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Horsemen's Voice Newsletter 04-25-04

January 31, 2004

In this issue

Reader Feedback: Barometric Colic

Reader Feedback: "Colic" as a verb

Reader Feedback: This and That

More PMU Mares arriving this weekend

Fun Things to do January 31 - February 7


Reader Feedback: Barometric Colic


There are many weeks when I send out this newsletter when no one sends me any kind of e-mail in response. I figure it's a good week when three or four people write me any kind of response. Last week was amazing. I received 24 e-mails from my wonderful readers about last week's newsletter. And when you guys write, and I share it, I don't have to write so much this week. Ain't that great how that works?


So, let's jump into it.


Janie's letter about barometric pressure prompted many responses. Here are some of them.


Diane Coleman in Virginia said her mare colicked twice when the barometric pressure and the temperature dropped. She just gave her banamine and an anti-gas product. Now, when the weather changes, she adds salt to the mare's food to make her drink more.


Sharon Hanna, who is from Nebraska, said that her vet knew about "barometric colic," especially in "tornado alley" where the spring and summer storms will cause rapid barometric drops in a short time. Sharon said that people in other parts of Nebraska where there aren't so many tornadoes don't know about it, and she hasn't met anyone in New Mexico who has heard of it. Sharon, I think some people know about it now.


Calico Hickey has been a chiropractor for 25 years and has seen many people who suffer various symptoms when the pressure drops, and she figures that some horses are probably affected, too. She says to "Try giving her some slippery elm bark (1/2 cup) in her beet pulp prior to the next storm for a couple of days." That's great, Calico, but if the weatherman can't predict whether will be a storm in 2 days, how can we?


Caroline McCoy has a horrifying tale to tell:

Janie - I am surprised your vet thinks this is "far fetched".  I had a 2 yr. old  healthy gelding colic in El Paso, TX when a storm came through.  I had him at the racetrack where he had been for about two months.  He was in "conditioning" training, legging up....nothing stressful.  He had had no change in diet or in schedule of exercise.  He seemed happy and well-adjusted.  He was under excellent care.  My brother-in-law was the vet and had his office on the racetrack right next to my horse's barn.  I was visiting that day.  He checked the horses in that barn at 6pm and all horses were fine.  We went to dinner and came back at 8pm when the guard at the gate told the vet that we should go directly to the barn, that he had heard thrashing around.  The colic was so severe and so progressed that it was not possible to save this horse.  He died about a half hour later from the shock of the pain, or a heart attack, from probably a ruptured intestine.  I was told that this is not an infrequent occurrence at that racetrack where a number of storms come through quite quickly.  There is nothing that I have ever been told that can prevent this, other than, if you happen to know your horse is prone to colic, when there is a low-pressure drop, check your horse frequently to administer treatment the moment colic symptoms appear.  As to the "theory", there seems to be no explanation as to why low-pressure can cause colic.  It is just a fact that it can. Here is a link provided by the University of Kentucky concerning colic, causes, treatments, etc.  It requires that you have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it.   In this article it states that sudden changes in weather is one of the causes of colic.


Connie De Leon in Corrales wants to know if Janie's horse colicked on the 16th of January, because she knows of four other horses that had colic on Corrales that night, including a mare that died that night. Connie also says, "We have a twenty year old mare who colicked every Fall until we started putting apple cider vinegar in her barley. For four years now she's been colic-free! The vinegar cleans and disinfects the stomach and colon. You also get a shiny coat and good bone growth."


Roe Cooper-Chase and Leandro Gutierrez, both vets, each sent an explanation of colic, and how it basically means that the horse has a belly-ache, and that it can be caused by a zillion different things. Leandro even used grown-up words like "etiologies" and "paroxysmal". I appreciate their thoughtful and detailed explanations. However, it seems like we can all figure out what is going on here. A horse has about a 100 feet of gut inside him, and the bacteria inside is always making huge quantities of methane. Without getting too graphic, we all know how much methane a horse makes. When the pressure outside the horse drops, those gasses expand, and may cause bloating, pain, and even a ruptured intestine. Roe and Leandro, being careful with their diagnoses were a little more circumspect, but since I have no medical training, and will probably not get sued for malpractice, I am not ashamed to say that a drop in barometric pressure probably causes the same problems that we get after we eat a whole sack of Ruffles and a can of bean dip. And there will be a lot THAT going on this Sunday afternoon. Right, Guys?


But Mary Ochadlik reminds us that we often don't know what causes colic. There are probably higher forces at work here that we don't understand.

As far as the condition of horse colic goes, in my limited experience with horses I have not had one episode of colic. I have had nearly every horse person in the world that I know attribute every little aberration be it in behavior, diet, manure, and any one thousand other things to some crazy unrelated variance that they happen to notice on that particular day. For example the other day I noticed that a plastic horse statue in my house was oriented in the exact same east-west orientation as my two horses were standing out in the corral. Just for fun, and after reading this newsletter, I decided to switch the stature and believe it or not my horses later the same day were reoriented just like the statue! I then switched the statue back, and some unmeasured period of time later when I checked to horses I saw that neither was oriented in an east-west fashion. I decided then that it must have been related to whatever the barometric pressure was when I had first turned the statue. Since the pressure has since changed, the effect was gone. I know it was true because I saw it with my own eyes. J

Whoa, Mary! That's really spooky...


