Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 16 of 255
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

Guelph, ON Aug, 27, 2020 - Horse human interaction studies were discussed in a talk presented by Dr. Katrina Merkies, Ontario Agricultural College at the three day virtual conference hosted by the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES).   With around 50 recent horse behavior studies referenced in the 40 minute presentation (and apologies for the many not mentioned), there is an undeniable growing interest to understand our impact on physiological and behavioural states of our equine partners.  “The road to horse and human well-being” was the journey unfolding as Merkies expounded on the discoveries of her studies and those of fellow researchers.  Evidenced-based research stands to make great strides toward continually improving equine welfare.   What do we know about horses?   The talk began by introducing one of Merkies’ collaborative research studies on how humans perceive their bond with horses.  The survey indicated people would characterize their bond in several ways: the horse approaching them, vocally greeting them, trusting them in a frightening situation, taking care of them during hardships and physically touching them.  Another study showed humans can distinguish between positive and negative domestic horse vocalizations.    A study by Merkies PhD student, Cordelie DuBois, surveyed participants with surprising results.  When asked to rank welfare-compromising scenarios, most could easily pick out a physical threat to a horse but there was more variance in answers to questions where the effects of boredom or frustration were to be identified.       How do horses perceive us & what impact are we having on their welfare?   Since the advent of the ‘five freedoms of animal welfare’ and the evolution of ‘the five domains model’, increasing attention has been placed on animals not just surviving in our care but thriving and having their social/emotional needs met for a life worth living.  Scientific research continues to contribute to an ever increasing knowledge base.   Merkies’ latest collective paper on the Effect of Human Attachment Style on Horse Behaviour and Physiology during Equine-Assisted Activities was published earlier this year.  The pilot study aimed to determine the effect of the attachment style of at-risk adolescents on the physiology and behavior of therapy horses during a 10-week Equine Facilitated Learning program.  The therapy horses used during this study indicated a low stress response toward participants in the program.  In particular, a human insecure attachment style produced more predictable behavioural responses in the horses.   In another study, Merkies and her team discovered that, depending on the kind of stress, horses might blink significantly less when they’re experiencing acute stress.     Horses may understand us better than we understand them.  One study has shown that horses are adept at distinguishing human facial expressions.  Another study by Merkies’ graduate student, Abby Hodder, further supported this research and explored how this ability could influence the affective state of a horse.     Can we say we are as good at reading a horses’ expression?  Have a look at the research on facial grimace recognition in horses to see if you can distinguish between relaxed and pained expressions.   Merkies has also joined researchers in the quest to find out how horses listen to us and if the human voice could have a calming effect on horses.  She relays, horses in a round pen moved more quickly when a stern voice was introduced than when a pleasant one was used.  The horses were also more likely to turn their body toward a pleasant voice.  Merkies has also seen for herself in various studies that horses do not like being alone, instantly becoming calmer when a human enters a round pen scenario. Another study reveals horses are more likely to approach an attentive person over an inattentive one.     Studies on horses’ emotional intelligence have come out with conflicting results with some pointing out a confident handler could more easily lead a horse through an obstacle course, while other studies suggest horses are not stressed by a nervous handler.  Some studies have suggested horses can recognize different emotions but empathy or experience of those emotions are unknown.   The hot topics of positive and negative reinforcement in the training of horses had been a recurring theme throughout the ISES conference and was not to be left out of Merkies’ presentation.  Incorrect use of negative reinforcement (such as incorrect timing removing the pressure of an aid) has been linked to increased stress in horses.  Positive reinforcement has been shown to lead to anticipatory behaviour and a greater attentiveness to the trainer.  Other studies have also revealed horses kept on pasture desensitize to novel stimuli quicker.     The talk finished up on more recurrent themes of ‘social license to operate’ and charging the human handlers with practicing ‘agency’ for the horse.  Tuning in to the horses needs and allowing them to express themselves.  Not dismissing if they turn away when the bridle is presented, and similar cues delivered with body language.  Education is the key to recognizing positive indicators of welfare and picking up on warning signs.  Equitation science will continue to play an important role championing for equine welfare.   Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit www.equineguelph.ca.   Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions   Web Link(s): Story web link: https://thehorseportal.ca/2020/08/horse-human-interactions-studied/   Other web links: 50 recent horse behavior studies referenced https://equineguelph.ca/pdf/facts/A-Match-Made-in-Heaven-references.pdf   humans can distinguish between positive and negative domestic horse vocalizations https://equineguelph.ca/pdf/surveys/VOX lay abstract.pdf   Cordelie DuBois, surveyed participants with surprising results https://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=663   Effect of Human Attachment Style on Horse Behaviour and Physiology during Equine-Assisted Activities https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071156   horses might blink significantly less when they’re experiencing acute stress https://equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=646   horses are adept at distinguishing human facial expressions http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2015.0907   facial grimace recognition in horses https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/figure?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0092281.g002   if the human voice could have a calming effect on horses https://thehorse.com/116430/study-tone-pitch-human-voice-could-affect-horses/   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.      

