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Guelph, ON - May 27, 2020 - How would equine industry members describe the welfare status of Canadian horses? Which horses do they believe are the most at risk? And what do they believe threatens horse welfare? These are just some of the questions a research team at the University of Guelph set out to answer. In 2015, Master’s student, Lindsay Nakonechny, with the support of supervisor Dr. Katrina Merkies and PhD student Cordelie DuBois, created a survey to find out what adult members of the Canadian equine industry think about horse welfare. The online survey results revealed that participants largely agree on some of the top perceived threats to horse welfare, but also uncovered a few surprises.   Almost one hundred percent of survey participants agreed that there were welfare issues in the Canadian equine industry, citing unwanted horses, inappropriate training methods, and unknowledgeable owners as some of the key issues within the industry. The majority of participants also highlighted ineffective legislation and the incapacity of law enforcement to protect horses as important.   When examining which groups of horses were perceived to be “at risk”, however, opinions were much more divided. Welfare issues connected to auctions or feedlot horses were less divided. Horses intended for slaughter and horses with owners who lack knowledge, were also suggested as affected groups by survey participants.   Lack of knowledge continued to emerge as a re-occurring survey theme. This, along with financial difficulties was considered one of the biggest challenges to “good” equine welfare. This supports the need for educational programs and targeted knowledge transfer. Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph could not agree more. “What this survey tells us is there is a need to work together with strong support from the industry to extend the reach of welfare education,” says Ecker. “Improved information outreach to the industry incorporating human behaviour change approaches are vital if we are to have an impact on improving equine welfare.”   Close to 1,000 participants from multiple disciplines across Canada took the survey and self-identified as at least somewhat knowledgeable regarding horse care. Of the five options regarding horse care knowledge, participants were most familiar with body condition scoring (BCS; 78.6%,). Surprisingly, under 55% were aware of the national document: the Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines (NFACC). Participants were even less familiar with the American Association of Equine Practitioners Lameness Scale (35.6%), the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare (29.7%), and Equitation Science (20.4%).   Alongside examining the participants’ views on equine welfare within the industry, researchers also examined what factors, such as a person’s gender or view on their horse’s ability to feel emotions, most often affected their answers. Researchers found that whether a person considered their horse to be livestock or a companion animal, as well as what discipline they were involved in, most often influenced their perception of welfare issues. People who considered horses livestock, for example, were less likely to believe that horses at auction or on feedlots were an “at risk” group.   Additionally, eight scenarios were included in the survey, each outlining a scenario in which horse welfare could be compromised. Those ranked the most welfare-compromising involved horses being pastured without water during the wintertime and a horse given a sedative prior to training. While participants of this survey almost unanimously indicated that they believed horses could feel a variety of emotional states, this belief was not always reflected in their ranking of the scenarios. Several scenarios described situations in which horses could be suffering the effects of boredom or frustration (e.g. a horse on extended stall rest), but these scenarios were not considered as welfare-compromising as others. The intersection between what individuals think horses are capable of feeling and how this translates into practice (i.e. what situations cause horses to feel emotions such as boredom or pain) is an interesting one, and a challenge to all educators looking to bridge the gap between “knowing” and “understanding.”   To learn more about the survey questions, the diversity of the survey participant’s answers, and how they related to their involvement in the equine industry, read the full publication: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30405030.   Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit www.equineguelph.ca.   Story by: Equine Guelph

Guelph, ON May 21, 2020 - Lameness is a huge focus for Dr. Judith Koenig as a clinician, researcher and instructor at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). Koenig is also a rider with a keen interest in helping grass roots riders and upcoming high-performance athletes. In the accompanying video Dr. Koenig explains her current research endeavoring to heal tendon injuries faster and also takes some time to talk about prevention. Stimulating stem cells to heal faster through the use of shock wave therapy is part of the exciting new research being conducted at the OVC by Dr. Koenig.  They were investigating whether shock wave therapy performed after injecting stem cells into a tendon will result in better quality healing.  Then they came up with the idea of pre-treating stem cells with shock wave prior to injection!    Dr. Koenig is also leading a clinical trial, currently enrolling thoroughbred racehorses.  The trial performs repeated injection of stem cells that have been harvested from umbilical cord blood, frozen and stored in Dr. Thomas Koch’s lab.  These stem cells are from unrelated horses.  Funding from the Ontario Equestrian federation has enabled OVC researchers to also follow a control group treated with platelet rich plasma as a comparison for this study. Reduced healing time is an obvious benefit to the welfare of the horse and of course the horse owner will be pleased about a quicker return to their training régime.     Realizing many will soon be in the position of starting horses back into training after a significant amount of time off, Koenig offers some important advice.  “You need to allow at least a six-week training period for the athletes to be slowly brought back and build up muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness,” says Koenig.  “Both stamina and muscle mass need to be retrained.”  She stressed the importance in checking the horse’s legs for heat and swelling before and after every ride and picking out the feet.  A good period of walking is required in the warm-up and cool down and riders need to pay attention to soundness in the walk before commencing their work out.     Want to learn more about lameness?     Equine Guelph has free healthcare tools:   Lameness Lab and Journey through the Joints    Test your knowledge and savvy for spotting lameness!   Learn more about Dr. Koenig and her research.   Biography: Judith Koenig, Mag vet med, Dr med vet, DVSc   Dr. Koenig is originally from Austria and came to Canada 1996 after graduating from vet school to gain some research experience and complete the research for her MSc. Following a large animal internship at the Ontario Veterinary College she went to Oregon State University where she did a one-year large animal fellowship. The year in Oregon gave her good exposure to Western Pleasure horses as well as Walking horses, which complemented her previous experience with Sports and Racehorse practice.   Judith came back to the Ontario Veterinary College where she did a 3-year large animal surgery residence with a concurrent graduate degree (DVSc). Judith became board certified with both the American and European College of Veterinary Surgeons and started to work as faculty in Large Animal Surgery in 2003. Since then she has been working half of the time as a surgeon with a strong interest in Equine Sports Medicine and the other half as researcher and teacher. In 2016 Judith became a board-certified diplomate for equine sports medicine and rehabilitation.   Judith’s main area of interest in research is tissue healing, particularly wound and tendon healing. She has investigated the use of different modalities (for example shockwave or stem cells) to see if they accelerate tissue healing and which cellular pathways are affected. This will help to direct treatment of tendon injuries and wounds in horses.   by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

