Journal article on horse burns made available as Australian fires rage

An equine victim of the Pinery bushfires in South Australia in 2015. (File image)
An equine victim of the Pinery bushfires in South Australia in 2015. (File image)

A journal article on the treatment of horses burnt in a major grass fire has been made available online as bush fires continue to ravage swathes of eastern Australia.

The article, by Elizabeth Woolsey Herbert, was first published in Equine Veterinary Education in September, 2017.

The journal’s publisher decided to grant free access to the article, given the tragedy unfolding in Australia.

“This is a very kind gesture,” Herbert said on her Facebook page. “It will probably be available for a limited time.”

Her article, “Findings and strategies for treating horses injured in open range fires”, describes the treatment of horses burnt in the Pinery fires.

In November 2015, a grass fire burned more than 200,000 acres in South Australia.

Many horses and thousands of livestock were killed or severely burned.

In the first few hours after the fire, several horses were examined in the field and brought to Adelaide Plains Equine Clinic for further treatment.

Fourteen horses were hospitalised on the first night, of whom eight were severely burned and six required long‐term hospital care lasting up to four months.

All horses brought to the clinic had corneal ulcers and muzzle burns, and most had extensive burns to their legs and underside. Many developed hoof issues arising from their injuries, involving coronary band separation.

Herbert, who established the clinic in Gawler, South Australia, in 1997, said phone conversations from anecdotal previous experience guided decisions on how to treat these horses.

Her case report describes the treatment for two of the eight severely burned horses.

While some horses were euthanized or died at the scene of the fire, all those who were hospitalised at the clinic recovered.

“We learned so much from our experiences,” Herbert said on Facebook.

“Please note that I received help from vets many years ago and I am happy to return the favour.”

The article is available here.

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