Guelph, ON Aug. 19, 2020 - Practice makes perfect and veterinarians spend countless hours honing their skills in laboratories before graduating and applying that knowledge in the field.  Anatomical models of the equine neck, created by 3-D printing, are revolutionizing how veterinary students and graduates will practice the precise placement required in ultrasound-guided injections.   Dr. Alex zur Linden, radiologist and Ontario Veterinary College researcher, teamed up with John Phillips, PhD Engineer and director of 3D printing in the University of Guelph’s Digital Haptic Lab to come up with some exciting models that are the first of their kind in the veterinary field.   “We hope the research to create these models will serve as a resource for the scientific community to make similar models,” says zur Linden who published a paper on the research in 2019 with his graduate student Alexandre Beaulieu, and provided Equine Guelph with a fascinating video interview.     Ultrasound guided injections are a common method of treating osteoarthritis in the equine cervical vertebrae.   Typically veterinary students, grad students, interns, faculty and graduate vets train for this procedure using cadavers which is a race against time itself.  Add to that a delay in gaining feedback on the results and the advantages of a 3D printed model become very clear.     Since 2018, zur Linden and his team have been working with Dr. Phillips, testing thirteen different types of materials and printers in combination to compare which model would work best to simulate real bone using ultrasound.  Six of the materials proved suitable for simulating bone or joints for use with ultrasound.  The team has succeeded in creating model vertebrae of the equine neck and embedded them in ballistics gel to simulate the soft tissues surrounding the bones.  These models will give the veterinary community the opportunity to practice ultrasound guided procedures with instant feedback.  The efficiency is beyond compare and the models are completely reusable!  Once the lab practice is complete, the model can be melted down to remove all needle tracks and it is ready to go for the next use.  Time will tell how many procedures can be practiced with one model.   “To create one of these models, the design engineer has the most time consuming job,” explains zur Linden.  “Once we have a CT scan, a few weeks will be spent using software to segment out the anatomy that is to be printed.  The printing of the model only takes 3 – 6 hours.”  Post processing may involve removing supports, removing excess resin and curing to reveal a model that closely mimics bone.  Then the 3D printed models can be embedded in clear ballistics gel to mimic skin and muscle, and degassed to remove all gas bubbles.   There is  great potential for this technology to enhance student learning and to improve the quality of care for the patients.   CT scans from unique cases could be used to create models that would provide vet students opportunities to practice with an array of abnormalities.     “This project, funded by Equine Guelph, afforded the opportunity to work with so many different printers and materials,” zur Linden says, “I am looking forward to sharing results and collaborating with other researchers, working on more challenging and different models including constructing blood vessels and airways for interventional radiology procedures.”       by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions, for Equine Guelph    

Guelph, ON - July, 29, 2020 - A generous donation of $100,000 to Equine Guelph has been made by the Kerr family to establish an equine education and community outreach endowment. A portion of the Kerr Fund for Equine Education and Community Outreach will support much needed ongoing operational funding for the University of Guelph’s not-for-profit Centre for the horse owner.   Sheryl Kerr was inspired to set up the fund through her positive experience taking courses on TheHorsePortal.ca, Equine Guelph's online learning platform. After taking the Horse Care and Welfare course, quoting from the National Equine Code of Practice came naturally for creating a Covid-19 response plan for her 150-acre farm and training facility. Kerr was impressed with the practicality of the Equine Guelph course and how lessons learned could be directly applied to daily operations.   Having learned so much myself from Equine Guelph's online courses, I know first-hand how much value they bring to the horse community," said Kerr. "Our horses deserve the very best, and Equine Guelph has access to the latest advice from experts across a range of topics that are essential for any horse owner from beginners to barn owners."   Equine Guelph Director Gayle Ecker expressed gratitude and says, “the funding will help us to continue to build our practical and affordable educational programs and industry resources that help improve horse welfare.   The global reach of Equine Guelph's programs was recognized recently by Equestrian Canada as the 2019 recipient of their National Health and Welfare Award. Equine Guelph has been a pioneer in the development of evidence-based, award-winning online education since 2002.   Many student testimonials resonate with Kerr's sentiments, extolling the merits of a wonderful online learning community, the quality of content and expertise of the instructors and guest speakers.   "My hope is that the Kerr Fund for Equine Education and Community Outreach will bring greater awareness for the excellent programs and resources that Equine Guelph has to offer, as well as to inspire others in the horse community to give," said Kerr. "Any horse enthusiast can benefit from what Equine Guelph has to offer, and programs like this rely on donations to survive and thrive."   by Jackie Bellamy-Zions, for Equine Guelph    

