A respected authority in large animal handling techniques brought her expertise to the Ontario Veterinary College's Large Animal Hospital in early June. More than 50 staff, registered veterinary technicians, clinicians, interns and residents from the UofG's OVC joined a half-day Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) course with Dr. Rebecca Gimenez, focusing on safe transfer and handling of large animals. "She shared some great knowledge and experience with us that will help us provide more efficient and safer patient care - not only safer for the patient but also safer for our employees," says Amy Richardson, Supervisor, Patient Care and Service Delivery in OVC's Health Sciences Center. Gimenez customized her TLAER course offering for the OVC session, providing hands-on opportunities with equine models using a variety of large animal techniques, tactics, and procedures to safely move and handle animals. Participants practiced assembling halters from ropes and straps, perfected using a sideways drag and roll to position a horse onto a glide, and worked as a team to set up an Anderson sling in the Large Animal Hospital. Anderson slings can be used in multiple scenarios to lift a large animal or to elevate an injured animal and relieve pressure on its limbs. Participants also tackled emergency scenarios, rescuing an injured horse model from a trailer, first stabilizing the patient and then working together to safely move the animal out of the trailer using a glide. Based in Georgia, Gimenez developed the TLAER training in the mid-1990s with Dr. Tomas Gimenez. She has travelled extensively training first responders, veterinarians and veterinary technicians in these techniques. Key to every scenario is safety "for self, team and the animal," says Gimenez. Positioning is vital with horses to stay clear of the head and kick zone of the legs. She advocates assigning one individual as the incident commander during rescue operations or emergencies and another to focus solely on safety. She is also a strong advocate for helmets and gloves when working with horses. Planning is also vital in an emergency situation. An 'aha' moment during the training for Carina Cooper, a large animal internal medicine resident, was the reminder that an emergency situation may have been happening for hours. "Take the time to come up with a good plan and equipment. A best laid plan is worth way more than rash decisions." While the rescue training focuses on emergency situations, techniques are applicable to day-to-day work with animals. "It's easier to do these things in a clinical situation where you have lots of people and all the equipment you need, but you're trying to prepare the veterinarian and the veterinary technician for a situation where there is only one or two of them and they need to be able to use mechanical advantages or tools that will make their job easier and safer," she adds. "It was an excellent course and good refresher for what we do here," says Andrew McHitchison, who provides clinical support in the OVC HSC. "Rebecca is a fantastic speaker." Many of the tips Gimenez suggested were straightforward, adds Richardson, how to position proper ropes or straps for forward assists, backward assists, and how to make rope halters. "Sometimes you may have a horse that either doesn't have a halter or doesn't have one that fits properly so we can fabricate one quickly and simply from cotton rope which we have in stock," adds Richardson. "Maneuvering in a trailer, how to use the sling in an efficient manner, using straps to move a horse into a sternal position, and even hospital or stall design recommendations to make your life easier when handling or moving animals were all helpful tips for in-hospital cases," adds Cooper. First responders from Adjala-Tosorontio, Guelph/Eramosa, and Erin Fire Departments, with previous TLAER training through Equine Guelph also assisted with the workshop. "We are so pleased to have this opportunity to facilitate bringing this training to the large animal clinic. There are so many professional groups that benefit from this level of expertise for safety and welfare of both animals and people involved. We are committed in our ongoing efforts for this program and look forward to future training offerings," says Dr. Susan Raymond, Communications and Programs Officer, Equine Guelph. "Rebecca was quite pleased with our facilities and to see a lot of the equipment that we have in place to help us do a better job and to make things safer for all of us," adds Richardson. The training offered hospital personnel a chance to ask questions and "learn from one of the best in the world," The training was sponsored by Merial, the Ontario Equestrian Federation and Equine Guelph. by: Karen Mantel
They make hoof prints in our hearts, blessing us with their beauty and grace. An inexplicable bond forms with a cherished companion requiring no words during your time together. Equine Guelph and Intercity Insurance understand what it is like to suffer the loss of a beloved equine friend. “Hoofprints was created for courageous people wishing to share their memories and pay respect to their dearly departed equine partner or person in the horse community,” says Equine Guelph director, Gayle Ecker. A photo and story are posted on the Hoofprints webpage as a positive means to cope with the devastating loss and a way to grieve with fellow horse lovers. “We are proud to partner in a program facilitating a loving way to remember the horses and horse people who have had a huge impact on our lives,” says Mike King of Intercity Insurance. By dedicating an Equine Guelph donation in their name, their legacy lives on giving back to horse health and welfare through Equine Guelph’s programs. Equine Guelph thanks Intercity Insurance for sponsoring the Hoofprints Tribute Program and for supporting other horse welfare initiatives including Equine Guelph’s Colic Risk Rater online interactive tool and two brochures: Colic Prevention and Fire Safety Pocket Book of Promises. 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 EquineGuelph.ca.
