Tea-Tree Oil Sensitivity in Horses

In reference to your sheath-cleaning article (August 2007) and the comment about watching for tea-tree oil sensitivity: I used to use commercial tea-tree oil products to clean all my geldings’ sheaths, until a new horse had a severe reaction to it. After an expensive vet call, I decided to use alternatives and keep tea-tree products out of my barn. What was interesting was that another gelding stopped trying to kick me when I cleaned his sheath after I discontinued the product with tea-tree oil in it. I’d assumed his kicking was behavior-related or that he didn’t like what I was doing. Now, looking back, I realize the tea-tree oil cleaners more than likely were bothering him enough to cause him to kick out.

Emily Welsh

Blocker Tie Ring Fan

I was happy to see your article in the August issue regarding Blocker Tie Rings. When I was first introduced to this product, I could not understand why anyone would spend $20 for a tie ring when a perfectly usable one could be purchased for under $5. I’m from Missouri, the ”show-me” state and a hard sell when it comes to spending money.

After receiving a Blocker Tie Ring as a gift, I can wholeheartedly recommend it for the reasons you gave and more. It’s a great way to train young colts to stand tied without the potential dangers associated with pulling back. Depending on a quick-release snap or breakaway halter is a gamble at best and puts the rider/trainer/owner in a potentially dangerous situation when he tries to release a large frantic animal.

After replacing my regular tie ring with the Blocker Ring, a young horse who pulled back repeatedly quickly learned that if he pulled back he was not trapped and this negative behavior was quickly resolved. Within a short period, I could tie him to just about anywhere (trailer, wash stall, cross ties etc) using regular rings and he stood calmly and quietly.

Even my dead-broke older horses have the ability to spook and pull back under extreme circumstances, such as fireworks or nipping dogs startling them while they sleep tied to the trailer at a show. I no longer worry about leaving horses tied to the trailer while at a show. I don’t advocate leaving any horse unattended, but I have seen some nasty accidents while the owner was standing right next to a horse who unexpectedly pulled back and then lurched forward into the side of a trailer.

I do not consider this item to be in lieu of appropriate training and do not use it as excuse not to train my horses. Instead I use this as just one more tool to help me better prepare my horses.

I would not have purchased this item based solely on an advertisement in a catalog or even endorsements from professional horsemen. I had to see how well it works and personally benefit from the technology to be convinced. I hope that your other readers are less stubborn than I and will give this item a try.

Mary Stassi
Twelve Oaks Farm, Missouri

Clean Water Tanks

In your July issue, I read your ”Fix Common Problems” and thought I might suggest one. We fight algae in our tanks constantly, so I just purchase the one-inch chlorine tabs used in small pools and add those. It’s very easy to maintain a clean tank!

Pat Bosley

Veterinary Editor’s Note: Concentrations of chlorine of up to 4 ppm are felt to be safe for short-term consumption by livestock, but the concentration required to kill algae is at least 50 times higher than that. The chlorine itself will evaporate off in 24 to 48 hours (you really should let the water sit for at least 24 hours before letting them drink it). However, the real health concern comes from dissolved chlorine that may react with any organic material in the trough (algae, food or plant material, manure, etc.) to form organic chlorine-containing compounds. These will not evaporate off and can cause a variety of health problems, from hormonal interference to breeding issues to eventual cancer. Using a pool-chlorinating product at the same dilution rate as in a human pool will keep the total chlorine in a safe range for short-term drinking at least, but unless the trough is absolutely free of all organic material it could be risky.