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Equine Guelph, a leader in equine research and sports medicine, headlines a group of Ontario educators extolling the merits of the Youth Literary Derby.   "The Derby is a wonderful initiative encouraging youth of Ontario to express themselves, engage and celebrate in the wonderful world of horses." Said Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph. "As an enthusiastic partner in the promotion of the Youth Literary Derby and a strong supporter of education for budding horse enthusiasts, Equine Guelph is pleased to provide online Horse Behaviour and Safety courses for the winners of the Youth Literary Derby." Equine Guelph, well known for their support of the grass roots of the horse industry with their award-winning travelling display, EquiMania, recently added a short course for youth 14 - 17 years old: Horse Behaviour and Safety. "We hope the Derby winners will enjoy furthering their interest in horses and learning the language of the horse during this highly interactive course." Ecker continued. Harness racing legend and Hambletonian Society president, John Campbell weighs in on the Literary Derby: "I read with great interest about the Youth Literary initiative being implemented in Ontario. I believe that exposing children to horses and the excitement of seeing and being around newborn foals will result in some incredible stories from these children. Some of these kids might not know it now but after being around and interacting with these horses their lives will be changed. It will be the beginning of a lifetime love affair as horses are addictive; they make an impression on you and are good for the soul. The project really hit home for me as I have always been an avid reader and feel that even though technology and the way we learn has changed, we should encourage children to read, write and express themselves through literature as much as possible. I have seen firsthand the anticipation and excitement that you see on a child's face when they receive a new book. In addition, my daughter Michelle is involved with KPMG'S Family Literacy program whose mission is to provide new books and educational resources to children in need. As you can see, giving back is a family affair." Standardbreds in the classroom "As an elementary teacher at a rural school I have found the Youth Literary Derby to be a great way to connect students with the Standardbred industry." said Trena Lebedz of the Aldborough Public School in Rodney Ontario. "I look forward to allowing more students the opportunity to share their knowledge and love for horses by including the program in my classes as part of the curriculum" she said. "We are currently learning about the different types of poems, which will be used to create a poetic piece for the contest." Trena Lebedz comes by her love of horses quite honestly. Her great grandfather, J. Russell Miller, was an astute, successful horseman who owned, trained and bred many outstanding Standardbreds for more than four decades. From the St. John French Immersion Catholic Elementary School in London, Ont., "It's (The Youth Literary Derby) a good idea and can work well with our curriculum." "Foals are a fantastic subject for any story. Whether its penmanship or horsemanship, we wish all of the contestants the best of luck and look forward to reading the winning poems and short stories" said Ontario Equestrian, Director , Tracey McCague-McElrea. Ontario Equestrian, is a partner in the promotion and support of the Youth Literary Derby, and is Ontario's provincial support organization for equestrians. It is committed to the highest standards of horse welfare advocacy and pursuits and represents 22,000 members from all sectors of the horse industry. "Having students write poems and short stories about Standardbreds is fantastic. We should follow your lead and do something like this in the States." says Kimberly Rinker, Vice President of the United States Harness Writers Association. "What a great program and incentive to get youngsters involved or interested in harness racing."   The Youth Literary Derby is a horse-themed contest for Ontario students grades 5 - 8. It offers $2,000 in prize money and is designed to encourage writing and literacy skills and offers students the opportunity to visit Ontario Standardbred breeding farms during foaling season in April, through June and challenges them to create inspiring prose, or poetry about their close up encounters with Standardbred foals. Entries close June 15th. For complete contest details and a list of Ontario farms available for visiting before writing their entry, students are advised to visit: For additional information: Bill Galvin:    

Tom Rankin has achieved outstanding success in many facets of his life. As a Standardbred breeder and owner the native of Cape Breton has garnered many of harness racing's top honours.   And, success has also been a large part of Rankin's life outside racing. A professional engineer by education, Rankin founded and managed a construction company in 1978 and, in the intervening 40 years, Rankin Construction flourished.   According to Rankin success is wonderful but it's the love of the horses that makes being in the industry worth all the work and expense. "The whole aspect of them, racing and breeding , is fascinating and inspiring, " Rankin explains. "But I've found, for myself that it's just about loving the animal."   Beyond harness racing, Tom is a generous donor to education and the arts. His own background as a poor farm boy from Cape Breton Island, has made Rankin keenly conscious of the importance of education." I don't think I would be anywhere without education. I have a company with 500 employees. That's nothing to do with me being great or wonderful. That's all down to getting an education."   Not one to take good fortune for granted, Rankin has always been eager to share his largess. The gates to his St Catharines breeding farm are always open to fans and the general public alike.   Rankin likes to put his money where his mouth is. Some of his many philanthropic gifts to academic institutions include his alma mater, Saint Francis University, where the nursing school is called the 'Beth and Tom Rankin Nursing Centre. Niagara College's technology building is named the Rankin Technology Centre as thanks to another donation, and Brock University is soon to rename its main foyer in honour of the Rankin family.   Given this love of both education and standardbreds, when Rankin was offered the opportunity to sponsor this year's Youth Literary Derby by program founder, Bill Galvin, he thought it was the perfect combination of both of his passions.   "The contest is a great for education in terms of encouraging literacy and the arts," Rankin states. "Giving kids the chance to be creative and who knows, there might be a budding poet or writer.   As for the harness racing industry, Rankin thinks the Youth Literary Derby is an ideal way for introducing the sport to a wider audience.   "Anything that promotes the horses and the industry is great. The more that the horses are in the public eye the better."   Rankin believes there is a latent interest in horses out there in the public. What is often lacking is the opportunity for people to access the sport beyond the racing surface and get to know the horses which are, after all, the heart of the industry.   "The more knowledge people have of the breed and the sport, the better and I think this contest is a great idea and a tremendous public relations opportunity. "I mean it's got the educational aspect to it and the industry aspect to it so it's a win-win situation for everyone.   "The response to the Youth Literary Derby has been positive, upbeat and province-wide" said Bill Galvin. "School boards, libraries, the arts communities, universities, standardbred breeders, industry associations horsepeople and writers groups have partnered with the program's organizers to promote the program throughout the province." The Youth Literary Derby is a juried, horse-themed writing contest for Grades 5 through 8. It offers $2,000 in prize money and is designed to encourage writing and literacy skills. It reaches out to horse-loving youth with a literary flair and into the province's educational system. It challenges students' evaluations and perceptions of one of God's most beautiful creations and their abilities to capture in prose and verse their close up encounters with Standardbred foals. Industry people have chipped in with their Derby impressions. "I love the idea of the Youth Literary Derby. This initiative will provide much needed exposure to, and an understanding of the horse racing and breeding industries in the province. Hopefully students will visit a local farm and have the opportunity to interact with with one of the thousands of Standardbred mares and foals that reside in Ontario and experience the connection that made us all fall in love with the sport." Brian Tropea, general manager, Ontario Harness Horse association.   For full details on the Youth Literary Derby go to Home - Hey Students!   Entries must be submitted by midnight of June 15, 2018   For additional information: bill galvin,   Andrea Pietrzak:     Home - Hey Students!                                                      

