Monday, January 16, 2017

16th January, 2017 Quackery

When I first started working as a Recommended Associate, having studied, practised, been examined, approved and evaluated,  there were just a few pioneers using techniques based on the psychology of the horse, even though people like Lucy Rees had been writing about it decades before in the Riding Magazine. I longed for the day when there would be more than one person in every yard using these techniques so that they could have support and reassurance that no, in fact, they were not mad! Now, everyone who owns a horse is an expert it seems so that anyone consulting a Facebook forum could think that the advice they are being given, usually off the cuff, is what they should be doing with their horse. Instead of being met with a horse that has met some poorly executed traditional methods, I sometimes meet horses that may have met those first and then some poorly executed 'natural' horsemanship methods; the horse is even more messed up and the frustrated owner is losing faith in any method at all. I'm more interested in the underlying message that the horse has received, which should be "Relax, it's okay, I'm here to help you..." To achieve that the handler has to be rational with their rationale.

Because he says it so well, and maybe because some people seem prepared to listen to a man more than a woman, here is Ross Jacob's take on it:

"I believe in order for somebody to be a good horse person they need to have a strong sense of their training principles. There needs to be a consistent path that guides their every decision and by which they judge their results...I don’t believe it is possible for a horse to be emotionally okay without a high degree of consistency and clarity in their work..."

So that I don't take this out of context, here's the link to his Facebook page which is full of advice and contemplation: Ross Jacobs

Nowhere is internet advice more dangerous or evident than in the field of veterinary medicine where the waiting room at Chit, Chat and Tack is packed with people giving advice on how to treat a sarcoid ranging from applying toothpaste, dried coffee, or a very nasty cream called Camrosa for which there is no evidence that it can cure a sarcoid. Sarcoids are a skin tumour which should be taken extremely seriously if they are not to spread, multiply, or reoccur. This Horse and Hound article: H and H on Sarcoids highlights the main types:

Types of sarcoid

  • Occult: a flat patch of hair loss with a grey, scaly surface, which can be confused with ringworm, as they are often circular. Common on the face, neck and between the back legs
  • Verrucose: wart-like, grey and scaly but extends deeper than the occult sarcoid. More irregular in outline; multiple lesions often appear
  • Nodular: lumps under thin and shiny skin. These vary in size, some being more than 5cm in diameter, and occur commonly around the groin and eyelids
  • Fibroblastic: aggressive fleshy masses They can begin as a complication of a skin wound and sometimes grow rapidly, often ulcerated and “hanging” on a stalk (pedunculated) or extremely invasive into the surrounding skin
  • Mixed: a variable combination of two or more types of sarcoid, often of different ages, forming a “colony”
  • Malevolent: A term used to describe the most aggressive type of sarcoid. These spread through the skin and even along lymph vessels, with cords of tumour tissue interspersed with nodules and secondary ulcerative lesions. They can become large and difficult to manage.

The top sarcoid vet in the country, Derek Knottenbelt, in another article says: Derek Knottenbelt

“It is completely ludicrous; this is cancer that we are dealing with...Imagine if you went to the doctor with cancer and they sent you to the supermarket to buy toothpaste.” Approximately 10% of horses recover from sarcoids naturally — which is what Prof Knottenbelt believes may have led people to believe that the toothpaste treatment works. He warns that not only does the remedy not work, but it is also dangerous because it delays treatment and can irritate the tumour. “I see cases all the time where it has failed and it’s much worse,” he added. “These people claim to ‘love their horse’ yet they are prepared to treat them like this. It is complete madness.”

If your horse has a sarcoid, please call the vet. The appropriate treatments are: surgery; ligation; cryotherapy; immune therapy, topical treatment, radiation therapy, or laser removal. Not witchcraft or wizardry.

Chancer, having an injection of BCG which cured a sarcoid on his eyelid.