Equine Guelph would like to announce a wonderful opportunity for members of the harness racing industry. After the rash of barn fires in Ontario at the beginning of 2016, Equine Guelph and its partners were quick to respond, bringing educational material regarding fire prevention to the horse industry. During the summer of 2016 a pilot program will be introduced for horse farms involved in the racing industry; including thoroughbred, standardbred and quarterhorse racing, whether racing, training or breeding. A limited number of visits will be scheduled for farms interested in having a fire prevention professional walk through their facility, providing a valuable assessment and recommendations to maximize safety. So many members of the racing industry were devastated by the tragic fires earlier this year bringing a focus on fire safety and prevention to the forefront of industry interest. Equine Guelph is pleased to be able to offer this valuable, one-time, learning opportunity to the racing industry of Ontario. "It is our belief that an investment in fire prevention and safety education/training will help protect people, horses and facilities." says Gayle Ecker, Director of Equine Guelph. "Prevention is key and this is a special opportunity to become more aware of the steps we can take to reduce the risk. Our horses are depending on us to protect them." For more information on fire safety and prevention visit EquineGuelph.ca/tools/fireprevention.php Farms interested in scheduling an assessment, please contact Dr. Susan Raymond, Equine Guelphslraymon@uoguelph.ca or call 519-824-4120 ext 54230
Equine Guelph thanks Ross Millar and all his dedicated staff including: auction organizer, Janice Blakeney, auctioneer, Brad Bowie and all the artists who made this fundraiser a huge success for the second year in a row. "Equine Guelph has been a part of the Can-Am from the very first show and we are pleased to receive this special donation from the Can-Am. Our thanks to all the artists who donated beautiful artwork, along with Amber Marshall for her contribution as well," said Ecker, Director of Equine Guelph. "It is great to partner with such wonderful people who share our passion for educating the horse industry on equine health and welfare." With close to 10,000 in attendance at Can-Am, six lucky bidders came away from the evening extravaganza on Saturday April 2, 2016 with some impressive artwork while helping out a great cause. Special thanks go to the incredibly talented Canadian artists who donated their work with 100% of the proceeds going to Equine Guelph: Ann Clifford (acliffordsculpture.com/#!horses/cbnu), Mark Grice (markgricetheartist.weebly.com), Shawn Hamilton (clixphoto.com) and Nola McConnan (merriweatherdesignstudio.com). Thank you also to Amber Marshall who donated two gift packages and photo shoots. Young admirers were very enthusiastic in their bidding for these two unique items. EquiMania!, Equine Guelph's interactive youth safety display has a long history with Can-Am, appearing for the past 11 years (since the inception of EquiMania!). "Can-Am is proud to promote equine welfare and is happy to lend support," says president, Ross Millar. "Our long-standing relationship with Equine Guelph is rooted in a mutual passion for educating horse owners and care givers." Visit EquiMania.ca to learn more and to bring EquiMania! to your event. Jackie Bellamy-Zions
The sun is shining, birds are singing, flowers are blooming and the temptation is to launch full-on into your horse-training endeavours. You may have kept fit throughout the winter on the ski slopes or at the gym but what about your horse? Unless you had access to an indoor arena or migrated south for a few months with your four legged friends, chances are your horse’s fitness level is not quite sufficient for competition or strenuous outings yet. While there is no fool-proof way to avoid all circumstances that could necessitate a lameness exam, there are precautions every horse owner can take to reduce the risk of injury. As with every great fitness program, the key to success is a logical progression and controlling the factors you can control such as footing, stable management and horse health care. Logical Progression Many training programs have a pinnacle event in mind. In this case, a work back plan is created based on when you want the horse to be in peak fitness. The journey leading up to the main event consists of weeks and months of conditioning including a lead up with smaller events to ensure the horse is ready for the more strenuous task ahead. It only takes one month off for a horse to start loosing fitness. If you are coming back from a winter of inactivity, it is wise to start slow with 20 minutes of walking and to build up from there. Increase the length of conditioning sessions first, before increasing intensity. It is not realistic for a horse to be in peak physical condition at all times. Good fitness programs do not ask a horse for maximum exertion on an ongoing basis but allow for peaking and tapering, muscle building and down time for repair. Increasing cardiovascular fitness, strength training and flexibility in a progressive way will increase fitness and make the horse stronger and more resilient when the time comes for a maximal performance. A horse that has been fit previously will return to fitness faster than one that has never been fit before. Each horse’s training program needs to be tailored to the individual