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Bisphosphonates — a class of drugs that prevent the bone-density loss —might have some therapeutic value for older racehorses but speakers at the Conference on Equine Welfare and Racing Integrity warned of the potential harm caused by such treatments for young horses such yearlings and 2-year-olds.  That was among the takeaways from Wednesday’s Animal Welfare Forum of the Association of Racing Commissioners International’s 84th annual conference, being held through Friday at the Hotel Hot Springs. The related discussion included how pari-mutuel racing’s regulators might address abuse of bisphosphonates and at what stage should horses come under the jurisdiction of a racing regulatory authority. ARCI members are the only independent entities recognized by law to license, make and enforce rules and adjudicate matters pertaining to racing. Dr. Jeff Blea, a Southern California veterinarian who is the past chair of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and heads its racing committee, called bisphosphonates “a nuclear button right now, not only in the racing industry but in the breeding industry.”  Dr. Lynn Hovda, the Minnesota Racing Commission’s equine medical director, said bisphosphonates don’t just impact what could be a sore bone or joint, but they go throughout the skeletal system.  Dr. Sue Stover, a professor at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, said the rational for giving young horses bisphosphonates is to ward off stress fractures, joint problems and some abnormalities. “Ultimately it was just the silver bullet of preventing all these problems,” she said. However, Stover said that bisphosphonates in young horses actually interfere with the development and growth of bone, reduce bone’s ability to heal and makes bone more susceptible to cracks. One study of Israel military recruits showed bisphosphonates did not prevent stress fractures when given before training, she said. One of her major concerns is that bisphosphonates, as analgesics, have the potential to mask pain. Conference attendee Carrie Brogden — a breeder and consigner whose Machmer Hall Farm in Paris, Ky., bred champion Tepin — said she and husband Craig do not treat horses with bisphosphonates but that the panel opened her eyes about what could be an industry problem. “You’re talking about horses who may have been treated as yearlings coming down the race pipeline,” she said. “I guess it’s a small sample right now. But this is being kind of pushed in Lexington as like the safe cure, not as something to be avoided.” Blea said taking a page from the British Horseracing Authority’s ban on bisphosphonates in race horses under 3 1/2 years old and requiring a 30-day “stand down” from racing “would be a good place to start.” He said the AAEP recently assembled a committee to discuss bisphosphonates and mentioned a talk on the subject that he gave two years ago to several hundred veterinarians. “I asked, ‘How many people are using bisphosphonates in their practice?’” Blea said. “There might have been five or six people raise their hands. After the talk, 25 people came up to me asked me, ‘Is there a test for it?’ “The reality is that we don’t know enough about it. I’ve spoken to practitioners who have told me it is rampant in the thoroughbred yearling industry, rampant in the 2-year-old training sales. I know it’s being used on the racetrack, though I don’t believe it’s being used as much on the racetrack as people think. I think it’s one of those things that have come and gone.” But John Campbell, the legendary harness-racing driver who last year retired to become president and CEO of the Hambletonian Society, said the standardbred industry has had “great luck” using bisphosphonates to treat young horses with distal cannon-bone disease with “no adverse affects that I can see.” He noted that thoroughbreds are much more at risk of catastrophic injuries than the gaited standardbreds. ARCI president Ed Martin urged racing regulators to start working on a model rule as to when jurisdiction over a horse begins, which could allow them to address  the concern over bisphosphonates. One of ARCI’s missions is to create model rules that provide the member regulatory groups a blueprint for their own laws or legislation dealing with all aspects of horse racing. “I think it would behoove all of us to work on a model regulatory policy so we have uniformity in terms of when the horse should come under the jurisdiction of the racing commission,” Martin said. “When we talk about out-of-competition testing or questioning the use of certain medications, the first thing somebody is going to say is, ‘You don’t have jurisdiction over this horse, and you don’t regulate the practice of veterinary medicine.’” Matt Iuliano, The Jockey Club’s executive vice president, said that about 75 percent of thoroughbreds will make a start by age 4, leaving a 25-percent “leakage rate.” He suggested a more cost-effective and logical place to put horses under regulatory control is once they have a timed workout, indicating an intent to race. “You’ve probably taken that 75 percent to 90 percent,” he said. Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, agreed with starting regularity control with a horse’s first published work. He expressed hope for a common-sense rule that would be fair to everyone, while cautioning of bisphosphonates, “There is a lack of facts and research being done. We don’t want to go after writing rules just to write rules. Finding out exactly, if there is a concern — and what that concern is — to me is the most important first stage. And then where we’re going to attack and fix the problem.” Identifying risk — and protective — factors in horses  Dr. Scott Palmer, the equine medical director for the New York Gaming Association, discussed identifying risk factors in racing, including those at “boutique” meets such as Saratoga, Del Mar and Keeneland, with the inherent demands to get owners’ horses to those races because of their exceptional purse money and prestige. Palmer cited some risk factors as being on the “vets” list for an infirmity, not racing at 2, trainer change, switching to a different track’s surface and dropping in class. He said protective factors also must be identified. Palmer said changes that have established themselves as diminishing risks would not all be popular and could require a change in mindset, such as writing fewer cheap claiming races, limiting the claiming purse to twice the value of the horse, consolidating race meets, biosecurity and limiting the number of stalls given the large outfits. He said racetrack safety accreditation by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association is important. Also mentioned: continuing education for veterinarians, trainers and assistant trainers, along with increased scrutiny of horses seeking removal from the vets list after a long layoff. “We’re not going to get rid of fixed risk factors, but we can mitigate them,” Palmer said. Dr. Rick Arthur advises the California Horse Racing Board on equine medication and drug testing, veterinary medicine and the health and safety of horses under CHRB’s jurisdiction. After a rash of fatalities in 2016, Del Mar’s actions included allowing only horses having timed workouts to be on the track for the first 10 minutes following a renovation break and giving up a week of racing to allow additional time to get the track in shape for the meet after the property was used for the San Diego County Fair Arthur cited a study that determined horses scratched by a regulatory veterinarian did not race back for 110 days on average, while the average horse ran back in about 40 days. “The bottom line is we’re actually identifying the right horse,” he said of vet scratches. “The real issue is: are we identifying all the horses we should?” Sports betting: “Amazing potential” Horse racing, professional sports leagues and casinos are awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court decision this spring on New Jersey’s challenge to the constitutionality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which for the last quarter-century effectively has made sports betting illegal except in Nevada and a few other states. The consensus of a conference panel was that sports betting could be on us extremely quickly and that racetracks and states, as well as racing regulators who in some states might oversee betting on sports, must be prepared.  Jessica Feil, a gaming law associate with Ifrah Law in Washington, D.C., said she thinks racing and sports betting will fit well together and could open up new kinds of wagers on horses, including parlays that span sporting events and races. “I envision amazing potential,” she said. Alex Waldrop, CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said one advantage for horse racing is that the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978 allows bets to be made across state lines, which paved the way for simulcasting into commingled pools. “We have some leverage,” he said. "If sports waging goes forward, you won’t be able to bet across state lines” without passage of enabling federal legislation. Attached photos: Dr. Sue Stover, a professor at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, discusses bisphosphonates on a panel that included moderator Dr. Corrine Sweeney (far left) of the Pennsylvania Racing Commission and Dr. Lynn Hovda, equine director for the Minnesota Racing Commission, with the ARCI's Kerry Holloway on the computer launching a visual presentation. A panel Wednesday discussing at what point horses should come under the jurisdiction of a racing regulatory authority (left to right): National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback; Tom DiPasquale, executive director of the Minnesota Racing Commission, and Matt Iuliano, executive vice president of The Jockey Club. The Association of Racing Commissioners International

