Feeding a balanced diet then taking care of nutrient replacement after exercise is imperative to keep horses performing well at an upper level of performance. Don Kapper, shared his wealth of knowledge in equine nutrition and management in a recent visit to Canada. His talk at the University of Guelph discussed the importance of understanding gut function and nutrient absorption in order to understand the importance of nutrient replacement. Assessing body condition and topline evaluation scores were addressed as was the importance of providing good quality protein as a source of amino acids to avoid deficiencies that can negatively affect topline muscles, tendons, hooves and overall health. Last but not least, the role of electrolytes were discussed to avoid dehydration and keep athletes bouncing back into top form for the next day of competition. GUT FUNCTION "Horses are designed to be continuous grazers," explains Kapper. An 1100 pound horse will eat up to 18 hours a day consuming 2.0% to 2.5 % of their body weight per day in dry forage (22 to 28 lbs). While doing this, they will produce between 25 to 30 gallons of saliva, significantly reducing the chances of acid gut syndrome and improving nutrient absorption and over-all gut health. Horses only produce saliva when they chew, therefore, feeding forage ad-lib will increase the production of saliva - one of the best buffers for the horses' digestive system and the most effective way to reduce the chance of ulcers and impaction colic. Kapper brought home another benefit of continuous grazing by comparing the small intestine to sausage casing, "When it is full it is almost impossible to twist." Going without eating for several hours at a time can be a factor in colic resulting from a twisted intestine. The stomach of the horse is relatively small and food only stays there for around 15 minutes, where acids begin to break it down. Moving through the next 90 foot of small intestine, it takes between 30 - 90 minutes, therefore, it moves at a rate of one to three feet per minute. Now you can understand why horses seem to be hungry all the time. The small intestine is the primary absorption sight of amino acids, fatty acids, major and trace minerals and vitamins. Therefore, the quality of the forage and feeds fed to a horse is more important than the quality of the forage and feeds fed to ruminants (cattle, goats and sheep, etc.). Ruminants will break down the crude proteins and form needed amino acids in their rumen, then it travels into the small intestine for absorption to occur. In horses, all food goes into their stomach, then small intestine, and then into their fermentation vat (cecum) to be broken down. Unfortunately, their fermentation vat is AFTER it passes through the small intestine, the primary absorption sight for many nutrients. That is why ruminants will get more nutrients out of the same forage than a horse. The quality of ingredients, or the availability of the nutrients fed to horses, are far more important than the quality fed to all ruminants. The hind gut of the horse makes up 62% of their digestive system, which functions with a microbial population breaking down the fibre in forages by fermentation. Forage should make up 50% to 90% of a mature horses total diet. Therefore, knowledge of the nutrients in your forage is important so you can factor in what your horse may need in the way of concentrates and/or supplements to meet their needs every day. Kapper says, "If you don't know what nutrients are in your forage, you are guessing at what needs to be added. If you don't know what nutrients your horse needs every day - you are guessing at everything." He stressed, be an educated consumer, because economics come into play when you feed more than you need, but even more so, if your horse breaks down or becomes ill due to deficiencies in their diet. Kapper also reminded us that concentrates are never to exceed 50%, by weight, of the mature horse's total diet/day or exceed five pounds in one feeding/1,000 lbs of body weight. This is to avoid digestive upsets. Emphasis was put on good forage to meet the nutritional needs, optimize digestive health and improve the overall well-being of your horse. Ad-lib forage will also facilitate the best mental state. VISUAL ASSESSMENT Performance loss will occur before you see visual changes in your horse that may indicate an unbalanced diet. Visual changes that put up red flags include: loss of muscle over the topline, then a decline in hoof and hair quality and finally a loss of appetite and general unthrifty condition. Checking the horses Body Condition Score on a monthly basis provides a good visual indicator for achieving optimal calorie intake with the ideal being between five and six on a scale of one to nine (Body Condition Scoring link http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=408). However, it is possible to have a horse in ideal body weight and still be deficient in nutrients required to build and support the muscles necessary to perform athletic tasks. Muscle soreness and changes in saddle fit are early indicators of a diminishing topline. Topline Evaluation Scoring (TES) is graded from A to D, looking at the muscles on the horses back, loin and croup areas. Loss of muscle (muscle atrophy) is a solid indicator of an amino acid deficiency. Amino Acids are the building blocks that make up crude protein. Muscles contain 73% protein and the first limiting amino acid will determine how much 'all' of the other amino acids in their diet can be utilized. The easiest and first place to visualize a horse losing muscle mass, when a deficient amino acid diet is fed, is in their back area; the second is their loin; and third is their croup area. TOPLINE GRADES with DEFINITIONS: Grade A- The horse has 'ideal muscle development''. The back, loin and croup are full and well rounded. The topline muscles are well developed and blend smoothly into his ribs. The horse should be able to perform work requiring the use of all of these muscles. Grade B- The 'back area is concave' (sunken) between the vertebrae and the top of the ribs: 1. You may have trouble fitting this horse with a saddle. 2. The muscle atrophy in this area may cause back soreness when worked. 3. Soreness can negatively impact their attitude and performance. 4. The loin muscles are well developed and are the same height as the spinal processes, i.e. you cannot see or palpate the spinal processes. Grade C-The 'back and loin areas are both concave' (sunken) between the vertebrae and the ribs: 1. The 'spinal processes' in the loin area are higher than the muscles beside them and can easily be seen and palpated. 2. The atrophied muscles in the back and loin areas weaken the horse. 3. The length of time they are able to work and perform will be compromised, causing them to tire easily. 4. Muscling over the croup and hindquarters are well developed and rounded. Grade D- All three areas of the topline, including the back, loin and croup areas are concave (sunken): 1. The croup appears pointed at the top since the vertebrae and hip bones are higher than the muscles in-between them. 2. In severely affected horses, the width of their stifle is narrower than the width of their point of hip. 3. This horse will lack the strength and stamina to perform and the muscle atrophy will cause discomfort when worked. ROLE OF PROTEIN/AMINO ACIDS All 10 essential amino acids need to be provided to horses on a daily basis: arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine (involved in growth and development), methionine (for hoof and hair quality), phenylalanine, threonine (involved in tissue repair), tryptophan, and valine. There are also 12 non-essential amino acids that horses can create themselves in adequate amounts. In order for crude protein to be synthesized, all the 'essential' amino acids must be present in adequate amounts. If one amino acid runs out, it 'limits' protein synthesis for the rest of the amino acids. If you are feeding a grass hay, your first limiting amino acid is going to be Lysine. For alfalfa, the first limiting amino acid could be threonine or tryptophan. Knowing what 'type of forage' you are feeding is key to knowing what supplements you need to choose to complement your horse's diet. During the process of conditioning horses, muscles are torn down during exercise and need additional branch-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) replenished to repair and rebuild those muscles faster. Kapper draws the parallel of weight trainers reaching for their whey protein shake after a work-out. A horse can benefit greatly from having 4 - 10 ounces of branch-chain amino acids replaced within 45 minutes of a workout. Whey is the best quality protein (amino acid) source, followed by soybean. Research has also shown that a lack of amino acids in the diet can affect the utilization of minerals in the diet, potentially causing skeletal and soft tissue problems. To get an idea of their importance - take a look at the amino acid content in the following structures: Hair and hoof = 95% Muscle = 73% Tendon = 93% Bone = 30% Skin = 90% A shortage of 'one' essential amino acid will affect the quality and strength of all of the above. The first one you will 'see' is the one with the fastest turn-over. What the Hooves Can Tell You about the Diet THE ORDER OF NUTRIENTS FOUND INSIDE THE HORSES HOOF: 1. Protein/Amino Acids = 95 % 2. Fat/Oils = 3 % 3. Sulfur 4. Calcium 5. Zinc 6. Copper 7. Selenium 8. Carotene (Vitamin A) 9. Alpha-Tocopherol (Vitamin E) 10. Biotin (Recommend 15 mg/day/1,000 lb of body weight, for "sand" cracks in hooves) When 98% of the hoof is made up of the top two nutrients, begin working with those and work your way down the list for a systematic way to address hoof quality problems that may be nutrition related. Too many times we hear about individuals beginning with Number 10 and work their way up the list. Here are a few examples to help you begin 'problem solving': Slow growth can result from inadequate amino acids, while poor expansion and contraction, with cracking of the hoof wall, can result from inadequate oils in the hoof. A poor quality