Guelph, ON - May 14, 2020 - There are many important questions pertaining to equine conditioning and fitness as we all look forward to returning to work.   Dr. Hilary Clayton recently shared some cautions and considerations in a Skype interview with Equine Guelph.   Dr. Clayton is a veterinarian, researcher and horsewoman.   For the past 40 years she has been conducting amazing research in the areas of equine biomechanics and conditioning programs for equine athletes.   Dr. Clayton has also been a guest speaker in Equine Guelph’s online course offerings.   1. What are the differences between conditioning and training?  training is the technical preparation of the athlete  (learning the skills and movements they will need to perform in competition) conditioning strengthens the horse, progressively making them fit and able the goal of conditioning is to maintain soundness while maximizing performance 2. Considerations for horses that go from full work to just pasture turn-out?  a gradual decrease from full work to less days a week, lessening intensity is ideal. also, ideal that they stay in light work a day or 2 a week, however horses are resilient. when workload decreases, diet decreases do not change things suddenly 3. How long before a horse begins to lose muscle mass and fitness? What about bones/connective tissues? horses maintain their muscle and cardio-vascular ability longer than humans a month before horses start to lose cardio-vascular capacity and muscular strength bone and tissue adapt in accordance with the work they are doing with no work bones become weaker, muscles smaller and endurance decreases good news is the strength of bone & muscle will increase again when work resumes ligaments, tendons, cartilage of horse mature by 2yrs and are a bit more of an unknown resilience is the ability to stand up to the performances 4. When getting back to work, where do you start and how do you know how to move forward? 1st address condition of feet, saddle fit, and plan for increasing nutrition requirements. start very gradually with walking for the first 2 – 4 weeks. start with 10 min under saddle, working just 3 – 4 days in the first week increase amount of walking by 10 min/week  by 3 weeks = 30 min walk/day, start introducing 20 seconds of trot then slowly introduce short canters performing lots of transitions between gaits is great for improving fitness 5. What are the signs of “too fast, too long and too soon!” and how do we avoid this? back pain, limb pain, inflammation monitor any changes carefully horses will fool you with their cardio-vascular fitness improving before their strength. to avoid injury, don’t let an energetic horse dictate how much work you will do. 6. What are some of the similarities and differences in training programs for different disciplines? initial phase of conditioning is similar, building aerobic capacity and strengthening muscles first 2-3 months can be dedicated to general conditioning then start specializing depending on the intensity and endurance required for your sport. 7. What advice do you have for horse owners that are worried that leaving the horse alone is detrimental to its well-being? Plenty of horses living outside 24/7 with little exercise that are doing just fine. Horses are far from their natural lifestyle Maximizing turnout and forage are ways to benefit our horses welfare. They need water, food, shelter and an attentive care-taker. Biography: Dr. Hilary M. Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Dipl. ACVSMR, FRCVS is a veterinarian, researcher and horsewoman. For the past 40 years she has performed innovative research in the areas of equine biomechanics, conditioning programs for equine athletes and the effects of tack and equipment on the horse and rider. She has written 7 books and over 250 scientific articles on these topics. She is a charter diplomate and past president of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, an Honorary Fellow of the International Society for Equitation Science and has been inducted into the International Equine Veterinarians Hall of Fame, the Midwest Dressage Association Hall of Fame and the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame.   From 1997 until she retired in 2014, Dr. Clayton was the Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University. She continues to perform research through collaborations with universities in many countries and is active in publishing and presenting the findings. In addition, she is president of Sport Horse Science through which she applies the results of scientific research in the development of practical tools and techniques to help riders, trainers and veterinarians.   As a lifelong rider Dr. Clayton has competed in many equestrian sports, most recently focusing on dressage in which she competes through the Grand Prix level.    

Guelph, ON April, 15, 2020 - From adding special online course offerings to updating a Covid-19 resources page daily, Equine Guelph has been responding to harness racing industry requests during this difficult time. You can take a survey right now to let them know of any additional courses you would like to take while you are staying home.   New students are signing up daily for the extended online offering of Horse Behaviour and Safety! Register anytime in April – Adult and Youth offering (13-17).  Check out the BOGO deal!  Buy the adult course for $85 (for provincial federation members & partners) and get the youth one for free ($45 value) Join the Herd at TheHorsePortal.ca       Fire & Emergency Preparedness online course from May 4 - 11 (with extended access to June 30) Newly updated with: developing plans for business disruptions, back-up planning and information regarding COVID-19.  Guest speakers: Dr. Rebecca (Gimenez) Husted and Mike King. This special offering will be available for $60 ($25 savings).     Great news announced for the May offering of 12-week online courses with Equine Guelph - the Early Bird Rate of $549 will not expire = $50 in savings! (special offer for summer semester 2020).     While the Free Sickness Prevention course filled to capacity within 24 hours of the announcement, Equine Guelph does have a free Healthcare Tool - Biosecurity Risk Calculator to help you find out your farm's biosecurity score.     Equine Guelph is thinking of adding more online short course offerings to help horse-people out while they are staying home. What courses would you like to take?  One-minute survey.    Equine Guelph  