Reader Feedback: "Colic" as a verb


Enough about colic itself. Let's talk about "colic" the word. I got taken to task by Mary Sexton and Roe Cooper-Chase. Here's what Mary had to say:

The reason that none of the dictionaries you went to couldn't give you information on the past tense of the verb colic is that there is none.  Colic is a noun, not a verb.  You can verify colic's noun status in the dictionary, at least in a hard copy dictionary.  Americans are lazy about the English language and corrupting it is very common.  It makes wordsmiths crazy but the majority of us focus on the message and toss the rules.

Roe says,

FWIW, there is no past tense of 'colic', because colic is a noun, and not a verb.  The reason you don't find the word coliced, colicked or colicking recognized by spellcheck or in a dictionary is because the words don't exist, legally, outside the minds of man.  On the other hand, the word "colicky" is real.  It is an adjective, a word that helps to describe a noun. A colicky horse.  Spellchecker should let you have colicky.  P.S.  Next time you need to find a word's meaning, instead of the Internet, use a 1957 Webster's New World Dictionary, the kind you hold in your hands and with pages you turn with your fingers and a hard cover; a 'book'.  That big book that stands, ignored, between bookends for most of its life on earth.  There are all kinds of words in it, including "fugitive" and "vagabond".  All the words in it are actually accepted by Spellchecker; at least, the words I've looked up in it. The particular dictionary I use is one I inherited from my Aunt Tecky, who died in 1964

After I received Mary's note, I sent her a mea culpa note back saying that I should have known better than to use "colic" as a verb. But I have been thinking about language and words a lot this last week.


Ladies, I am going to have to totally disagree with you on this issue. "Colic" is just as much a verb as it is a noun. It is a verb because that's how we use it. It's part of how the language grows. What starts out as a corruption or laziness may soon become part of the language. Unlike Aunt Tecky, the English language did not die in 1964, nor with the publication of a dictionary in 1957. Our language is very much alive and changing. The only wordsmiths that this drives crazy are the ones who do not want to accept this change. A dictionary is obsolete the moment it is published and it doesn't make words "legal." Furthermore, - and this is really an existential question - I don't think that any words exist anywhere "outside the minds of man."


I learned my grammar and vocabulary rules in a pretty strict environment, as did Roe. Her school was probably more strict because she was taught by nouns - I mean - nuns. (That "nouns" was originally a typo, but it seemed to fit, so I didn't backspace over it.) I used to rail at the use of "impact" as a verb. "It's a NOUN, dammit!" (Not, "It's a NUN!") But a friend of mine pointed out to me that "input" and "access" used to be nouns until we computer nerds got ahold of them. Now, no one even thinks twice about using them as verbs. I am still not used to "impactful" as an adjective, though.


Hopefully, our language will never stop growing. And when I was a kid, my teachers would smite us down if we used "Hopefully" that way. But, my contention is that since everyone uses it that way, it has become acceptable. Not only that, "hopeful" is a noun! Just this week, there was a headline in the Albuquerque Journal that said, "Hopefuls come to New Mexico." They didn't even bother to say "Democratic hopefuls." If we use it this way, it will become the norm. And there ain't nothing wrong with that.


I'm only a year younger than that 1957 dictionary, and I have already seen the language change. When I was a teenager, "rip off" was a slang term for stealing. Now, not only is it acceptable, but "ripoff" has become a noun. When we were young, "ragging on" someone was a really nasty reference to being "on the rag," and we wouldn't dare use that term in front of our parents. I hear that term all the time now. I would be willing to bet that there are 20-year-old people out there who have never used the word "gay" to mean "cheerful" or "happy." Teflon was invented after 1957, and not only is it a brand name, but it has become an adjective, e.g. "the teflon president."


Think of some of the words and phrases that we use and are being put into dictionaries today that did not exist in 1957. Back then, no one had heard of internet, intranet, extranet, ethernet, biosphere, biodiversity, edutainment, touchy-feely, chads (hanging or otherwise), drive-by, downsizing, screen savers, software, shareware, freeware, palmtop, reboot, and even spellchecking. Forty years ago, we not only didn't have e-mail, but we didn't write letters that contained acronyms like FWIW, BTW, IMHO, or ROTFL. Our businesses did not outsource software engineering or call centers to India. We never went bungee jumping or line dancing. We didn't choose between kick-boxing or shoot-'em-up video games. Rock and roll was new in the 1950's, and we had never heard of disco, punk, grunge, or techno. Those words may have existed, but not in that context.


Mary, I consider myself a wordsmith, but I bet you and I use the term differently. In the context of your note, it seems as though you think that a wordsmith is a keeper of the "truth". Maybe those folks should be called wordkeepers. As anyone who reads this newsletter knows, I like to play with words and mold them to suit my needs. Just like a blacksmith shapes a horseshoe, this wordsmith likes to heat up the words, pound on them a little bit, and try to make something new and fun. Or at least a little interesting.