Guelph, ON July, 22, 2020 - Cryopreservation is the next exciting stage of research in stem cell therapy. Dr. Thomas Koch and his team are working to preserve cartilage chips for long-term storage, which would enable off-the-shelf use to treat localized cartilage defects. Defects that very often shorten or end horses athletic careers.   Cryopreservation (or vitrification) is the formation of a solid from an aqueous solution without the formation of ice crystals. Using cartilage chips created from equine umbilical cord blood, this next stage in research has the potential to change the way cartilage defects are treated.   If cryopreserved, stored cells can be used; treatment would be very efficient, with no need to harvest stem cells from the patient. This means fewer visits, less waiting and faster treatment.   Listen to the following video where Dr. Koch discusses the future of this ground-breaking research, targeting a common issue (cartilage defects) across disciplines and even species (horse/human).   An injection of funding from Ontario Equestrian allowed for a preliminary study to find out if they were able to vitrify equine cartilage stem cells well from cadavers. "We are very excited to have received this support," says Koch. "The preliminary study will allow for future funding sources from both equine specific and human medicine."   The Ontario Veterinary College is currently working in collaboration with a world-renown cartilage vitrification specialist, Dr. Jomha Nadr, and his team at the University of Alberta, Edmonton to establish a robust vitrification protocol for eCB-MSC-derived neocartilage.   The work will generate pivotal data to support the clinical evaluation of cryopreserved allogenic eCBMSC cartilage chips to repair focal cartilage defects in research horses. Fully implemented, this therapy would provide a safe, efficacious, and technically simple treatment for horses as well as provide an opportunity for a Canadian biotechnology business to bank and distribute vitrified cartilage tissue in unlimited quantities to the world market.   The future of regenerative therapies are exciting, and the potential applications are wide ranging, from treating cartilage defects to potentially delaying the onset of osteo-arthritic changes to treating bacterial infections and inflammation. "We believe this work has the long-term potential to benefit both horses and humans through the development of novel off-the-shelf cell-based therapies for damaged joint cartilage," says Koch.   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.   by Jackie Bellamy-Zions, for Equine Guelph    

Guelph, ON June 10, 2020 - Could biologic therapies be the future for treating joint disease? Ontario Veterinary College researcher, Dr. Mark Hurtig and his team are investigating novel new methods to potentially repair tissue rather than just suppressing the signs of joint disease.   Hurtig also explains the mechanism and contributing factors to fetlock chip fractures stating they can be related to the surface that the horse works on and the intensity of that work.   Dr. Hurtig explains his research into biologic therapies & gives tips to avoid lameness as horses resume training in this 15 minute video.     As a rider and veterinarian, Dr. Hurtig provides some precautions when resuming training of a horse: Return to exercise slowly and incrementally with lots of walking When introducing trotting avoid hard surfaces. Avoid complex moves at first – promote relaxation. Allow an adaptation time when working on new surfaces and cross-train on the surfaces you intend to expose your horse to   Regarding the period of time required before a horse is ready for harder work, Hurtig says, “It depends on the bio-mechanical challenge to their muscular skeletal system.”   One could spend at least three months preparation before the horse is ready for high level performance. It can also take up to a year to get ligaments and tendons ready for Olympic level sport.   Hurtig is excited about his research on Intra Articular therapies that utilize direct injection into the joint as a targeted therapy but cautions against injections used for maintenance or as a preventative measure.   Learn more about Dr. Hurtig's research   Want to learn more about lameness?   Equine Guelph has free healthcare tools: Lameness Lab and Journey through the Joints  Test your knowledge and savvy for spotting lameness!   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.   by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

