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The Victorian Masters Games is an opportunity for equestrians over 30 to show younger riders how it is done. Dressage, show horse, combined training and harness racing events in recent weeks have seen riders and drivers up to 70 years plus competing for honours at Werribee Park. In the show horse section, Kerry Tempest-Clark’s Fine Romance was led champion, while Catherine Sfregola took out the ridden championship with Between the Beats. Champion rider was Bree Stevens. There were five divisions in the combined training section with the championships going to Jackie Waite on Darby Day (45cm), Nikki Jupp on Avanti Kryptonite (60cm), Walter Burger on Feldale Griffin (75cm), Julie Bramucci on Rafiki Delargo (90cm) and Tania Harding on Jirrima Easy Jet (105cm). In the dressage, Rachael Edwards on Mr Spot took the preliminary championship. The novice champion was Gwyn Coulthard riding Samaran and the elementary champion was won by Elizabeth Sheather on Coldstream Universe. The medium level champion was Fiona Cooper on Belcam Camponelle and the advanced champion was Lucy McNutt on Thamesbourne Sunsmart. The harness section was very popular and showed age is no barrier to horse sports. Competing in the class titled “over 70 and still breathing” were accomplished drivers Diana Lawrence and Evanne Chesson, with Lawrence taking the section. Diane Boardman from the over-55 years section was supreme champion driver. Cheryl Sheddan’s pony Little Plains Phillipa earned her driver the high point mini award, with placings in dressage, obstacle driving and cones. William Lewin drove Magpie to a win in the delivery horse class and Kathy Reynolds’ Shepherds Hill Little Wayne was champion novice. The Hero award for the best performed Standardbred horse was won by Natasha Pettingill’s Rose of Ambrose with Michelle Wight’s It Happens in Vegas, the reserve. Natasha was also the gold medallist in the driver under 55 years. Janice Lewin was judged best groom. Reprinted with permission of The Weekly Times

Endurance riding events – long-distance competitions against the clock which challenge both horse and rider – are run across the UK. Gayle Ritchie meets those taking part in one round Tentsmuir Forest A breathtakingly beautiful Friesian stallion canters through the forest, his glossy coat shimmering in the sunlight. His luxurious mane and tail flow freely and his ears prick forwards, listening to the gentle tones of the rider perched on his majestic back. The stallion in question is 16.3hh Oscar and his rider is Blairgowrie-based Janine Mason. The duo is taking part in a timed ride around Tentsmuir Forest alongside 71 other horse and rider combos. © Kris Clay Janine Mason taking part in an endurance ride at Tentsmuir Forest on Freisian stallion Oscar. Run by the Scottish Endurance Riding Club (SERC), the goal is to complete a set distance in an allocated time and with the horse in sound condition, its heart rate below a certain level. Routes today range from a “taster” 9km to a full-on 62km challenge but some riders can boast of completing longer rides – up to a staggering 160km. Some ride in teams while others go solo and there are horses of all shapes and sizes – from slinky, speedy Arabs to hairy Highlands. Overall, there’s a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere; there’s no snobbery or elitism whatsoever. A major focus is on fun and there are some fantastic colour combinations going on, with riders matching their hat silks to their horse’s bridles. Horse welfare and safety are hugely important. Spurs, martingales, blinkers and other restraints are not permitted and horses are vetted before the ride. © Kris Clay From Highlands to Arabs, all breeds take part. “Heart rates must be at a certain level and during the ‘trot up’, they mustn’t be lame,” chief steward Nancy Murdoch tells me. “Those doing big distances have another vet check half way round, and again at the end. “Rather than having a winner, mileage accumulated over time can result in awards.” Top team Mary Stockdale and her stunning black Arab Cumbria Khafifa, and Fiona Kirk with handsome Mr Charles, a Welsh D Cross Thoroughbred, are the first team to hit the half-way 32km mark. As they take a quick break to feed and sponge down their horses, they reveal why endurance is their favourite equestrian discipline. “You can be as competitive or non-competitive as you like,” beams Fiona. “You build a lovely partnership with your horse – a fantastic bond. You can ride all day as long as your horse is sound. “Performance is based on merit, unlike showing, which is based on someone else’s opinion.” © Kris Clay Mary Stockdale on Cumbria Khafifa. Mary, meanwhile, who has awards coming out of her ears – having clinched SERC’s 2017 trophy for rider with most mileage – tells me Khafifa has completed 3,742km under competition rules. “It’s a great opportunity to ride across beautiful countryside we’d never otherwise be lucky enough to see,” she smiles. “There’s a wonderful community and it’s a simple sport to get into. Any horse can do it, provided it’s reasonably fit, and taster sessions allow you to get a feel for the sport. “The relationship that horse and rider build together over the years is deeper than for many other disciplines.” © Kris Clay Mary shares a moment with Khafifa. Lorraine Laing is competing in the 30km option with her Standardbred ex-harness racing horse Tom, who is 20 years old. “We started with shorter pleasure rides then progressed to competing,” she tells me. “We’ve done 50km but prefer to do 30km. I ride in a team with Anne Scott and her Arab, Smokey. “We really love it and are trying to encourage more people to give it a go!” Sheila Bruce, chair of the Tayside branch of SERC, says the sport is open to everyone. “You go out, have fun, set your own parameters and ultimately, compete against yourself,” she says. “Our motto is: ‘To complete is to win’. We believe in challenges – and in the welfare of the horse.” © Kris Clay Janine Mason and Oscar about to be vetted. It wouldn’t be possible to run rides without helpers and roles include everything from runner to vet writer, timekeeper, gate opener, road crossing marshall and checkpoint steward. It’s hugely rewarding and addictive and who knows, it could inspire you to get involved in the sport yourself. To check the calendar or to sign up as a volunteer, see www.scottishendurance.com INFO The Scottish Endurance Riding Club organises three types of ride: pleasure rides, normally between 16 and 29km, competitive rides of 30km and over, and endurance rides of 60km and over. The ultimate competition is the endurance race, which may be up to 160km in one day but is always 60km and over. By Gayle Ritchie Reprinted with permission of The Courier

