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July 3, 2004

In this issue

Didja miss me?

Something new

Fun Things to do - Retired Feature


Didja miss me?


I am flattered by all of the people who have written me recently missing this goofy little newsletter. Some people have tried to sign up again thinking that maybe the

 problem was theirs, not mine. One woman even traveled halfway across the country to tell me she missed my newsletters. 


OK. So that ain't exactly true, but I can dream can't I? Nancy and I went to the American Horse Publications conference in Lexington, Kentucky early in June. We saw our friend, Fran Jurga, from Massachusetts who said that she was disappointed that I was considering stopping this newsletter. "How will I know what's going on in New Mexico?" Maybe Fran did come all the way from Massachusetts to Kentucky just to tell me that. Or maybe not. In any case, I appreciate her kind words.


My last newsletter was all the way back on April 25. That was just before the New Mexico Horse Fair. After the Fair, Nancy and I were pretty worn out. Actually, we were fried. We realized that we had to start getting some balance in our life. Since then, we have been shedding obligations that we didn't feel necessary in our life. I thought that this newsletter was one of those obligations. 


I have recently had ideas and thoughts bouncing around in this goofy brain that I think I would like to share with my newsletter friends. I think I am ready to come back and start writing again. On the other hand, I am going to make some changes. Rather than writing every week, I am going to write when I have the time, and I have something to say. It used to be that I wanted to get out the newsletter every Thursday. That slipped to Friday, and then eventually I found myself spending my Saturday mornings writing a newsletter. I would rather be outside working in the yard or playing with horses. This is part of getting the balance back in my life.


You might think this weird - well, you might think a lot of what I say is weird - but the one crazy bit that I can't get out of my head, and I feel I need to share with you comes from three weeks ago when we were in Midway Airport in Chicago. That bit has to do with moving sidewalks. Yes, the concourses are long, but do we really need those moving sidewalks? I remember one time that I had a long layover in O'Hare airport. I got off the plane at the very end of one concourse and schlepped all the way to end of another. Since it was a long layover, I wanted to know how far it was from one place to the other. I stepped it off at about 1800 paces, or more than a mile. So, I made the original walk, then went back and forth again, for a total of about three miles. OK, I admit that was more than 20 years ago, and I was in a lot better shape, and walking three miles was no big deal. But I didn't need no stinkin' moving sidewalks.


Today, after a long, tedious flight being squoze into a seat made for the average person who is a lot smaller than I am, I really need to get the kinks out. So, I pick up my carry-ons and make my way straight for the moving sidewalk. (No wonder I am so out of shape.) I'd like to have that sidewalk take me right to the rental car counter where the shuttle bus will drop me beside the car where I can get in and drive directly to little box where I can confidently and proudly say, "I'd like a number 3 combo, super-sized with a Coke." That would be a perfect trip.


But, no. Those stupid moving sidewalks only last a hundred feet or so. Just as you get settled in for a comfy ride, you reach the end and you have to pick up your bags and start walking again. It's just so exhausting. You walk another mile or so, then you get another hundred feet of relaxation. It takes about six of these cycles to reach the end of the concourse.


I guess I understand why they have to break up the sidewalks into smaller lengths. Not everyone goes from one end of the concourse to the other and people have to get on and off at their gates. Maybe they could raise the moving sidewalk up so that you could get on and just stay on to the end. Yeah. That's the ticket. You could have overpasses, merging lanes and exits just like a freeway. I think I'll call Midway Airport tomorrow and suggest it.


Until we get the pedestrian freeways, there are a couple of things I would change back in the real world, though.


During our layover in Chicago, we waited at a gate that was the end of one of those moving sidewalks. I heard this announcement every thirty seconds:


"Caution: The moving sidewalk is ending." 


In two hours, I never saw that dang sidewalk come to an end. It just stayed there. It kept moving. Now, I did see lots of people come to the end of the sidewalk, but the sidewalk itself never ended. 


Above the moving sidewalks in Louisville, there were these signs: "Walk on Left. Stand on Right." I tried this and went in a tiny little circle. It's a good thing the sidewalk was moving, or I would haven't gotten anywhere. 




Whew! I am glad I was finally able to get that out. It was miserable holding it in all this time. I thought I was going to explode.



Something new


I have been watching the news and thinking there isn't much new out there. Seems like it's the same old stories. Drought. Fire Danger. Closed riding trails. West Nile Virus. Fugitive Dust. And then, something new on the horizon to learn about and watch out for:


Vesicular Stomatitis.


This is one of those diseases that I had never heard of until a few weeks ago. It seems to have moved from West Texas into the heart of the Middle Rio Grande Valley here in Valencia County in about a month. I could do the work of a real journalist and write something about this, but it's much easier to just quote an e-mail I received from Carla Everett at the Texas Animal Health Commission. It would be kind of like walking instead of riding a moving sidewalk. You could do it, but why?