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

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

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

Guelph, ON April, 30, 2020 - Spring is upon us and so is the prevalence of gas colic. Equine Guelph is sharing many strategies to prevent it.   First, Equine Guelph recommends that every horse owner refers to its FREE Colic Risk Rater Tool (www.equineguelph.ca/colictool) to help them assess their management practices, such as introducing new feeds slowly to reduce their colic risk.  An excellent video discussing safe introduction to spring pasture with expert in equine nutrition, Don Kapper, has just been added to the valuable resources housed on the Colic Risk Rater web page. Horse people are generally good about making changes to their horse’s grain rations over a two-week period. It is understood that an increase in grain means an increase in starch that can cause hind gut issues like colic and diarrhea and there is also the risk of laminitis.  Pasture is not always thought of in the same way, but it should be!  Spring grasses are higher in Non-Structural Carbohydrates, (NSC’s), starch and sugars, like fructan and low in fibre, especially during rapid growth phases.   A sudden increase of fresh spring grass in a horse’s diet can change the pH in the hindgut and cause all sorts of health issues including colic.  Spring grass, low in fibre is rapidly fermented, and an overload of starch enters the cecum killing off microbes important to digestion.  Kapper says, “The first sign you will see is a loosening of the stools.”   When excessive fermentation creates a buildup of gas in the gut this is when gas colic can occur.  The stretching of the intestinal wall from the gas build up causes considerable pain.  A veterinarian should be consulted whenever colic is suspected.  Gas colic is often mild, but it can also lead to a twist in the gut that would require surgery.     To keep your horse’s digestive system healthy, the gradual introduction of new forage (including pasture) is very important.  The nutritional composition (e.g. the amount of protein, sugars and types of fibre) varies greatly between forage types, and especially between hay and newly growing spring pasture. The bacteria in a horse’s gut need time to adjust to these changes.    “If the horse is turned out 24/7, mother nature will take care of your horse’s gradual introduction to spring pasture,” says Kapper. “The grass grows slowly, and they will continue eating hay on the side.”   For the horse that is stabled, the stable manager must limit the amount of new growth the horse is exposed to in the pasture on a daily basis.  First, let the grass paddock grow to approximately six inches.   You may start with just one hour of turn out per day on the lush grass pasture before putting them back in their sacrifice paddock or dry lot where they have been all winter.  You can slowly increase that by 30 minutes to an hour every other day.    Consider turn-out very early in the morning when NSC concentrations are lower (NSC concentrations increase throughout the day with increasing sunlight).  However, if there has been frost overnight, NSC’s will accumulate in the grass.  In this instance you will want to restrict turn-out.   Kapper makes a clear distinction between the management of horses diagnosed with metabolic issues and the rest of your herd.  The metabolic horse requires a diet low in NSC’s and may be best managed on a dry lot, with hay as the only forage.  One must always work with their veterinarian when planning the best options for care of the metabolic horse.   Kapper also discusses weed control and pasture maintenance.  Horses generally avoid poisonous plants unless there is nothing else to eat.  Being diligent with pasture maintenance pays off not only in the reduction of weeds but in the ability to use your pasture to help fulfill your horses forage needs.     With a high moisture content than hay, there is great value in being able to provide pasture to your horses.  It is good for your budget and good for your horse’s overall health if introduced with caution.   CapriCMW Insurance Services Ltd. is the generous sponsor of the Colic Risk Rater Tool (www.equineguelph.ca/colictool) Mike King, of CapriCMW, is a dedicated horseman who believes in the importance of education for horse owners. He addresses why it was so important for his organization to partner with Equine Guelph on this initiative, “Given our decades of experience in insuring horses from coast to coast, we know that colic is one of the highest risk factors for death in the Canadian herd. We can think of no better risk management tool to prevent colic than education.”   Equine Guelph extends a big thank you to Don Kapper for sharing his expertise. There were so many great tips in this video. Here are the top 10:   Introduce spring grass gradually, increases of 30 minutes to an hour every other day NSC concentrations are lower early in the morning except when overnight frost occurs. Keep hay in front of your horse at all times.  Chew time=saliva= healthy pH in the gut and reduces the chance of digestive issues. As little as 4 hrs without forage can have a negative impact on gut health. Signs of not enough fibre:  loose stools, eating dirt, fences, manes & tails, trees Mow weeds as soon as you see them start to flower (in spring about every 3 weeks)  When mowing pasture set the mower 6 inches from the ground. If stools loosen during a change in forage, brewer’s yeast can provide a good culture for microbes in the horse’s gut.  Pre-biotics could also prove useful. Consult your veterinarian for diet and management advice for metabolic horses, they are very susceptible to issues when starch is even slightly elevated. Spring pasture maintenance begins with a soil test checking for an ideal pH between 6.5 & 7.  From there you will know what to add in lime and then what to add to your fertilizer.     More tips on getting the most out of your pasture and maintaining your horse’s digestive health in the 27 minute video and at The Colic Risk Rater tool (www.equineguelph.ca/colictool).   Equine nutritionist Don Kapper (Professional Animal Scientist) is the author of the chapter on “Applied Nutrition” for the authoritative veterinary textbook: “Equine Internal Medicine”, 2nd edition and was a member of the “Performance Electrolyte Research” team at the University of Guelph. He is also a frequent guest speaker in Equine Guelph’s online Nutrition courses and TheHorsePortal.ca online Gut Health and Colic Prevention course.   Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit www.equineguelph.ca.   Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