Guelph, ON - April, 4, 2018 - The Colic Risk Rater healthcare tool was performed by over 100 students in the winter 2018 offering of Equine Guelph’s Gut Health & Colic course. Feedback indicates participants were keen to learn the simple management changes that could reduce their chances of colic. Many were surprised to learn that approximately 80% of colic episodes may be related to management and therefore can be prevented. Available on the Equine Guelph website, the free Colic Risk Rater tool provides individual feedback to help horse owners identify risk factors and develop preventative strategies to help reduce the risk of colic.    Spring in particular is a time when many new stresses can impact the horse.  Very often this is a time when riders start to ramp up the intensity of exercise and also feed. Making changes to horses feed slowly is a common topic among horse caretakers but did you know it is even more important to change forages slowly than it is concentrates?   'Concentrates' are broken down by enzymes in the foregut for the horse to digest, while forages are broken down by the microbes in the hindgut and it is the microbes that feed the horse. Therefore, it is even more critical to change forages more slowly than concentrates, in the horse’s diet.    In spring, there is the introduction of grass pasture to consider. If we let the horse out on pasture when the grasses are beginning to grow, Mother Nature helps control the intake of this new, very digestible, 'short forage, as it begins to grow very slowly. Problems arise when the manager waits until the fresh grasses are 3 to 4 inches tall before turning the horses out to eat it. Then the horse can consume too much at one time and cause a digestive upset, i.e., colic.    However, not every farm owner has an ideal ratio of one horse per 1.5 -2 acres of grazing in which case special pasture management includes rotating horses to new paddocks before the grass is eaten down below 3 inches. In these cases, introduce horses to fresh grass with gradual increases in grazing time. If stools begin to loosen, you know that grazing time was increased too much.  Back off the time spent grazing and be sure to provide the horses with extra hay when off the pastures. This allows them to chew more, which will produce more saliva thereby controlling pH levels which helps the good microbial population stay healthy and restore the 'good' bugs in the gut.   During the last Gut Health and Colic course, guest speaker and highly experienced equine nutritionist, Don Kapper was on hand dispelling myths and discussing nutrition as it pertains to horse health and performance. One of the topics Kapper discussed was manure; “this is one ‘visual’ for all horse owners to monitor and learn to manage accordingly.”  Too firm (dry) stools would be an indication of dehydration, a condition that can lead to impaction colic if ignored.   Moist stools could indicate a well hydrated horse, but if it becomes too loose and is accompanied with a strong 'acid' aroma, it could indicate something has happened to the microbial population in the colon. One of the jobs of the colon is to absorb water and form the feces, but the microbes found there are very pH sensitive, therefore, a ‘hindgut irritant’ caused from eating too much starch or sugar; lack of adequate fermentable fiber; or extended treatment of antibiotics, could cause 'Acid Gut Syndrome' that could lead to 'Acidosis'. Unfortunately, acidosis is when the pH of the colon becomes <6.0 and this is when 80% of the horses will founder.   The most common cause of ‘Acid Gut Syndrome’, during a change of season, is a change in the forage they are eating. This could be from: 1)transitioning from mature grass hay to immature grass pasture, or visa versa; 2) feeding a different 'type' of hay (remember it takes different microbes in their fermentation vat to breakdown the different ‘types’ of forage). To make a 100% microbial change in their fermentation vat, i.e. hindgut, takes 21 days. Therefore, to maintain a healthy gut, it is more important to change your 'forage' more slowly than your concentrate feed.   Stay tuned to for the next offering of Gut Health and Colic.   “The Gut Health and Colic Prevention course was packed full of relevant and useful information along with practical applications that I can immediately implement with my horses.” - student Donna Elkow   The Colic Risk Rater and the Gut Health and Colic Prevention short course are kindly sponsored by Intercity Insurance Services Inc. and CapriCMW Insurance Services Ltd. Mike King, National equine industry program manager for Intercity/CapriCMW is familiar with both the financial and emotional costs involved and fully supports colic prevention through education. “With decades of insurance underwriting and claims experience in the horse industry across Canada, we can think of no better risk management tool to prevent colic, than education.“   Colic is the number one killer of horses, other than old age. Knowing your horse and picking up on change is one important factor in colic prevention. The Colic Risk Rater health care tool also takes horse owners through management strategies such as: amount of forage fed, quality of feed and amounts fed at once, turn out time, exercise routine, hydration and parasite control.   Visit Equine Guelph’s interactive Colic Risk Rater healthcare tool to learn how you can reduce your horse’s risk of Colic.   Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