Guelph, ON, May 10, 2018 - Ah Spring; when countless materials are covered in shedding horse hair including your clothes, car, perhaps even your couch if you don’t change out of barn clothes immediately when you get home. But what if you are not covered in your horses shedding coat? Delayed shedding or regional hypertrichosis can be early warning signs of Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID) – a metabolic condition that suppresses the immune system when high cortisol levels increase blood sugar levels.  Look for abnormal hair coat including patches of long hair on the legs, wavy hair on the neck, changes in coat colour or shedding patterns and unusual whisker growth.  Equine Guelph’s Senior Horse Challenge healthcare tool contains useful resources to practice identifying metabolic issues.   Did you know horses seen for laminitis have frequently been found to have PPID or Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS)? Laminitis can be a sign of both metabolic issues yet it is often treated without identifying the underlying cause.   There is a fair bit of confusion in the horse world over mixing up PPID and EMS as they share many of the same clinical signs. Horses with PPID may also have some of the features of EMS. Equine Metabolic Syndrome had many previous names: peripheral Cushing’s Syndrome, pseudo Cushing’s syndrome, hypothyroidism, and insulin resistance syndrome.   Horses with EMS do not display hypertrichosis (excessive hair growth) or delayed shedding. New research studies are investigating changes in gut microflora as another possible early warning sign of EMS. PPID cases are more common in horses over 15 where EMS tends to be seen in horses over 5 years of age. Laminitis and obesity are often the first clues in identifying both disorders. Working with a veterinarian who can perform diagnostics is necessary to conclude which disorder you are dealing with and determine the best treatment options. Early warning signs can be subtle and of course early diagnosis is important.   “Every year Boehringer Ingelheim sponsors a PPID testing campaign in partnership with Animal Health Laboratory in Guelph,” says Guillaume Cloutier, DVM, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health. “In 2017, out of the 442 horses that were tested, 273 (62%) had a positive result for PPID.”   To learn more about detecting early warning signs for metabolic issues and other important factors in maintaining health as your horse ages, visit Equine Guelph’s Senior Horse Challenge Healthcare Tool, kindly sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim.   by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