Guelph, ON Feb. 13, 2020 - In 2015, Lara Genik and Dr. C. Meghan McMurtry from the University of Guelph’s Department of Psychology conducted a survey at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, looking into the prevalence and impact of less studied painful incidents among children while handling and riding horses. Some of the results may surprise you. “There hasn’t been much work conducted about less serious incidents”, says Genik. “When I looked at the literature that did exist, I found that it has primarily focused on serious injuries that led to hospitalization. For example – we don’t know much about how often less serious incidents are occurring, when or where they are occurring, and what the impact is on youth and their parents.” Genik’s research survey set out to understand common painful incidents associated with riding and to gain insight that could potentially lead to intervention through safety and educational programming.   With the help of Equine Guelph and their EquiMania! youth display, data was collected at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. 120 children aged 8-18 (who participated in riding at least once per week) and a parent completed brief questionnaires about their riding habits including helmet use, supervision, painful incidents that have occurred, and their impact.   A startling result indicated that 75% of the children surveyed had experienced at least one type of painful incident more than once, yet only 7.3% said they had modified their behavior (e.g., keeping fingers away from the horse’s mouth after having been bitten). “We were quite surprised that these incidents had little impact on children’s behavior around horses,” says Genik. “This implies that the incidents may continue to occur even if they could be prevented – and we know from recent work that many incidents around horses may actually be preventable.”    Responses from parents and children were quite consistent and revealed regular and consistent helmet use and supervision were more commonly endorsed when riding horses compared to handling them on the ground. There were just a few responses that differed; specifically, parents believed children’s helmet use occurred more frequently when handling horses on the ground compared to their children’s reports. The same was true for the answers regarding supervision when working around horses from the ground.   'Once Bit, Twice Shy' not the case in equine research study   When incidents did occur, it was mainly parents and coaches who addressed them. Therefore, a proactive suggestion would be for both coaches and parents to have current first aid training and knowledge about concussions. The study also identified many benefits associated with riding, which Genik identified with, having been involved with horses since a young age herself. “It is a fantastic sport and there has been many positive changes in regards to safety around horses over recent years,” says Genik, “but we still need to do more. Specifically, we think there would be value in learning more about how and what is happening when these incidents occur – this could allow us to more specifically inform, develop and implement targeted interventions to relevant stakeholders.”   Genik hopes future research into the relatively unknown prevalence of minor incidents around horses will help parents and riding coaches supervise and educate children in proactive ways, as well as work through incidents and talk about prevention strategies. The development of problem-solving skills was one of the benefits of riding, according to survey participants. This is a great opportunity for parents to apply these problem-solving skills with children.   Future studies collaborating with stables could provide a better understanding of incidents to tailor and update safety programming. Detailed incident reporting and real-time reporting are just a few of the items cited for potential research that could contribute to education influencing behavioural change.   Read the full research paper at ScienceDirect.com   Equine Guelph has been happy to support this important research. With the same goals for increasing safety through education, Equine Guelph offers online courses benefiting anyone who handles horses. Visit TheHorsePortal.ca for the next offering of Horse Behaviour & Safety. This short course is available for both Adults and Youth (age 13 – 17) and our students say, “I recommend this course for everyone involved with horses to gain a better understanding of their behaviour and how we can make safety our top priority.”   Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit www.equineguelph.ca.   Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

CHARLOTTETOWN, PE - Good things don't last forever but 2020 has been very good to Killean Finale and she will look to continue that trend Saturday afternoon at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at the harness racing Charlottetown Driving Park. The 12-dash Saturday card kicks off at 12:30 P.M., with the top pacing mares around facing off in the $2,500 final race. Killean Finale has yet to be defeated so far in 2020 with three-straight wins since the calendar turned for driver Ken Murphy, trainer Clifford Murphy and owners Dr. Mary McNiven and Pacemaker Stable of Nine Mile Creek. The seven-year-old daughter of Sportswriter will have her work cut out for her from post 6, after drawing inside every start this year. Collective Wisdom has been razor sharp as well with a string of top three-finishes but is saddled with post 8 this week. Charlottetown native Drew Neill is visiting this weekend from his Ontario base and will pick up the catch drive for trainer Jackie Matheson. To watch a replay of Killean Finale as a yearling in 2014 click on this link. Race analyst Les MacIsaac is looking at another entrant as the spoiler with post 5 starter Tell Me Why and the combo and driver Corey MacPherson and trainer Joe MacDonald of Breadalbane. "Longshot players may want to have a look at Tell Me Why," MacIsaac said. "This mare has a great finishing kick and if Corey can work her into the right position she's a potential sleeper." Also in the field are Outrageous Spirit (Driven by Gordie Hennessey), Charlottes Western (David Dowling), Private Di (Kenny Arsenault), Paythelinebluechip (Marc Campbell) and Indywheelbarrow (Adam Merner). The $2,950 preferred pace hits the track in race 11 with Winter Blast (Jason Hughes) and Creepin (Dowling) set to spar again this week after the latter was scratched from action last Saturday. Winter Blast has rail control in the six-horse field while Creepin leaves from the far outside. Pictonian Storm nearly lit up the tote board at this level last week and retains the services of MacPherson from post 3. The final card of the winter meet is Saturday February 1st. For race programs, live broadcast and 2020 race dates go to redshores.ca By Nicholas Oakes For Red Shores

Abortions in horses continues to be a very frustrating problem for breeders and veterinarians. So much time and effort is put into producing quality horses and it is heartbreaking when it does not work out; even more so when you don’t know why. “About 40% of abortions in horses that are submitted to the lab come back with no diagnosis, and an unknown cause; this means we are missing a significant number of potentially infectious and potentially preventable abortions in horses” shares Dr. Tracey Chenier at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC).   Dr. Chenier has been a researcher in equine reproduction at the OVC for almost 18 years, investigating equine infertility, reproductive efficiency, and embryo freezing. Her next project will investigate the exposure rate or the seroprevalence of a parasite, Neospora caninum, and its potential link to equine abortions.   Neospora caninum is the single most important cause of abortions in cattle in Ontario and has a significant impact across North America. Previous studies have looked at the seroprevalence of this parasite in Europe and the United States but no studies have been conducted in Canada. Recently, this parasite was found in an aborted equine fetus in Israel. This discovery sparked the interest of researchers in Israel who then reached out to Dr. Chenier to conduct a collaborative study. This amazing team of researchers includes Dr. David Pearl and Dr. Robert Foster from the OVC who have special expertise in disease surveillance and Neospora caninum in cattle, as well as Dr. Amir Steinman and his lab in Israel who are very familiar with the detection of this parasite.   This collaborative study will be the first of its kind in horses in Canada, and will be focusing on Ontario broodmares. Research begins this September taking place over the course of three years thanks to industry partners and OMAFRA. “It’s not possible without both industry funding and industry involvement,” says Dr. Chenier. The first step is to collect blood samples from broodmares on randomly selected breeding farms across Ontario. The owners will be involved in a comprehensive survey, so researchers can have a full understanding of the horses’ history, farm management practices, and risk factors like dogs and coyotes on or near the farm (known to increase risk levels in cattle). Next, the researchers will be looking at aborted fetuses for the presence of the Neospora caninum parasite.   This study will provide insight on the unknowns surrounding the seroprevalence of the Neospora caninum parasite in Ontario broodmares, risk factors for exposure, and if it plays a role in equine abortions. It’s important to address these unknowns in order to take precautions and work towards minimizing unknown diagnoses.   Planning on breeding your mare? Dr. Chenier has great tips and videos in Equine Guelph's Mare & Foal Care Tool sponsored by PFERA to make sure you are prepared!   https://www.equineguelph.ca/Tools/Mare-&-Foal-Care.php   Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit www.equineguelph.ca.   Story by: Melissa McGilloway

