The crowd stood enthralled in the Breed Aisle at the Horse Expo. The sleepy Haflinger colt was impossibly tiny. While his dam stood protectively over him, he blinked and stretched and licked his lips. Horse lovers cooed to him and reached through the stall bars to pet his soft blonde baby coat. The colt leapt up in a flurry of pine shavings, and sneezed all over his admiring public before he ambled over to mom for a snack.
This picture of cuteness and innocence had ominous overtones. Breakouts of dangerous communicable equine diseases seem to occur with greater frequency each year. My mind goes back to this past winter when the Florida show circuit ground to a halt due to the outbreak of neurological Equine herpesvirus.
Every year horse owners, riders and trainers have more opportunities to show off their horses. Horse lovers have more opportunities to be educated and entertained among large groups of horses from widespread geographical areas. This added travel and distance may bring added risk.
There is no need to go overboard with fear. However, I think erring on the side of caution is always wise when your–or anyone else’s– horse’s health is in question.
The colt at the horse expo probably just sneezed from dusty shavings. Still, when Mark and I got home we did not go hug our own horses goodnight. Be sure all the clothes we wore to the Horse Expo will get a good wash before they go out on the farm again.