lamina (white line) can result from a low 'sulfur' containing amino acid diet, i.e. Methionine & Cysteine. In a calcium deficient diet the middle of the hoof wall can break down and crumble. Sand cracks in the outer service of the hoof wall can be an indicator of a lack of biotin. CALORIE SOURCES TO FUEL MUSCLE FUNCTION Choosing the right horse for the work you want to do is important right off the bat (genetics). Then you need to choose the right fuel for your horse's muscles to perform up to their genetic potential. Carbohydrates and Fats and Oils Soluble carbohydrates are the starches and sugars needed to provide the 'glycogen' for intense work. Kapper uses a quarter horse sprinter fueling its bulky 'fast twitch' muscles as an example. Glycogen produced from these carbohydrates are utilized when their heart rate exceeds 170 beats/minute, in anaerobic work. "The heart rate is the key to knowing what kind of fuel you should be using," says Kapper. Soluble carbohydrates are highest in cereal grain: oats, corn, barley, wheat... Fats and Oils - Kapper says the Arabian is a good example of a breed using long, lean 'slow twitch' muscles that burn fat rather than glycogen for fuel. Soybean, flax and fish oils are high in Omega 3's which have anti-inflammatory responses, as opposed to corn oil and sunflower oil which are high in Omega 6's which have pro-inflammatory responses. Vegetable oils can provide slow, long term energy needed for low to moderate intensity, aerobic work. Oils containing higher levels of Omega 3s' are recommended for this kind of work. Kapper then went on to explain that a portion of the muscles of the Thoroughbred and Warmblood can be trained to be 'fast or slow-twitch', depending on what 'fuel' you are feeding. Forage Digestibility Of course, it is important that your horse is able to get the most out of the bulk of its diet. Soft hay is more desirable for the performance horse because its nutrients will be higher and is easier to digest. Over mature hay is cut later, will have grown taller and have larger, courser stems. This hay will be higher in lignin, which makes it less palatable and lower in digestibility, i.e. quality. ROLE OF ELECTROLYTES Given correctly, the use of performance electrolytes can delay the onset of fatigue by over 22%. They can also reduce muscle cramping and improve the horse's ability to bounce back and perform at the same high level the next day. The amount of sweat produced in a workout will determine the amount of electrolytes which require replacing. The demands are highest during hot and humid weather. The heat stress index chart is an important calculation when determining the risk of dehydration. (link: http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=419) When correctly formulated, electrolytes will replace the ions lost in sweat. For performance purposes - the electrolyte should specify it is a "performance" electrolyte on the label. The ingredient dextrose should be present because it is essential to improve the absorption rate of all the ions. The amounts of sodium, potassium and chloride levels are usually provided in the labels ingredient list. Adding the amount of sodium and potassium together should come close to equaling the amount of chloride in the formula. When you compare the amount of these three ions, you will see that not all electrolytes on the market today are created equal! The higher quality electrolytes are palatable, while lower quality ones are bitter, salty and discourage consumption when top-dressed on feed or mixed in water. Before electrolytes can be absorbed they need to be broken down with water. Delivery of a powdered electrolyte in feed or water is acceptable as long as they can continue to drink water. If water is not available or the horse does not drink after administering dry electrolytes, the horse will take water from its body and put it into their digestive system to break the powder down. Mixing electrolytes in water will reduce the absorption time in the small intestine. All electrolytes are hydroscopic, which means if fed in powdered form and the horse does not drink water, they will dehydrate the horse. Paste electrolytes are to be avoided due to their 'short term affects'. They will lay in the gut and actually pull water from the horse's body, increasing dehydration, at the most critical time after exercise! This was proven and published by Equine Research Centre team of researchers, led by Dr. Mike Lindinger, a few years ago. Depending on how hard the horses are working, a 'performance electrolyte solution' can be made by mixing one ounce of powder per litre of water. Increase the number of litre's of this 'electrolyte solution' as the horses training intensifies and/or the 'Heat Stress Index' (HSI) increases. HSI is determined by adding the temperature (F or C) and the percent Humidity, together. 'Mild' HSI begins when the combination is <140 when using Humidity plus Temperature (F); or <90 when using Humidity plus Temperature (C); 'Moderate' HSI is between 140 - 160 (F) or 90 - 105 (C); 'Severe' HSI >160 (F) or >105 (C). (See chart provided on the link: http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=419) This 'electrolyte solution' should be given with-in 45 minutes after the horse's workout. When the humidity and temperature increase, causing the 'heat stress index' to climb to 'Moderate' to 'Severe', the number of litre's offered should increase according to their training level. One ounce/litre of water will provide the correct osmolarity for the fastest absorption and utilization by the horse. For example: for 'Moderate' Heat Stress Index: provide two litres for training level, four litres for moderate and six litres for intense training. In the cases of 'moderate' to 'intense' training levels, providing the 'electrolyte solution' will work much better than top dressing it on feed. More factors effecting dehydration can include: the trailer ride to the venue if it is a hot day, a decrease in water and food intake from the stresses of being in a new location or from the water tasting different. Add the workload of the day on top of that and you can have a severely dehydrated horse on your hands. Checking for dehydration can include the skin pinch test where the handler pinches the skin on the horses shoulder then checks that it flattens back down in one to one and a half seconds. The capillary refill test is another method, pressing on the horse's gums and seeing the colour return to pink in under one and a half seconds. (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crY8_dBzimw) SUMMARY Kapper encourages horse owners to be pro-active in their feeding programs. Know the 'ideal' body weight of your horse and what nutrients are in your forage. These nutrients will vary with the 'type' of forage (grass vs. legume) and its level of maturity (when it was cut). Knowledge of this will allow you to make informed decisions when choosing feed and/or balancers to make up the difference between what your horse is getting from its forage and what it needs. Be sure to read the 'purpose statement' on every feed tag and feed according to their 'Feeding Directions' in order to fulfill nutrient requirements. Always choose a feed that is tailored to the individual needs of the horse (size, breed, age, workload...) and feed according to the instructions. Kapper cautions, "Feeding less than recommended amounts/day, means you have chosen the wrong feed and it could result in nutritional deficiencies". Stay observant if performance declines and be quick to pick up on the visual clues that the diet may need balancing, i.e. loss of muscle over the topline, decline in hoof and hair quality, loss of appetite and loss of condition could all be indicators of amino acid deficiency and/or an unbalanced diet. For horses in moderate to intense training, giving amino acids and electrolytes with-in 45 minutes after workouts can replenish body reserves the fastest. Nutrition is the science of prevention. Understanding the role of nutrition and working with an equine nutritionist will put you on the road to optimal health and performance for your horse. To learn more about nutrition sign up for the Equine Guelph 12-week online course: Equine Nutrition http://www.equineguelph.ca/education/indiv_courses.php Bio: Don Kapper is a highly experienced equine nutritionist and a member of the Cargill Equine Enterprise Team. Don graduated from Ohio State University and achieved his credentials as a Professional Animal Scientist from the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists in 1996 and has been a sought-after speaker for equine meetings in both the U.S. and Canada. He was a member of the "Performance Electrolyte Research" team at the University of Guelph and wrote the chapter on "Applied Nutrition" for the authoritative veterinary textbook: "Equine Internal Medicine", 2nd edition. Don also co-developed the "Equine Nutrition" course for the Equine Science Certificate program for Equine Guelph and has been a popular guest speaker in several Equine Guelph online courses, including the Equine Growth and Development, Exercise Physiology and Advanced Equine Nutrition. Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Ontario Veterinary College, graduate student, Cristin McCarty is no stranger to joint health issues having to work through her own athletic injuries from rowing. As an avid rider since age 5, McCarty bought an ex-racehorse in her early teens for repurposing into a hunter/jumper and immediately began an education in joint problems and maintenance options aimed towards keeping her newly purchased horse sound. McCarty's interest in how osteoarthritis begins was born from experience. After pursuing an education in biology, McCarty was very excited to be given the opportunity to work with Dr. Jeff Thomason and Dr. Mark Hurtig at the University of Guelph, where ground-breaking research is looking at joint loading of horses travelling at high speed. Thomason specializes in biomechanics, studying mechanics of locomotion in horses, in-vivo bone strain and finite-element (FE) modelling of skeletal mechanics. Hurtig is an expert on the mechanical causes of osteoarthritis. McCarty has been working with FE, gathering and analyzing data on loads acting at the fetlock joint and stresses in the cannon bone. By creating a computer generated model using computed tomographic (CT) or MRI images of an equine fetlock joint they are working on determining the internal bone stress under varying loading conditions (rates, directions and magnitudes) using FE software. This method of analysis could provide further insight into the biomechanical role impact has on the stress distribution in areas of high remodeling, which are associated with osteoarthritis in racehorses. FE has been used for quite some time in the automotive industry in crash test simulations to assess material failure but it is a relatively new technology for applications in biology. McCarty, who has been working under Thomason for three years now, says, "it was a steep learning curve to become familiar with the software to build complex models. That alone took almost two years." FE, through complicated mathematical calculations, can test where stress points will occur under particular loading conditions. In a more dense bone (which occurs in osteoarthritis) these calculations can show how stress points may be transferred and put onto the cartilage of the joint. Using FE researchers can also study how distribution of stress in a healthy, spongy less dense bone differs from that of an osteoarthritic joint. Contributing factors to osteoarthritis(OA) in the fetlock joint of a horse lies partly in conformation. A horses' large body mass is held up by four fairly small limbs and the fetlock joint is a small area to distribute the force and loading that occurs during high speed movement. Long pasterns and steep joint angles increase stresses on the back of the leg and can predispose a horse to issues. McCarty explains the incredible forces calculated from the horses mass x acceleration (F=M x A) during the high speed work a racehorse performs. This can result in upwards of 2.5 times their body weight on one limb. Footing plays a role with harder surfaces resulting in higher strains on the hoof. A blunt force trauma could also predispose a horse to joint injury and make it more susceptible to the onset of OA. Intense continuous training can set a horse up for OA and joint disease. McCarty goes on to talk about training programs and compares the training of human athletics to how we train race horses, "If you wanted to run a 200 meter sprint, you would not sit on a couch all day; get up to sprint 50 meters then return directly to the couch. With no pre-conditioning of joints, this is asking for injury. So why would we ask a horse to stand in a stall all day and then take them out for a gallop?" Chronic overloading of joints leads to problems over time. One of the potential uses McCarty cites for FE modeling could be assessing the chronically lame horse. This technology may allow predications of where the bone may fracture and under what conditions. Also, with greater understanding of high stress point areas and what is creating them, mitigation may be possible such as suggesting a change in the footing surface the horse trains on. This research will be continuing in collaboration with the Robarts Research Institute, Western University and has been funded by the Ontario Veterinary College department of Biomedical Science, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Side bar: Promote Healthy Joints: Daily pasture turn out allows horses to load joints as nature intended Gradual, progressive warm up and cool down periods in training sessions Avoid excessive fast work and training on hard ground Exposing horses to different surfaces while training and hill work can be beneficial Contact your vet if you see swelling, lameness, shortened stride or any signs of pain Learn more about osteoarthritis by visiting Equine Guelph's healthcare tool "Journey through the Joints" and test your ability to spot lameness with "Lameness Lab." Equine Guelph thanks Zoetis for sponsoring these valuable tools. by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Hiding pain is one of the top survival skills of the horse. An important part of horse ownership is learning to recognize the signs a horse may be in discomfort rather than dismissing certain subtle cues as just bad behaviour. Dr. Brianne Henderson recently gave a well-received lecture to a room full of horse owners in Hillsburgh, ON. The attendees were interested in ensuring the welfare of their equine companions by honing their skills for detecting pain. There has been increased awareness of pain recognition and management in small animals and this science is also gaining more acknowledgement in the world of horses as well. The Facial Grimaces Score used originally to identify pain in rodents and rabbits has been incorporated into a “grimace scale” for equines as well. It uses ear position and tightening of the muscles around the eyes and mouth to come up with a score (0 – no pain, 1 – moderate, 2 – obvious). Everyone wants to be greeted by a bright-eyed, soft and relaxed face. The horse is telling you something hurts when they avoid looking at you, appear despondent, clench their jaw, flatten ears back and/or squint their eyes. Dr. Henderson went on to briefly explain pain scales used by veterinarians that focus on physiological parameters and behavior patterns. One included the Composite Pain Scale (CPS) which looks at the change in frequency of normal behavior patterns such as eating, the presence of pain-related behaviours such as kicking at the abdomen and physiological parameters such as elevated vitals. There is a long list of signs that are scored from 0 – 3. Some of these indicators, including vitals, can also be assessed using a quick 16-point health check poster developed by Equine Guelph. The poster or handy new Horse Health Tracker app are invaluable tools for horse owners to provide important health data to their veterinarian. The choir was obviously present and little preaching was required as Henderson rolled through a barrage of images asking the audience to denote which ones depicted animals in pain. By stance, facial cues and action the savvy auditors were hitting the mark and also picked up on the fact that circumstance plays a role. How many people have had the phone call of alarm when a passerby sees a horse flat out in the field when it was actually just napping in the sun? Flehmen is another response that can be circumstantial. It can occur due to an interesting smell or taste sensation but it can also be a moderate pain response displaying nostril and mouth tension. The stallion curling his upper lip testing for pheromones when a mare passes by is a different context than the horse who didn’t finish his feed, is stretched out with his poll low and is showing the flehmen response. Subtle changes require your attention such as a horse at the back of its stall with a half-eaten breakfast when it is normally standing at the door waiting to go out after licking the feed tub clean. Catching a potential colic at this early stage could result in a huge cost savings as well as avoid what could turn into a very painful experience for the horse. The performance horse who suddenly starts refusing to accomplish tasks that it used to find easy requires a careful evaluation as early signs of lameness rather than misbehaving could be the culprit. As the owner of a stoic animal, accustomed to hiding pain, horse people need to be on the lookout for atypical behavior such as a horse who begins to segregate itself from the herd or suddenly displays a less tolerant behavior with its paddock mates. When variations in behavior occur, a step back may be required to figure out if it is you or the horse that has changed. “If I have had a bad day at the office and not taken the time to decompress – my horse will not come to the gate for me,”Henderson explains. “Similarly, I know if he doesn’t come to the gate under normal circumstances, there is something wrong because he typically loves his job.” Grooming is the next interaction where paying close attention will tell you much about your horse’s health. Rather than quickly dusting off the saddle area and jumping on to ride, take the time to run your hands over their whole body, especially the back and legs, before and after work, checking for any heat, swelling or reactions that can be early indicators something is not quite right. Obvious pain requires a veterinary examination. When a horse comes in from the paddock hopping lame, it can often be hard to tell if it is an abscess requiring a simple poultice or a fracture requiring much more intensive treatment and stabilization. When acute pain is obvious; don’t guess or delay – call the veterinarian. For less obvious lameness, your veterinarian has been trained to assess the severity on a scale from one to five. Early intervention increases the chances of a good outcome and can prevent matters from escalating into a much worse injury. The veterinarian will check the horse in both walk and trot, on straight lines and turns.“A lameness that is visible at the walk is automatically going to be at least a three if not higher,” comments Henderson. After a thorough exam, a rehabilitation plan can be made. Chronic pain will impact the horse’s ability to heal and their quality of life. “It is an old way of thinking to want a horse to be a bit sore in the healing process to prevent it from box-walking,” explains Henderson. “Our ability to control pain both every day and certainly in the medical environment is becoming more and more recognized as mandatory.” Once the horse is controlled in its pain, they can move better and heal faster and therefore do not lose as much muscle quality during the healing period. Modern treatment methods can also help avoid the knock on effects of stomach ulcers and sourness that often accompany chronic pain. Choosing the right pain control method or treatment is another conversation to have with your veterinarian as there are many option available and extended use of Phenylbutazone can have negative effects on a horse’s stomach. In addition to being on the look-out for signs of pain, a dutiful horse owner is always employing prevention practices. They apply poultice and wrap horse’s legs to stem swelling after a hard work out and give them time to recover. Similarly, we take care of ourselves with rest after a work-out, a hearty meal to replace nutrients and perhaps a hot bath. Our horses count on us, their primary care-takers to be diligent and attentive in both prevention and early detection of pain. by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the University of Guelph. 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: EquineGuelph.ca.