And we all do it, and that's what makes language so interesting and fun. We do have to have rules, but sometimes the rules are stretched, bent, and broken until the errors become the new rules. So, yes, "colic" is a verb because we use it that way.


The dictionaries just haven't caught up yet.


What do y'all think?


Reader Feedback: This and That


You might remember last summer when Cheryl Pozzi sent in a letter about her horse surviving West Nile Virus. Here is what she has to say about the mention last week that WNV survivors often have neurological damage and other problems:


My horse appears to have been fully recovered from everything we can see. At times I do think he's a little more touch sensitive than he used to be.  I used to be able to go into his pen and touch him or pat him and there was just the usual look, like, "Thanks, that feels good." Now when I do the same, he seems jumpy.  I've been wondering if it has left his neurological system more highly sensitive to touch.  I've also asked my vet if he should be inoculated this spring and he said there's no literature so far that he's seen about that, thus let's be sure and give him a dose this year. We know in people , once you have a disease you create antibodies, thus immune from the disease. However, we also know some people don't develop immunity and there can be different strains from which you don't have the immunity, i.e. the common cold/ flu. So , if anyone else has any experience please share.


Martha Cather and Camilla Maluatoga both related to this statement about post-WNV horses: "The study even mentions memory loss in at least one horse that would forget where he was or where he should go." They each think they have that particular affliction. I have this to say to both of them: ... um ... I forgot.


Kansas Bill wrote to me last week:

Anyways, sure do like readin' yer writin', whether it's about horses or dust or women.  Sounds like yer quite capable of gettin' yerself in deep with women.  Some of us's got a

talent fer that, I figure.

To which Los Alamos Janie replies, 

What man ain't cap'ble of gettin' hisself in deep with women?  So fer, I ain't found a one of 'em that don't.  All ev 'em were born with it, as fer as I kin tell.

Hey, I represent that remark!


Thanks to everyone who wrote me this week. For a little newsletter that is supposed to be about New Mexico horse issues, I sure received a lot of interstate mail. I received e-mails from Virginia, South Carolina, Texas, Kansas, and Kentucky. One even came from and ex-Nebraskan. Not only do I love the feedback, but it's fun to share your musings with everyone else. I love my readers.


More PMU Mares arriving this weekend


Another load of 12 PMU mares will be arriving at the Valencia County Fairgounds (across from the WalMart in Belen) around 3:00 Saturday afternoon. Come join the fun.


Fun Things to Do  January 31 - February 7




31 – Feb 1            ELLIE STINE-MASEK NATURAL HORSEMANSHIP & DRESSAGE CLINIC, Las Cruces.  Info:  M. Coombs, 382-7510


31 – Feb l            HUNTER JUMPER CLINIC w/Trudy Glefke, Heartlane Farm, 6730 Rio Grande NW.  Beginner, intermediate & advanced sessions.  Info:  Julie Luzicka, 345-7072




Feb 1    Superbowl. There is a storm system with a low pressure system coming in this weekend. Be sure to eat lots of chips and bean dip and see if you become colicky.


7          BFRA JUNIOR RODEO SERIES, Bosque Farms Rodeo Arena, 8:30 a.m.

Buckles & Hi Points & more prizes.  Entries:  Brenda Adcock, 865-3751.  Info: Charlie Long, 866-1602


8            WINTER FUN—barrels, poles & flag racing.  Beginner, novice, & intermediate divisions.  1 p.m.  Horsemen’s Arena, Belen, NM.  Info:  Vernon or Wendy Honeyfield, 865-9585


8            AHANM ALL-BREED TRAINING SHOW, Expo NM Horse Arena.  Registration 7 a.m., classes start at 8 a.m.  Info:  Marvin Solsrud, 281-5525


8            TRAINING SHOW, NM Buckskin Assoc., Western & English classes, Bosque Farms Rodeo Arena, 9 a.m.  Info:  Lynn Rogers, 896-0737, or Sharon Eastman, 869-2763


Gold Stars


Karen Everhart said that she had never received a gold star for anything. I'm glad we could fill in that void in your childhood, Karen.


On my way back from Kansas last week, I stopped in Dalhart to grab a bite and re-fuel. In the Quik-Mart, I saw a T-shirt for sale that said,

    Someone in Texas Love Me

I wasn't sure if that T-Shirt was supposed to say,

    Someone in Texas Loves Me

or if it is a kind of twisted plea. The T-shirt hanging next to it gave me a clue:

    It's a Texas thing.

    Y'all wouldn't


Far be it for me to try to figure out Texans.


(Roe, how do you think your nuns would diagram that sentence?)


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Happy trails...




The above newsletter was written when Nancy Gage and Jay Koch owned The Horsemen's Voice magazine. The Horsemen's Voice name and logo are used here with permission of the new owner, Catherine Logan-Carillo, who is a fine, upstanding member of the community. Catherine disavows any silliness, stupidity, vapidity, errors, or unintentional offenses, and the reader should know that she would know better than publish anything like this.

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