The $12,000 Goulburn Sapling Stakes highlights the seven-race harness racing card scheduled for Sunday afternoon at the Goulburn Paceway. The two-year-old open feature has attracted a small but interesting field of six. Up-and-coming filly Platinum Revolution from the Shane Tritton stable has drawn barrier 5 and will likely go to the start as the public elect. The filly has won two of her three starts and before being sent for a spell was an easy winner of the Group 3 Pink Bonnet at Menangle in early March. On that occasion the Changeover filly sat outside the leader and race away to score easily in a solid 1:54.7 mile. One of four fillies engaged in Sunday’s event, Platinum Revolution will find strong opposition from the well performed Tactical Response. The Big Jim gelding was a last start fifth in the $100,000 Group 1 Bathurst Gold Crown final when beaten by only 11.9 metres by star colt College Chapel. Tactical Response has faced the starter on only three occasions and earned his spot in the Gold Crown final by winning a heat in the good time of 1:57.1. Trained at Leeton by Wayne Sullivan, Tactical Response has drawn well in barrier 4 and appeals as the hardest to beat. While Sunday’s meeting has drawn a strong contingent of Sydney trainers, local trainer David Hewitt will be looking forward to featuring in winner’s circle through the promising three-year-old Sword And Shield. A lightly raced Million Dollar Cam gelding, Sword And Shield has won two of his three starts. Following some solid trial performances, the pacer is set to figure prominently after drawing gate 1 in the Goulburn Livestock Transport Pace. The Hewitt stable also has a strong chance of taking out the last of the afternoon, the Goulburn Soldiers Club pace with the proven performer Stanley Ross Robyn. Owned in the same interests as Sword And Shield, Stanley Ross Robyn hasn’t raced since March when he was a close up sixth at Menangle behind Rakarolla who posted a fast 1:50.6 mile. On that occasion Stanley Ross Robyn came from midfield to be beaten only 6 metres and will appreciate the drop in class on Sunday. Racing on Sunday, May 13 starts at 12.52pm, and with only three race meetings remaining before the close of the season, the club’s committee invites all harness fans to come out and experience the wonderful facilities of the Grace Millson Centre. Enjoy quality food and a wide range of cold alcoholic and soft drinks while watching all the racing action in air conditioned comfort. Goulburn harness racing is brought to fans by the kind support of Tabcorp, Goulburn Soldiers Club, Goulburn Mulwaree Council, ARW Multigroup, Hollingworth Crane Hire Service, RSM Accountants, and a host of smaller businesses including Top Water Carters Crookwell, First National Real Estate Goulburn, Goulburn Livestock Transport, Goulburn Landmark, Albury J Communications, Crust Gourmet Pizza, Glen Mia ACT Saddlery and Ranvet. For all the latest Goulburn harness racing news visit the club’s website at goulburnpaceway.com.au and don’t forget to like us on Facebook at facebook.com/goulburnpaceway. Tips Race 1: 4 My Major Rocket, 1 Cherry Stride, 8 Allstar Sea, 2 Kettering Girl Race 2: 1 Sword And Shield, 2 Lynnsanity, 4 Billysbredone, 9 Speedy Dominic Race 3: 2 Franco Landry, 4 Nadeen Franco, 1 Brian Who, 10 Oscar The Great Race 4: 4 Tactical Response, 5 Platinum Revolution, 1 Sunshine Stride, 6 Cee Cee Ambro Race 5: 9 Sheza Tricky Bridge, 6 Recipe For Dreaming, 2 Boobalaga Road, 1 Valla Swan Race 6: 1 Ballymore Boy, 8 Roarn, 4 Deecaesar, 2 Tavewa Sunset Race 7: 7 Stanley Ross Robyn, 9 Return Ace, 4 Shadow Reign, 5 Iamboogie By Mark Croatto Reprinted with permission of The Goulburn Post

Guelph, ON, May, 3, 2018 - With a hefty focus on emergency management, this year’s annual conference for the Organization of Racing Investigators (ORI), at Woodbine racetrack in Toronto, included Large Animal Emergency Rescue training provided by Equine Guelph. On the morning of Tuesday March 27th, Racing Investigators from as far afield as Australia received Awareness Level presentations on the technical aspects of rescue and then participated in hands-on practical exercises.   “The Equine Guelph Large Animal Emergency Rescue (LAER) course that was provided for the Organization of Racing Investigators at their 2018 annual conference was excellent,” said Racing Investigator/Firefighter, Troy Moffatt. “The content and delivery methods were accurate for the audience and there were numerous positive comments from our international partners claiming that this conference was one of the best. Having been a past student of this (LAER) course at both Mohawk and Meaford in 2017, I knew it was one not to miss.   I would encourage anyone involved in the equine world to attend and gain this valuable practical knowledge. I would also encourage any first responder to seek out this training and take it home to their departments.”   In this highly condensed version of the LAER program the key points stressed that successful rescue techniques follow an incident command system, mitigating risks and improving the odds of a favorable outcome for both animals and responders. All large animal incidents regardless of cause or scope, present a risk of injury to responders. That is why proper training of best practices and how to use rescue equipment is of the utmost importance for the safety of all involved.   “The feedback from participants was that the demonstrations were extremely interesting, informative, and practical,” said Tyler Durand, Racing Investigator from Toronto. “This was an excellent program provided by knowledgeable instructors."   A highly engaged group of racing investigators, security officers, racing officials and police officers were taken through the basics of animal behaviour and handling techniques, restraint and confinement techniques, basic anatomy and the roles of others at an animal incident. The working relationship with a large animal and equine veterinarian was discussed as an important part of a successful rescue as well as aftercare.   The participants were then put to task practicing rescue scenarios using a 600 pound horse mannequin with a focus on safety for both humans and animals and the general welfare of the animal. Remembering the anatomy lessons clarifying that tails, legs, heads and necks are not appropriate handles, they practiced several different ways to perform drags, lifts and assists with safe attachment methods using specialized webbing for straps and proper support.   “Prevention of such incidents is key,” says Equine Guelph director, Gayle Ecker, “but response to the incidents involving animals through knowledge and best practices is an important part of the health, welfare and safety of animals and first responders. We thank AGCO chairman, Jeremy Locke for organizing this event and bringing this important training to the 2018 Organization of Racing Investigators Training Conference.”   Jackie Bellamy-Zions Communications Equine Guelph Guelph, ON  N1G 2W1 519.824.4120 ext. 54756 jbellamy@uoguelph.ca