Each foaling season, a number of foals are orphaned, rejected, or the mares have no milk (agilactic).  Don Kapper, formerly of Progressive Nutrition, has provided the following article with suggestions on how they recommend dealing with such situations. According to Mr. Kapper and Progressive Nutrition, the following is a highly successful program for raising these foals that has been implemented at several universities, veterinary neonatal hospitals and on many horse farms. Their research has shown that foals raised on this program will grow and mature the same as non-orphans and will attain their normal size. Research was completed at The Ohio State University1, comparing the different growth rates of foals raised according to two differing protocols. In the first group foals remained on the mare and were provided a milk-based pellet as a creep feed. In the second group, foals were weaned at three days and fed a mare’s ‘all-milk’ milk replacer and provided a milk-based pellet in a creep feeder. Researchers recorded weekly measurements of their body weight, heart girth, body length, wither height, hip height, and cannon bone circumference. Results showed that foals developed similarly in skeletal size and all foals received similar body condition scores (BCS) and were healthy. These foals were not negatively affected by early weaning and did not develop bad habits. This ‘Feeding Program’ will be helpful to those who are managing foals who are: orphaned, rejected, out of mares with no milk or weaned early. Colostrum First Colostrum, or the mare’s first milk, contains high levels of ‘whole protein antibodies’ to protect the foal from disease. Mares secrete colostrum up to 24 hours after foaling. Foals will absorb colostrum for 12 to 24 hours after birth, or until an adequate amount of the whole protein antibodies are absorbed through the small intestine. The quicker we can get the colostrum into the foal, the faster the foal has both systemic and local immunity against disease pathogens. When possible, Progressive Nutrition recommends that when the foal is sternal and has developed a suckle reflex (you can see and hear them suck on their tongue), you milk 3 to 4 ounces of ‘colostrum’ from the mare, put it into a bottle and give to the foal before it stands. All new born foals need colostrum, beginning within the first hour after birth. All 'orphaned or rejected foals', weighing 100 lb. at birth, should receive 250 ml. (approx. 1 cup) of colostrum each hour for the first six hours after they are born. This is a total of 1500 ml, or about 3 pints of colostrum per 100 lbs. of body weight. Therefore, Progressive Nutrition recommends that all breeding farms should have a minimum of 3 pints of frozen colostrum in storage. When needed, it should be removed from the freezer and thawed at room temperature or in a warm water bath. Pour the colostrum into a bottle, which has a ‘lamb’ nipple with the ‘X’ opening at least ½ inch wide, and let the foal suckle. NEVER microwave the colostrum because that will ‘destroy’ the whole protein antibodies and render them useless. Provide an ‘All-Milk’ Equine Milk Replacer ‘Powder in Solution’ Next After the colostrum has been consumed, introduce the foal to the ‘All-Milk’ Milk Replacer powder mixed into a liquid solution. You may start them drinking from a shallow plastic bowl or from a bottle with a lamb nipple attached, depending on how aggressive the foal is. Most of the time a bottle with a nipple is not necessary because the foal will learn to drink from a shallow bowl or bucket very quickly after birth. Teach your foal to drink by placing your finger in their mouths to stimulate the suckle reflex. While they are sucking, raise the small bowl containing the ‘warmed’ liquid milk replacer solution up to their muzzle. After they begin to suck and drink, slowly remove your finger from the foal’s mouth. If he stops drinking, repeat the above steps until he is drinking by himself. Always bring the milk up to the foal; do not force the foal’s head down into the container. The first day, warm the liquid milk replacer to encourage consumption. When the foal drinks without assistance, hang a bucket with the milk replacer solution in it from the stable wall at the foals shoulder height. This will allow the foal to drink whenever it wants, just like the mare was there. The bucket should be a contrasting color to the wall to make it easy for the foal to find. The selected ingredients in both products are very easy to digest and will help maintain the natural pH level in the foal’s digestive system. Make sure to follow the mixing directions as described on the packaging. To assure the equine milk replacer powder is ‘all-milk’, look at the percentage of fiber listed on the feed tag. It must be less than 0.4% Crude Fiber. A milk replacer containing 1.0% Crude Fiber or higher will contain a different protein source that is less expensive, but not as digestible to the newborn foal. A non-digestible protein source can cause loose stools to diarrhea in the young foal during the first four to six weeks of age. For additional information on the feeding program described above please see Progressive Nutrition’s entire article, Feeding the Orphaned or Rejected Foal. The article will further explore the topics of mixing amounts, how much to feed/day, when to begin feeding separate water and the ‘milk-base’ pellets, what to do at weaning time, how many 22 lb. buckets are needed from birth to weaning, what to do if a foal is orphaned after 3 weeks of age and at what age to remove all milk. 1Kapper, DR: ‘Applied Nutrition’ chapter, in Reed SM, Bayly WM and Sellon, DC: Equine Internal Medicine, 2nd edition, 2004, WB Saunders & Co. pp – 1581 to 1584. This article was provided by Donald R Kapper, PAS, a retired Nutrition Consultant to and Member of the Cargill Equine Enterprise Team.  Progressive Nutrition, is a Cargill Company.