Horse Experience 2015 is an Equine Canada initiative in partnership with the Ontario Equestrian Federation (OEF) and the Headwaters Tourism Association. The project features a month-long showcase of opportunities to see, touch and experience horses in Canada, in parallel with the sold-out Pan Am equestrian competitions in July. The objectives for Horse Experience 2015 include: Developing export markets for Canadian-bred horses, genetics and expertise. South/Central American countries are key target markets for Canadian horse industry exports. Maximizing local horse experience opportunities for international visitors to the Pan Am equestrian competitions. Encouraging participation from the domestic market in horse-related activities. Horse Experience 2015 offers 50 different events on the calendar during July, all within a one-hour radius of the OLG Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park, the central site of the Pan Am equestrian competitions. One of the opportunities includes a unique behind-the-scenes guided walking tour through the Ontario Veterinary College Health Sciences Centre and Equine Guelph-https://horseexperience.ca/events/visit-the-ontario-veterinary-college-equine-guelph/ Horse Experience also features a series of hospitality events and entertainment at the Orangeville Event Centre (July 11th through the 17th) in Mono, Ontario. The Horse Experience website - www.HorseExperience.ca - features details on 50 events, event transportation and shuttle service, RV camping and ticket purchasing options. The Horse Experience transportation offerings include bus service between the event sites, hotels and key mustering points in the region. The objective of the shuttle service and event transportation is to improve visitor access to the Pan Am equestrian competitions, the Horse Experience events and the local communities (to visit, shop and stay). Equine Canada developed Horse Experience 2015 to align with its Long Term International Strategy, funded through the AAFC Growing Forward 2 program. Horse Experience is providing the Canadian horse industry with the infrastructure and marketing platform to increase exposure to international visitors and export market channels, as well as exposure to the domestic market to increase participation in horse-related activities. Through Horse Experience 2015, Equine Canada and its partners have developed a model that has relevance to tourism and economic sustainability in rural communities. Horse Experience has received exceptional collaboration from within the horse industry, with more than eight breed associations and six horse sports represented, as well as 15 different riding and unique learning and spectator experiences. Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. , June 19, 2015 - Today , Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph, was named the recipient of the 14th annual Equine Industry Vision Award. Zoetis, in partnership with American Horse Publications (AHP), presented the award to Ecker at the AHP Seminar in San Antonio, Texas. The Equine Industry Vision Award is the first major award to showcase innovation across the equine industry. Established and sponsored by Zoetis, the prestigious award recognizes ingenuity and service, and it serves to inspire those qualities in others. "We are proud to recognize Gayle for her heartfelt work in connecting people, especially youth, with horses," said Kate Russo, equine biologicals marketing manager, Zoetis. "Gayle's passion for utilizing science-based knowledge to educate people on the health of horses is unmatched. Zoetis is proud to present her with an award to recognize her lifelong commitment to advancing the equine industry." Ecker is director of Equine Guelph, which she has led since its inception in 2003. The center at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, supports the health and well-being of horses through education, research, health care promotion and industry development. It is supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Ecker was instrumental in the creation of the center by writing the grant that led to the development of its education and communications programs. She was a pioneer in online education. In 2002, she established a first-of-its kind educational approach that provides virtual learning pathways for career development in the equine industry. She also serves as an instructor for the program. She also led the development of Equine Guelph's youth exhibit, EquiMania!, which features interactive stations that teach young horse enthusiasts about equine safety and wellness. The exhibit first appeared at the 2005 Can-Am All Breeds Equine Expo and also has traveled to the 2010 World Equestrian Games ™ in Lexington, Kentucky, and the Minnesota State Fair. Each year, Ecker and her team improve the exhibit with up to 25% new materials based on attendee feedback. "I am so grateful for the opportunity to be recognized," Ecker said. "My passion is truly my students - seeing their thirst for knowledge and knowing the time I invest will be tenfold when they go out and make a difference." As a former researcher, Ecker's expertise is in exercise physiology. She has been the assistant chef d'equipe for the Canadian Endurance Team, traveling around the globe to support the team at international events, such as the Pan American Games, the World Equestrian Games and World Endurance Championships. These days, Ecker enjoys trail riding aboard her two quarter horses. Ecker also was named to the Can-Am All Breeds Equine Expo Hall of Fame in 2014, when she received the Builder Award. In 2010, she received the Readers' Choice Award in the exceptional equestrian category from the Horse Journal . Ecker also was named one of the top 15 horse people of the year by Western Horse Review in 2008. Other finalists for this year's Equine Industry Vision Award included: the EQUUS Foundation, a charitable foundation that provides financial support and service to equine charities across the United States; Jim McGarvey, chairman of the board for Back Country Horsemen of America; and Juli S. Thorson, editor-at-large for Horse & Rider . Previous recipients of the award are: · Patti Colbert (2014) · The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Int'l) (2013) · Equine Land Conservation Resource (2012) · Robert Cacchione (2011) · John Nicholson (2010) · Charlotte Brailey Kneeland (2009) · Sally Swift (2008) · David O'Connor (2007) · Stanley F. Bergstein (2006) · John Ryan Gaines (2005) · The American Quarter Horse Association (2004) · Don Burt (2003) · Alexander Mackay-Smith (2002) About American Horse Publications American Horse Publications is a nonprofit professional association dedicated to promoting excellence in equine media and better understanding and communication within the equine publishing industry. For more information on the association, please contact: Chris Brune, American Horse Publications, at email@example.com 386-760-7743, or visit the AHP website atwww.americanhorsepubs.org .
No one spends more time with your horse than you. Naturally, the role of primary caretaker and advocate for horse health falls on the person in closest contact with said equine. The well-rounded horse person is more than a good rider. They are educated in normal parameters of horse health and keen observers, on the look-out for anything that is abnormal, for that individual horse. In this article Dr. Laura Frost and Dr. Brianne Henderson will discuss the important role the horse owner plays in maintaining and optimizing their horse's health. Getting to know you Waiting until you have a reason to take a horse's vitals is a good example of shutting the barn door after the great escape. Frost points out vitals vary from horse to horse. "It is important to know if your horse sits at the low or high end of any given vitals range for you to have a good base line." Take the horse's vitals when you can gain the most accurate reading for a resting rate (I.e. not right before feeding, after being outside in the sun, while under tack or after exercise unless you are monitoring recovery rates). Frost and Henderson both concur that grooming is more than knocking off the dirt in preparation for riding but a full body check that can alert owners to any swellings, soreness, changes in behaviour or ailments that may require close monitoring or immediate attention. No stranger to the sport of endurance riding, Henderson also points out one should be familiar with the numbers for their horse's recovery rates determining how long it takes vitals to return to normal after a work-out. Henderson is quick to recommend Equine Guelph's Horse Health check poster as a great resource for horse owners to become familiar with vitals and other normal parameters, sighting its ease of use with the green/yellow/red indicators for each section of the 16-point check. Knowing how to quantify and classify 'not normal' is crucial when speaking to your veterinarian on the phone. Both Frost and Henderson attest this exact information allows them to gauge the urgency of a call and whether they should be treating it as an emergency or scheduling a visit in their upcoming week. The power of observation "Keeping a log really goes a long way," states Frost. "A novel is not helpful but keeping accurate health records and knowing when a problem starts and if it is reoccurring can often tell you more about what is going on." "It is easy to get caught up with goals and the fast-pace of day-to-day life," says Henderson, but it is important to take a moment to look at the full health