Riding a horse on the mountain trails around Pine-Strawberry is amazing. Evacuating a horse from a smoke-filled town is the exact opposite. Hundreds of horses and other livestock were displaced along with their owners. Everyone including the ponies is feeling the stress.
Halflinger Dazzle and Quarterhorse Rio lost about 50 pounds in two days, said owner Paula Lange. The pair was evacuated Friday night to Payson, but at 22 years of age, they have spent most of their lives at their home in Pine. Initially Lange could not be housed near them.
“It’s stress, and it’s nothing to panic about,” said Dr. Drew Justice, of Diamond J Veterinary Services, the main equine veterinarian for Rim Country.
Evacuated horses need access to clean water, consistent hay fed at consistent times of the day and horse-safe pens, said Justice.
During evacuations dehydration and colic are common Justice said. Some animals take a change in stride, others feel anxious. He also sees cuts and bruises from pens not really meant for a horse or a fight between two that are suddenly housed together.
In an evacuation, some of these things are unavoidable and really tough for owners.
Justice said that horses coughing is to be expected based on the smoke in the air.
“We will see mild upper respiratory irritation,” he said.
“The respiratory tract will make mucus, that traps the irritants. Horses cough it up, just like us. It’s normal and nothing to panic about.
“I wouldn’t be working a horse hard in this,” he said. Mild exercise is good, but getting them heavily breathing is not recommended.
Be aware that when a horse is in a new place it’s under stress. If you would like to help in the event of another evacuation, the Event Center is the place to visit. Offer owners help scooping, feeding, watering — heavy duties that need to be done multiple times a day.