A couple of familiar faces made trips to the winner's circle in Saturday's harness racing co-features at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Artful Way (Artistic Fella) is the back-to-back Pacer of the Year at the track and scored his third consecutive victory in the local Open Pace on Saturday night. Frank Coppola Jr. sat patiently with the Open Pace's 1-5 favorite before unleashing him in the final 3/8 of a mile. The Jackie Greene trainee swooped the group before stopping the timer in 1:52.3 for the 38th win in 108 career starts. While Artful Way has already taken home plenty of hardware, winning numerous awards in the last couple of seasons at the Spa, Ulster (Glidemaster) has just emerged as the track's top trotting force this year. The Amanda Facin-trained trotter was the betting public's 1-2 favorite and wasted no time marching out to the early lead in the Open Trot, a race normally contested on Sunday afternoons but which went on Saturday night instead due to the Easter holiday. Ulster went coast-to-coast in 1:55.4 with Jay Randall in the sulky, never encountering an anxious moment en route to his fourth Open victory in six starts in 2018. Artful Way and Ulster, Saratoga's most dominant pacer and trotter, respectively, this season continued their local dominance in a rare double feature of Opens on Saturday at the Spa. Live racing resumes on Thursday afternoon with a 12:15pm first post. Mike Sardella

Guelph, ON March 29, 2018 - What would you list as a threat to the welfare of horses in Canada? What actions could we take to fix this? Questions like these may not always be the first thing on the mind of most horse lovers, but they are extremely important to the continued success and growth of Canada’s horse industry. Recent research led by Cordelie DuBois and Dr. Katrina Merkies at the University of Guelph has shed light on the answers to these questions and more, giving us a better picture of the perceptions of welfare in the Canadian horse industry.   The research team asked equine professionals to participate in a survey that consisted of several rounds of questions like the ones above. DuBois explains “In the first round of questions, participants were asked to identify issues related to equine welfare in Canada. In the following rounds, participants were asked to rank the issues by importance. The results revealed that ‘ignorance’ was one of the issues that appeared most often in people's top five ranking.” In other words, a major risk to a horse’s well-being is a care-giver who does not know that what they are doing may negatively impact the health and well-being of the horse. Examples of this could be related to management decisions, such as: inappropriate blanketing or stabling 24 hours of the day, or health decisions, such as lack of a parasite control program or failing to provide proper hoof care. DuBois points out that there are two types of “ignorance” that may apply to the survey responses. The first is simply that people do not know any better, and the second is that people believe they know all they need to know and therefore close the door on learning more. Although it’s tempting to believe that we know all there is to know about a certain subject, the reality is that we very often “don't know what we don't know".  We owe it to our 4-hooved partners to acknowledge this fact, and to remedy it by taking an active role in educating ourselves and staying up to date with evidence-based, scientific findings.   Interestingly, evidence of the important role that education can play in equine welfare was also highlighted in the survey results. Participant’s brainstormed ways to address issues related to equine welfare in Canada, and ranked them in order of effectiveness. Increased education for all people who work with horses was among the solutions that appeared most often in people's top five. Increased education and awareness efforts would provide care-givers with knowledge and understanding of current standards of care, while also highlighting potential dangers to a horse’s well-being.   Overall, DuBois states, “This study provides us with baseline data in the previously under-explored area of welfare perceptions in the Canadian equine industry. Additionally, data from surveys like this can help direct industry-wide strategies to improve welfare as well as future research into areas of concern.”    Stay tuned to Equine Guelph to hear more about DuBois’ PhD work, including the design and application of an on-farm welfare assessment tool. She notes, “Improving equine welfare is not just about changing the horse's environment; it involves understanding the role of the human caregiver and what drives them to manage their horses the way that they do.”  DuBois’ work is funded in part by Equine Guelph.   Test your knowledge of the National Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines with Equine Guelph’s Code Decoder.   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   Story by: Nicole Weidner