INNISFIL, JULY 7, 2019 - Twenty-eight freshman harness racing trotting colts invaded Georgian Downs on Sunday night as the Innisfil oval played host to the first Ontario Sire Stakes Grassroots event of their season. Coming into the event off a June 28 win in qualifying action, fans sent Horse Trader off as one of the favourites and the young trotter did not let them down. After starting from Post 6, Horse Trader sat second last through much of the mile as Enduring Strength rang up fractions of :29.2, :59.3 and 1:29.1. Coming off the final turn trainer-driver Paul Walker sent Horse Trader out three-wide, and when the colt squared up in the stretch he shifted into high gear and sprinted by the field to a one and one-quarter length victory in 2:00.1. Lifeisgood Hanover also closed well to be second, leaving pacesetter Enduring Strength to settle for third. "We were wondering at the three-quarter pole if he was going to be able to do a lot, but he trotted home like a champion," said Dr. David Grant, whose Oaklea Farm Inc. bred and owns the son of Wheeling N Dealin and Oaklea Wand. "He was down in Georgia and Paul did tell me that he had a big motor right away, but I've learned not to get too excited," said Grant. "And he's a late May colt so I thought that if we could race him a bit at two that would be great." Horse Trader also used a late kick to win his qualifier at Woodbine Mohawk Park by three-quarters of a length in 2:01.4. With that effort and Sunday's Grassroots win under his belt, the colt looks poised to exceed Grant's modest expectations. "He just loves to be on the track. I've never actually had a horse that was so much like that," said the Simcoe, ON resident. "His barn manners aren't maybe the best, he's a bit of a twerp, but as soon as he gets on the track he's perfect. We're very lucky to have a colt like that." The second $23,150 division went to local colt Aussie Lover, who left smartly from Post 7, took command heading for the half and went on to a one length victory in 2:01.4. Remember Titan closed well to be second and pocket-sitter Lexus Markus completed the top three. Thornton, ON resident Stephen Byron drove Aussie Lover to the win for owner-trainer Gino Cicero of Melancthon, ON. Byron also piloted the Angus Hall colt in his first lifetime start, a fifth-place finish in a June 30 two-year-old race at Georgian Downs, and said that outing helped Cicero prep Aussie Lover for his Grassroots debut. "I thought last week there he raced good, but I didn't think he was getting a hold of the track, so they changed a few things on him and it turned out to work, so that was good," said Byron. "He raced well. He's going to be a steady horse, he might not be the fastest, but I think he'll be a steady horse," the driver added. JCs Royal Tease rounded out the Grassroots winners with a 2:02.3 effort in the last $23,500 division. Like Aussie Lover, the Royalty For Life colt left sharply from Post 6 and led the field to a :30.1 quarter. Driver Trevor Henry and JCs Royal Tease then watched from the pocket as Fit Bit and Tuscan Titan battled for control through the 1:01.2 half and 1:32.1 three-quarters. In the stretch Henry sent JCs Royal Tease after the leaders and the colt powered home to a one and one-half length win in 2:02.3. Fit Bit and Tuscan Titan settled for second and third. "He should make a nice horse," said Arthur, ON resident Henry, who leases the colt in partnership with his wife, trainer Shannon Henry. "He has a few driving issues, but can go fast for a piece." JCs Royal Tease also qualified at Woodbine Mohawk Park on June 28, finishing third, 12 lengths behind Horse Trader. The pair may meet up again when the two-year-old trotting colts and geldings head to Kawartha Downs for the second Grassroots event of their season on July 20. The Ontario Sires Stakes will be back at Georgian Downs next Sunday, July 14 with the first Grassroots event for the two-year-old trotting fillies. Post time for Sunday's program is 6 pm. Complete results from Sunday's Grassroots event are available here. OSS Program Information For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: www.ontariosiresstakes.com Ontario Racing

JUNE 28, 2019 – For the past five years the Ontario Sires Stakes program has been featured on Dresden Raceway’s popular Canada Day harness racing program and this Monday the half-mile oval will play host to four Grassroots divisions of three-year-old trotting fillies. Tyler Borth will steer Luckyjohanna in the second Grassroots division and Dresden Raceway’s leading driver expects the Eli Wagler trainee to be in the hunt for a share of the $22,100 purse. “He took her there last week, which was a good idea, just to get her used to it,” noted Borth. “She raced good, she closed up well. As long as it’s not too tough she should be all right.” Luckyjohanna finished second in the overnight event last weekend, one-half length behind five-year-old mare Massivepajamaparty. Ingersoll resident Wagler bred, owns and trains the daughter of Archangel and Shine Again, who has two wins and $10,532 to her credit through 12 sophomore starts. “She’s really come around her last four or five starts. I think she’s getting a little bit better with age and more experience,” said Borth, who also hails from Ingersoll and will line up at Post 5 with the filly in Monday’s six-horse field. “You’ve kind of got to watch her on the first turn so I’ll likely just settle her away. I think the game plan is just get around the first turn and then go from there, but the short field definitely helps, that way she’s not too far out of it. As long as you keep her on the bit she seems to be able to kick home pretty good.” Borth will also steer two of the favourites in the second leg of the Mark Austin Pacing Series, Toxic Hanover from Post 1 in the first split and Township Willy from Post 2 in the second division. “They both raced good last week. They’re pretty simple, they can both leave,” said the reinsman. “Toxic Hanover is maybe a little bit better than the other one, that’s probably the one I’ll drive in the final, he’s a nice big horse.” In addition to the exciting program of racing, fans will be treated to Canada Day giveaways and cupcakes along with the usual range of community-sponsored prize draws. “The first 150 people get Canada Day pins and Canada Day flags and we’ve got 500 cupcakes we’re giving away to celebrate Canada Day,” said Dresden Raceway’s Gary Patterson. “And we have a slew of giveaways every week from Tim Horton’s, Harvey’s/Swiss Chalet, Shoppers Drug Mart, McDonald’s, Mario’s Pizza Plus, The Track Kitchen, Lisa Fox essential oils, Subway, and there will also be some surprise draws. The Chase The Ace draw we have going along, we’re expecting it to be almost $800 on the weekend “So a great day of racing and Canada Day festivities.” Borth adds that fans will be in for a treat as some of the top drivers in the country travel to Dresden for the Ontario Sires Stakes divisions, including Sylvain Filion, Trevor Henry and James MacDonald who currently sit first, fifth and sixth among all drivers in Canada. “They always do a good job there, they’ve always got giveaways and stuff going on in the grandstand,” Borth noted. “Canada Day, with the Sires Stakes there’s some other drivers coming so they’re always nice to watch.” Dresden Raceway’s Canada Day program gets under way at 1:30 pm, with the three-year-old trotting fillies featured in Races 1, 3, 5, and 7 and the Mark Austin Pacing Series divisions slated as Races 8 and 9. Complete entries for Monday’s program are available at https://standardbredcanada.ca/racing/entries/data/e0701dresn.dat. Ontario Sires Stakes

