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Amymcree
Jul. 17, 2011, 08:35 PM
This year has been the year of the rattlesnake. Everytime I ride I run into a rattlesnake. I have stopped riding one of the trails because of the abundance of rattlers on that trail!

I tried to research what to do if your horse gets bit on the trail, but most of the articles talk about bites to the nose of a horse and really don't address the problem of getting bit on the trail.

Does anyone have any advice, experience etc. about dealing with rattlers on the the trail? I have been sticking to trails that I have good visibility on, but this morning I had a rattler that didn't want to move. We were at a stand still. There was no safe way to go around the snake. Finally he decided to move off into the brush.

I am afraid I won't see one and my mare will get bit. What do I do if she gets bit?

Amy

sign of Grace
Jul. 17, 2011, 11:32 PM
All my horses got the new rattlesnake vaccine that came out Sept of 2010. It is a series of 3 shots 3 weeks apart. Not cheap, but I live in Phx, AZ and we normally see *at least* one per ride, if not 3-4. Of course that's not a cure if they do get bit on the trail, but it should help a little.

I've heard you should pack 4-5" hose pieces too if they should get bit in the face. You then put the hose up into their nostril to keep their airway open. I would just start walking home at that point if you are out of cell phone range and in the middle of nowhere. If you can get someone to come pick you up, I'd call for a trailer and take them to a vet!

wildlifer
Jul. 18, 2011, 09:43 AM
You are doing the right thing by just giving them a chance to move off. They don't want to get stepped on any more than you want to get bit, so just give each other some space.

As far as if a horse DOES get bitten -- remember that snake antivenin is made via injecting snake venom into horses. They are large mammals and a snake bite is not lethal to them. Your biggest concern is obviously maintaining an airway in the event of a nose bite, which you can do with pieces of hose. In a leg bite, you will get a lot of swelling, but with proper care, the horse should recover well. Should you (and it is unlikely) experience a bite on the trial, just walk home (you want to try and keep heart rate down) and head to your vet for care as soon as possible.

Amymcree
Jul. 18, 2011, 02:47 PM
Wildlifer, you are right. I talked to the vet this morning and she said the only thing you really can do is get off the trail by walking and as soon as I get cell reception to call her and she can either meet me at the trail head or at my home.

She said there is nothing that I can carry that would help. The best thing to do is get treatment right away. She did say that they generally don't carry much anti-venon on the trucks because it is so expensive. But after talking to me, she is going to carry more because she thinks we might have more cases of bites this year.

Amy

wildlifer
Jul. 18, 2011, 04:32 PM
Good deal, sounds like you and your vet have done due diligence on being prepared, so go have fun and just keep your eyes and ears open! ;-)

PRS
Jul. 18, 2011, 05:13 PM
I would assume that the most likely body part to get bittn on the trail is the legs....is there "snake boots" for horses? We have rattle snakes here in GA too and I have thought about what to do or not do in the event of a snake bite but I would sure rather avoid one altogether.

hank
Jul. 18, 2011, 07:06 PM
If you are seeing rattlesnakes on the trails on a daily basis, I would probably go ahead with the vaccine, if it were me.

Vaccine where I live 3 X $40 = $120 the first year. $40 thereafter.

Antivenin for a horse starts at $600 + emergency fee = $800+

HorsingRound
Jul. 18, 2011, 07:25 PM
My horse was bitten on the nose when she was two.

Her nose swelled up to the size of a basketball. She never acted sick and never lost her appetite, she just looked like a hammerhead shark with legs for about four days.

The vet gave her cortisone and antibiotics, and he left me with pills and injections of the same to give at intervals after his visit. No anti-venom. I stayed close at hand for a couple of days to be sure she could breathe through the swelling, and kept a length of hose handy in case she couldn't breathe. The vet told me to cut a length of hose about 12" long and to sand any rough edges off the ends so that the ends of the hose wouldn't damage the delicate parts inside my horse's nose. Thankfully we didn't have to go there.