Guelph - Now more than ever, we are aware of disease outbreaks with strong lines of communication keeping us up to date. A pivotal part of your sickness prevention plan includes a vaccination program. Only vaccination can prevent death from certain diseases such as rabies, which has seen its fair share of announcements of late in certain parts of Canada. Ontario Veterinary College Dean Wichtel says, “according to new information presented at an Ontario Association of Equine Practitioners (OAEP) meeting, the need for vaccination is greater than ever, with emerging new disease patterns that may be due in part to climate change.”   In times where kids cannot attend school unless they produce up-to-date immunization records, we need to think of horses in the same way. The FEI requires proof of equine influenza vaccinations for horses competing at FEI events. Competing or not, any horse that travels to events, or comes into contact with horses that travel, are exposed to inherent risks of contracting disease.   A great starting point for horse owners and veterinarians to discuss their annual vaccination program is Equine Guelph’s healthcare tool – the Vaccination Equi-Planner.  Horse owners are asked to complete six questions that help determine individual farm differences and risk factors, including: age, use, sex, exposure to outside horses and geography. This data is then compiled in a program, and a printable customized vaccination schedule is provided for each horse.   Horses tend to receive their first influenza shots of the year in the springtime in anticipation of outings and increased exposure to pathogens. ‘’Equine influenza remains one of the most frequent and contagious respiratory tract disease in horses. As is the case on the human side, the equine influenza virus evolves over time (although at a less rapid pace). Therefore, the use of a vaccine including recent strains of equine influenza which meets AAEP’s and OIE’s recommendations is highly desirable in order to optimize coverage’’, says Dr. Serge Denis, Equine Consultant with Merck Animal Health.   “The decision as to whether or not to vaccinate your horse against a particular disease is based on the risk associated with your horse becoming infected with certain disease-causing pathogens, says Dr. Alison Moore, Lead Veterinarian, Animal Health and Welfare at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Owners of horses that travel for competition need to know the diseases endemic to the areas to which they are travelling to properly protect their horse. Websites such as the Equine Disease Communication Centre (EDCC) ( can help inform owners regarding disease risk in certain areas. Your veterinarian should also be made aware of your travel plans and be consulted regarding which diseases are in your home area so the most effective vaccination program can be designed.”      Beyond vaccinations for diseases such as eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile, there are more precautions to help deter the spread of diseases transmitted via insects. Removing breeding grounds can be accomplished by eliminating standing water (e.g. old water feeders, tires around the property) and getting rid of puddles by improving drainage.   Keeping manure storage as far away from the barn as possible but accessible for staff is helpful. Fly zappers and tapes can be beneficial. There are also products that can be fed to horses to interrupt the development of fly larvae in the horse’s manure (feed through fly control). Fly bait can also be useful but should be used with caution if dogs and cats are around. Other options to control flies and mosquitoes include insecticide impregnated blankets/sheets and the traditional fly sprays.   Disease should always be a concern if you are a horse owner and spring serves as a reminder to check your horses’ vaccination records. Equine Guelph’s Vaccination Equi-Planner, sponsored by Merck Animal Health, is a useful tool designed for horse owners to generate personalized immunization schedules for their horses.   Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions     Web Link(s):   FEI rule:   Vaccination Equi-Planner:        Jackie Bellamy-Zions Communications Equine Guelph Guelph, ON  N1G 2W1 519.824.4120 ext. 54756

The Hunter Academy of Sport has this week announced a major partnership with one of Newcastle’s largest gymnasiums.  Planet Fitness Australia is working with the 450 Hunter Academy of Sport (HAS) athletes offering free 12-month memberships at their local club, as well as a major discount to their families.  The HAS netball squad took full advantage of this amazing partnership last weekend, taking part in a yoga session led by the Planet Fitness instructors. In other news, The Hunter Academy of Sport 2018 Harness Racing Athlete Education Program has kicked off with an education day held in the HAS gym.  Ten young athletes learned the ins and outs of becoming a professional athlete including nutrition, alcohol and drugs in sport, and social media.  Those attending were even lucky enough to receive specialised media training from NBN television presenter Kate Haberfield.  The education component was provided by the Your Local Club Athlete Education Program. The program gives athletes around the state valuable knowledge to encourage personal development and successful progression in their sport.  The athletes are looking forward to their next session this weekend, where they will be listening to specialised information about animal welfare, sports psychology, tactical driving and pathway progression.  This program has been made possible by a strengthened relationship between Your Local Club, Harness Racing NSW and the Hunter Academy of Sport.   By Max McKinney Reprinted with permission of the Newcastle Herald  

