahrenheit


Decreased appetite


Lethargy


Runny nose with thick mucus: Look for thick discharge that is greenish-yellow in color. While this may not always be present, it is definitely a sign that something is wrong.


Swollen, painful lymph nodes: In classic cases of Strangles, the lymph nodes under the jaw swell. However, lymph nodes are located throughout the body, and this disease can cause them to swell in other locations. Learn more about lymph nodes.

What is strangles - A classic example of abscessed submandibular lymph nodes, one of which has ruptured.
A classic example of abscessed submandibular lymph nodes, one of which has ruptured.

Nose-To-Nose Contact

Strangles does not spread through the air, so it’s easier to quarantine possibly infected horses than with diseases like Equine Influenze or herpes virus.

Strangles spreads through nose-to-nose contact and fomites. Strangles should be taken seriously, as it can have severe complications and is not always easy to treat.

Know Your Snot:
A runny nose can mean a simple nasal irritation–but not always.

   Clear + Thin Snot = Likely Nasal Irritation
   Greenish-Yellow + Thick/Goopy Snot = Bigger Underlying Infection (pictured right)

 

What is Strangles - A snotty nose is a common sign of Strangles

Subclinical Carriers: The Silent Spreader

Subclinical carriers are horses that are infected with a disease, but show no signs of illness. This type of horse appears completely healthy and normal, but is able to infect other horses.

This is how some herds seem to mysteriously experience outbreaks of Strangles every year. It’s a common myth that Strangles “lives in the soil” or hibernates elsewhere around the facility.

Veterinary medicine is developing better and better tests to help find and treat horses that may be getting their herd-mates sick with Strangles.

What is Strangles - horses can carry Strangles and still look and act completely healthy
Horses can carry Strangles and still look and act completely healthy

Fomites: Contaminated Objects

Fomites are objects that become contaminated with bacteria, allowing it to be transmitted to another horse.

Common fomites include bits, caretaker’s hands or clothing, brushes, water buckets, water hoses, muck buckets, feed carts, and more.

While the bacteria can only live a few days on most surfaces, it can live up to 30 days in water buckets. You can help prevent fomites from spreading the disease by not sharing items between horses and thorough sterilization of items that must be shared–including your hands and clothes!

What is Strangles? Common fomites include water buckets

What is Strangles?

Strangles (sometimes called Equine Distemper) is an infection in horses caused by the bacteria Streptococcus equi ssp equi–Strep. equi for short.

Unlike influenza or herpes virus, Strep. equi bacteria does not easily spread through the air. It is usually transmitted between horses through nose-to-nose contact, contaminated objects known as fomites and subclinical carriers.

Skip To Prevention Section

Below: Horses displaying the classic thick nasal discharge symptoms.

What is Strangles - A snotty nose is a common sign of Strangles
What is Strangles - Strangles bacteria is not airborne

How It Works

Strep. equi enters the horse through the mucosal tissue in their nose and mouth. It then travels to nearby lymph nodes and causes abscessation. These abscesses eventually break and drain pus containing large amounts of contagious bacteria.

Horses with Strangles will often develop:

  • high fevers
  • have decreased appetite
  • lethargy 
  • large, swollen, painful lymph nodes.

Learn more about the symptoms

How Strangles Has Changed

In the past, it was common for the infection to spread only to the lymph nodes under the jaw (submandibular lymph nodes). Once the abscessed lymph nodes broke and drained, the horses would return to normal and acquire a fairly long standing immunity to the disease.

Our experience at the Idaho Equine Hospital, along with more recent research, suggests that this classic description of the clinical signs of Strep. equi infection is often not what happens.

It is not unusual for us to see Strangles infections extend beyond the submandibular lymph nodes to infect lymph nodes adjacent to the guttural pouches, behind the eyes, in the neck, and even to internal lymph nodes in the body.

Abscesses in lymph nodes in these other locations each come with their own set of potential complications and adverse effects.

What is Strangles - Strangles can have serious complications
This horse's abscesses were constricting her airway, making it difficult for her to breathe.

Get Smarter About Buying and Selling Horses

Turns out what you don’t know could be wasting your money…

Preventing Strangles: Education Is the Best Weapon

Because each situation is unique, there are many issues with this disease that can’t be addressed with concrete answers. Every horse is different, and limitations in our therapies, our vaccines, and our knowledge make black and white answers impossible.

However, there is a wealth of information that can help you take the best care possible of your horse. Knowledge is one of the best tools we have to combat Strangles.

In later articles in this series, we’ll learn more about protecting your herd and what to do in case of an outbreak.

The Silent Spreader

A horse that’s a subclinical carrier is infected with a disease, but shows no signs of illness. This horse appears completely healthy and normal, but is able to infect other horses.

This is how some herds seem to mysteriously experience outbreaks of Strangles every year. It’s a common myth that Strangles “lives in the soil” or hibernates elsewhere around the facility.

It can be difficult to identify a subclinical carrier in your herd. Luckily, veterinary medicine is developing better and better tests to help find and treat horses that may be getting their herd-mates sick with Strangles.

What is Strangles - horses can carry Strangles and still look and act completely healthy
Horses can carry Strangles and still look and act completely healthy

Contaminated Objects

Fomites are objects that become contaminated with bacteria, allowing it to be transmitted to another horse.

Common fomites include bits, caretaker’s hands or clothing, brushes, water buckets, water hoses, muck buckets, feed carts, and more.

While the bacteria can only live a few days on most surfaces, it can live up to 30 days in water buckets. You can help prevent fomites from spreading the disease by not sharing objects between horses, and thoroughly sterilizing anything that must be shared–including your hands, boots, and clothing.

Strangles Biohazards
Strangles is highly contagious and can be spread through any contaminated objects, known as a fomite.

A Serious Disease

Despite being one of the most common and well-known diseases among horses, Strangles can be very complicated, both to diagnose and to treat.

Diagnostics are extremely important. They’ve improved greatly, allowing veterinarians better ability to recognize horses that have become chronic carriers of Strep. equi, as well as horses with secondary complications from the disease.

It is also possible that changes within the bacteria itself are causing it to become more pathogenic.

The most important message to take home:  despite its prevalence in the equine population, Strangles can be an extremely serious disease in some horses and should not be taken casually.

Did you find this post helpful?

If so, please share it! You will be helping us get this information out to more horse owners so we can help lessen the impact of this disease on all of our beloved horses!

What’s Next:

In our next post, we will learn about a horse’s guttural pouch. We’ll discuss why abscesses in this location are particularly important because of their potential to contribute to a horse unknowingly spreading the disease to countless other horses.

Idaho Equine Hospital – Nampa, ID.

Shop Horses For Sale

Read These Next

November 12, 2016 / by / in ,