with consideration given to: age, breed, conformation, discipline requirements and previous injuries. One of the learning objectives in the Equine Guelph, 12-week online course, Equine Exercise Physiology, is to design and monitor a year-round training program for a horse (using training principles, structuring the workout, monthly and yearly plans). Also addressed are topics such as: base conditioning, aerobic and anaerobic exercise and recovery, monitoring of conditioning gains and prevention of health and performance problems and more. No Footing, No Horse Back to that sunshine again. Oh boy, is it tempting to go ride outside now! Before you step out consider all the footing factors. If you have been lucky enough to train in an indoor ring all winter, chances are your horse has been enjoying consistent, even, well-maintained footing. The outdoor options will not be exactly the same. Even if you are simply moving to an outdoor arena, there will be changes in depth, surface material, drainage and so on. While riding on different surfaces can be hugely beneficial, it takes time for horses to adapt, both to the new surface and possibly to the new training intensity. Dr. Brianne Henderson explains in her archived article on legs, “Bone is always changing and responding to stress. Microdamage can occur within the bone as a consequence of repetitive strain. Overtraining causes this “microdamage” to occur at a faster rate than the body can fix and so the repair is never as strong as the original bone. A similar ‘micro-damage-repair’ cycle occurs within the tendons and ligaments.” The chance of repetitive strain injuries can be significantly reduced with judicious training and the incorporation of lighter work days and rest days. Training in deeper footing and muddy conditions can predispose horses to soft tissue injuries such as sprains and strains. Those taking to the roads need to be aware of the impact on joints and bones, which can occur when training on harder surfaces. Training on hills is a great work out for both balance and strength training, but again logical progression of duration and intensity of workouts are all important to avoid fatigue and lameness issues. It pays to be choosy about the footing you ride upon. Not all surfaces are a good match for all disciplines. Dr. Jeff Thomason of the Ontario Veterinary College has done intensive research studying surfaces and how the horse interacts with a variety of footing. More information on this research can be found on the Equine Guelph website in archived news article: “From the Ground Up” . Shape Shifting Everyone knows about the importance of deworming and vaccination but no spring checklist would be complete without due diligence on the stable management aspects of dental care and saddle fitting. A painful mouth due to sharp points can manifest as reluctance to be ridden. There are many changes constantly occurring in a horses mouth and having a dental exam performed by a veterinarian once or twice a year is recommended for both digestive health and to avoid set backs in training. The saddle fitter is another important member of your healthcare team. Horses change shape over time and at different stages of training. Ensuring proper fit is important not only for the horse’s comfort but also for correct muscular development. Several appointments throughout a year are not uncommon and the spring check up is one of the saddle fitter’s busiest times of year. Know your Horse Health Knowing your horses’ normal heart rate, temperature and breathing rate before you begin a training program is important. “A work back plan falls into place once you have an understanding of your horses’ current fitness level and set an end goal,” says Equine Guelph’s director and former advisor for Canada’s endurance team, Gayle Ecker. A free 16-point horse health check is available with Equine Guelph’s Horse Health Tracker App as well as body condition scoring and a weight estimator. Knowing your starting point and what is normal for your horse is vital information for moving forward and monitoring your horses health through every stage of its training. Tracking how quickly vitals return to normal after exercise gives the horse owner a measurable indicator of fitness level. As a horses exercise routine ramps up, nutrition and electrolyte balance will also need to be adjusted accordingly. Early Detection Flexibility is of course a component of any training program. No matter how well we plan, setbacks can and will occur and it is of paramount importance to detect and address any health concerns early on. Early detection and treatment generally result in a more favorable prognosis. Archived article by Dr. Brianne Henderson, “Legs, Common Injuries, and how we can Treat Them” can be found on Equine Guelph’s news page. To practice your early detection skills for lameness, visit Equine Guelph’s free online healthcare tool, Lameness Lab, kindly sponsored by Zoetis. Lameness Lab reviews causes of lameness, goes over checklists, looks at when to call the veterinarian and what to expect in an exam. Finally, take the video challenge to see if you can spot the lame leg! To gain a wealth of information on conditioning programs, sign up for the Equine Guelph 12-week Exercise Physiology course beginning May 9. Equine Guelph would like to wish you all the best with your horse training programs. More resources promoting horse health and welfare can be found atEquineGuelph.ca.