picture on a daily basis. Henderson goes on to list some components of due diligence: looking at the amount and consistency of manure in the stall, water consumption, noticing if feed is left behind or picking up on an unusual stance in the horse. "One of the first things I look at when attending a colic call is the state of the stall," says Henderson. "I look to see if the shavings are level or if the horse has churned them up box walking." Henderson then goes on to look at the other points of due diligence and asks when the stall was last picked out. For another example -a horse that consistently rests the same hind leg is cause for further investigation. If you push him onto the other hind- does he return to the favored leg? Henderson explains the observant horse owner will quickly notice this is a possible indication of soreness. Springing into action "Early intervention always offers the best prognosis and increases the probability of a good outcome," explains Frost. Take for example a horse that develops swelling in the suspensory area and looks mildly lame for a day. The horse owner might employ cold therapy for a couple days and then put the horse back to work when everything seems to return to normal but later the horse comes up 3/5 lame. "Suspensory injuries can be sneaky," says Frost, "and what starts off as a minor injury can turn into a major one if not diagnosed and treated correctly at the onset." Of course, sometimes springing into action is simply a matter of treating a minor cut or scrape the moment you spot it in order to prevent infection but when in doubt, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian. Frost goes on to explain the dangers of treating horses with the wrong medication sighting a common example of corneal ulcers on a horse's eye. Often they are just mild to start but if left untreated or treated incorrectly they can progress to be quite serious. Treatment with the wrong ointment (perhaps loaned from a well-meaning co-boarder) could result in a melting ulcer. It is always best to call the veterinarian to check out any problem pertaining to eyes as soon as possible (eye issues can be very painful for the horse). Another good example of early intervention could be catching a sarcoid in its initial stages and having the option to treat it topically versus excising a huge growth under general anesthetic if it has been allowed to develop. Springing into action is a definite requirement at the first sign of an infectious disease. This action requires a call to the veterinarian without delay for treatment and immediate advice on biosecurity measures, which may include isolation, to help stop the spread to other horses in the barn and surrounding regions. The all-important "ounce of prevention" Henderson can attest in her experience with horses, this is not an old cliché. Prevention is the best medicine and thinking three steps ahead goes a long way in minimizing injuries. A simple example is avoiding an icy path by breaking it up or putting sand down. Prevention should never be considered time consuming when it is ultimately cost saving and an exercise in preserving health and welfare. Henderson encourages her clients to perform body condition scoring every two to three weeks. It is a good practice all year long. Many horse owners are caught by surprise when they look under the blanket come springtime to find a horse 100 lbs. underweight. More weather-related prevention methods including ensuring horses are drinking adequate amounts and blanketed accordingly on days when the temperatures fluctuate from +5 to -10 in a 24 hour period. Yo-yoing temperatures can be really hard on horses as can the occurrence of brutally long cold snaps. Henderson stresses the importance of providing adequate, good quality, forage and the ability to access shelter to escape from weather and drafts. Increasing forage in a cold spell is an easy prevention measure to help the horse stay warm and avoid dropping weight. Henderson explains, allowing horses to trickle feed hay is also a great way to maintain digestive health, help prevent ulcers and promote good mental health. They were designed to graze while moving over terrain for over eighteen hours a day. Frost stresses horse owners really need to cover all the basics in order to be productive in any riding discipline. This includes: a solid foundation in their training methods, an understanding of proper hoof care, booking routine farrier appointments (every 5 -6 weeks for the average horse) and following routine veterinary care (such as annual dental work and vaccinations). "You can do all the advanced imaging in the world on your horse but if you are not performing basics such as performing fecals and deworming, you will only be as good as your weakest link," concludes Frost. Side bar in getting to know you section: Now there is an App for that! Equine Guelph's Horse Health Tracker has taken all the information from their Horse Health Check poster and packaged it in an App that will allow you to track this important data and much more. The App boasts a body condition score generator and body weight calculator. Purchase the upgrade for more features such as: a reminder dashboard to sync healthcare appointment reminders with your smart phone calendar, how-to videos, email capability to share data from the past 13-months with your healthcare team and custom horse profiles for up to a herd of 50! Check it out at: http://www.equineguelph.ca/Tools/app2.php Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
"A successful emergency rescue is about 90 percent preparation and 10% action," reiterated Ontario SPCA officer Bonnie Bishop. Bishop can't say enough about how the Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue program, presented by Equine Guelph last fall, has helped her on the job. On March 17, 2015 preparation was put into action when a bull trapped down a well, just north of Napanee, was successfully rescued with Bonnie helping triage the situation on the end of a phone line with agent Tex Ridder on the scene. "Many organizations that participate in TLAER programs do not realize how far reaching this program is - that it concerns situations from loose horses on the highway, to cattle truck rollovers, to animals trapped and needing professional extrication. The most important feature of the program is safety for the people on the scene first," says Dr. Rebecca Gimenez of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Inc. Bishop was over two hours away in Cornwall when the call about a trapped Charolais bull came in. Although adrenaline kicked in right from the start - the TLAER program armed her with a logical system for assessing the dilemma. Realizing the bull was not in immediate danger she knew lowering down some hay and water were first on the list to keep the bull calm while more calls could be made. Knowing the Incident Command System is one of the most valuable components when pulling together resources for a rescue. From first responders to the forklift operator and veterinarian, Bishop recounted how knowing the simple practical steps involved in making a plan and following a chain of command throughout execution is. Staying calm through the whole situation, the bull's owner then contacted all the necessary resources. Both the in-class videos and hands on demonstrations from the TLAER program came into play. The memorable videos on "what not to do" coupled with the practical hands-on work detailing how to safely arrange recovery straps to a large animal contributed to a successful vertical lift. Bishop remembered from one of the class videos how important a chest strap was to stop a large animal from slipping out during a forklift rescue. While they were not able to secure a chest strap, the rescuers on the scene improvised to ensure the bull would not tip forward during lifting. They placed the bull down a good distance away from the chasm ensuring he would not stumble back in after his airborne adventures. The rescue can be viewed on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLc7QHBFhA0&sns=em Teamwork and planning are key ingredients to successful emergency rescues. The next 2-day Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue awareness hands-on seminar will be offered Oct 3 - 4 at Grand River Raceway in Elora, Ontario. It is appropriate for a very broad audience - horse owners, first responders, law enforcement, animal control officers, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, emergency animal response teams, livestock producers and associations. This program is applicable to obtain continuing education credits for coaches (from Equine Canada) and for veterinarians, veterinary technicians and emergency responders (from their respective organizations). Registration is limited and there is an early bird special $179 until July 15, 2015. Support provided by Grand River Agricultural Society and Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. For more information about this program feel free to contact Susan Raymond firstname.lastname@example.org and also see article: Awareness Training for Large Animal Rescue - Always Expect the Unexpected for an overview of the first TLAER operations level program hosted in Ontario by Equine Guelph. Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
