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Saturday, 3 April 2010


Things are not too good here at the moment. The 6yo Fell Pony, Bertie, is very ill with a temperature of 105. I phoned the yard that they came from fearing the worst and it's Strangles. One of the babies has already had a mild dose and Kate, my 6 yo coloured mare has a temp of 104 as well.

I have been really stupid. I should have made some attempt to isolate them, knowing they came from a high risk of infections yard but instead I did what I always do - just over-rode my cautious istincts and hoped for the best.

All my liveries but one have been wonderful about it, even though they were looking forward to planning shows, hacking out, etc. and are now in isolation for months. The person who let rip at me only said what I was telling myself - that I have messed up big time.

Strangles is not usually as bad as it sounds but it is a notifiable disease, very infectious and can take a long time to get free from. In all the years I've worked with horses I've never been in an infected yard before.

The yard where they came from must be in an awful state. They have 60 horses and were going to have a sale in May. Hay is running out everywhere now and they must be panicking even more than I am. Right on the edge of London they will be paying a fortune for it, if they can get any at all.

I'm having to tell all my neighbours and there is a chance I may have infected the Riding for the Disabled's horses too.

This is going to be another big test of my strength of character but I am far from alone. I've had phone calls, text messages and visitors all evening, just when I was starting to feel totally useless, lonely and isolated.

I told myself earlier that I'm not fit to run a yard on my own and I should sell up and disappear but the truth is I don't run it on my own. All the people here help me every step of the way. I just need to trust my own judgement more and not over ride every negative thought because some of them are just good sense. Life is not a fairy tale and everything is not always happy ever after.

I'm very worried about Bella and Jack as they haven't mixed much with other horses until recently but they are very fit and well. I'm also very worried about 2 very old mares here but they too are in very good health at the moment.

I'm also very frightened for Bertie. He looks so ill but I have had horses with temps of 106 recover quickly and completely so hopefully he will too. He is a tough native pony and he's survived a lot of trauma and distress already in his life. He can beat this too.

We are going to do it together.


  1. So sorry. Sometimes things like this just happen, even when precautions are taken. At a barn where we had an outbreak, the vet came and gave the vaccine to the healthy horses.

    Hope it all sorts itself out sooner than later. I send you my best in the meantime.

  2. I hope all improves - most horses seem to recover well from it although it's nasty while it's going on. We do vaccinate (intranasal) although it's not a failsafe.

    Hang in there - just deal with right now and try not to worry or judge yourself.

  3. It's difficult to protect yourself from something as pervasive as strangles - it hit our barn and we did the isolation with every new horse. Everyone got vaccinated and there were only two cases - they got pretty bad, but made it through.

    So you could have done everything right and it STILL could have happened. Hang in there and we'll be thinking of you!

  4. As the others have said, you can put yourself through stringent protocols and still get it. A yard near us got it despite being really strict.

    As you say, you aren't alone - friends will be supporting you 100% and you are being straight with everyone, not burying your head in the sand and pretending it isn't happening like some yards do.

    It is s**t, and its times like these you see who will support you - one livery out of the whole yard is pretty good, and s/he was probably as much scared as angry.

    I hope everyone recovers well - all your horses look so well and strong, so they stand a darn good choice of recovering quickly.


  5. Wow. That certainly is bad news. I hope everyone makes it through. I vaccinate for it though my lot never really go anywhere since the QH came from a barn that had it run riot a few years ago. They did not lose any horses, but a few were pretty sick for awhile. All it takes is one animal not being taken care of and there you have it. Sucks. That is one reason I am down on the local 4-H group. They do not require proof of or vaccinations(left up to the owner--Yeah) and I was always leery of what we could come home with even though we were so careful. Even if you had quarentened the lot, no guarentee you would not have it. Do not beat yourself up to much or allow anyone else to do so. It is sad, but it happens.

  6. Tis a hard way to learn( have done it enough times)- when in hindsight , you may have done something different. But even if you had isolated them , you would still have had it at your yard.
    As said above , this happens at the most stringent of yards.
    I do like your comment trust your judgement more ( and not always a fairy tale!) - true.
    Big hugs for all your ponies.

  7. We had it a couple of years back when some new riding school horses arrived at the stable. There wasn't enough room to isolate them all, so it was a stroke of bad luck what happened - but that's life.
    It was a lot of extra work as you had to take the temperature of all the horses every day and of course keep the isolation - but all the horses that got sick recovered quickly.
    Things like this happen, Helen. Don't blame yourself.
    I will keep my fingers crossed that it passes quickly and without any damage to your horses.

  8. Thank you all very much for your support and kind words. It means a lot to me. Thank you.

  9. Oh my gosh! I am so sorry this is happening. How awful! Try not to beat yourself up about it. What is done is done. We make mistakes so we can learn from them. Be thankful it was strangles and not something even worse! Everyone will be okay. I'm glad everyone is being understanding and helpful. I can't stand people who just want to sit around and point fingers. We're human, not machines. We make mistake. And they will make some big ones in their life. It's best not to alienate other people because one day that person is going to need help for one of their mistakes. We're here for you!



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I am a clicker training addict and there is no cure - thank goodness!!!