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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 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, 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 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!

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

Guelph, ON Jan, 23, 2020 - Congratulations to the Ontario Racing Industry Tuition Award Winners and December draw winners! What a great way to start the New Year with new learning.    Thanks to two very generous families, honouring the memory of their loved ones with strong passion for the racing industry, future ambassadors of the sport may apply for tuition into two Equine Guelph 12-week online courses.    The Roger L'Heureux Memorial Equine Award for 2019 has been presented to Holly De Way and the Stuart Stocks Memorial Equine Award has been presented to Natalie Elliott.                   Holly, who started grooming Standardbreds in 2014, is keen to put the tuition courses towards achieving her diploma in Equine Studies at Equine Guelph. She has already completed six out of the ten courses required! “There is always something to challenge me about these animals and this industry and that just keeps me motivated to learn more,” says De Way.                               Natalie has been involved in the sport of Standardbred racing for over 15 years starting as a groom and working her way up to owner, breeder and now trainer. “I look forward to advancing my equine knowledge with this tuition award and to sharing that knowledge with future youth and new participants in the racing sector,” says Elliott.   Equine Guelph thanks the L’Heureux family, David L’Heureux and Crystal Fountains Inc., for establishing this memorial award in loving memory of Standardbred driver, trainer and groom Roger L’Heureux. Roger was the son of Ephraim L'Heureux, a Standardbred driver, who won the first Maple Leaf Trot at Woodbine in 1950.    Equine Guelph also thanks the Stocks family for setting up the Stuart Stocks Memorial Equine Award in memory of their beloved brother, son and uncle, Mr. Stuart Stocks. Stuart Stocks was born in Sheffield England in 1957. He struggled throughout his life with a multitude of medical issues, but had a dry sense of humour, zest for life and love for horses.    Since 2016, there have been eight recipients of these awards set up for Ontario Racing industry members.  See Equine Guelph Tuition Awards  for entry details on how to apply for these opportunities in 2020.    December Horse Portal course raffle winners: Kari Lukianow of Woodstock, ON and Kat Irvine of Blackfoot, AB, learned that there is great value in being an Equine Guelph monthly E-News subscriber. Not only do you stay up to date on all the Equine Guelph course offerings, special events, horse health and research features but in the month of December a free HorsePortal.ca online course was drawn for both one current subscriber and one new one. Thanks for joining us Kat! The monthly E-News is free; sign up today at EquineGuelph.ca      Hear what another Equine Guelph course winner has to say. Rina Reddy earned her course through her dedication as an EquiMania! volunteer and what she has learned is having an impact back in her homeland of India! Learn more about EquiMania! and its volunteer rewards program.      by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - "Racehorse/Sport Horse Care and Rehabilitation" is the over-arching theme of the upcoming Horse Management Seminar hosted by the Equine Science Center and Rutgers Cooperative Extension. The seminar, scheduled from 8:00 am - 3:30 pm on Sunday, February 9, 2020, will feature presentations by several equine experts. "This year we selected a topic that we have not covered during any of the previous Horse Management Seminars. Whether you have racehorses, sport horses or just like riding horses there will be something for everyone! We have so many veterinary experts in the New Jersey area, I am very excited to be able to have them share their expertise with you" says Dr. Carey Williams, Extension Equine Specialist and Associate Director of Extension for the Equine Science Center. "Our goal for this workshop is to bring in the leading veterinary and academic experts in each of these topic areas. This includes caring for the racehorse, managing the sport horse, rehabilitating horses, transitioning careers between race and sport, and feeding for different types of exercise. We will also highlight some of the current, and future, research from Rutgers graduate students conducting equine research." Williams has assembled presenters who are recognized as the leading experts in their field to offer perspectives and personal insight. The morning will start with "Caring for the Racehorse vs. Sport Horse" by Dr. Nancy Lee, owner of Sound Equine. "Dr. Lee is a perfect speaker for this topic because she deals with both types of horses closely in her practice along with competing some sport horses of her own!" says Williams. The morning will also include Dr. Jesse Tyma, from Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center, a local veterinarian specializing in injuries common to both sport and racehorses. Dr. Tyma will present "Transitioning careers - Racing to Sport/Pleasure which injuries can you live with?" The afternoon will start off with "Rehabilitating a Race/Sport Horse from Injury" by Dr. Sarah Bye of Foundation Equine, Chesterfield, NJ which will be followed by "Feeding for Different Competitive Sports" by Dr. Shannon Pratt-Phillips, from North Carolina State University. "Dr. Pratt-Phillips has a long history of performing nutritional research in all kinds of equine athletes and is one of the top nutritionists in her field," mentions Dr. Williams. Closing out the day will be two short presentations on some of the current research taking place on campus, as well as what future research being planned. "Sugar Metabolism of Horses Grazing Warm-Season Forages" by Doctoral Candidate, Jennifer Weinert, and "The Human-Horse Interaction: What Does the Horse Tell Us?" by Doctoral Student, Ellen Rankins. In addition to these presentations, the seminar will feature informational displays, networking opportunities with industry companies and area organizations, ample time for one-on-one discussions with the day's presenters and lots of door prizes! Early bird registration ends soon (Jan. 26th) so register now for the great event! The complete program, registration information, and seminar brochure are posted on the Equine Science Center website at esc.rutgers.edu, as well as the registration site at: http://bit.ly/2020HorseManagement. For questions, please contact Dr. Carey Williams at 848-932-5529, carey.williams@rutgers.edu. The Equine Science Center is a unit of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Its mission is Better Horse Care through Research and Education in order to advance the well-being and performance of horses and the equine industry. Its vision is to be recognized throughout New Jersey as well as nationally and internationally for its achievements in identifying issues in the horse industry, finding solutions through science-based inquiry, providing answers to the horse industry and to horse owners, and influencing public policy to ensure the viability of the horse industry. For more information about the Equine Science Center, call 848-932-9419 or visit esc.rutgers.edu. From the Rutgers Equine Science Center  