Guelph, ON April, 23,2020 - Could the same biomarkers linking low vitamin D to seriously ill humans be present in horses?  Starting this spring, Ontario Veterinary College researcher, Dr. Luis Arroyo and his team will be collecting and analyzing equine blood samples measuring vitamin D and other biomarkers of inflammation and systemic disease.  They expect to find major disorders of hormonal pathways, much like in human studies looking at hypovitaminosis D as a marker of disease severity.  This knowledge could be pivotal to future studies looking into clinical intervention at the earliest stages.   Equine enterocolitis (diarrhea, colitis) is a major cause of equine deaths worldwide.  “It is a black box,” says Arroyo as he recalls a staggering statistic from a recently published paper out of California.  The paper stated that in 13 years of studying over 700 enterocolitis cases, the cause of the disease was unknown at least 65% of the time.  Colitis can result in loss of hormonal control, metabolic/ electrolyte / fluid imbalances, and organ failure.   Horses are hindgut fermenters and they depend on the microbiota in the gut to break down what they eat and produce energy.  Disturbance of this ecology will affect the health of the horse directly.  Colitis causes inflammation of the intestine and the horse can end up with diarrhea.  When this occurs and there is significant nutrient loss, they can end up becoming very sick.     Vitamin D is involved in regulation of calcium and phosphorus, bone health, controls the immune system, and reduces inflammation.  Currently, there is no information on how the blood levels of vitamin D change in sick and healthy adult horses.   “This research project is not about the pathogenesis of colitis but more on how the horse responds to this disease and how the system is coping with it,” says Arroyo.  “Much like taking a car to the mechanic and having them perform tests to see what is wrong; the research is very much in the diagnostic stage to see what is wrong in the digestive system.”   “Can we better understand what is going on in these cases and then better manage them, help them recover faster or even prevent them?” asks Arroyo.  “With this knowledge comes the possibility of modulating what is going on in the intestine.”   Arroyo stated that it is quite common to have several cases of colitis admitted to the OVC in a month.  The diligence in the research will be collecting samples from each horse, every day for at least four consecutive days.  They will analyzing at 6- 8 different metabolites.  “We want to understand the progression,” says Arroyo regarding the importance of collecting samples for at least 4 days from the same horses.   “The focus will be to follow horses with colitis but we also want to understand patterns in horses with different conditions as well as healthy horses,” says Arroyo.  The research plan includes analyzing serum samples of 40 horses, including a control group.   “We are interested in the talk between the adrenal glands and the brain and how one can stimulate or inhibit the other,” says Arroyo.  “If disorders of hormonal pathways are discovered, this knowledge will be useful for future studies.  Some of these so-called vitamins, they are actually viewed now as hormones, as they have a function more like a hormone playing important roles in multiple organs.  Hormone therapy has shown promise in treating humans.  We want to see where there are opportunities to intervene in the early stages for horses with colitis.”    Arroyo is looking forward to collaborating with expert in Equine Endocrinology from The Ohio State University, Dr. Ramiro Toribio on this exciting new research study.  New OVC faculty, Dr. Diego Gomez, will also be part of the team in this project kindly funded by Equine Guelph.   Equine Guelph

