Long-term horse sickness

Bengal Lancers horses need help

Thanks to The Coast for bringing into the public realm the situation of the horses at Bengal Lancers. The Lancers are a non-profit organization and rely on public money to support their mission, which includes programs, according to their website, to "teach the fundamentals of riding and allow all the participants to take an active role in the care of the horses and develop a strong sense of responsibility and self-esteem". Inflammatory airway disease, heaves or bronchitis in horses is a very serious condition and not one readily "treated" without long-term effects. Treatment usually refers to large dosages of Prednisilone (an anti-inflammatory steroid to reduce the mucus build up in the lung, the mucus being the horse's defense to foreign particles in the airway: dust and mould being the primary culprits) and Ventipulmin (basically what human asthmatics take to open the airways). Both of these pharmaceuticals may but not necessarily alleviate symptoms, but will definitely not 'cure' the condition. Prolonged steroid use in these doses also have long term effects on other vital organs, like the liver. Once horses' lungs are compromised, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder is frequently the result, and the only way to prolong the life of a horse with this debilitating condition is to provide the horse with the best living situation naturally suited to equines: outside with a run-in shelter, and dust-free, well ventilated stabling if the horse must come inside. Pulmonary disorders in horses affect their quality of life; working horses are athletes. Athletes with damaged lungs aren't fit for the job. The lives of horses with pulmonary disorders are often unnaturally shortened, and their demise is painful and pitiful. Particularly if the conditions causing the distress are not adequately addressed. This includes not just stabling indoors, but also riding indoors in arenas where dust often hangs in the air. The bond between humans and horses is ancient, complex and beautiful. It is my hope that as we develop young equestrians in this province that we do so in honour of this bond, respectful for what horses as our teachers give to us and that we in turn give back to them what we can: kindness and thoughtfulness in our care of them, that they may lead happy, productive and pain-free lives. I hope that the Lancer students won't be "frightened" by the thought of having to move their teachers to better living conditions but will become champions for their lives. Great equestrians are so much more than great riders. ---Julie Glaser, Dartmouth

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