Category Archives: Medical

Everyone is talking about REWILDING and TROPHIC CASCADE… and using large grazers to revitalize grasslands… – WHY NOT USE AMERICA’S WILD HORSES?! (Zebras are on the chart…_

For years now I’ve been harping on how we are killing our grasslands.  There are so many people talking about it in terms of ‘rewilding’ – to bring back our prairies.  Often bison are mentioned as the hooved animal who used to revitalize the prairies by roaming in herds, churning up the earth, nourishing the ground and then moving on – spreading seeds as they went… the way nature intended.

And today, again, in this article, the rewilding people mention water buffalo and rhino.  Well, we don’t have those in America, but we do have a whole lot of wild horses that move in herds, churn up the earth, nourish the ground and move on… who are cooped up in BLM ranges or holding pens.

Why not let the horses rewild the ranges, the prairies and forests – like they are doing in the UK and Europe?   Rewilding with horses is already a great success.  I wrote about it a while back here.

Why not nourish the soil and regrow the grass so it CAN maintain itself… with our herds?  And heal the grasslands that are now deserts.  Alan Savory’s Ted Talk is amazing on desertification of our grasslands.

*Note where zebras are on the charts…

Click to go to story

click image to go to storyRewilding’ the countryside with large grazers such as buffalo and rhino could stop global warming, new research suggests.

Rewilding is a type of conservation that involves restoring ecosystems by reinstating natural processes and missing species.

Large grazing animals could help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by increasing the amount of carbon stored in green spaces, experts say.

Scientists believe that replacing intensively-farmed livestock with free-roaming grazers could also reduce the amount of methane belched into the atmosphere.

Additionally, introducing rhinos could suppress wildfires as they eat fallen leaves and vegetation that is most likely to spark up a blaze.

'Rewilding' the countryside with large grazers such as buffalo (stock image) and rhino could stop global warming, new research suggests

‘Rewilding’ the countryside with large grazers such as buffalo (stock image) and rhino could stop global warming, new research suggests

According to 16 research papers published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, ‘trophic rewilding’ could stop global warming.

Trophic rewilding is about reintroducing animals in places where they have would have lived before humans drove them away, according to an in-depth feature by Carbon Brief.

Intensive livestock farming has contributed to a dramatic decline in native large, grazing herbivores.

These herbivore have been replaced by grazers such as cows which belch out higher levels of methane, which is significantly more polluting than carbon dioxide.

There is still little research into the methane footprints of large herbivores.

However, rough comparisons in a paper by Professor Joris Cromsigt from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences suggests that white rhinoceros, hippopotamus and elephants are among the least polluting grazers.

This is because they generally ferment their food in the large intestine.

Meanwhile, animals such as cattle, buffalo and bison produce larger amounts of methane.

All grazing animals could reduce global warming in another way by increasing how much carbon green spaces can hold.

This is in part because they traditionally help disperse the seeds of the largest trees which store the most carbon.

Research suggests that the loss of herbivores such as Asian and African forest elephants has caused tropical rain forests to lose up to 12 per cent of their stored carbon.

Dr Cromsigt suggests that one way to encourage people to protect wildlife would be by making it ‘pay for itself’.

He believes that if people stopped eating farmed beef and instead ate meat from wild-grazing animals, wildlife could be better protected.

He suggests rewilding could be funding by money from the Paris Agreement which is currently being invested in tree-planting.

‘Why are these programmes not investing in fighting the bushmeat crisis and restocking our empty forests with megafauna frugivores [fruit eaters]…or stopping the current onslaught on African and Asia megafauna, such as elephants and rhinoceros?’ he told Climate Brief.

Rough comparisons in a paper by Professor Joris Cromsigt from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences suggests that white rhinoceros, hippopotamus and elephants are among the least polluting grazers

Rough comparisons in a paper by Professor Joris Cromsigt from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences suggests that white rhinoceros, hippopotamus and elephants are among the least polluting grazers

Researchers also believe that climate change could be making wildfires worse.

This is because global warming is leading to more extreme temperatures in the summer and less trainfall.

According to scientists, large herbivores such as rhinos eat fallen leaves and vegetation which could otherwise start fires.

Researchers say that herbivores ‘limit fuel quantity by consuming and recycling plant matter that would otherwise accumulate as litter, and by reducing the density of vegetation.

‘This can mean that zones of low and high flammability are interspersed in arrangements that could impede the spread of landscape fires’, researchers wrote.

They also inadvertently create fire-breaks.