Guelph, ON June 12, 2019 - Equine Guelph’s education partner, Merck Animal Health, recently launched its national Equine Biosurveillance Pilot Program to fill an unmet need in Canada. Although there are some initiatives at provincial levels, there was currently no nationwide equine biosurveillance program in the country, until now!   In event of an outbreak of common equine respiratory diseases, this program is designed to support equine clinics with the diagnosis. It will also enable collection of information at the national level on the epidemiology of the main equine respiratory pathogens. This information can then be communicated to the horse industry to promote a better knowledge and understanding of the ever-evolving nature and dynamics of those pathogens.   ‘’At Merck Animal Health, we are both very excited and proud about this new and unique initiative which will not only benefit participating clinics but the whole equine industry,” says Dr. Serge Denis DVM, Equine Consultant for Merck Animal Health. “By sharing the information collected through the program, we hope to contribute to a better knowledge and understanding of the epidemiology of the main equine respiratory diseases by the various stakeholders be it veterinarians, horse owners, barn managers or trainers.’’   In the initial phase, Merck’s Equine Biosurveillance Program will be offered to a limited number of equine clinics. Future plans include rolling it out to a significant number of practitioners.   Pathogens tested through the program:   Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is available for: Equine Herpesvirus types 1 & 4, Equine Influenza Virus, Equine Rhinitis A and B Viruses, and Streptococcus equi subsp. equi.   Participating clinics are provided with a diagnostic kit containing all necessary material to collect and submit samples to the Diagnostic Service of the Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire in St-Hyacinthe, University of Montreal.   There is no cost for participating clinics. All costs of the program are covered by Merck Animal Health.Veterinarians interested in this initiative can contact their local Merck representative.   ‘’This innovative program is a powerful addition to our unique value offering and reflects Merck Animal Health’s commitment to support the Canadian equine industry through science-based products and services,’’ says Douglas Wong, Product Manager, Farm Animal Business Unit with Merck Animal Health.   Equine Guelph supports this national program as it aims to benefit overall welfare of horses in Canada. "The possibilities for developing best vaccination strategies through information gathered in this biosurveillance program are quite exciting,” says Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph. "We encourage all horse owners to learn more about the importance of vaccinating by visiting our vaccination resource at EquineGuelph.ca/vaccination tool."  Should you have any questions or concerns about the health of your horse, please speak to your equine veterinarian.     by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

The early bird deadline for the 2019 International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) conference is fast approaching! The 2019 ISES conference is being held in Guelph, Ontario, Canada from August 19-21. With the theme “Bringing Science to the Stable” the conference will focus on mankind’s history with horses, what we have learned about horse-human interactions, and how we can continue to improve our relationships with these amazing animals.   Due to a delay in getting abstract acceptances back to authors, the early bird deadline has been extended. Register by June 10 to receive a discount in your registration fees.   All information about the conference is available on the Equitation Science website andThe Horse Portal. Check for updates on the program, registration information, hotel accommodations, transportation options, and local attractions.   Follow the ISES2019 blog for detailed information on speakers, exhibitors, demos and more.   The theme for this year’s conference is “Bringing Science to the Stable”, highlighting our past relationship with horses and examining where we are headed.   Join our line-up of thought-provoking speakers as we journey through history and into the present, supporting and challenging the way we interact with horses through scientific research. Dr. Sandra Olsen (Curator-in-Charge, Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum, University of Kansas) will trace how our relationship with horses began. Dr. Camie Heleski (Senior Lecturer, University of Kentucky) will describe the field of Equitation Science and what we have learned about horse-human relationships. Dr. Nic de Brauwere (Head of Welfare, Rehabilitation and Education, Redwings Horse Sanctuary, UK) will discuss how human behaviour change into the future can improve equine welfare. Dr. Andrew McLean (Equine Science International, Australia) will present similarities and differences in the application of learning theory across species. The ever-popular Clever Hans talk will be hosted on Monday evening with guest speakerDr. Jonaki Bhattacharyya, Ethnoecologist and Senior Researcher with Firelight Group. Dr. Bhattacharyya has spent time in the interior of British Columbia, observing the wild horses and their impact on the land and interactions with the indigenous peoples. She will highlight how modern research can fit into other ways of knowing and approaches to managing both wild and domestic horses.   The third day of the conference is a practical day with demonstrations on the application of learning theory and science from world-renowned experts: Shawna Karrasch (Terra Nova) – positive reinforcement training Nightwatch – Smart halter for monitoring horse biometrics Drs. Katrina Merkies and Cordy DuBois – equine welfare assessment Saddlefit4Life – saddle fitting for improved performance Visualise – technical sportswear to improve rider position IPOS – rein tension sensors equla vert – technical sensor to monitor horse head position Registered delegates can also attend two free pre-conference workshops on Sunday, August 18. Cristina Wilkins and Kate Fenner (Australia) will offer advice on how to communicate scientific information to equestrian communities. Dr. Marc Pierard(Belgium) will lead a discussion in describing equine behaviours for the equine ethogram. For an extra fee, delegates can register for a short course on large animal rescue training. Space in this hands-on workshop is limited, so be sure to register soon!   Early bird conference registration pricing is available until June 10. After that date regular conference fees apply. Check the ISES website https://equitationscience.com/conferences/ or the Horse Portal https://thehorseportal.ca/ISES-2019/ to learn more. Check back regularly to the Horse Portal for updates, sneak peaks, and local information.     About the International Society for Equitation Science The International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to facilitate research into the training of horses to enhance horse welfare and improve the horse-rider relationship. www.equitationscience.com   For more information contact: ISES Honorary President Janne Winther-Christensen presidents@equitationscience.com   Local Conference Organizer: Katrina Merkies, PhD Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph (519) 824-4120 x54707 ISES2019@uoguelph.ca     By Jackie Zions for Equine Guelph

