Emu Oil vs Electric Barbed Wire Fence

by: Myra Charleston

According to Jackie Mayner, it was just sickening, "You could see the bones and the joint in the shoulder."  Mayner was telling emu rancher Susan Swearengin about injuries received by a mare owned by mutual friend and horse breeder Dalton Martin. Apparently several of Martin's horses had been chased by dogs into an electric barbed wire fence. One in particular was severely injured.

Martin raises registered Quarter Horses and Registered Paint Horses. Lineage of his stud and brood mares goes back to Leo and Doc Bar as well as Wimpy and King, which are foundation Quarter Horses. Grand Sires and Great Grandsires include Mr. Gunsmoke, Blue Bar, Poco Bueno, Question Mark and others.  Needing access to pasture with water during the drought, Martin decided to utilize a pasture separated from that of his neighbors by a single strand electric Goucho Brand barbed wire fence.  There were cows on the other side of the fence. Although the horses were familiar with this type of fence, Martin knew it was not the best idea. He planned on replacing it that weekend when he had more time and some help.

    The horses were turned into the pasture on Tuesday, September 8, 1998. On Wednesday, September 9, 1998, he found the horses had run through the fence. Two mares and a foal were injured. One mare and the foal were still entangled in the fencing. Injuries to the white (gray) mare were the worst. Martin relates that the injury was "so deep you can put your whole hand inside it."  Dr. MacLean, the Veterinarian who examined the injuries said there was little that could be done.  They applied a salve and gave the mare antibiotics. Martin was advised by a neighboring farmer to put the animal down.  Emu farmer Susan Swearengin suggested he try emu oil. At her encouragement, Martin began applying the emu oil when the injuries were 4 days old. He was surprised at how the emu oil seemed to clean up the wounds. The foal had neck injuries so deep that only a few membranes saved its jugular vein. The neck had been stitched up, but within three days the foal managed to pull the stitches out.

    Martin began applying emu oil the next day. The foal healed quickly, in less than 5 weeks with no scars. As demonstrated in the pictures, the hair grew back in its natural color. The other mares' injuries were not as bad as that of the white (gray) mare, and in brown areas of her chest.  Emu Oil was applied to this horse as well and she healed quickly, with no scar and the natural colored hair grew back. Because of the severity of the injuries, the white (gray) mare took longer to heal. Using an old squirt type oil can, Martin applied the emu oil twice a day at first. The emu oil kept the wound moist and as evidenced by the slight bleeding, it drained properly so it could heal from the inside out. The oil also kept the flies down.  As cold weather set in he applied it once a day, occasionally skipping a day. "It didn't seem to need as much care, and it's so cold" he said, (but) "it doesn't seem to be healing as fast." The only medication used was antibiotics for the first several days. Martin was given a salve but did not use it after starting the emu oil treatment.

    Dr. MacLean was impressed with how well the mare healed. After seeing the initial injuries, he states he would not have been surprised if she had foundered from the stress of the injuries and just laid down and died. At two weeks she acted as if she would fall on her face if she tried to walk. He also reports that there was a bit of a divot in the muscling, but it's healed really nice. Dr. MacLean wants to see her again in the late summer or fall to see how much of the muscles come back. At four months Susan went out herself to check on the mare. "The scab is smaller than a quarter and some hair has yet to grow back," she relates, "pink healthy skin though, about 1 inch wide and 3 inches long on each leg. We're sure the hair will grow back, as it has on the rest of the injury."  Susan also tells us that in the 11 week picture the hair is rough below the injury where the wire made some deep cuts. She scratched this area and states the reason it is rough is the hair grew through the scabs. Because it's holding the dead tissue, it appears rough. When the mare sheds this spring, her legs should be smooth without any scars.

    Susan Swearengin is a member of the Arkansas Emu Association and serves as secretary on the AREA Board of Directors. She sells oil under her own label, as well as other emu products from other companies. A 9x15 Horse Poster showing the pictures featured in this article is also available.

Reprinted with permission from Emus Zine, The Online Magazine, http://www.emuszine.com