Monday, May 20, 2013


Loch Ness has Tessie. Animal Planet has Bigfoot. Stables and pastures have horse flies.
And although it has yet to be conclusively documented, some horse flies reportedly have been observed by entomology students on Spring Break to be bearing tiny saddles, and sitting on those tiny saddles are tiny cowboys wearing boots with tiny spurs, the use of which reportedly creates the erratic flight patterns of the horse flies.

These stories of mystery and myth are intriguing for the mystery and for the lengths people will go to prove the tales to be true. So what should one do upon finally proving the myth to be true? Accept it for what it is and move on. Stay normal, like the old guy with the frog. You know the story.

Two elderly gentlemen are conducting their customary evening stroll through the woods. A frog along a favorite pathway seeks their attention.

"Guys, guys", shouts the frog. "Guys, somebody pick me up and give me a kiss. Guys, guys, I’m tellin’ you. Pick me up, give me a kiss, I will turn into a beautiful princess, and then BAM! We make crazy, passionate love all night!"


One of the gentlemen bends over, picks up the frog, puts it into his jacket pocket, and the old-timers continue down the path.

The frog becomes frantic. "Hey, get me outa here! Didn’t you hear me! Give me a kiss, I will turn into a beautiful princess, and then BAM! We make crazy, passionate love all night!"

Calmly, the old man with the frog in his pocket answers: "I would rather have a talking frog."

The problem with real horse flies is that they want to become intimate with your horse whenever they can. And that could be deadly for your horse. Horse flies are transmission vectors for equine infectious anemia. Equine infectious anemia is transmitted by blood-sucking insects, including horse flies. Anemia, irregular heart beat, swelling in extremities and lower abdomen, and death may be the result. There may be cases of chronic EIA which leave the horse in a debilitated state over a sustained period of time. All horses that test positive for EIA must be reported to federal authorities. The owner of the horse that tests positive has three options: send the horse to a recognized research facility, or place it in quarantine for life, or euthanize the horse.

Horses that cross state lines routinely are tested for EIA using the Coggins test. Horses that test negative receive a certificate that they have tested negative. Horses that are imported from abroad are tested for EIA.

So finally we get to the point of this narrative: insects that feed from a diseased horse and then feed on a healthy horse can infect your healthy horse with EIA. So you want to keep your healthy horse away from diseased horses. But you do not own your own farm, your own stable, your own pasture. You board your horse. Here is my suggestion: before you choose your boarding facility, investigate. Does your boarding facility deny boarding to any horse which is unable to provide a current Coggins test certificate showing that the horse tests negative for EIA? Your safest boarding alternative is a facility that is safe upon inspection for sanitation, physical suitability, and that employs rigid safeguards against the spread of infectious diseases. Find out if the boarding operation only boards horses that have up to date test certificates showing them to be negative for EIA.

A few weeks ago I visited a boarding facility. I heard what sounded like a harmonica being played, followed by yodeling. I looked everywhere. The only identifiable objects meeting my gaze were multiple deposits of horse manure of varying freshness and horse flies flying erratically. Next time I visit I am taking along a butterfly net. I decided against carrying a shovel.

Mount up, Ladies and Dudes.

Gary D. Malfeld

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