Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at


November 1999

Hoof Power
Hoof Care
How To Think
Like A Horse
Making Not Breaking by Cherry Hill
Your Horse Barn DVD
Horse For Sale by Cherry Hill
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage
How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hill

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  1999 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

This newsletter is a personal message from me to you, a fellow horse owner and enthusiast.

My goal is to send you interesting stories and helpful tips for your horse care, training, and riding.


     Savvy, my 26 month old Quarter Horse filly, developed a swelling on her chest above her pectoral muscles. It started as an egg sized swelling a few weeks ago but matured to larger than grapefruit size rather quickly. This disease usually manifests as a slow developing deep abscess with several common names:


Pigeon Fever
Pigeon Breast
Colorado Distemper
Dry-land Distemper

Updated information on Pigeon Fever.  Update November 2002: Unusual rise in cases in Colorado and Wyoming this year. See

Colorado State University Pigeon Fever Fact Sheet

    It is caused by infection from the bacteria corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis.  It is not known exactly how the bacteria is carried into the horse's tissues, but it is almost certain to be an insect of some type.

    Horses that get Pigeon Breast can be of any age or sex and are usually in good health.  Most cases occur in California and Texas in the late summer and early fall.  My veterinarian said that in all of his years of practice, he has only seen two cases - about 11 years ago and both were horses that moved here to Colorado from California and came down with it soon after arrival.  Since then he has not had a single case until this year.  So far this fall, he has had 15 cases!  What's going on??!!

    Since the abscess associated with this infection is very deep, under the pectoral muscle area,  a long, large bore needle (4 inch, 12 gauge) is used to determine when the abscess is ready to be lanced.  If a thick, creamy pus is aspirated, it is time to open the abscess.  After the drainage incision is made and the exudate is released, the deep cavity is flushed thoroughly with betadine solution.

    Follow up includes hydrotherapy, a thorough cleansing with Betadine Scrub, and flushing with betadine solution.  This is done once a day for a week to two weeks as tissue healing takes place.  Full healing and complete remission of swelling and scar tissue will take two months or more.

    Although antibiotics should not be administered BEFORE lancing the abscess (as they would delay formation of the abscess and prolong the disease), antibiotics (such as 30 cc Penicillin IM each day for 4 days) are used AFTER lancing to prevent any secondary bacterial infections from complicating healing.

    At the end of each daily treatment, the surrounding area is dried thoroughly and a film of Corona bag balm or petroleum jelly is applied below the incision to soothe the skin and prevent the exudate from scalding the hair and skin.

    Savvy is an excellent patient and as of day #3 of treatment, healing is progressing well.  I'll give you a brief update in December's Newsletter.

    If any of you have had horses that experienced this disease, please let me know the details of the case.  



No, it is not a snack that I eat while doing chores!  It is a visual image I have of the way I do chores AND take my morning walk.

The bottom slice - Each morning, the first thing I do is go out and feed all of the horses their hay.

The filling - While they are munching, I take a brisk walk around some of the pastures and down to the creek.  This accomplishes several important tasks: I check the perimeter and cross fences (mainly for deer damage), I make sure the creek is free of ice, and I enjoy the magic of nature  - the transformation of the pasture grasses and trees through the seasons, the majesty of our resident buck and his herd of seven does, and the morning light changing on the rock cliffs PLUS I get my morning warm up exercise!

The top slice - After my walk, I feed all of the horses their grain.  In the time it takes me to cruise around the property, they have eaten almost 1/2 of their hay ration.  This has taken the edge off their appetites so they are less likely to bolt their grain.  They thoroughly chew their grain which results in more efficient feed utilization and better digestion (read less colic).  I'm all for that.

See if you can work a "chore sandwich" into your routines.  Let me know what your "filling" is and I'll share some of your ideas with readers in the next newsletter - anonymously if you'd like.



Here in Colorado we are having record high temperatures for November but I know that winter weather can come upon us suddenly.  So while the days are still sunny and warm, Richard and I are taking advantage of them to prepare for winter's onslaught!

  • Oil gate hinges and latches so they operate freely and have less of a chance of freezing up.

  • Do you live in snow country like I do?  See a photo of me riding Zinger on our place here in Colorado through 42 inches of snow: About Cherry Hill

  • If you do live in a snowy region, consider winter shoes and/or pads for your horse. If you need more information on winter shoe options, refer to Maximum Hoof Power

    or go to my winter shoe article: Winter Shoes

  • As soon as the last fly is gone for the year, put your horses' tails up for the winter.  This will protect them from accumulating ice and frozen mud and minimize breakage.  See more on tail care in my article Tips for Long Tails

    or refer to my book Horse Handling and Grooming for step by step photos.

  • Get ready for a blanket change!  Since we are having weather in the 70s right now, my horses are still wearing fly sheets, but any day now I will have to change them all over to waterproof breathable sheets or lightweight turnout blankets.  (My horses live in sheltered pens or on pasture, not in stalls, so I use turnout sheets.  If your horse lives indoors, you will be shifting gears to a stable sheet or blanket of some sort.)  Check all of your blankets over carefully so they are ready to use at a moment's notice.

  • Research at Colorado State University has shown that wood chewing increases in cold, wet weather.  If your horses have access to wooden fences, gates, or buildings, be sure the wood is protected from their destructive teeth.  Not all horses are wood chewers but even the most angelic horse can take a few bites when the weather is stressful.  That's why it is important that during winter weather, horses get ample long-stem hay (as opposed to roughage in pellet or wafer form).  The slow chewing associated with eating roughage is soothing and satiating to your horse.  For more on feeding, read my articles:

    Health Care Program and Choosing Good Hay

    and read about winter care and feeding in these books:
Horse Health Care

Your Pony, Your Horse

Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage.

You can find all of them listed on my complete Book List .

  • Check the antifreeze in your truck and tractor.  If you are in big snow country, you'll want to be sure your tire chains are in good working order.


That's all I have time for this month.  The days are packed!

Happy Trails, Cherry Hill

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  1999 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

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