Stone named the promising filly Maud S after his eldest daughter, Maud Stone. Maud S made her professional debut at the Carthage Fair track in 1877. Harness racing is a different sport than horse racing. Horses trot rather than gallop and a driver rides behind in a sulky, a cart on two bicycle-like wheels. During her first race, Maud S came to a stop and tried to go through the gate to the stables. Once the driver got her back on track, she took off. Then she … showed that she was a trotter, and a rare trotter, too,” Stone recalled. “She threw up her head, got down to business and went through that back stretch like a cyclone, reaching the bunch in front, overhauling them one by one, and finishing at the wire a winner of the heat.” Maud S drew the attention of railroad tycoon William H. Vanderbilt, who offered $20,000 to buy her if she could run a mile under two minutes, 20 seconds. Stone then promised his trainer Bair $1,000 if Maud could beat 2:19. “She finished in 2:17 ¾, and the country went wild,” Stone said. “It was the fastest mile up to that time that had ever been trotted by a four-year-old.” Vanderbilt agreed to pay $20,000 plus the $1,000 to Bair. But he wanted Maud S as a road horse, and she didn’t play along. So, Vanderbilt agreed to allow Stone to manage her racing career and Bair to train her. Maud S was some horse. “Queen of the turf,” celebrated from coast to coast, she was a record-breaking trotter, the fastest in the world in the 1880s. And she was ours, trained and quartered at Chester Park, once a great racetrack on Spring Grove Avenue in what is now Spring Grove Village. That’s where she came to the attention of Capt. George N. Stone. Stone had earned his rank in the Civil War and settled in Cincinnati, where he was president of the Cincinnati Bell Telephone Co. (then called the City and Suburban Telegraph Association). But his passion was horse racing. In 1875, Stone started the Chester Park Driving Association, named for his favorite horse, Lady Chester. To show confidence in his trainer, W.W. Bair, he let him pick any horse for sale at the park to train. Bair chose an unbroken 2-year-old filly that cost $350, considered a fair price because of her lineage. The standardbred filly, born in 1874 in Woodburn Farm, Kentucky, didn’t even have a name yet, and was resistant to training. “She showed very little speed, and I was not congratulating myself at all,” Stone told The Enquirer in 1900. “She was inclined to mix gaits and rack, and would do most anything but trot.” He suggested that Bair run her through the rye growing on the edge of the track. She floundered and stumbled and fought all the way, but found her trotting gait. She got faster and faster. Over a five-year period, Maud S lowered the world trot record seven times. When the horse Jay-Eye-See bested her time at 2:10 on Aug. 1, 1884, the next day Maud S set a new record at 2:09 ¾. “It was the most graceful performance by any horse, before or since,” Stone said, “and while she made still faster time subsequently, on the same Cleveland track, it was not the graceful effort that marked her regaining her crown after Jay-Eye-See had enjoyed the title of king for exactly 24 hours.” Vanderbilt then surprised the racing world by selling Maud S to Robert Bonner for $40,000. An oft-told story, likely untrue, was that Vanderbilt was jealous that folks would say, “There goes Maud S with Vanderbilt!” rather than the other way around. In 1885, Maud S set the world record again with her fastest time of 2:08 ¾, nearly 28 mph, then retired. She died in 1900. Stone passed away in 1901 and is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, a few blocks from where Chester Park once stood. The racetrack where the legendary Maud S ran was replaced by a man-made lake as Chester Park was made into an amusement park. By Jeff Suess, Cincinnati Enquirer Reprinted with permission of The Enquirer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Reclamation has been nothing short of dominant of late at the Meadowlands and the Ron Burke trainee ran her win streak to three with another easy harness racing victory Friday night at the Big M in a conditioned event for pacing fillies and mares. Around the first turn, it appeared that Reclamation and longshot Truth And Liberty were in close quarters and possibly locked wheels as Reclamation made her way toward the front and Truth And Liberty was alongside three wide, but driver Yannick Gingras urged Reclamation to the top while parked past the half in :55.3 and said there were no issues. "I was just protecting position in the first turn," said Gingras. "Nothing happened to her." Reclamation hit three-quarters in 1:23.4 while in high gear and sprinted clear to a 4½-length edge at the head of the stretch before hitting the wire 3½ lengths in front of 25-1 chance Rockin Praline. Brazuca was third. "She fits this (non-winners of $12,500 or $125,000 lifetime) class for a little longer so hopefully we can wait to find out if she can compete with the preferred mares," said Gingras. "She doesn't have much experience and is learning every week." Reclamation covered the mile in 1:51.1 over a track labeled 'good' to win for the 10th time in 18 lifetime outings. The 4-year-old daughter of A Rocknroll Dance-Art Sale now has career earnings of $63,655 for owners W J Donovan and Donal Murphy. CAP4 BET BIG AGAIN: The Can-Am Pick-4 was a hot commodity once again as the wager that requires one to select two winners at the Meadowlands and two more at Woodbine Mohawk Park took in wagers totaling $64,937, coming just short of reaching the $65,000 mark for a third time in six tries. Odds-on favorites scored in the first two legs but after a 34-1 and a 23-1 won the back half, the payoff for the 20-Cent base wager was $361.70. A LITTLE MORE: Trainer Linda Toscano has a Hambletonian hopeful on her hands. Guaranteed, a Muscle Hill-Beauty Of Gray colt, won his career debut in a non-winners of one in impressive fashion as the 2-5 favorite in 1:53.4 with Tim Tetrick in the bike. ... Guaranteed Gingras drove three winners on the card. ... The team of trainer Allen Sisco and driver Tyler Buter scored twice at a big price, with Say You Do ($33.80) in the second race and Starsaboveallerage ($48.00) in the 11th. ... All-source handle on the 13-race card totaled $2,597,293. ... Racing resumes Saturday at 7:15 p.m. By Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