They do this by ‘forming trails, dust-baths or leks, large animals create lines or patches of bare ground’.

Previous research found that in Hluhluwe in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, removing rhinos from a test area caused the size of fires to increase 50-fold.

Dr Cromsigt suggests that one way to encourage people to protect wildlife would be by making it 'pay for itself'. He believes that if people stopped eating farmed beef and instead ate meat from wild-grazing animals, wildlife could be better protected

Dr Cromsigt suggests that one way to encourage people to protect wildlife would be by making it ‘pay for itself’. He believes that if people stopped eating farmed beef and instead ate meat from wild-grazing animals, wildlife could be better protected


Yellowstone’s herd of 4,000-plus bison constitutes the largest and one of the last free-roaming, genetically pure groups of an animal that once roamed

North America by the millions before being hunted to near extinction in the late 1800s.

Conservation groups have argued that endangered species status is necessary to ensure the long-term survival of wild bison, also widely known as buffalo, and help restore the creature to more of its historic natural range.

The bison, a shaggy, hump-shouldered animal weighing up to 2,000 pounds (990 kg) and standing 6 feet (1.8 metres) tall at the shoulders, was officially designated the U.S. national mammal in 2016.

The Fish and Wildlife Service concluded in 2015 that conservation groups had failed to present sufficient evidence that the Yellowstone buffalo band was imperiled.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper ruled that the Interior Department agency had erroneously failed to consider or otherwise ignored evidence indicating Yellowstone bison may be threatened or endangered.

A federal judge has ordered U.S. wildlife officials to reconsider a decision that blocked greater for protections the park's iconic bison herds, which are routinely subject to slaughter when they attempt to leave the park

A federal judge has ordered U.S. wildlife officials to reconsider a decision that blocked greater for protections the park’s iconic bison herds, which are routinely subject to slaughter when they attempt to leave the park

The ruling hinged on a scientific dispute over whether there are two genetically distinct populations of bison at Yellowstone, known respectively as a central herd and a northern herd.

Conservationists cited research suggesting the government´s overall target at the park of 3,000 bison was too low to prevent extinction of one or both of them.

Government biologists dismissed that research.

But Cooper said the Fish and Wildlife Service was required by law to explain why it found the research irrelevant, and he ordered a new agency review of whether Yellowstone bison merit protections.

October Bucket Fund:  SKINNY, 24 year-old mustang mare and her new baby, plus 4 orphaned mustang foals – all from last week’s roundups – rescued! At least we can help a few of the hundreds now separated from their families and in holding pens.

Click here to read their story.  Click here to donate!  THANK YOU.  All donations are $100% tax deductible.

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BOTULISM IN HORSES. (Beware of birds using your trough.)

Yesterday, I wrote about our ravens and how happy I was that they had come back.

Today, I received a very smart warning from a reader (Thank you).  I knew that I had to pass it onward.

“I have to warn you about something that happened to a friend of mine. The ravens are scavengers (like vultures), and had eaten road kill and then drank from my friend’s water trough for the horses. The horses came down with botulism. 4 died awaiting diagnosis, and the other 3 were euthanized because they were too far gone. There was an actual investigation, and this was the determination of the wildlife officers and veterinarians who worked on the case.
These are smart birds, and you can “train” them to stay away from the horses. Set up their own area away from the horses (with water, and food, if you like), and then aggressively shoo! them away from the horses, and leave them alone when they stay in their own area. It is amazing how smart they are.
But don’t take a chance with them drinking from your horse’s water troughs. My friend’s horses died excruciating deaths (blindness and paralysis).
When they are around, as a precaution use bleach and clean your water buckets every day.”

So, I decided to do some research.


Botulism is violent and almost always fatal in horses.  A dose that wouldn’t bother a dog or a cow, will kill a horse.

Ask your vet about a vaccine.

Botulism can be found in the soil, in hay and in troughs… best to keep troughs clean from bird droppings, your hay dry (and off of the dirt) and your horses vaccinated.


I found this article in Equus online.  You can go to the original article here.

Click image to go to the original article

Botulism in horses is a nightmare no one wants to face: Last night your horse was his usual cheerful self. This morning, you find him standing alone with muscle tremors, his head low and his lips slack, drooling heavily, too weak to manage more than a shuffling walk.

Botulism in horses is a devastating illness that occurs when they ingest toxins produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. The resulting disruption of communication between nerves and muscles leads to debilitating and potentially deadly neuromuscular impairment. Without prompt treatment, botulism in horses is almost always fatal.

