Friday, July 29, 2011

A Legitimate Question

I got this comment on my last post and happen to think it is a very legitimate question...

"Anonymous said...
*elephant in the corner*

If your horse is so sore you have to ice his back, and you're giving him bute ...

Isn't it time to take more than a week off?

Is bute legal in your local region? In many equestrian events, it's highly illegal to compete a horse on bute ..."

Believe me, when I saw Moon was lame...the very first thing that crossed my mind was if I was going to need to 'vet out' from the two rodeos I was entered in last weekend.

However, I was lucky this time as I noticed the lameness on Wednesday evening and wasn't up to run again until Friday night. Time was on my side to kind of figure things out.

Secondly, I am very fortunate that I have a host of professionals, who I trust, who are just a phone call away and I am very willing to haul my horse to them for examination. They know me well enough that they feel free to be brutally honest. I am not even going to lie...I have carefully networked and developed friendships in the local horse world. I am of the belief that if you want to be the best, you have to know the best. If even one of the three professionals that I had examine Moon before leaving for the rodeos had said, 'It's best if you don't run him.' I would have scratched my runs and paid my fines.

I have no doubt that as we keep going, there is going to come a time when that will be required...this just wasn't one of those times. Moon had a muscle spasm in his back and THIS time, bute was used in an appropriate manner.

I haven't given a horse bute in over a decade, until this incident and Moon only got 2 doses. I am not a believer in dosing my horses with bute every time they get a little sore or get a little boo-boo. Pain/soreness is an indicator to both me and the horse. I think one of the worst things you can do to a horse that is injured is kill the pain. Then they don't know they are hurt and will often do more damage to themselves rather than use some caution. There is a ton of items on the market that have anti-inflammatory properties or promote healing without actually numbing the horse's pain.

Soreness is another need to find the root. I already knew the likely cause of what caused Moon's muscle spasm...which is a post in itself. That was hopefully fixed by the farrier.

As for time off...Well...I never had any intention of 'not riding' Moon when I said we needed a week off. I meant I was going to skip the local rodeo on Tuesday and not enter the weekend rodeo. With the heat and so much traveling...both Moon and I were feeling a little limp. Riding, however is my best indicator of how Moon feels and since he no longer had any back pain by Saturday morning, the soreness issue was pretty much mute.

I gave Moon Sunday off and let him loaf in the pasture. Monday, I rode and he felt fine. Tuesday...

He was back on fire and rearing to go. I was actually quite disappointed I had not entered the Tuesday rodeo. Oh well, we spent the week riding with a friend, working on patterning, my timing in the runs and riding in the desert. It was a great week. Moon felt awesome and I got a lot of good insight.

Now mind you, the horse was given 2 doses of bute. One dose on the Friday before at 5 pm and one dose on Saturday morning at 5 am. There was no way there was anything left in his system by Tuesday morning that would have numbed any pain he was in. He was just back to himself and moreso than ever. Hey...with a horse that is rearing to don't waste a weekend sitting at home...I ended the weekend rodeo late and we will be running.

As for the 'is bute legal' question...

Rodeo does not test. EVER...for any any region...or any association. Nor does the NBHA (to my knowledge).

You'll most likely never get any either. Unlike horse shows/associations, rodeo is based on the winnings of the person, not the horse they ride. Now that being said, 'Rodeo' is far more interested in promoting the humane treatment of the animals people use to compete than most horse shows I've been to. If I was to yank and jerk on a horse at a rodeo, like what is common to see in a horse show warm-up pen, I would most likely be fined and if it became a pattern...kicked out of the association. Physical abuse is not tolerated at rodeos, in the arena or back at the trailer. What you do to keep your horse performing your business. If you are stupid enough to want to ruin your horse for that 'one run' then they aren't going to say anything.

Now I am sure that people will disagree with what constitutes 'physical abuse'. Just because someone is rougher than their horse than you would be with yours does not mean the horse is abused. Just because someone uses a stronger bit than what you use, does not mean the horse is abused. But...if you see someone at a rodeo recklessly/repeatedly yanking, spurring or whipping a horse, all you have to do is get someone else to witness the actions with you and turn them in at the office. It's as easy as that. Put up your complaint or shut up about it.

Considering the number of 'legal' drugs that a person can use on a horse in the show world to keep a horse going...I do find it ironic that bute is considered 'bad'. I mean, I know the reason behind it...You can make a 3-legged lame horse appear to be sound with the use of bute...but in the grand scheme of's far less disturbing than the lengths I KNOW the show world goes to to keep a horse going.