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

Guelph, ON Mar. 30, 2020 - Equine Guelph has opened a FREE offering of their online Sickness Prevention in Horses course ($85 value - free with coupon code) in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.   TheHosePortal.ca course is based on the Canadian standard for equine biosecurity.  While many are at home for the next few weeks, this is an ideal time to learn online and develop your own action plan and backup arrangements.   Maintaining health is everyone’s responsibility. Biosecurity is a word and practice not well understood by an unsettling number of public riding facilities.   How many people wipe down the chains and snaps on cross-ties with disinfectant because they understand this is one of many practices that can reduce the risk of disease spread?  This is just one of the simple take-aways from Equine Guelph’s free Biosecurity Calculator online healthcare tool.   Other agricultural industries such as poultry and dairy follow strict protocols to ensure the health of their animals.  Every person entering a facility has to log in and out.  They follow the rules of National Codes of Practice and Biosecurity.  The horse industry also has a National Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines and a National Farm and Facility Level Biosecurity standard for the Equine Sector.      Those who have read and follow those guidelines may well lament over the number of facilities that immediately introduce an unknown horse into it’s herd with complete optimism that nothing will go wrong.  In this time of heightened alert, all reliable sources of education to prevent sickness are our salvation.  We all can and must take steps to safeguard health of both humans and animals.   Just what do you say to someone who comes back from their boarding barn search with the complaint, “Oh, it’s a lovely facility but they want to quarantine my horse for the first month - that will be inconvenient and I want my horse to have group turn-out.”?  The COVID-19 outbreak has made us all keenly aware of the importance of physical distancing as a crucial way to prevent the spread of disease.  Asymptomatic (no evidence of symptoms) does not equate to no health risk to others.   Our minds should instantly become more at ease when a facility has a quarantine protocol, wants to see vaccination records or even wants to see results from a strangles swab.  Horses are social, herd animals and being with their herd mates is an important component of their welfare but there is also an important balance to strike in safeguarding herd health.    If a horse enters a stable (perhaps travelling from a ‘hot spot’ – e.g. auction or yearling sale to name but two) asymptomatic upon arrival but they happen to be carrying a transmittable disease – what then?  They can pass the disease on to the entire herd.  That is inconvenient, costly and in the worst-case scenarios deadly. It is also a preventable welfare issue for the horses that suffer from the disease.   In this unprecedented time of social distancing, people are becoming acutely aware of the importance of carefully monitoring health and following quarantine protocols.   Monitoring for fever, cough and signs of sickness is daily news at the moment.   In a recent  article run by the Toronto Star regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Amy Greer, Canada research chair in population disease modelling at the University of Guelph  was quoted “It’s possible that Ontario will never experience the level of community transmission that the model estimates — just as it’s also possible that the province is on the cusp of a wider outbreak.  From a public health perspective, that’s always the challenge,” said Greer,  “If we do a really good job, people say, ‘Well you were overreacting, because nothing happened.’”   Well-run equestrian facilities and well informed horse owners closely monitor horses that have recently traveled.  Temperatures are taken daily along with a thorough horse health check.  Feed buckets, water buckets, tack, stall-cleaning equipment are not shared.  Hoses are never allowed to touch down into the buckets when they are refilled.  New arrivals may be able to see but not touch other horses.  Ideally, a separate quarantine barn is utilized.   For existing residents, such as horses returning home from being on the show circuit (higher risk location) best practices are to turn them out together but separate from the herd that does not travel.     Dr. Scott Weese, infection control expert at the University of Guelph has been very busy with his Worms and Germs blog as of late, providing advice for the FAQ’s coming in from animal owners. Weese was recently interviewed by TVO What we know — and don’t know — about how COVID-19 affects animals.  Weese is also featured in many resources in Equine Guelph’s biosecurity resources.   Maintaining health is the responsibility of everyone.   Arm yourself with scientifically proven information.  Ensure you have a written plan in case you get sick or injured to ensure ongoing care for your horses.   Stay safe everyone during this COVID-19 pandemic.  When it is all over may we all emerge strong, informed and vigilant in biosecurity best practices.    Equine Guelph’s Resources for Equine Health & Biosecurity: Equine Guelph’s Biosecurity Calculator - free online healthcare tool Equine Guelph’s Sickness Prevention online short course - Special FREE offering! Equine Guelph’s Health & Disease 12-week online course   Equine Guelph HEALTHflash Alert – COVID-19 - Caring for your horse during a pandemic    COVID-19 resources helpful for horse owners and caretakers     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 www.equineguelph.ca.   Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions - Equine Guelph   Photos:  (images available upon request)    Photo Caption: Have you created an action plan to care for your animals?   Web Link(s):  Story web link: https://thehorseportal.ca/2020/03/protect-your-herd-equine-guelph-announces-a-free-offering-of-online-sickness-prevention-course/   Other web links:   FREE offering of Equine Guelph's Online Sickness Prevention in Horses course https://thehorseportal.ca/course/sickness-prevention-in-horses-s20/   National Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines https://equineguelph.ca/pdf/tools/codeofpractice/equine_code_of_practice%20(1).pdf   National Farm and Facility Level Biosecurity Standard for the Equine Sector  https://www.equineguelph.ca/pdf/tools/CFIA_ACIA-7979460-v1-Equine-Standard-English-PDF-Final.pdf    Toronto Star article: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/03/10/social-distancing-could-go-a-long-way-toward-slowing-down-covid-19-researchers-say.html?fbclid=IwAR29CXayus3I2LUofg6A7Xg-Z8520SicukLH-0moAC8KM5RmG9J87W__UQ4   Worms and germs blog by infection control expert, Dr. Scott Weese https://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/   TVO story with Dr. Weese: https://www.tvo.org/article/what-we-know-and-dont-know-about-how-covid-19-affects-animals   Equine Guelph HEALTHflash Alert – COVID-19 - Caring for your horse during a pandemic   https://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=666   COVID-19 resources helpful for horse owners and caretakers https://thehorseportal.ca/covid-19-updates-resources/   Equine Guelph’s Biosecurity Calculator https://www.equineguelph.ca/Tools/biosecurity.php   Equine Guelph’s Sickness Prevention online short course https://thehorseportal.ca/course/equine-biosecurity-standard/   Equine Guelph’s Health & Disease 12-week online course https://courses.opened.uoguelph.ca/search/publicCourseSearchDetails.do?method=load&courseId=17916       Jackie Bellamy-Zions Communications Equine Guelph Guelph, ON  N1G 2W1 519.824.4120 ext. 54756 jbellamy@uoguelph.ca  