Besides blocked nostrils, the other danger in snakebite to a horse, from what I understand, is that the venom can cause the flesh around the bite to die and slough off, leaving a wound which can be deep. This did not happen to my horse.

Amymcree
Jul. 18, 2011, 10:51 PM
I talked to my vet about the vaccine and the vaccine that is available is not formulated to the rattlesnakes that we have in our area.

I have been putting polos on her when I ride. Hoping that if she does get bit, maybe they will hit the polo's and not her legs.

Amy

CosMonster
Jul. 18, 2011, 11:16 PM
Besides blocked nostrils, the other danger in snakebite to a horse, from what I understand, is that the venom can cause the flesh around the bite to die and slough off, leaving a wound which can be deep. This did not happen to my horse.

I've actually seen quite a few (well, relatively speaking...most horsepeople I know haven't seen any ;)) untreated rattlesnake bites on legs and they do look horrible. I saw them when I was shoeing ranch horses, often they would be turned out to huge pastures and not checked on for a few days at least, so the bites weren't found until later. They look bad and scar up, but they aren't fatal. And keep in mind that's with virtually no treatment. Even facial bites (which are the most common on loose horses because they get curious and put their heads down to check it out, probably not so likely on trail rides ;)) usually heal, though there is a risk that the nostrils will swell shut as mentioned.

I mean, I'm not saying to be casual about it but it's not as a big of an emergency as most people think. In fact, many vets I've known don't even give antivenin to horses in most cases. Horses are large enough that snakebites are rarely fatal. Not to mention most rattlers take some provocation before they'll strike. We have western diamondbacks here which are I believe the most aggressive species in the US, and even so they'd rather just buzz at you and let you move on. Really, it's not something I worry about.

What area are you in/what kind of rattlers are you dealing with? And polos probably won't do much to protect their legs, timber rattlers especially have very long fangs and they can puncture very tough material.

Amymcree
Jul. 19, 2011, 09:35 AM
I live in So. California in the foothills. All of the rattlers that I have run across are not aggressive. I have been lucky enough to see them well ahead of time and was able to let them do their thing and move on. The only time I ran into one that I couldn't see was on a narrow part of the trail that had high brush. It was somewhere in the brush and rattling like crazy. It scared the cr*p out of me because I didn't know where it was. Luckily my horse kept her head and we moved through.

So now we have curtailed our riding to trails that I can see well and are not narrow with no escape. I have only seen one Garter snake and he was VERY shy. Almost missed him.

Amy

wendy
Jul. 19, 2011, 10:59 AM
you could try a hard-shell boot like these:

http://www.actionridertack.com/p-423-haf-splint-boot-airflo.aspx

or maybe a heavy leather leg boot?

Lisa Preston
Jul. 19, 2011, 08:25 PM
*bows to folks who del w/ rattlers* (There're no poison snakes in my nek o' the woods. Gimme bears and cougars any day.)

Y'all walking the horse home post-bite--that's not hand-walking, right? I mean, riding woud be more work for the horse, but not riding puts your legs in the danger zone.

englishcowgirl
Jul. 19, 2011, 08:31 PM
All of the horses we ride out with here see/hear the rattlers before we ever do. So some horses don't know that that is danger and to not touch/go near it? Even my mare from the east coast will alert if one is around. Is this a learned skill from experience, or maybe something genetic?

Amymcree
Jul. 20, 2011, 12:28 AM
Good question. My mare stops when she hears the rattle, but I don't know if thats because I have jumped a foot out of the saddle!

CosMonster
Jul. 20, 2011, 02:23 AM
*bows to folks who del w/ rattlers* (There're no poison snakes in my nek o' the woods. Gimme bears and cougars any day.)

Y'all walking the horse home post-bite--that's not hand-walking, right? I mean, riding woud be more work for the horse, but not riding puts your legs in the danger zone.