No hard figures are available, but Robert Whitlock, DVM, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, estimates that roughly 150 to 250 horses succumb to botulism poisoning each year. Most cases occur in states east of the Mississippi, but it can happen virtually anywhere. Complicating matters is the fact that botulism can be difficult to recognize. “It’s a rare disease and unfortunately, practitioners without experience dealing with botulism have difficulty properly diagnosing it,” says Whitlock. A horse’s chances of survival depend on how quickly treatment begins and how rapidly the disease signs progress.


Which makes it important to understand how botulism poisoning occurs, what it looks like, what can be done to treat it and–perhaps, most critical–what you can do to reduce your horse’s risk of exposure to the causative organism. Here’s what you need to know.

It’s impossible to completely avoid C. botulinum bacteria.
C. botulinum spores are found in the soil, on vegetables and foods–they are literally everywhere,” explains Whitlock. “Inert spores can live in the environment for decades without causing any harm. It is when they are given a favorable environment for toxin formation that they pose a danger.” Botulism spores are most likely to form toxins in moist, anaerobic (with little or no oxygen) conditions where protein is rich and acidity is low (pH greater than 4.5). A prime location is decaying vegetable matter. More rarely, toxins may form in decaying animal tissues.

Various strains of C. botulinum are capable of producing seven different neurotoxins (A through G), not all of which can sicken horses. Most cases of equine botulism are caused by type B toxin, which can be found anywhere but is most prevalent in the Northeast and the Appalachian states.

Equine illness linked to type C toxin has been reported in Florida, California, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, the New England states and Canada. Type C toxin is usually associated with decomposing animals but is also in bird droppings. A third form of the botulism toxin, type A, is found in soil in the northwestern states of Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon as well as Utah and Ohio. Type A toxicity is uncommon in horses.

Horses are especially sensitive to C. botulinum.
“A dose of botulism toxin capable of killing a horse probably would not make a cow or a dog sick,” explains Whitlock. “Horses are much more susceptible as a species. Even humans are more resistant than horses.” Evidence in literature suggests that vultures, due to their subsistence on carrion, have developed a natural resistance to botulism.

C. botulinum can affect horses in three ways:

  • The term “botulism” most often describes poisoning that occurs when horses ingest the preformed toxins present in hays or feeds contaminated with the active bacteria.
  • Intestinal toxicoinfection, also called “foal botulism” or “Shaker foal syndrome,” develops when a foal ingests C. botulinum spores, which vegetate, colonize and release toxins in the immature gastrointestinal tract. “[This] risk declines about the time the foal is weaned and the mature microflora of the gut prevent the overcluster of C. botulinum,” says Nathan Slovis, DVM, DACVIM, of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Ky.
  • Wound botulism, the rarest form, results when C. botulinum enter a wound that closes over quickly–such as an injection site or puncture wound–providing an anaerobic environment that enables them to become activated and multiply. Castration wound infections and umbilical hernia repair with clamps have both been associated with wound botulism in horses.

Botulism toxins are among the most potent in the world.
Botulism toxins can permanently damage the nervous system. They travel through the horse’s bloodstream, eventually reaching the myoneural junction, where signals pass from motor neuron to muscle fiber. After penetrating neuron cells, the toxins bind to the synaptic vesicles, sacs that contain the molecules (acetylcholine) that signal the muscle to contract. This prevents the chemical’s release, and the result is paralysis.

“Essentially, the toxin disrupts the communication from nerve to muscle,” says Pamela Wilkins, DVM, PhD, professor of medicine at University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. “It’s like cutting a telephone line. The signal is still coming in, but when you pick up the line, there’s nobody there.”

The toxin’s effects are seen first on the horse’s most frequently used muscle groups: those used for chewing, swallowing, standing, blinking and swishing the tail. “Typically you see tongue tone weakness, eyelid and tail weakness, an inability to eat normally, a stiff, short gait, trembling and increased recumbency,” says Wilkins. “But clinical appearance depends on the dose of the toxin. Some horses won’t eat and are a little weak and that’s as bad as they get; others are down and paralyzed.”

Signs may appear anywhere from a few hours to several days after exposure to the toxins. Death, says Wilkins, is usually due to suffocation when pulmonary muscles are compromised.

Feeding round bales increases a horse’s risk of developing botulism–but not for the reasons you might think.
Most of us have heard that the rotting bodies of rodents, birds or other wildlife swept up during the hay baling process are a major source of botulism poisoning. But this simply isn’t true.

