The care of your pastures, paddocks and arenas are probably already a major part of your horse management program. Have you included a management plan for burrowing rodents? Burrowing rodents such as gophers, voles and squirrels can create major hazards for horses and riders. What's worse? Frequently these hazards are unknown to the rider or horse because they are just below the surface of soil that appears to be sturdy. However, when the weight of the horse hits the thin layer of sod it disappears beneath its hoof.
David Heidt is the owner of Omega Farms near Noti, Oregon; a business that specializes in providing burial for horses. He wrote an article called Observations of the Dead Horse Guy in which he states that 10% of the horses that he has buried that are under the age of 25 have died due to accidents. He goes on to say that a major reason for those accidents are horses stepping in holes and breaking legs. He suggests walking all pastures and paddocks after rains to check for new holes so they can be filled in.
America's Horse Magazine, the official magazine for the American Quarter Horse Association, profiled one of the founders of the AQHA, Jim Minnick, in an article titled A Look Into AQHA History. The story profiles how Jim's future wife, Della Holthausen, broke her leg when the horse she was riding stepped into a prairie dog hole. I'm sure you can imagine the fall you or your loved one could take if exercising your horse and discovering a deep hole just under the surface.
Your horses are natural athletes. Even if the horse does not have to be put down, even if the rider is not injured they will not be able to function at the same level if they step in a hole and wind up with a swollen fetlock, torn tendon or ligament damage. I am sure that the cost of veterinary care is secondary to your concern for your horse. However, the cost of the vet visit, treatment and rehabilitation for your horse is astronomical compared to adding burrowing rodent management to your horse safety program.
As livestock owners/farmers we understand the way you care for your horses. Throughout college and after I worked on multiple cattle ranches and was assigned several fine horses for my work. What non-horse people do not understand is the relationship that develops between horse and rider.
Being on top of a good cow horse and working cattle is an experience that many people never get to experience. The respect you develop for the horse's ability is immense, and having to put that horse down or "out to pasture" because of a preventable injury would be painful for anyone that understands and cares for these animals.
Idaho Gopher Control will help you to supplement the safety plan you already have in place. We can custom design a program to take the worry of managing these pests out of your hands completely, or we can eradicate your burrowing pests to give your management plan a chance to catch up. Our equipment was purchased specifically with horses in mind. There are no explosions that spook horses, we cause no further damage to ground and we do not use poisons.