We have bears and cougars too. ;) If I were on a horse that was bit, I'd hand walk them. The odds of two strikes in one ride are astronomical (the odds of one bite happening are already quite high). I run and hike in the desert all the time, as long as you watch where you put your feet it's fine. :)

I do think most horses react to the noise. I'm pretty sure I've never had a horse get buzzed at who didn't jump out of the way, and I don't really react to hearing the noise. I've ridden right over the top of rattlesnakes a few times over the years (though usually at a trot or canter as sometimes you don't see them before you're on top of them, but at a walk you typically do) and generally they buzz, the horse jumps out of the way, and both of you go on your merry way. Strangely enough, though, I've never had a horse overreact to it, and I've worked with some skittish young horses over the years.

cowboymom
Jul. 20, 2011, 11:39 AM
We ride through rattlesnake country all the time and live in it too. My GP dog just got bit a couple weeks ago.

The horses have never been bitten (yet) and when we've encountered the snakes on rides the horses usually veer away no problem. I did have one horse spook all out of proportion and dumped me on the ground NEXT to the snake! LOL And a few years ago a snake crossed the trail right under my horse's nose and he spooked at sagebrush roots for the entire rest of the day!

Traveling horses usually make a vibration on the ground that the snakes pick up on and they will move if they can. The one that crossed under my horse was trying to get out of the way.

The vaccine is only effective for the western diamondback rattler (I think that's the right species) and if you miss a shot in the series you have to start all over. It's worth it I guess if you have one prize horse that you want to fuss over and keep perfect but for us the odds are long that a bite will cause a problem.

Boots are a great idea if you have to ride in such a busy snake area, I think that's the most reasonable plan you can have. If you need to get a snake off the trail you can throw rocks near it and they will usually skitter away from the noise and disturbance. A grown snake can bite without releasing much venom and sometimes don't release any at all.

CosMonster
Jul. 20, 2011, 02:19 PM
Is your dog okay, cowboymom? That's my big worry with snakes...I'm downright unconcerned about myself or my horses, but I worry about my dogs. Although just a couple of weeks ago they were all outside when I heard my Wooby dog start barking her head off. She does that all the time, though (seriously, she's the most talkative dog I've ever met--her name even comes from the fact that if she's happy she'll just sing "woo wooo wooooo" to you), so I didn't think anything of it until I heard Hector the GSD and my ranch hand's dog Ruth start barking urgently, too. I go outside to find one dog sitting by my door and the other 4 standing in a circle around a coiled up rattler, barking their heads off but not approaching it!

As soon as I called the dogs away it slithered off under my truck, and none of the dogs were injured. My hand and I tried to relocate it off the property but unfortunately we injured it while trying to scoop it up, so had to shoot it. At no point during the whole thing did it actually strike at anything or even do much feinting, and it was a fairly large western diamondback.

cowboymom
Jul. 21, 2011, 09:22 PM
Is your dog okay, cowboymom? That's my big worry with snakes...I'm downright unconcerned about myself or my horses, but I worry about my dogs. Although just a couple of weeks ago they were all outside when I heard my Wooby dog start barking her head off. She does that all the time, though (seriously, she's the most talkative dog I've ever met--her name even comes from the fact that if she's happy she'll just sing "woo wooo wooooo" to you), so I didn't think anything of it until I heard Hector the GSD and my ranch hand's dog Ruth start barking urgently, too. I go outside to find one dog sitting by my door and the other 4 standing in a circle around a coiled up rattler, barking their heads off but not approaching it!

As soon as I called the dogs away it slithered off under my truck, and none of the dogs were injured. My hand and I tried to relocate it off the property but unfortunately we injured it while trying to scoop it up, so had to shoot it. At no point during the whole thing did it actually strike at anything or even do much feinting, and it was a fairly large western diamondback.