So, thanks, Carla for making it easy for me.


(Vesicular stomatitis updates are posted on the TAHC web site at

 News Release
 Texas Animal Health Commission
    Box l2966  * Austin, Texas 78711 * (800) 550-8242 * FAX (512) 719-0719
Bob Hillman, DVM  *  Executive Director
  For info, contact Carla Everett, information officer, at 1-800-550-8242, ext. 710,
 New Mexico Livestock Board
300 San Mateo Blvd NE, Suite 1000
Albuquerque, NM  87108-1500 • (505) 841-6161 • FAX (505) 841-6160
Steven R. England, DVM • State Veterinarian
For release---June 30, 2004        
Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) Confirmed in Texas Cattle
This year’s outbreak of vesicular stomatitis (VS) now has been confirmed, not only in horses in Texas and New Mexico, but also in two head of cattle in Starr County, about 225 miles south of San Antonio.  The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the state’s livestock and poultry health regulatory agency, received notification of the positive laboratory results late Tuesday, June 29.
“The two infected cattle are on separate quarantined premises in Starr County and are the first confirmed cases in cattle in the U.S. since the l997 VS outbreak involving New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah.   The l998 outbreak involved only horses,” said Dr. Max Coats, deputy director for the TAHC’s Animal Health Programs. 
“On one of the premises in Starr County, one cow among a handful of cattle tested positive for VS, and no other susceptible animals are on the site.  On the second premise, the owner has an infected cow and horse, and there are about 30 other head of cattle and several horses that, at this point, have no clinical signs of VS and they have tested negative for the disease,” he said.
As of June 30, VS infection in 2004 has been detected on a total of 15 premises in Texas and New Mexico.  Disease investigations also are continuing.  With the exception of two sites in Starr County, all cases involve horses.
Uvalde County    --          one premise
Starr County               --          five premises (two include infected cattle)
Dimmit County            --          one premise
Yoakum County          --          one premise
Val Verde County        --          one premise
Reeves County            --          one premise

New Mexico:
Carlsbad area             --          four premises
Belen, Valencia County--       one premise
VS, a viral infection, occurs sporadically in the southwestern U.S. and is thought to be transmitted by sand flies and black flies.  This painful, but short-term disease can cause blistering and erosions in and around the mouth, and around the muzzle, teats or hooves of horses, cattle, goats, swine, deer and some other livestock.  Infected animals with open sores can expose herd mates to the disease through close contact or by the sharing of feed buckets or bits.  As a precaution, all infected and susceptible livestock on a premise are quarantined until at least 30 days after all infected animals have healed. 
“The signs of VS mimic those of foot-and-mouth disease, a dangerous and highly contagious foreign animal disease that can strike cattle, swine, sheep, deer and other cloven-hooved animals, but not affect horses,” he said.  “When livestock develop blistering or erosions, it is imperative that the animals be evaluated and laboratory tests be conducted to differentiate between the two diseases ­ or to determine if there is a caustic substance, toxic weed or poison that is causing the irritation.   A regulatory veterinarian from the TAHC or U.S. Department of Agriculture should be notified by the owner or private veterinary practitioner, so small snippets of tissue can be collected from the sores laboratory submission.”
Samples from horses are tested at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) at Ames, Iowa.  As a safety measure, samples from cloven-hooved animals are shipped to Foreign Animal Disease Laboratory (FADDL) on Plum Island, New York, where they are subjected to testing for both vesicular stomatitis and foot-and-mouth disease. 
To report potential signs of VS, owners and practitioners in Texas can call the TAHC at 1-800-550-8242, anytime, day or night.  In New Mexico, reports should be made to the New Mexico Livestock Board at 1-505-841-6161.   The TAHC urges livestock transporters to check with their intended state of destination to obtain the latest information on testing requirements, movement restrictions or other VS-related regulations.



Fun Things to Do  - Retired Feature


One of the stresses of this newsletter that I choose not to undertake any more is the Fun Things to Do section. I would just copy and paste the same events that were published in the magazine. Then, people started writing me asking me to include their event for the coming up weekend. I would try to remember, but often forget, then I would have disappointed readers on my hands. 


Also, by publishing the week's calendar, there is an implication that I will be publishing this newsletter every week. As I said before, I will only be writing when I have the time and I have something to say. By dropping the calendar, I feel more freedom to write when the muse moves me rather than on a set schedule. 


More fun... Someday


So, for all of you who have been asking, I'm back. For all of you who didn't miss me, you probably wish that muse of mine had stayed quiet.


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.


Aside from the Horsemen's Voice name and logo, the rest of this newsletter is copyrighted by and is the full responsibility of Jay Koch. All rights reserved. Please ask permission before using any of this material in any form.