There is also a large number of products on the market that have the same properties as bute and the ads specifically say...'Will Not Test' just because someone is not using one product...does not mean they are not using another.

I guess the base line is-this time I had the luxury of a couple of days before hand to figure out what was going on with my horse. I consulted 3 professionals (talked to a couple others), my horse was sound before I left and completely fine by the next morning...he wasn't sore after the bute wore off and is back to his normal self (and then some).

I'm okay with the decision I made. Particularly since I think the bute and ice is what got the spasm out of Moon's back without any residual soreness. Hopefully that answers your questions Anon and I sure didn't mind that you asked them.


kestrel said...

A well reasoned and appropriate route to go with your horse BEC!

The fact of life is that every athlete, animal or human, is going to be pushing their ability to the limits at some point, or they're not going to be competitive. Frequently with sore muscles, some light work will help with the soreness more than anything. A lot of competition does involve keeping your horse sound and still competitive, and working around injuries so they don't get worse. Yes, it can be done wrong, but most serious competitors are also expert sports therapists or they are going to be sidelined by injuries. Heck, just watch what coaches do to keep an injured kid playing in school sports...

And I was amazed when I started showing. I saw behavior right out there in broad daylight that would have gotten me jerked off the horse and beaten in the rodeo world! Pain killers are one thing, but deliberately soreing a horse to get it to lift up it's tail or feet is just...wrong.

joycemocha said...

What kestrel said.

There's being sane and then there's being abusive. Too many people believe you have to back off at the slightest ouch, when, really, I believe you have to assess the causes and decide. For some soreness, treatment and gentle exercise will help recovery happen more quickly.

So yeah. What you said. Totally agree.

Leah Fry said...

#1 glad Moon is feeling better. #2, I admire the way you handled the comment/question.

in2paints said...

At the end of the day, Moon is your horse and his health and well being is in your hands. I think you did exactly what you thought was best for him, with the help of professionals you trust. I don't think you should necessarily have to explain your actions, but you did a good job doing so.

I'm glad Moon is feeling better. :)

Shirley said...

The other comments about say it all. Have you ever tried peppermint oil as an anti inflammatory? Works really well, and is a pain killer too. I use Young Living essential oils for most of what ails me and my horses and rarely if ever have to resort to pharmaceutical products.

cdncowgirl said...

Love the way you handled this. An explanation of how you handled the situation wasn't necessary but it was enlightening :)

You happen to be someone I hold in high esteem for their horsekeeping skills. Some people I would have raised an eyebrow on buting their horse through the pain, but I was pretty sure you had Moon's best interest in mind and not your own.
Mild soreness, in people and horses, is usually best handled by keeping moving like you did.

I have a few new horse friends/neighbours. A couple of them hate rodeo because its "so mean" I try to enlighten them that its not as bad as certain animal welfare groups try to make it look. And I have to say that, in my opinion, part of the reason the show world is because its so 'pretty' and 'glamorous'.

Laura said...

Glad that Moon is back and rearing to go! Good job on answering the question as well. I always learn something from your posts. :-)

Funder said...

Well said!

I know you're in it for the long haul with Moon, so I just assumed you were giving him as much time off as he needed. You've spent so many hours training him and I know you won't deliberately push him too far for one more run. :)

Interesting that rodeos don't ever test. I didn't figure the small ones would; too expensive. But I thought the big shows would do random testing.

In AERC, you have to cough up some money to file a complaint. Not much, $50 or 100, but it's enough to keep people from filing frivolous complaints.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Rodeos require 2 witnesses to the alleged abuse to file...unless it is a judge. Their word is good enough. So if a judge files on KNOW you screwed up.

I've seen judges warn people. Mostly ropers who get ticked off they missed and yank on their horse all the way out the gate. The judge just mosey's over and has 'a word' with them. That is usually the end of that!

I did hear (2nd hand) about a gal at one of the recent rodeos who's horse went down during the barrel racing...people witnessed her riding the ever-loving crap out of that horse hours before she ran. When she led the horse out, there was blood on it's sides. I guess the officials read her the riot act, fined the hell out of her and kicked her off the premises. People were threatening to take her out behind the trailers and 'tune' her up before she got out of there.

Rodeo is pretty good about governing their own. We realize that perception is everything in this 'non-ag' world we live in and no one is willing to give the nut-job animal right's activists any more ammo than they think they already have.