Yep, he's totally fine! He got bit on his jaw/face, couldn't tell if there were two bites or one. He's a nine month old Great Pyrenees and weighs about 90 lbs so he handled it fine. Had some swelling on the side of his face but most of the swelling happened in his jowel area so it was easily accomodated by the skin. He was nearly back to normal in two days-we started him on antibiotics the second day and that was all he needed. My GSD/Aussie dog got bit on a back leg years ago-her leg swelled way up and turned purple but she also recovered quickly with antibiotics. It's weird, they're usually with us when we ride all over the snake country but they've never been bitten out on a ride. The GP was at home somewhere (which makes us nervous) and the mutt was jumping out of the bed of the fencing truck and as far as we can tell landed on the snake who was probably desperately trying to get out of the area of the newly parked truck!

The only snake fatality we've had was a young cat who unfortunately was bitten in the neck. :(

Our dogs have circled rattlers barking like that before too when we've seen them at the ranch. They've been fooled before too-bull snakes have learned to imitate the rattle. We always check the end of the snake to make sure of what we're dealing with!

HorsingRound
Jul. 22, 2011, 01:28 AM
I'm downright unconcerned about myself or my horses, but I worry about my dogs.


You should be concerned about getting bitten, CosMonster. Rattlesnake bites are a very serious matter for humans, more so than dogs, I believe.

In my area, in addition to the larger, more passive rattlers, we often find Mojave Green rattlesnakes which are smaller, very quick and aggressive, and have a highly toxic venom. I wouldn't miss this species if it went extinct.

I don't mess around with "relocating" rattlesnakes I find on my property--they get dispatched to "snake heaven" quickly and in pieces like a sushi roll.

As I hike, ride or work around my place, I keep my eyes open for snakes from the first warm days of spring until well after the first frost of fall. If I move something, like a barrel or a bale, in my yard, I knock on it with a shovel to get a snake out from under it. Never, never reach or step into an opening or crevice without first looking for snakes. If I find a snake in my path, I stand well back (8' or more) and throw rocks at it until it moves far away. Most of the time I see it before it sees me, so rarely do I hear them rattle. If I find a snake on my place, I deal with it using a shovel. I would NOT want to get bitten.

CosMonster
Jul. 22, 2011, 10:50 AM
:lol: Sorry, I wasn't really clear. I just mean that the risk of getting bitten by a rattlesnake is pretty low if you watch where you're going, so it isn't something I generally worry about. I have a snakebite kit in the first aid kit I always carry while hiking or riding, and you bet I'd treat it as a serious emergency if someone got bit, whether human, canine, or equine. ;) I just think it's pointless to worry about it if you're exercising basic caution while outside in rattlesnake country. I was trying to point out that my horses and I exercise that caution, but my dogs aren't always so intelligent.

I don't like killing snakes, though. They're a valuable part of the ecosystem and they do a lot to minimize rodents that carry plague and hantavirus, so that's good in my book. I try not to kill anything unnecessarily, though.

Cowboymom, I'm glad your dog is okay. :)

HorsingRound
Jul. 23, 2011, 11:57 AM
I applaud your valuing snakes as part of the ecosystem. My idiot neighbors run over non-poisonous snakes in the road often. :mad:

All other snakes are welcome to take up residence here, but rattlesnakes that venture onto my place are another matter.

Amymcree
Jul. 24, 2011, 06:11 PM
There is a group in my area that teaches Rattlesnake avoidance for dogs. My friend has used it with her dogs because she lives in the foothills and encounters lots of snakes on her ranch. She has since had several run ins with Rattlesnakes and her dogs and the dogs did exactly what they were trained to do. So she was thankful for the training. I haven't gone to the trainer with our dog. He doesn't come out on trail with me because he isn't reliable off leash.

Amy

SanJacMonument
Jul. 24, 2011, 09:44 PM
A few of my friends' horse's have been bitten by copperheads and rattlesnakes so I asked my vet about it. He said there is so little venom to the bite v weight of horse, it really isn't a concern unless it is a small/baby/pony horse, or unless the horse gets bit on face.

The vet also mentioned knowing the snake for a correct ID and just being careful because most snakes will run from a horse if given an opportunity after being surprised.