A genetic study of Norwegian-Swedish Coldblooded Trotter harness racehorses revealed eight major genes likely related to their success on the track, some of which drive the horses’ abilities to learn and remember. Success on the trot tracks isn’t all about brawn. There’s quite a bit of brain in there, as well. Sure, a harness race winner needs to be fast. But he’s also got to adjust to—and even anticipate—his driver’s demands, navigate around other horses and their sulkies, and, most importantly, not break into gallop even when trotting at high speeds. And there are genes for that—ones that code for intelligence. New genome-wide studies on harness racehorses revealed eight major genes that appear to be related to their success on the track. While most of those genes are related to physical fitness and ability, some drive the ability to learn and remember. “Trotting on a racetrack is not a particularly natural act for the horse compared to how its wild ancestors were moving,” said Gabriella Lindgren, MSc, PhD, of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics. “These horses need to be able to adapt to the handling and interaction with humans, the environment, and also trotting on the racetrack.” Fellow researcher Eric Strand, PhD, of the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, in Oslo, agreed. “Most good performance horses not only trust their handlers, but they are smart and learn to adapt to the situations they are placed in,” he said. In their study, the researchers analyzed DNA from 613 Norwegian-Swedish Coldblooded Trotters (NSCT) to look for SNPs (sections of genes) that consistently appeared to be associated with the horses’ performance (wins, earnings, speed, and disqualifications due to breaking into gallop during a race). They chose this breed instead of the Standardbred because it has a small population, making it easier to control for other influences, they said. They identified more than 30 SNPs that appeared to have strong or possible roles in harness racing success, the research team reported. They narrowed the search to eight genes that showed a strong correlation with performance. Among those genes were four with clear physical implications and two with links to intelligence, learning, and memory: ATPase copper transporting beta (ATP7B): Helps get copper out of cells, potentially reducing muscle stiffness; Phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate 5-kinase type 1 beta (PIP5K1B): Might affect neuron development and oxidative stress; Phosphodiesterase 3A (PDE3A): Plays a role in cardiovascular function; Inositol polyphosphate-5-phosphatase D (INPP5D) & SRY-box 5 (SOX5): Involved in embryonic development and immune responses; Potassium channel regulator (KCNRG): Manages potassium movement in cells, possibly related to learning ability and exercise tolerance; and Dedicator of cytokinesis 8 (DOCK8): Influences intelligence and motor skills, probably including the ability to maintain a gait. Investigating NSCT genes might reveal the significance of the genes coding for mental capacities, they said, as they don’t trot at high speeds as naturally as Standardbreds do. And this might require them to have even more concentration, learning, intelligence, and memory. “NSCTs race in trot, which is not their natural gait when moving at high speeds,” said contributing researcher Kim Jäderkvist Fegraeus, PhD, also of SLU. “Standardbreds, on the other hand, have been selected for harness racing performance for a longer time and do not appear to have the same level of problems with their racing technique when first introduced to training compared with NSCTs. As a result, it is possible that there is a genetic factor influencing how fast some NSCTs learn technique, which ultimately would be correlated with how well and how fast they start their racing career.” For Strand, the mental capacities “maximize the performance potential,” he said. “The NSCT breed includes many individuals which are overly stressed at times and burn unnecessary energy by pulling hard on the bit and reins during racing. This then prevents them from allocating their physiological resources during a race. The current study was able to capture these horses, along with the superior ‘smarter’ horses, which have learned to cope and optimize their physiologic capabilities in front of large audiences.” Brandon Velie, BSc, MSc, PhD, contributing researcher from SLU, added “The current study is just another step in better understanding what makes a horse successful in sport/competition. In this case, we were looking at trotting performance; however, as most equestrians/horsemen would tell you, a similar case can be made for all equine athletic competitions: To be successful, a horse needs not only the right physiology, but also the right mentality.” The harness racing industry in Norway and Sweden welcomes genomics research in their field and views it as a useful tool for enhancing horse performance as well as welfare, he added. “Our recommendations at this time would be to keep working closely with researchers as a continued partnership between industry and academia,” he said. “This is the key to applied research, which can truly have a positive impact on a breed and industry.” The study, “A genome-wide association study for harness racing success in the Norwegian-Swedish coldblooded trotter reveals genes for learning and energy metabolism,” was published in BMC Genetics. Reprinted with permission of The Horse ABOUT THE AUTHOR Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