The merits of attending Ontario's first Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) Operations program became abundantly clear, just two seasons later, for horse owner Karen Dallimore of Orton, ON. "When my horse Cody became cast, the education I received allowed me to think clearly, put a plan into place and get Cody back on his feet without endangering myself," said Karen who had already stocked her barn with safety equipment after the intensive hands-on seminar. She remembered the words of world renowned expert, Dr. Rebecca Gimenez, "I can't stress enough the need for proper equipment to be worn by ALL when handling these large animals in emergency situations, including a helmet, gloves, reflective vest on roadways, etc. If you're not equipped, then stay back." Quickly, gathering up some ropes, a helmet and tools, Karen returned to the scene in her indoor arena where 1,300 pounds of Quarter horse lay cast against the kickboards. The emphasis of having a Plan A, B, C ... came together without panic and the council of a "perfect rescue" being the one where the animal frees itself topped the list. After strapping on a helmet, plan A became nailing a board to the smooth, sloped kickboard so the upside down 16'1 gelding could gain purchase. Cody remained calm but still could not find his way out of the dilemma. With help of her husband, Harry, Plan B became keeping a safe distance away from potentially dangerous hooves that were dangling in the air and extending their reach with barn tools to slip ropes around Cody in order to pull him out of the situation. The TLAER program took participants through the do's and don'ts of large animal rescue so Karen knew where she could and could not attach ropes for a safe rescue. Cody was successfully put back onto terra firma. Thanks to this and other past courses taken through Equine Guelph, Karen also knew to monitor Cody's vitals and health after his incident and then thoroughly debrief the situation. "It's in the details, when you can make a plan and work through it," said Karen who was more than satisfied with how her training turned into action and a successful rescue at Cody's time of need. With Dr. Rebecca Gimenez, a world leader in large animal emergency rescue, a 2-day Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue awareness hands-on seminar will be offered Oct 3 - 4 at Grand River Raceway in Elora, Ontario. It is appropriate for a very broad audience - horse owners, first responders, law enforcement, animal control officers, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, emergency animal response teams, livestock producers and associations. Participants will be taken through the do's and don'ts of large animal rescue and guided through a variety of emergency simulations including plenty of hands on demonstrations. Registration is limited and there is an early bird special $179 until July 15, 2015. For more information about this program feel free to contact Susan Raymond email@example.com and also see article:Awareness Training for Large Animal Rescue - Always Expect the Unexpected for an overview of the first TLAER operations level program hosted in Ontario by Equine Guelph. Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Guelph, ON - Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph, has been selected as one of four finalists for the prestigious Equine Industry Vision Award for 2015. Intended to recognize innovation, leadership and service in North America, the Equine Industry Vision Award, sponsored by Zoetis, will announce a winner on Friday, June 19, 2015. The Trophy created by master artisan Peter Wayne Yenawine will be presented at the American Horse Publication Tally-Ho at the Alamo Seminar in San Antonio, Texas. Ecker received the distinction of being 'short-listed' from a record number of 25 nominees. “To be selected as one of the four top finalists for this prestigious award is truly an honour,” says Ecker. “Many thanks go out to our sponsors, partners, donors and supporters that make it possible for Equine Guelph to promote horse health and welfare through our education programs.” The other three finalists include: EQUUS Foundation, a charitable foundation providing financial support and services to equine charities across the United States; Jim McGarvey, Chairman of the Board, Back Country Horsemen of America; Juli S. Thorson, Editor-at-Large, Horse & Rider. Finalists were judged by the AHP Board of Directors plus a Zoetis representative, on their performance in relation to the achievement(s) cited and their demonstration of the following attributes and abilities: 1) The vision and innovation of a true pioneer; 2) Leadership, commitment, dedication and willingness to serve; 3) Original and effective ideas and/or products, services, programs; 4) High moral, ethical and professional standards. The Equine Industry Vision award has been presented thirteen times since its inception in 2002 to top industry professionals and equine institutes. AHP director, Chris Brune says, “It represents that these individuals and organizations are being recognized for making a real difference in the horse world.” Many congratulations go out to Ecker from her peers, supporters and the multitude of horse lovers that have been inspired, educated and motivated by her tireless efforts and contributions to the horse industry through her work with Equine Guelph. Previous winners: • Patti Colbert (2014) • Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (2013) • Equine Land Conservation Resource (2012) • Robert Cacchione (2011) • John Nicholson (2010) • Charlotte Brailey Kneeland (2009) • Sally Swift (2008) • David O'Connor (2007) • Stanley F. Bergstein (2006) • John Ryan Gaines (2005) • American Quarter Horse Association (2004) • Don Burt (2003) • Alexander Mackay-Smith (2002) Go to the AHP site for the full list of nominees and past recipients. Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Can-Am President, Ross Miller and his team received a gift of appreciation celebrating the ten-year relationship forged between his team and Equine Guelph. Accomplished artist, EquiMania! volunteer and long time friend of Equine Guelph, Ruth Benns created a beautiful painting depicting a typical jovial scene of the ever-popular EquiMania display. The specially commissioned artwork was presented to Ross Miller, Mike Straw and Ron Waples in the main arena on Can-Am's Saturday night to help kick off the extravaganza show to a sold out crowd. "Can-Am Equine Expo is proud of the relationship with Equine Guelph that is based on promoting the welfare of the equine while also educating people young and old on the equine world," says Ross Miller. "Gayle Ecker and her staff always partner in a most professional manner and we look forward to a continued relationship in the future." EquiMania! has been featured at the Can-Am Equine Expo right from it's debut. The once little booth aimed towards teaching kids to be safe around horses has grown up with Can-Am to educate and entertain thousands of horse lovers of all walks of life. This year, the now 5,000 lb display occupied an entire barn, bringing it's interactive, fun way to learn about horses and safety to the multitudes who attended. "Sharing a common vision promoting education, health and welfare for a vibrant equine industry makes it a pleasure to work with Ross Miller and his dedicated crew," states Equine Guelph's director, Gayle Ecker. "We always look forward to presenting EquiMania! at Can-Am and we were so pleased to present Ross with a token of our appreciation." Equine Guelph would also like to pay special thanks to the artists who offered donations of proceeds from their booth sales and through donations of artwork auctioned off at the Saturday evening extravaganza: Ann Clifford, Wendy Fraleigh, Nola McConnan of Merriweather Studio, and Winnie Stott with the equine artists of Winsong Farm.Notes to Editor: by Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Over the past two years, Equine Guelph has chosen a specific topic for their annual communications program. In 2013, the "Year of Colic Prevention" was well-received, and this was followed by a focus in 2014 with the "Full-Circle-Responsibility" welfare initiative promoting raising the standards of horse care - a topic that resonated with our industry. In 2015, Equine Guelph continues with the "Full-Circle-Responsibility" campaign focusing on a specific chapter of the new National Code of Practice for the Care and handling of Equines in every monthly e-communication. After many collaborative hours of research by industry professionals, the Code of Practice outlines science-based, best practices to keep our industry moving forward in its support of equine welfare. Equine Guelph's Code Decoder will highlight the key points and show its application for daily management practices. Each month Equine Guelph's Code Decoder will focus on a section of the Code. We also have a new Horse Owner's Tool that will help you assess your own management practices - the Horse Health Tracker App. Equine welfare is an important priority for every association and club to intertwine in all programs, rules and procedures. In 2015, we invite the industry to join us throughout the year as we learn more about the Code of Practice. We challenge you to 'widen the circle by sending our monthly e-news to all your horse-owner acquaintances and association members and show your support for equine welfare. Give your friends the key to the code for the care and handling of equines by encouraging them to sign up at EquineGuelph.ca. Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Tracking vital health data in real-time on your smart phone or tablet is a snap with Equine Guelph's new Horse Health Tracker App! Whether you have one horse or a whole herd, this app empowers horse owners to give the ultimate in care to their animals. Assess your horse's vital health data, body condition score and body weight with a few simple clicks and easily share this information with your healthcare team. Upgrades allow you to keep track of information such as heart rate, temperature and respiration for up to 50 horses! Special graphs plot this vital data over a 13-month period. Instructional videos are also included in the upgrade to show you how to properly perform the assessments. Appointment reminders sync with your smart phone calendar, making it easy to stay on top of your horse's health care regime. The app accommodates multiple checks per day, making it the perfect tool to monitor sick horses as well as healthy horses. Its built-in e-mail capability allows you to share data with your veterinarian. "The ability to share pertinent information with your veterinarian is a wonderful feature," says equine practitioner, Dr. Laura Frost. "The Horse Health Tracker makes it easy for the horse owner to systematically collect vital health data and provide this information in real-time to a veterinarian. This app ensures that important pieces of the puzzle are not missed when communicating health concerns regarding a sick horse." The Horse Health Tracker App is a must-have management tool for you to become the leading advocate for your horse's health. A user guide is available at EquineGuelph.ca. The App is available for download at the App Store and Google Play. Not only will this app benefit your horse healthcare program, your purchase will support Equine Guelph in its mission to 'Help Horses for Life' as proceeds will be invested back into welfare education programs. This project is funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario. Other partners include: Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare; Equine Canada; Farm & Food Care Ontario; Greenhawk Harness & Equestrian Supplies; Omega Alpha Equine; Ontario Equestrian Federation; the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Ontario Racing Commission; Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Standardbred Canada. Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph. 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 Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Everything at your fingertips and an easy-to-follow resource manual make the Equine Guelph First Aid Kit your "go to" item when an equine emergency hijacks your perfectly planned day. Equine Guelph and Greenhawk have partnered to offer this extensive first aid kit, at a great value, to keep you organized and ready to deal with emergency situations. Proceeds from the Equine Guelph First Aid Kit will be donated by Greenhawk to Equine Guelph in support of its welfare education programs. The first thing you will notice is a section to store all your emergency numbers. The resource manual includes checklists and explains the contents of the kit to equip horse owners for emergencies. The manual makes it easy to keep track of items and when to replenish supplies with a handy inventory checklist and log. How to deal with wounds and how to bandage are also covered in the kit along with a list of a horse's vitals. Greenhawk believes in the importance of equine healthcare and welfare as illustrated by its commitment to offering the Equine Guelph First Aid Kit to its valued customers through this unique partnership. The partners have included 16 essential items in your kit at a cost savings of over $55! There is room to customize your kit with additional suggested items, keeping everything in one handy, sanitary container. Equine Guelph director, Gayle Ecker explains, "The launch of this first aid kit is part of the Full-Circle-Responsibility program Equine Guelph initiated with the help of many partners to promote welfare in the equine industry. Your purchase will support Equine Guelph in our mission to 'Help Horses for Life'." She adds, "Every horse caregiver should be prepared to manage an emergency situation." In case of emergency, Equine Guelph recommends following its abbreviated list of emergency procedures, "A.C.T.", intended to help you stay efficient during an emergency: 1. Assess the situation, 2. Call for help and 3. Treat the horse. Equine Guelph also recommends that all horse care givers should receive first aid or emergency preparedness training. The Equine Guelph First Aid Kit is available for $129 at select Greenhawk stores: Mississauga, Ottawa, Gormley, London, Beamsville, Barrie, Orangeville, Campbellville, Whitby and Toronto (Avenue Road). This project is funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario. Other partners include: Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare; Equine Canada; Farm & Food Care Ontario; Greenhawk Harness & Equestrian Supplies; Omega Alpha Equine; Ontario Equestrian Federation; the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Ontario Racing Commission; Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Standardbred Canada. by Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
“Increasing the plane of nutrition should start at conception rather than waiting for the last trimester” emphasized renowned equine nutritionist Don Kapper. Sharing his wealth of knowledge in equine nutrition and management in a recent visit to Canada, Kapper spoke on how to feed the broodmare and the newborn foal right up to weaning. Nutrition begins with the Broodmare Nutrition is a vital component in your horse’s health triangle, where genetics, management and nutrition are all equal. Before the foal even hits the ground it is important that the broodmare has received optimal prenatal nutrition, explains Kapper. Replenishing the mares body reserves earlier rather than later will lend greater ability for her to take care of the baby in utero and when it comes time for nursing. It would be remiss to talk about the nutritional needs of a growing horse without first addressing the needs of the broodmare. What the mare consumes will greatly affect her milk production, her own health and the well-being of her newborn foal. There is a genetic and management component explains Kapper. The mare’s genetics decide how much milk she can produce as well as the quality. The management and nutrition component comprises of making sure we are putting the nutrition, i.e. calories, protein and minerals, into the mare that she is passing on to the foal in her milk. • If we fail to feed enough calories the mare will lose weight. • A lack of protein in the diet will show up as loss of muscle, visible first by a diminishing top line. • Without the appropriate amount of minerals, the mare’s bone and liver stores could be compromised. Feeding the mare a balanced diet is crucial for her own health and that of her offspring. Maintaining the mare’s body condition score between 5.5 and 6.5 and an “A” topline score throughout the pregnancy is recommended management. Colostrum (first milk) is full of protein (75%) and the antibodies the foal needs to quickly acquire and is produced for the first 12 – 24 hours. It is recommended that as soon as the foal is up on its sternum (preferably within the first half-hour after birth) the mare should be milked so the foal can receive 2 – 4 ounces of colostrum from a baby nipple before the foal stands. This allows them to gain immunity from the whole protein antibodies which is absorbed by their open small intestine and diminishes the chance of scours. Scours can be serious, especially to a newborn, as it causes dehydration. Consumption of colostrum before the foal starts wandering around licking foreign objects, which could contain bacteria or viruses, is beneficial in closing the small openings in intestine and boosting immunity. A 100 pound foal should receive 250 ml (approximately one cup) of colostrum each hour for the first six hours after birth. Every breeder should have an adequate stock of colostrum (1500 ml) stored in their freezer (can be stored for up to 5 years), or access to a colostrum bank, just in case. You can collect colostrum for saving, the same time the foal is nursing during the first 12 hours. Feed According to Need Keeping track of a foal’s rate of growth is an important part of managing its diet. The average foal should weigh between 10 – 12% of the mare’s body weight at birth and will double their birth weight in the first 30 days. Not many horse owners have a scale to measure how fast the foal is growing, but monthly monitoring of their age and size becomes critical to feeding according to their growth rate. Feeding less nutrients than required can result in skeletal and soft tissue problems while overfeeding calories can increase the trauma on the sensitive growth plates causing inflammation to occur, i.e. physitis. Physitis can also occur when inadequate minerals are fed and/or when protein (amino acids) are fed below requirement. Physitis can retard closure allowing multiple things to go wrong at this age. Kapper says, “We do not recommend trying to speed up or slow down a young horse’s growth rate.” Just provide the nutrients according to their individual need, that is determined by its age and size i.e. rate of growth. DOD’s If Developmental Orthopedic Disease (DOD) or limb abnormalities are apparent, immediate action should be taken calling in the vet. These conditions do not go away on their own and are indicative of an underlying problem. The mare’s diet should be checked and milk analyzed. Analyzing the milk is easy, inexpensive and can be the key in getting to the bottom of developmental problems in foals. The nutrients in the milk need to match what is recommended to support optimal growth rate. Checking mineral and nutrient density in the milk is suggested at seven days after foaling and then again during week four, eight and twelve. For example: low protein levels or low calcium or phosphorus can result in decreased bone density and have a negative impact on tendon and ligament strength. A deficiency in copper can result in contracted tendons. When the DOD is nutrition induced - balancing the diet in foals under 30 days old can yield a positive response in ten to fourteen days. For weanlings positive results can be seen in 30 – 45 days and yearlings in 60 – 90 days. This is based on the rate of tissue turn-over being faster in the younger horses. If a DOD is diagnosed, you will need to work closely with your veterinarian, farrier and nutritionist. Kapper cautions against practices such as starving the mare to prevent rapid growth. It will only result in decreasing your mares’ body reserves that will reduce the quality and quantity of her milk. Decreasing these essential nutrients and not addressing the real cause of the problem will only lead to more developmental issues in this years’ foal, as well as next years. He also stressed the importance of prenatal nutrition the ‘entire’ pregnancy. Kapper states, “During the past 30 years of research and monitoring growth related problems, when farms have over 25% of their foal crop affected with DOD, we have reduced the incidence on those farms by over 80%. The two management changes we made were: 1) prenatal nutrition fed the ‘entire’ pregnancy and 2) monitoring growth rate and the nutrients (amino acids, minerals and vitamins) fed to meet their requirements based on their growth rate. The Suckling