by Linda Benson
We recently moved from southern Washington back to southern Oregon, where the weather is milder and more conducive to riding, hiking, gardening, and being outside in general. I am LOVING it. But I'd forgotten that there are two things that also like this more agreeable weather: poison oak and ticks. And if you are in the woods at all, you're likely to run into one or both of these.
Poison Oak doesn't bother me too much. If I just brush against it casually I'm probably okay, but I wouldn't make a point of rolling in it!
Ticks, however, are another thing. *shudders* How I hate the little critters!
In Washington, I rode and hiked in the woods a lot, and can only remember once finding a tick on my dog. And never on me or any of my horses. Here in Oregon though - different story. Ticks seem to be everywhere!
I found one embedded in the back of my head last week. *cue major freak-out music* A couple of days later, out to dinner with my husband at a restaurant, I felt something crawling on my neck, slid into the booth next to him and said "OMG, is this a tick???"
Yes, it was. *shudders even more* At least I got it before it decided to have ME for dinner.
Last night, sitting with our old cat on my lap, I found two of the disgusting little things attached to her neck and ran for the tweezers.
Now I am squirming under my clothes, running my fingers through my hair constantly, and humming Brad Paisley's catchy tune "Ticks." But I did learn one new thing recently (in my mad google search to identify ticks in Oregon, chances of getting Lyme Disease, etc. etc.) I discovered that I have been using the wrong method to remove ticks all these years.
My mother taught me, many years ago, to twist them out, slowly and counter-clockwise, making sure to get the head out. While this advice is mostly right, after researching many articles online, they all agree that while you should pull out slowly, with tweezers, you don't twist! (Sorry, Mom.) Just get a firm grip on the disgusting little things with your tweezers and pull slowly and surely, straight out, until they let go with their mouthpieces. This is the method I tried last night on our old cat, and sure enough, the nasty tick let go and came out, where I quickly killed it, and put alcohol on the spot where it was embedded in old Lucy's neck. (Of course, training your cat/dog/horse/child to hold STILL for this entire procedure would take another blog post entirely. Let's just say I was glad to have help.)
Do you have poison oak and/or ticks where you live?
Are they a problem while riding/hiking in the woods?
Have you had experience removing ticks from your horses (or other animals)?
Let us know . . .