“That is an all too common misconception,” says Whitlock. “The truth is that 90 percent of botulism cases are in no way associated with dead animals. Most horses have type B botulism and that comes from soil, not from deceased animals [which are linked to type C].”

In fact, “the spores are [in the hay] all the time, whether they are picked up during harvest or baled along with the flecks of dirt with the grass. If the hay remains dry, then it’s fine. But if you have enough botulism spores with an anaerobic environment and spoilage in this tightly packed bale, the spores grow and make toxins,” says Whitlock. “That’s especially true when the bale is thrown out in a field or even stored in a shed but on the ground where dirt and moisture can get in.”

A less common and often overlooked source of botulism poisoning is loose hay thrown out onto muddy or damp ground in paddocks or other enclosures: “The horses will stomp on it and the hay gets packed down,” says Whitlock. “By the time the horses come back and dig it out of the mud, the environment is conducive for spores in the soil to form toxins.”

The swiftness of onset and severity of botulism signs are good predictors of a horse’s prognosis.
The greater the amount of botulinum toxin a horse ingests the worse his illness is likely to be. And the sooner a horse is given botulism antitoxin, the better. The polyvalent antitoxin (which works against both type B and C) and a monovalent antitoxin (against type B) contain antibodies that bind to the free-floating toxins in the blood that would otherwise attach themselves to neurons. But the antitoxin cannot repair the damage already done to neurons.

“The antitoxin does not reverse clinical signs, it abates the progression of them from that point on,” says Whitlock. “If the horse is already down, or very weak and approaching that point, it’s too late.” Once the antitoxin is administered, the body can begin the process of growing new nerve cells.

In addition to the administration of antitoxin, horses with botulism often require intense supportive care, which usually consists of antibiotics, intravenous fluids, catheterization and rectal evacuation. Bedsores from long periods of lying down, corneal ulcers due to poor eyelid tone, and pneumonia from insufficient respiratory activity are among the most common complications.

The total cost of care and treatment for a horse with botulism typically ranges from $10,000 to $15,000, depending on the length of hospital stay. Affected horses may not recover their full muscle strength for six months or longer.

A small percentage of affected horses survive without treatment, says Whitlock, “but only when they’ve had a low dose of toxin and the clinical signs are very slow and gradual over a period of days.”

Laboratory tests can confirm botulism, but results may be available too late to matter.
Botulism is confirmed using a mouse inoculation test–also called mouse bioassay–which can detect toxins in serum, manure or gut contents. A diluted sample is injected into mice and they are observed for signs of botulism. If they are affected, more samples and specific botulism antitoxins are injected into other mice, which are observed for clinical signs to determine the type of botulism poisoning.

The test can take five to 10 days and may be inconclusive if the amount of toxin from the sample is insufficient. That’s why, says Wilkins, most cases of botulism are diagnosed based on clinical signs alone: “We’ll use lab tests as confirmation, but by the time the results are in, [a horse with botulism] is either better or isn’t alive anymore.”

Nonetheless, she adds, signs can be subtle and easily confused with other illnesses. “Botulism can present like colic,” says Wilkins, “and it has been confused with severe renal failure.” In addition, botulism poisoning in horses can also look like rabies, Eastern equine encephalomyelitis, West Nile encephalitis, equine herpesvirus and plant toxicity.

The most effective way to prevent botulism is through vaccination.
Available since the mid-1980s, the equine botulism vaccine is effective against toxin type B, the most common form in horses. Statistics show that the inactivated toxoid vaccine is effective in about 95 percent of cases, and even when protection is incomplete it can increase a horse’s chances of survival.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends botulism vaccination of pregnant mares and of foals, primarily to prevent Shaker foal syndrome.

Whitlock, who describes the vaccine as “one of the safest and most efficacious in the industry,” strongly advises administering it to horses who are fed round bales as well as those in areas where previous cases of botulism have occurred. “I can’t tell you how many times I hear, ‘My vet never told me about this [vaccine],'” he says. “This is a situation where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


I will donate proceeds if you’d like a black, smooth chinstrap, LG bitless bridle from Germany!

If you want it  ($125), click this link!  I will send it right away!  TO LEARN about the LG bitless bridle, click here.  All of my horses love the LG!  Designed by a German dressage rider, every discipline benefits.

EMERGENCY BUCKET FUND!  49 MINI HORSES (plus one new baby!)  20 stallions have been gelded, 11 or the mares are pregnant, all have had initial trims of their feet, all are on special re-feeding programs, antibiotics, supplements… CLICK HERE to donate!  Thank you!  All donations are 100% tax deductible!



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