Standardbreds are a rising star of the equestrian world. They were once mostly destined for the slaughterhouse after their time on the harness racing track, but now their potential as a show and sport horse is being realised. At this year's Horse of the Year Show in Hastings, the standardbred show ring was a popular attraction and the breed succeeded in other disciplines as well. The breed originated in the United States and got the name Standardbred because a horse had to better a standard trotting time before being allowed to enter the harness-racing stud book. Kylie Carston travelled from Christchurch for the Show with Petite Ebony - AKA Tony the Pony Carston. "She's actually a retired racehorse that was sadly going to be sent on the dog-tucker truck, so she's a rescue really," Ms Carston said. "They are anything but standard and have the best nature in the world." Zoe Cobb travelled from Cambridge with her steed O'Sheas – AKA Rusty. "I used to work with him," she said. "He raced until he was twelve-and-a-half and then he retired five years ago and became my show hack." Helping to realise the potential of the athletic breed, that is anything but standard physically, is Standardbred Rehoming New Zealand. It re-educates the horses to accept saddles and teaches them it's okay to canter. Standardbred Rehoming spokesperson Diane Wansbrough said they were often used as stock horses but "now people have wised up" to their sport-horse potential. ; Made with funding from By: Patrick O'Sullivan Video Journalist Hawke's Bay/Wairarapa, NZH Local Focus   Reprinted with permission of Hawkes Bay Today

Guelph, ON - A high-tech horse model will provide valuable hands-on learning to student veterinarians at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College courtesy of a donation from the Equine Foundation of Canada.   Nancy Kavanagh, secretary of the EFC delivered a cheque for nearly $50,000 to OVC Dean Jeffrey Wichtel and Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph, for the purchase of the detailed and life-sized horse model produced by Canada’s Veterinary Simulator Industries.   The model opens to reveal anatomically correct latex organs that can be inflated to mimic colic, the leading cause of premature death in horses, and also certain reproductive challenges.   The detailed model will allow student veterinarians to practice clinical and technical skills, vital to improving confidence and competence. When Foundation President R.J. (Bob) Watson contacted Dean Wichtel for his wish list, the VSI model was at the top.   “The Foundation has been rotating funding proposals annually among the five veterinary colleges in Canada and 2018 is Guelph’s turn,” wrote Watson.   “Great progress has been made in learning technology for veterinary clinical skills development, and this equine model is an excellent example. Our college has committed to the use of high fidelity models and simulations in early clinical training whenever possible. When our students perform their first procedures on a live animal, they will be even better prepared and more confident,” said Wichtel. “We are very grateful to the Equine Foundation of Canada for fostering the health and wellbeing of horses through supporting veterinary medical education in this valuable way.”   The EFC is an outgrowth of the Canadian Morgan Horse Association (CMHA), founded in 1960. The purpose of the CMHA was to assist Morgan breeders and owners with promotion and registry services to protect the integrity of their pedigrees.   In 1983, the Association expanded its interest to concern for the welfare of all horse breeds and created the Foundation to assist in safeguarding their future. N.S. businessman George Wade served as its founder and president from its inception until his passing in 1997. The EFC provides for scholarships and other worthy requests. With a factory in Calgary, VSI was once a recipient of startup funding from the EFC. But the primary focus now is on the purchase of teaching equipment for equine veterinary education.     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   by: Karen Mantel  

Columbus, OH --- In the latest release from Pathway, the U.S. Trotting Association's statistical database, new reports for harness racing summaries by specific track or state are now available. These new reports of horse's, trainer's or driver's information are searchable by any state or any racetrack for up to any 12-month period back to 1992, with the current year available at no charge. There is a small fee for reports prior to the current year. Reports in all three categories -- horses, trainers and drivers -- are ranked by purse money earned, but can also be sorted by any of the statistics in the lists. For horses, the reports include: foal year, sex, gait, starts, wins, places, shows, and purse money earned. For trainers and drivers, the statistics include: starts, wins, places, shows, purse money earned, and Universal Trainer Rating (UTR) or Universal Driver Rating (UDR), respectively. To access any of these reports, visit Users must have a Pathway account. There is no charge to set up an account. In addition to these and other free reports, users also can purchase a wide variety of Standardbred performance and pedigree reports. For a video tutorial, click here. USTA Communications Department  

For the past 15 years, Equine Guelph has been a global leader, serving the horse industry with award-winning online educational outreach programs and supporting over 100 equine research projects.   We hope you enjoy our 15th Anniversary Edition of the Equine Guelph Health Studies Newsletter.  Stories include: Internationally Acclaimed Contributions to Embryo Transfer and Reproduction Technologies TVEC Goes Global - treating Atrial Fibrillation Health Studies with an Impact - Reducing Catastrophic Racing Injuries Global Lung Epithelial Response to Inhaled Dust Teaming up to Go with the Gut – looking at links between the gut microbiome and health Research Targets Equine Virus The Link is here.   Equine Guelph is the horse owner’s Centre at the University of Guelph, supported and overseen by equine industry groups, and dedicated to improving the health and well-being of horses.  If you would like more information about our research or extensive programs for horse owners and care-givers, please do not hesitate to contact us.   Jackie Bellamy-Zions Communications & Administration Equine Guelph 50 McGilvray Street Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1 E-mail: Phone: 519-824-4120, ext. 54756