Guelph, ON April, 25, 2018 - EquiMania! would like to extend a sincere thank you to the organizers, supporters, sponsors, volunteers and the attendees at the Can-Am Equine Expo in Markham, ON. It was the 13th consecutive year of participation for EquiMania! at yet another brilliant show! Can-Am is always a must-attend for horse lovers from all disciplines. The April 6 – 8 event offered a multitude of learning opportunities, as well as entertainment and shopping for a well-rounded sensational outing. The staff and volunteers manning the education booth and Equimania! fun zone are always impressed by the dedicated equestrians coming out to Can-Am to further their equine knowledge.   To build on Can-Am’s atmosphere of education, attendees of the Equine Guelph and EquiMania! displays were encouraged to fill out ballots for a chance to win a free short online course from The Horse Portal.   Congratulations to Victoria Ayres, of Queensville, Ontario, who won her choice of one of the following 3-week courses offered to ages 16 and up: Horse Care & Welfare (September 17 – October 5, 2018), Sickness Prevention (October 15 – 26, 2018), Gut Health and Colic Prevention (November 12 – 30, 2018) or Horse Behaviour & Safety (January 21 – February 8, 2019). Congratulations also go out to Teya from Ontario, who won free enrolment into Horse Behaviour & Safety for Youth (July 23 – August 10, 2018). Check out The Horse Portalfor more information on these courses and upcoming 12 week courses.    “My heartfelt thanks go out to Ross Millar and the Can-Am team, especially auction organizer Janice Blakeney, for their dedication to putting together the annual Art Auction featured at the Can-Am Saturday Evening Extravaganza,” says Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph. The auction was a resounding success with $4275.00 raised in under 15 minutes, with all the proceeds going to Equine Guelph. Many thanks to the four talented ladies who donated their beautiful pieces of art include: Nola McConnan, Ann Clifford, Kelly Plitz and Shawn Hamilton.    Equine Guelph would also like to acknowledge Heartland star, Amber Marshall for her role in the art auction. Amber provided a gift basket (signed magazines, necklace she wears on Heartland show, horse treats). When a call came out from the crowd to include a selfie, she quickly agreed to add that to the gift pack. The bidding quickly reached $800, and there were still 3 bidders at this level, so Amber suggested she would provide 3 gift packs and selfies if everyone would donate $800.  She tripled the donation with this action! Thank you Amber!   The strength of great partnerships has made EquiMania! a popular exhibit in Ontario and beyond. Equine Guelph thanks the sponsors and volunteers who make it possible to bring EquiMania! to approximately 2 million visitors every year! Thank you ESSO, Greenhawk, Kubota Canada, Ontario Equestrian, Shur-Gain, SSG Gloves, Standardbred Canada, System Fencing and Workplace Safety and Prevention Services.    To book EquiMania! for your next event contact Eq4kids@uoguelph.ca    Kids, visit EquiMania! online to play games online & stay tuned to upcoming events for more EquiMania! outings.   Equine Guelph

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: www.YouthLiteraryDerby.ca. For additional information: Bill Galvin: billgalvin2000@rogers.com    

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, billgalvin2000@rogers.com   Andrea Pietrzak: awhitrzak@yahoo.ca     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 theHorsePortal.ca 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 www.equineguelph.ca.   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) (equinediseasecc.org/alerts/outbreaks) 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): http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=553   FEI rule: https://inside.fei.org/node/3289   Vaccination Equi-Planner: http://www.equineguelph.ca/Tools/equiplanner.php        Jackie Bellamy-Zions Communications Equine Guelph Guelph, ON  N1G 2W1 519.824.4120 ext. 54756 jbellamy@uoguelph.ca

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

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