Guelph, ON - Horses are highly adapted performance animals, but one unexplained adaptation "a delicate gastrointestinal tract" is their Achilles heel.   As in humans, horses' stomachs contain acid to digest and break down their food and mucus to protect the stomach wall against the acid. But for a vaguely inexplicable reason, horses lack mucus in the upper half of their stomach. This causes all sorts of issues, including gastric ulcers.   In fact, gastrointestinal diseases are the leading cause of death in horses.   “If acid splashes up, or their stomach is empty, it can really damage a horse’s stomach,” explains Jennifer MacNicol, a PhD candidate in the Department of Animal Biosciences. “But what if we can keep food in there longer and potentially buffer that splashing, or use nutraceuticals to reduce acid production or increase mucus production?”   Her research seeks to “determine what makes a horse’s gastrointestinal tract tick,” and to investigate the effectiveness of nutraceuticals proposed by industry.   Jennifer, who was awarded a prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, is also working to create an in vitro protocol to test nutraceuticals before animal trials.   An in vitro protocol simulates digestion in different compartments of a stomach. She hopes this will be a less invasive way to conduct equine research.    “I think as scientists we have an obligation that if we use live animals, we need to make sure they are the most directed and valuable studies,” Jennifer says. “I want to develop strong and robust in vitro methods so that we can do a lot of things before taking it into the live animal.”   More information on Jennifer’s research is available at uoguelph.ca/oac/horses-stomach   by Stephanie Craig, for Equine Guelph  

June 18th, 2019 (Guelph, ON): Only a month away until the 15th Annual International Equitation Science Conference is here!   Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to ‘Bring Science to the Stable’ by attending lectures, seminars, and hands-on workshops from world renowned equine scientists. It is all coming to the University of Guelph August 19 - 21, 2019.   Register Now at TheHorsePortal!   Keynote speakers include Dr. Sandra Olsen, Dr. Camie Heleski, Dr. Nic de Brauwere, and Dr. Andrew McLean. Their topics range from the historical horse-human relationship, the development of equitation science, how human behavior effects equine welfare, and learning theory across different species. A special presentation on using current research to manage both wild and domestic horses will be shared by Clever Hans speaker Dr. Jonaki Bhattacharyya.   There will be pre-conference workshops that include looking at equine behaviours in ethograms with Dr. Marc Pierard and how to communicate scientific information to equestrian communities with Christina Wilkens and Kate Fenner. The pre-conference also includes a large animal emergency rescue training session so you can be prepared for anything!     The third day of the conference is a practical day which includes demonstrations and seminars that feature some of the latest technologies in equitation science.   Learn more about these amazing speakers and topics at the ISES 2019 Blog; become part of the community that’s working to continue to improve equine welfare. Some of the blog posts include:   Give your Riding Precision with “Vert” Working Towards a Better Understanding of Equine Welfare at the Farm Level Revolutionizing Equestrian Sport: A Dashboard for Horses? If the Unspeakable Happens, Are You Ready? The Myths of Saddle Fitting – Helping Horses one Saddle at a Time! Equine Behaviour Expert Dr. Andrew McLean Can we all agree on what horses do? An ethology workshop with Dr. Marc Pierard A short evolutionary note of Equitation Science to be presented by Dr. Camie Heleski Digging Deeper into the Life of Equine Archaeologist Sandra Olsen Clever Hans speaker Jonaki Bhattacharyya: What feelings and images does the thought of “wild horses” evoke in you About the International Society for Equitation Science The International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to facilitate research into the training of horses to enhance horse welfare and improve the horse-rider relationship. www.equitationscience.com   For more information contact: ISES Honorary President Janne Winther-Christensen presidents@equitationscience.com   Local Conference Organizer: Katrina Merkies, PhD Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph (519) 824-4120 x54707 ISES2019@uoguelph.ca

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

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

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

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