Amish country

Not the type of people to stand by when they identify a need, UK equine extension specialist Fernanda Camargo and Hardin County 4-H agent Bonnie Jolly teamed up with equine veterinarian Pedro de Pedro to improve equine health within Hardin County’s Amish community.
The trio created a spring wellness clinic focused on disease prevention and biosecurity in a county underserved by large animal veterinary medicine. It is a community of traditional ways, one that shuns modern conveniences like telephones, electricity, and running water. In this farming community, horses pull plows, provide transportation, and perform any number of other important functions.

“This clinic is one of the most rewarding things I do each year,” Camargo said. “We are happy to have started a positive relationship and hope to keep serving them for a long time to come.”

The last remaining large animal veterinary clinic in Hardin County shifted its focus to small animal practice several years ago. Consequently, the equine population there either travels a substantial distance for health care or goes without.

In 2017, the trio offered vaccines against flu, herpesvirus types 1 and 4, eastern equine encephalomyelitis, western equine encephalomyelitis, West Nile virus, tetanus, botulism, and rabies. Though some owners refused any vaccines, 150 horses were vaccinated with all or some of the prevention package.

Between the first and second clinics, the community suffered through an outbreak of botulism. The consensus was horses vaccinated against botulism at the first clinic were unaffected, while unvaccinated animals died.

In 2018, every clinic participant asked for the botulism vaccine.

“Since then, several in (the community) have reached out to Bonnie with health and biosecurity questions that she passes along to me,” Camargo said.

“They are overwhelmed with appreciation,” Jolly said. “Fernanda has really built a rapport, and that means a lot to them.”
“This program integrates research, outreach, and student training. It is an excellent reminder of our purpose as researchers and extension agents to appreciate, educate, and serve equine owners,” Camargo said.

According to Camargo, the clinic’s success is due in large part to the generosity of animal health corporations Neogen Animal Health, who donated botulism vaccines all three years, as well as Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health and Zoetis, who donated vaccines and dewormers the first year. Additionally, the Kentucky Horse Council, Kentucky Equine Education Project and Merial (now also part of Boehringer Ingelheim) helped fund the clinics.

—Holly Wiemers