Guelph, ON, March 6, 2018 - As part of Canadian Ag Week from March 11-17, 2018, Equine Guelph reminds horse caregivers to Stop, Think and Act when around horses.   The first person who said only fools rush in must have been a horse person! How many times have we gained experience and knowledge after finding ourselves in the dirt or even worse in the hospital?   In 2016, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services in collaboration with Imperial Oil and Esso, created an outreach message with the potential to prevent injuries that may not occur if we Stop, Think, and Act. Equine Guelph, certainly saw the applications for the horse industry and also came on board. Proper safety gear, planning ahead and staying alert are all key to ensuring riding a horse is a fun activity. There are plenty of occasions to Stop, Think and Act every time you engage in activities involving horses.   In 2017, Equine Guelph’s travelling youth exhibit, EquiMania!, launched a new Stop, Think and Act Hopscotch game to encourage kids to learn a new way of thinking and making good choices when it comes to safety around the farm. The interactive game will be featured next at the Can-Am Equine Expo in Markham, ON, April 6 – 8, where youth can join in the fun and learn about safety.   For kids looking for activities over the March break, they can visit EquiMania! Online on Completion of the Stop, Think and Act online activities is rewarded with printable certificates and the know-how to reduce the risk of an accident when working around horses. As well, kids can test their general horse knowledge by taking the EquiMania! Challenge!   When it comes to horses, learning the hard way can be dangerous. Cutting corners around an animal that weighs in at over 1,000 pounds is simply unadvisable. For example – ducking under a horse’s neck when they are cross tied rather than walking around them or leading them around the stable by a halter when you know you should take a moment to find a lead rope. Being alert to horse behavior is another important aspect to avoiding risky situations. Horses communicate with their body language and one needs to pay attention to often subtle cues.   Equine Guelph is hosting two upcoming online short courses on Horse Behaviour and Safety, one for adults and one just for youth between 14 – 17 years of age. Both courses run from March 26 – April 13 on and aim to raise awareness of how we can all work safer around horses through understanding how horses think and perceive the world around them.   Stop, Think and Act is a great practice for horse people. We can make equine activities safer for all involved when we:   - Stop long enough to think about what could go wrong in what you're about to do - Think about how you're going to do it. Is it the safest way? If not, how can you do it better? - Act in the safest way possible   Even though Farm Safety Week is only one week in the year, it is important to Stop, Think and Act every day and especially on the horse farm.     Jackie Bellamy-Zions     Notes to Editor: 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     Web Link(s):   National Farm Safety Week March 11-17, 2018   Can-Am Expo April 6 – 8:   EquiMania! Online:   Horse Behaviour and Safety Courses:    

EquiMania! is sure to be hopping with fun new activities for Royal Agricultural Winter Fair visitors this November 3 - 12!  Equimaniacs can expect to don the ever-popular horse hats while learning all about horses in an interactive way.  New this year, is a hopscotch game encouraging kids to Stop, Think and Act, making good choices when it comes to safety around the farm.   While engrossed in the well-travelled, award-winning display, kids and parents will learn more about horses and safety inside the stable and out, around equipment and when handling them.   Equine Guelph, in partnership with Ontario Equestrian, will be promoting "Ticket to Ride" for a fourth time at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. The "Ticket to Ride" program is proving hugely popular offering youth an opportunity for a FREE introductory riding lesson (or introduction to horses) at participating OE member riding facilities.  Visit EquiMania! for more details.   "Equine Guelph is proud to be presenting EquiMania! for its eleventh consecutive year at the Royal," says Gayle Ecker, Director of Equine Guelph.  "We are always educating kids and adults about equines in a fun way, and thanks to the generosity of our loyal partners and volunteers, we are able to keep bringing important safety messages with engaging new activities!"   Equine Guelph would like to thank the Royal Winter Fair for bringing EquiMania to their Education Centre and our sponsors for their continued support:  Esso, Greenhawk, Kubota Canada, Ontario Equestrian, Shur-Gain, Standardbred Canada, SSG Gloves, System Fencing and Workplace Safety and Prevention Services.  Equine Guelph is looking forward to another busy year of touring with EquiMania! in 2018!     To book EquiMania!  for your event in 2018, contact  

Guelph, Ontario - Equine Guelph announces the free offering of the new 'Gut Health & Colic Prevention' online course to the first 50 grooms and trainers to register from each racing sector in Ontario: Standardbred, Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing. The three-week online course will run this winter from January 22 - February 11, 2018 on Equine Guelph's new online training platform, The Horse Portal.  According to the 2016 Equine Guelph Horse Racing Industry Survey, gut issues were ranked as the number three health issue behind respiratory issues and injuries. Not only is colic the number one killer of horses, but it is a major issue facing the horse racing industry. Excessive amounts of grain in the diet and forage variation are thought to contribute to an increased risk of colic and other gut issues. Changes in stabling, exercise level and stress may also cause an increased risk of colic.  "Educating the horse racing community on how to reduce the risk of colic and gut issues will be extremely valuable to grooms and trainers," says Hugh Mitchell, Chair of Ontario Racing. He adds, "This training will also benefit the health and well-being of the elite equine athletes as well." The three-week online short course will be flexible and practical with content appropriate for the racing industry. The course will be delivered from respected experts from the horse racing community. For the first time, trainers and grooms from the three sectors will come together in discussion groups to share expertise and experience with each other.  "Offering the 'Gut Health & Colic Prevention' course at no charge will be an appealing way to engage the racing community to try out flexible, online learning on The Horse Portal," says Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph. To register, go to and apply the appropriate coupon code for the free course valued at $95. Registration for the 150 free courses will be administered on a first-come-first-served basis to the first 50 trainers and grooms from each sector. This program is an online training partnership between Ontario Racing and Equine Guelph, with funding provided by Grand River Agricultural Society. Project partners include: Central Ontario Standardbred Association, The Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario, Ontario Harness Horse Association, Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario Inc. and Standardbred Canada. The online course is sponsored by Intercity Insurance Services Inc. and Capri Insurance Services Ltd. For more information, go to Racing   Story by:  Henrietta Coole      

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