Guelph, ON DATE OF RELEASE - Mar. 19, 2020  - Are you succeeding in keeping yourself and the kids busy during self-isolation and social distancing? The Ontario Government has enacted a Declaration of Emergency to Protect the Public, and this includes the closure of riding facilities . As the challenges of this pandemic continue, we are all looking for ways to cope.    In response to requests coming in from the industry, Equine Guelph has moved up the start date and extended access for both their youth (13 – 17) and adult offerings of the Online Horse Behaviour and Safety Course.    By joining the Equine Guelph online community, equestrians can stay connected during this time of social distancing. You can even learn together with a FAMILY BOGO deal - buy one adult offering and receive a youth offering for free!   The courses are typically run over two weeks but access has been extended from Monday March 23 until May 11, 2020. For less than the cost of a missed riding lesson, students will be able to join in a highly interactive online learning community with group discussions amongst their peers, Q&A’s with the course instructor and an expert guest speaker.   Registration is open now and will remain open from Mar 23 – May 1. For those already enrolled, for the course previously scheduled to begin April 6th, you will be able to join in early. Learn at an easy pace with the ability to log on 24/7 to the course and enjoy the extended access on the discussion boards. Keep your horse-crazy kid from going stir-crazy with this fantastic learning opportunity. Adults will also find solace, especially if their barn time has been limited during this trying time of social distancing.    “The Horse Portal brings together our youth in a safe, online community where they will learn how to ‘speak horse’ – and, ultimately, stay safe around horses and on the farm!” says Equine Guelph director, Gayle Ecker. "From grass roots to adult industry professionals, we are so proud when our students tell us how our courses have helped them."   Course Topics include:   1. The Horse in the Wild – A Herd and Flight Animal 2. The Modern Day Horse 3. How Horses See and Hear 4. Herd Behaviour – How Horses Interact with Each Other 5. Horse Handling/Approaching a Horse 6. Rider/Helmet Safety 7. Trailer Loading Safety Basics 8. Safety around the Barn and Paddocks 9. Fire Safety 10. Returning from an Injury Equine Guelph online students from across the globe are becoming industry leaders and making a difference to horse health and welfare.    Watch videos of success stories.   Join the supportive online community at TheHorsePortal.ca to connect with horse lovers and see where your love of horses will take you.     Equine Guelph has partnered with all English-speaking equestrian federations across Canada as well as youth groups and international organizations. Check the partners tab to see if you qualify for a special 10-15% course discount for TheHorsePortal.ca courses. Partners discounts are applicable for those taking advantage of the FAMILY BOGO deal! Learn together!