Guelph, ON March, 28, 2019 - Milton Fire Chief Dave Pratt recalls the fire at First line Training Centre in Milton, ON , Dec 21.    The call came in the middle of the night, around 1:30 am. The scene upon arrival was that of a front-end loader tractor beside a barn engulfed in flames. The tractor block heater plugged into the barn appeared to be the cause of the fire and the side of barn next to the tractor was fully involved. Crews of fire fighters from both Milton and Halton responded. Milton put hot spots out, Halton worked on suppression (knocking down the fire with water) and then all hands were on deck evacuating horses from barn.     Rescue fire fighters were on air (SCBA Self-contained breathing apparatus equipment) to rescue horses in the barn. They worked quickly to get 35 of the 37 horses out.   Horse owners and staff had halters and lead ropes at the ready as horses were handed off to be put in secure areas. “We were really lucky to have so many horse handlers at the scene,” said Chief Pratt “It was a team effort not only from fire department staff, but from everyone who led horses away from danger and into safe containment areas.”     Horse owners and first responders on site worked quickly to arrange transport. Many horses were received by Woodbine Mohawk Park, who supplied temporary stabling, after initial assessments and first aid was delivered by the team of vets and vet techs who came together including - Drs. Liz Shiland, Abigail Stovman and Marisa Markey. EMS and police on the scene all worked diligently with community effort. Huge acknowledgements must be given to all who sprung from their beds in the dead of the night to support the rescue.   In a very well attended presentation to horse owners at System Equine Mar 19, Riley McGilloway from Halton Hills Fire Department outlined some of the reasons they were able to save the majority of horses at the First Line fire. He also gave a clear run down of what a barn owner can do in emergencies, starting with that first deep breath to give clear information to the dispatcher.     Calmly relaying the problem and location of an incident at the first sign of a problem is key and always remembering to give your name and phone number. McGilloway explains that information from dispatch reaches the team already in transit. Important details help them prepare a plan, such as how many are involved? If a human becomes a casualty by rushing into a burning barn, they know their priority has shifted from saving livestock to saving human life.   McGilloway elaborated, educated/experienced horse people including Joe Stutzman, on the scene at the first line fire, did not pull open the doors until fire and rescue arrived so the fire did not receive additional oxygen further fueling it.   A brilliant diagram aided review of the owner’s role after the call to dispatch: Send someone to the road to meet the firetruck and give directions on exactly where to go.   Help with the scene survey giving first responders the layout of the barn and letting them know what is connected that could be further ignition sources.  Move anything that may be in the way so the firetrucks can get to where they need to be.     A rescue team effort becomes faster and more effective when those arriving on the scene are informed what they can and cannot do to help. The many owners who arrived at the First Line fire quickly became an asset to the rescue, helping with containment of the horses pulled from the burning barn and then holding and assisting as the veterinary team sprang into action. The System Equine Barn Fire Prevention and action plan evening was also broadcast via webinar and the recording is available at: https://www.facebook.com/systemequine/videos/1665571347083745/   Wendy McIsaac-Swackhamer, recently appointed, manager of Emergency Preparedness and Fire Prevention at Woodbine Entertainment, was also on the scene on the night of Dec 21. Amazed from the moment she arrived by the sight of fire fighters and police officers with horses in their hands, she quickly became part of the massive team phoning and arranging relocation of horses. “Everyone came together, knew they had a job to do and got it done,” said Swackhamer of the well-coordinated effort.   Swackhamer, has been involved with the fire service, horses and technical large animal rescue for a number of years now. She was quick to join in organizing a hands-on Barn Fire Safety Seminar at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Campbellville, ON, Wednesday April 10 from 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm.     “We were tremendously proud of everyone involved in the rescue and the quick decisions that were made,” says Jessica Buckley, President, Woodbine Mohawk Park. “The importance of barn fire knowledge cannot be underestimated and we are pleased to help facilitate barn safety training for horse people.”   Milton fire department will attend on April 10th and play a role in the mock set up of hazards in the barn to help participants identify them. Participants will also practice using fire extinguishers and come away with a greater understanding of barn fire prevention, evacuation procedures and animal safety. Register by April 5 for the Barn Fire Safety Seminar at Woodbine Mohawk Park.   Equine Guelph will also be launching a Fire & Emergency Preparedness online short courseon TheHorsePortal.ca– Apr 8 – Apr 15     Jackie Bellamy-Zions Communications Equine Guelph  

Guelph, ON March, 18, 2019 - Responding to research needs of the Ontario racing commission (now AGCO), a recent study led by Dr. Janice E. Kritchevsky, at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, reveals use of thyroxine supplementation is deleterious to racehorse's performance and may result in cardiac arrhythmias. Researcher Dr. Janice E. Kritchevsky was selected to do this work by the Equine Guelph Research Committee with AGCO support.   Kritchevsky explains, "Thyroid disorders are actually rare in horses." The concentrations of thyroid hormones, including thyroxine, can be measured in blood. Blood thyroid hormone concentrations outside the normal ranges can lead one to believe hypothyroidism (low production of thyroid hormones) may be the cause of a horse looking a little lethargic. However, abnormal thyroid hormone concentrations can occur after a high grain diet meal, after trailering fatigue, training stress, or if a horse is ill. In actuality, administering thyroid medication to a horse fighting a respiratory infection can compromise the animals natural response to the infection.   Horses that benefit from thyroid hormone supplement tend to be suffering from Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) or insulin resistance, neither syndrome is recognized in fit racehorses and they are both quite rare in other performance animals. Thyroxine supplementation may have a place in treating some over-conditioned (obese) horses at risk for laminitis. To diagnose a thyroid disorder, it is not enough to perform a one-time blood test; instead, a function test must be conducted. In a function test, two thyroid hormones are measured in the blood, then the horse is given a releasing hormone, and the two hormones are measured again. If the thyroid hormone concentrations do not respond normally, then there may be a true thyroid disorder. Kritchevsky adds, "In the case of over conditioned horses, thyroxine supplementation is to be used only until the horse reaches a normal body weight."   The misconception over thyroxine supplement use among horse owners and trainers may stem from the initial reaction to the drug, which can cause a flat or less spirited horse to appear more alert and hypersensitive. In Kritchevsky's study using fit Standardbreds, they did find a behaviour change after administration of Levothyroxine. The horses became quite alert and more difficult to handle but then they fatigued quicker.   When Dr. Kritchevsky gave Levothyroxine (a thyroid supplement) to the horses, it resulted in changes to blood concentrations of all thyroid hormones. Horses given 0.25mg/kg Levothyroxine went to maximum heart rate quicker, but the horse's blood lactate concentration did not change post-exercise, which told the researchers that they had the same level of fitness. The drug was not found to be performance enhancing. In fact, four out of the six horses in the study developed cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) when treated with Levothyroxine and one developed atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a serious performance limiting condition that can be career ending.   Kritchevsky thanks Equine Guelph and AGCO for providing the lion's share of the funding for this important research on thyroxine supplementation. This research was done in response to reports of open containers of thyroxine supplement that were observed during barn visits as part of out of competition testing by ORC (now AGCO). Elevated blood concentration of thyroxine has been documented on numerous occasions on post-race blood testing of horses from Ontario tracks.   Kritchevsky says, "This is an important problem anywhere! People are using thyroid supplement and it does not do what they think it is doing. This research is important for all, including racing commissions. While thyroxine is not a foreign substance, as this study indicates, high levels render the horse unfit to race."   Some officials believe thyroxine should be regulated and next steps in research may include developing an assay to test for a carrier protein that is excreted indicating a high thyroid.   Stay tuned to Equine Guelph E-News for more updates about this study.     Web Link(s): http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=610     Jackie Bellamy-Zions Communications Equine Guelph  

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