And that snakes can be more aggressive in July, which is mating season.

lolita1
Jul. 25, 2011, 07:16 AM
I'm from Australia I find this amazing. If a horse is bitten here it is dead and there isn't a shot to vaccinate it.

Kyzteke
Jul. 25, 2011, 02:03 PM
I'm from Australia I find this amazing. If a horse is bitten here it is dead and there isn't a shot to vaccinate it.

Probably a different species of snake?

Kyzteke
Jul. 25, 2011, 02:17 PM
There is a group in my area that teaches Rattlesnake avoidance for dogs.


I saw this demonstrated on an episode of "The Dog Whisperer" a number of years ago. It wasn't Cesare Milan doing the training; it was another guy who developed the method.

As I recall, it involved a rattlesnake (in a small cage)& a shock collar (presumably for the dog, not the snake...;))..

This was in S.CA. Rattlers can be deadly to older dogs, smaller dogs and even young, large dogs if they get bitten several times on the face and/or it takes a long time before their owner can get them treatment.

If you live in an area like AZ where rattlers are plentiful, it's conceivable your dog could get bitten in your backyard while you are at work (for example) and it could be many hours before the injury is found, so that training makes alot of sense.

Luckily, I also live in an area with no poisonous snakes....we have very few snakes of any type, for that matter. After decades of living in places like AZ, CO and the southern states, which are crawling (so to speak) with venomous snakes of all kinds, it is really nice to have one less thing to worry about in terms of dangerous critters.

cowboymom
Jul. 25, 2011, 05:10 PM
I just do not worry about snakes for the dogs and horses. Working in vet clinics and ranches around here and having had my own animals, in my experience a snake bite is a treatable incident that has a marginal risk of being fatal. Kinda like most things that can happen to the dogs and horses on any given day.

The only dog I have that might need to be snake trained is the GP but if he regards snakes the way he regards the electric fence I don't think he's going to mess with them any time soon. He's a young big dog and he was bitten twice in the face-infection was the biggest risk. Not a big deal!

HorsingRound
Jul. 25, 2011, 11:49 PM
Just today I came across a rattlesnake kickin' back across the trail. I got off my horse about 10 feet away and started chucking rocks at the snake. The first one hit him and he scooted away all p.o.'ed and then slithered off to the downside of the ledgy trail and rattled his tail off. I kept throwing rocks into the brush even though I couldn't see him, but he wasn't moving any farther no matter how many rocks I lobbed at him, so my friends and I just trotted past quickly without incident.

Beverley
Jul. 26, 2011, 12:16 AM
I can't tell you how many times I've ridden with friends and watched their horses step over/around rattlers on the trail. I tell them when we are oh, 50 yards or more past so as not to alarm the poor snake with the screaming.:cool:

I do avoid certain trails where there are lots of them, apt to be in the rocks about elbow high. But I really don't worry about it. If one is rattling, then it is conveying intent to strike, but more often they just want to be left alone. Heck, we had to relocate one a couple of years ago that had taken up residence in our shady outhouse on a camping/ training trip- and that one rattled while trying to get away from us (but we really didn't want it heading for a shady tent). We managed to get it into a duffel bag and take it well up the road to release, without it ever striking. We were more concerned about heat stressing the little fella.

The automobile traffic to and from the trails is far more hazardous. So, for that matter, is lightning.

Painted Horse
Jul. 26, 2011, 12:55 PM
I have to agree Beverley. Many folks never see the snakes. I had to laugh on one trail ride. The horses were moving fast down a section of the trail with great footing. Snake was stretched across the trail. As the horses came by, It moved quickly to coil or just get out of the way, One of the horse's front legs caught the snake in the middle and with the forward motion of the leg, Flipped it about 15 feet forward. That was one pissed off snake when he landed. But for the most part we had passed before it collected itself.

Sitting up higher on the horses back, I think I see more snakes than the hikers along the trail see. I frequently warn hikers of snakes, but they seem to notice them laying just off the edge of the trail in grass or brush.