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Hygiene Around Horses

One of the more difficult aspects of spending time around horses is that of cleanliness. We pick up sebum when touching them in almost every way from grooming their coat to riding. Sebum is an oily secretion from the skin of almost all mammals. And cleaning hooves exposes us to dirt and biological horse waste replete with all manner of pathogens from both. As a result, hygiene is difficult. Yet, I want to clean my hands before eating a sandwich out on the trail, or even at the barn. I also want to clean them before touching the steering wheel and driving away in my vehicle.

So, I carry two forms of "wipes" to achieve that goal. I buy regular diaper wipes (yes, you men can laugh) at the supermarket or convenience store that I carry in my vehicle. And I carry about six or eight individually wrapped pre-moistened, sanitized, hand wipes in my cantle bag. Both make cleaning quick and easy at the barn, on the trail, or any other place where soap and water are not readily available. (They also make lunch much more palatable.)

Another aspect of hygiene we don't want to forget about is treating wounds, whether on you or your horse. For this application, I also carry some alcohol wipes in my cantle bag first aid kit (you do carry a first aid kit, right?). You can buy a box of these individually wrapped wipes at almost any pharmacy and just throw a few of the packets into your kit. When needed, just open the packet and use the wipe to clean and disinfect the wound. There may be a little sting, but it's truly minor and it's more important to kill bacteria and germs now to reduce the chance of infection later. Then, apply a dressing to cover and keep the wound clean. If I'm the patient, that usually means a bandage from the first aid kit. If my horse is the patient and there's no serious bleeding, I might leave the wound open until the vet can check it.

Besides being an avid trail rider, Jerry Tardif is a technology consultant and a horse and nature photographer in SE Connecticut — see his work at: www.jerrytardif.com. He is also co-founder and President of QueryHorse.

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