For the first 30 days –foals will average drinking seven to ten times per hour. This is unchanged whether it is straight from the mother or an orphan foal drinking out of a bucket. The frequency of this purely milk diet is key in reducing digestive upsets which can be caused by drinking too much, too fast, from being too hungry. The hungry foal may attempt to eat forage, bedding or the mares feed that they cannot digest yet. Orphan or rejected foals will be extremely hungry if left for 2 hours without milk and therefore require diligent monitoring and free choice feeding of milk. Little and often is the well-known rule to reduce the chances of diarrhea. Proper nutrition is also essential for thermoregulation and weight gain. Foals grow rapidly; doubling their birth weight in just 30 days. First week to Three months old Access to the mare’s cereal grain should be denied to reduce the chance of diarrhea. The foal is not yet equipped with the enzymes to digest the mare’s cereal grain mixture that is formulated to compliment forage, not mare’s milk. A milk-based foal feed should be introduced which complements the mare’s milk they are already receiving. The quantity of ‘Milk Based’ Starter & Creep pellets consumed per day will be directly related to: how much milk the mare is producing per day, the age of the foal and the size of the foal in relation to the mare. One pound of milk-based feed per day per month of age is an average. It is important to consider factors that affect milk production of the mare: • Maiden mares do not produce as much milk as mares that have had foals previously. • When you cross breed a smaller mare to a larger stallion be prepared for accelerated growth (termed hybrid vigor). • Mare’s normally produce enough milk for a foal to grow to her size, not beyond. • At 4 – 6 weeks the mare’s milk production peaks and then dwindles. Three - Four months old Between three and four months of age the enzymes in the digestive system begin to change. The cecum undergoes further development and a weanling feed can be introduced. Kapper states, “It is very easy to get a pot-belly on a 4 – 6 month old foal due to stemmy hay because they are not very good at fermenting fiber yet.” It is recommended to feed the softest hay when they begin to digest forage. Following Guidelines, Feed Tags and Testing not Guessing National Research Council (NRC) has recommended minimum nutrients to feed for every horse’s status. It is important to consider the changes and variances in forage quality in order to remain above NRC levels. Anything below will result in a state of deficiency. Of course, exceeding the top end of an optimal range can also cause problems if excess of minerals interfere with absorption of nutrients or cause toxicity. Be sure to read the purpose statement on the feed tags and feed according to their recommendations in order to fulfill nutrient requirements. When feeding mares and young horses, it is important to choose a feed that has been formulated to meet the needs of a growing or reproducing horse, as opposed to one that is specifically for mature, idle or maintenance needs. There will not be enough protein or minerals in the latter to support the growing horse. Performance feeds may be higher in calories but will not be balanced with the vitamins and minerals to support development of a strong skeletal structure in a growing horse. Always choose a feed that is tailored to the individual horses needs and feed according to the instructions. Kapper cautions, “Getting away with feeding less than recommended, means you have chosen the wrong feed.” Feeding less than the manufacturers recommended intake will result in nutritional deficiencies. Finally, if you are not testing your hay – choosing a grain mixture and supplements are guesswork. Other than the first 3 to 4 months of life, ad-lib forage should be the bulk of your horse’s diet so it is important to feed good quality and know what is in it. This also applies to testing soil to determine nutrient levels in pasture. “Horses are designed to be continuous feeders,” explains Kapper. An 1100 pound horse will eat up to 18 hours a day consuming about 2 – 2.5 % of their body weight per day in dry forage. This will improve nutrient absorption and over-all health and well-being. Knowing the levels of nutrients in your forage is the starting point for balancing a horse’s diet. Summary It is important to address nutrition right from the start in your horse’s health triangle along with genetics and management. A healthy broodmare is essential to produce a foal full of vigor and good health. Plan ahead to ensure access to extra colostrum, just in case you need it. Feed the right quantity of the right feed for the horse’s life stage to fulfill their dietary and growth needs. Testing the food source (mare’s milk, forage) is the most simple and effective way to make sure your horses are receiving the necessary level of recommended nutrients. Address any developmental abnormalities immediately, working with your healthcare team of veterinarian, farrier and nutritionist. Bio: Don Kapper is a highly experienced equine nutritionist and a member of the Cargill Equine Enterprise Team. Don graduated from Ohio State University and achieved his credentials as a Professional Animal Scientist from the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists in 1996 and has been a sought-after speaker for equine meetings in both the U.S. and Canada. He was a member of the “Performance Electrolyte Research” team at the University of Guelph and wrote the chapter on “Applied Nutrition” for the authoritative veterinary textbook: “Equine Internal Medicine”, 2nd edition. Don also co-developed the “Equine Nutrition” course for the Equine Science Certificate program for Equine Guelph and has been a popular guest speaker in several Equine Guelph online courses, including the Equine Growth and Development, Exercise Physiology and Advanced Equine Nutrition. Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Equine Guelph's interactive youth education attraction is the perfect fit where education meets fun! From sitting on top of everyone's favorite fiberglass horse, "Shorty Legs", to learning the inner workings of the horses skeletal and digestive system - EquiMania! delivers information in the most entertaining way for the whole family. The EquiMania! Explorer safety program tours youth through the entire display learning how to be safe around horses, in the stable, around equipment and in the barn yard. Our new helmet safety display is proving popular, teaching riders why it is so important to use their head and always wear a helmet when working around horses. This youth safety education initiative is made possible each year by our partners: Kubota Canada, Ontario Equestrian Federation, SSG Gloves, System Fencing and Workplace Safety and Prevention Services. Equine Guelph also thanks Greenhawk, Shur-Gain and Zoetis for their generous support as sponsors of our healthcare displays. Our next stop will be at Can-Am Equine All Breeds Emporium, April 3 - 5 at the new location of Markham Fairgrounds. Help us celebrate our 10th year at Can-Am! Bring the kids to enter a new colouring contest (up to age 10). And for horse enthusiasts new to riding, the Ticket to Ride program will trot out again. Brought to you by Equine Guelph and the Ontario Equestrian Federation, "Ticket to Ride", offers youth an opportunity for a FREE assessment lesson, discounted lesson package or free introduction to horses barn tour at participating OEF member riding facilities. Pick up your Explorer Passport at the EquiMania! display and let the learning begin! Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Equine Guelph is pleased to announce that Intercity Insurance is joining forces with Equine Guelph to combat colic - the number one killer of horses (other than old age). The impact of colic is well understood by Intercity Insurance, Equine Guelph and the entire equine community. Not many surgeries strike as much fear into the heart of a horseperson. Not only is colic surgery expensive with a subsequent long lay-up, but reoccurrence is a major concern as well. Fortunately, the majority of colic incidents can be avoided through preventative stable management strategies and that is where Equine Guelph's Colic Prevention programs, including the Colic Risk Rater and Colic Prevention eWorkshop, become indispensable tools. The two-week Colic Prevention eWorkshop helps horse owners reduce the risk of colic in their horses by increasing their knowledge of risk factors and developing sound management plans. Equine Guelph student, Natalie Price, says, "This course is a must for all horse owners as knowledge is the first and best defense against colic!" Participants learn about the different types of colic and how to implement practical ways to reduce the risks of colic in this two-week online short course. Introduced in Spring 2013, this eWorkshop continues to be a hot topic horse owner's request. The next offering is scheduled for April 13 -26, 2015. Equine Guelph's free online health care tool, the Colic Risk Rater, helps horse owners reduce their horse's risk of Colic. In ten minutes, the tool calculates risk factors in ten categories providing feedback on management practices. Intercity Insurance has also sponsored the printing of a colic prevention brochure which will be distributed at EquiMania! at the upcoming Can-Am show as well as through several equestrian federations across Canada. The digestive system of a domestic horse faces many challenges not present in their natural environment but there are many best management practices that can help horses cope. Owners must be aware of the risk factors, especially the ones we can manage such as feeding, housing, parasite control and stress. To check out the Colic Risk Rater or to find out more about Equine Guelph's Colic Prevention Programs including the upcoming eWorkshop, scheduled for April 13 - 26, visit http://EquineGuelph.ca/eworkshops/colic.php Equine Guelph thanks Intercity Insurance for partnering with our Colic Prevention program. by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada