There has been an outbreak of EHV-1 Horse Virus in the Midwest in Eastern Minnesota in March, close to the Wisconsin border. It has been identified in 7-8 barrel horses. In the neurological form, the disease can be deadly, horses often have to euthanized. There have been no more mention of new cases this week on facebook. If your horse has been exposed to the disease or you think it has been exposed you need to stop traveling with the horse and keep them home until the danger of infecting other horses has past.

The following are good biosecurity measures that will be used at Spur of the Moment Ranch this summer to try and make sure all of our horse guests will be as safe as we can make them. Dr. Linda Michalski of Crivitz suggests that all horse owners use the 5-way flu/rhino vaccination this spring. Although it does not guard against the neurological form of EHV-1; it will help protect horses from the viral form affecting the respiratory system. The following changes to stabling at the ranch will be encouraged and stressed.

  •  Everyone brings their own water buckets now. When filling them, please do not put the end of the hose into the water or the bucket to reduce horse to horse contamination.
  • Experts suggest not sharing equipment; grooming supplies; rags; tack.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap before touching your horse, or any other horses. The disease is spread through contact.
  • Please bring feed bags this season, this will decrease the amount of excess hay on the property as it will be crucial to clean completely between horses in paddocks and stalls.
  • Ranch staff will disinfect all gates and paddocks with a bleach and water solution between horse guests.
  • All horses are currently required to have a negative coggins from 2014.

The symptoms listed below are found in the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Program Aid No. 1985. When should I suspect my horse might have EHM?

  • Fever preceding neurologic signs (either in a horse diagnosed with EHM or in horses that have been exposed to a horse diagnosed with EHM)
  • Decreased coordination
  • Urine dribbling
  • Loss of tail tone
  • Hind limb weakness
  • Leaning against a wall or fence to maintain balance
  • Lethargy
  • Inability to rise.

There is good news here too. The ranch is ventilated because we are in the open air at all times. No cases have shown up in Wisconsin at this time. Hopefully, EHV-1 will settle back down and disappear as mysteriously as it rose its ugly head. I am looking forward to a great season at the ranch. Remember to take good care of your horses while traveling; and make sure you give them ample time to rest when first arriving at the ranch. That can be stressful, especially if the weather has been hot and humid; buggy; exceptionally windy or stormy. Horses need to time to relax in their surroundings and get acclimated just like you.