Last Wednesday, my barn went into a 48 hour quarantine.
My vet was out to look at a couple of the horses, including one with a nasty cough and another one that had an incident in his paddock the week before. By “incident”, I mean that one of the stall cleaners reported that he was standing out in his run when all of a sudden his legs locked, his body went stiff, and he fell over. It was a busy day at the barn and the vet wandered among all of the boarders, subtly collecting data from all of us in the guise of idle chitchat. Then, at the end of her visit, she quietly pulled the barn owner aside.
Forty-five miles south of us, horses are dying. An outbreak of EHV-1 is terrorizing one of our large local barns—they’ve already lost seven horses from the neurological form of the disease. There’s no reliable vaccination for EHV-1 and, since it’s theorized that more than 85% of horses over the age of two already have a dormant form of it, there’s no discernible way to prevent an outbreak.
It’s scary. It’s horrifying. The fact that every veterinarian and barn we confer with says “this can happen to anyone” is no consolation – it happened to us, and we are incredibly sorry. But all we can do at this point is try our best to support our horses and prevent spread to the broader community.
I came out to work Raglan the day after the vet was out and found the whole place silent, like a tomb. I’ll be real: there was an edge of terror to everything I did. I scrutinized him every time he tripped over his own clumsy feet. I yanked his head away whenever he tried to visit with the other horses as he passed their stalls. I gave every piece of my tack a dubious once over before I put it on him.
I thought about what it would be like not to have him and felt a weird mixture of practicality (he was only $1,000 after all) and sadness (what would I do without his squishy nose?).
The test results came back quickly and we were out of our lockdown just over twenty-four hours after the vet was out. Everything’s all fine on the home front, but there are still a lot of people out there that are decidedly not fine. Floods, fires, disease… there are a lot of equestrians (and horses) that are suffering, and this one just happens to hit a little to close to home for me.
If you’ve got some Christmas money to spare, please consider donating to their Go Fund Me.