COVID-19 - Caring for your horse during a pandemic   The situation that we are currently facing world-wide not only impacts people but also our horses (and other animals) in our care.   Make sure that you have stocked up on extra supplies, medications, forage/feed and other necessities for all your animals. Check with your essential needs providers (i.e., feed stores) to see if they are open and if they have methods of providing you with your needs (i.e., ordering online or by phone, putting your order outside the door of the store as you arrive or other alternatives).   It is also important that you write out the care instructions for your animals.   In the event of illness or injury, you have a plan for caring for your animals so that someone else can step in and help.     Contact your friends and acquaintances (virtually) to ensure they are okay and have things in place and enough food, particularly those that are living alone and those that may not have a support system. Neighbours can help arrange to bring in food and leave at their gates/steps for those that are in home isolation or assist those who are caring for animals.   Download the resource provided by Ontario Animal Health Network (OAHN) https://oahn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-Caring-for-your-horse-during-a-pandemic-finalxx.pdf   It is a time to help support each other, and the care of our animals is part of that, Take care everyone.   Equine Guelph        

Guelph, ON Feb, 18, 2020 - Bits and breathing. Both words start with the letter B and most might assume their relationship ends there. But Dr. David Mellor, a leading animal welfare expert at Massey University in New Zealand, believes there is more to the story, especially when it comes to our horses. His research, shared in a talk at the University of Guelph in autumn 2017, looks at how bit use can impact equine breathing during exercise and what this means for equine welfare.   Interested in breathing, exercise and performance in horses? Check out Equine Guelph’s upcoming 2-week course on Racehorse Respiratory Health.   One of the first topics that Mellor covered during his talk was bit-induced pain (pain that comes from bit use). Mellor introduced the topic by asking audience members to take a pen, press it lengthwise against their teeth, increase the pressure, and consider the amount of pain this caused. He then asked audience members to repeat the steps, with the pen pressed against their lower gums instead. Audience members agreed that this location produced more pain.   Try this experiment for yourself. Mellor compared the sensation felt on the lower gums to the sensation felt by your horse when a bit is in their mouth. He explained that the sensation can range from mild agitation to severe pain, depending on factors like bit type and rein use.   Mellor then extended this topic to links between bit use and breathing in horses. He explained that many horses will open their mouths to deal with bit-induced pain. Unfortunately, when a horse opens his mouth, especially during intense exercise, it becomes harder for them to breathe.   This is because horses breathe only with their noses, and not their mouths. In fact, a horse's mouth actually needs to be closed for optimal breathing. When the mouth is closed, there is a negative pressure that the horse creates and maintains through swallowing. This pressure keeps the soft palate from blocking the nasopharynx. If something, like bit-induced pain, causes the mouth to open, then the pressure is disrupted and the soft palate can block the pharynx. This obstruction can cause the horse to experience breathlessness, which can impact the horse's athletic performance.   More details on the links between bit use and breathlessness in horses can be found in Mellor's recently published literature review.   In another talk at the University of Guelph, Mellor presented on his research looking at the big picture of animal welfare. One of the core concepts of animal welfare is the Five Freedoms, which cover the five main aspects of animal welfare (e.g. freedom from hunger or thirst). Dr. Mellor explained that the Five Freedoms give an animal reasonable survival, by looking after their nutrition, environment, and health. However, he believes that it's time to move towards giving animals a  "Life Worth Living". This is based on the concept that for animals to have "lives worth living" not only necessary to minimize their negative experiences, but also provide the animals with opportunities to have positive experiences. For instance, giving them experiences to feel engaged, positive, and providing time for bonding and play behaviours. For more on Dr. Mellor's fascinating work, check out his talk on the topic.   Did you know that horses are obligate nose-breathers? Have you thought about how this impacts their respiratory system health and their performance? Topics like these will be covered in Equine Guelph’s upcoming Racehorse Respiratory Health course, available exclusively to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) licence holders. Register here.   by Nicole Weidner, for Equine Guelph University  

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

1 to 16 of 255
1 2 3 4 5 Next »