The number one killer of horses other than old age is colic. If you search "equine colic" on the World Wide Web, over 400,000 results will appear! Many of them explain colic as a common yet potentially deadly disorder of the digestive system with a wide array of causes. To understand why the domesticated horse is prone to colic, it is important to compare how different the life of a modern horse is compared to its wild counterparts − one of the first lessons learned by participants of Equine Guelph's Colic Prevention two-week eWorkshop. Horses in the wild graze for 16-20 hours and travel 8km/day or more whereas modern horses are often confined to stables or smaller turnout areas, fed concentrate diets and undergo more intensive exercise activity. It is no surprise that the modern use and management of the horse is a huge departure from its natural feeding and activity pattern which can place them at higher risk of digestive issues that can lead to colic. Being aware of these differences and taking preventative measures can minimize their effects and help reduce the risk of colic. Equine Guelph has two resources available to aid you in caring for your horse and its approximate 85 feet of digestive tract. The two-week online short course will help you identify risk factors and assess your management in order to implement preventative measures. It is "cheap insurance" at only $75 + hst. Equine Guelph also has a handy healthcare tool which helps you assess your personal risk with the "Colic Risk Rater". After answering a series of questions, a customized rating for your horse is provided. Intercity insurance is the generous sponsor of this tool. "Given our decades of experience in insuring horses from coast to coast, we know that colic is one of the highest risk factors in the Canadian herd," says Mike King of Intercity. "We can think of no better risk management tool to prevent colic than education." Knowledge is the best defense when more than 80% of colic cases are management-related. Learn how to reduce your risk in practical ways that you can easily implement. "This course is a must for all horse owners as knowledge is the first and best defense against colic!" says Natalie Price, Ontario, Canada, Student. Visit EquineGuelph.ca to sign up for the next Colic Prevention eWorkshop April 11 and take 15 minutes to assess your risk with the Colic Risk Rater healthcare tool. by Jackie Bellamy-Zions
The Grand River Agricultural Society (GRAS) recently presented the first of four cheques totaling $125,000 to benefit the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) Student Liaison Program at the University Of Guelph. On February 25, a donation of $31,250 was presented by the GRAS, owner/operator of Grand River Raceway, at the Elora track. The OAC Student Liaison Program aims to increase the number of applicants to all OAC programs and increase awareness in urban and rural Ontario. The program promotes and showcases the abundance of opportunities and careers in agriculture and food to high school students, parents, educators and guidance counsellors. Since 2010, there has been a 35 per cent growth in OAC undergraduate program enrolment. This is due in part to participation in over 75 external events and the delivery of 35 student outreach events including Reach Ahead Days, certification training and skills competitions. In total, over 3,800 high school students have attended events hosted by the Ontario Agricultural College since Fall 2010. "Support from the Grand River Agricultural Society enables us to continue to demonstrate Ontario's agri-food education and career opportunities to high school students and teachers," shares Jonathan Schmidt, OAC Associate Dean - Academic. "We continue to see an increased interest from rural and urban schools offering Special High Skills Majors, who are looking for our leadership in providing training and certification," he adds. "Support from the GRAS will help us continue to meet these needs and showcase the breadth and depth of agri-food." Going forward, the program will adapt to meet the increased interest from high school teachers and students in online activities and outreach materials as well as career planning and counseling for current OAC students. The Grand River Agricultural Society (GRAS) is a not-for-profit corporation, incorporated under the Agricultural and Horticultural Societies Act of Ontario and governed by a volunteer board of directors reporting to OMAFRA. The GRAS mandate is to encourage awareness of agriculture and to promote improvements in the quality of life of persons living in an agricultural community. Kelly Spencer
After spending only five minutes browsing my email inbox, I am reminded of the need to promote Equine Guelph's Behaviour and Safety eWorkshop to anyone and everyone who ever plans to spend time in the company of equines. A horse has died while being hand-grazed. It's neck broken after stepping into a lead shank chain which was not being used over the nose but doubled through the halter instead. A Facebook video shows a toddler frolicking in a paddock with a loose pony. The caption is cute, but watching the clip fills me with dread. I see the pony going back and forth between inquisitive behaviour to defensive body language warning of an impending kick. An accident is waiting to happen if the parents continue to believe this pony is a harmless toy for their tot to play tag with. Photos of people with horses roll in - halter too low on the nose, handler in a precarious position if the horse spooks, the list goes on. An education in how horses react to what they perceive as frightening doesn't need to come from the school of hard knocks. As a horse-crazy child born of "non-horsey" lineage, I can tell my fair share of stories about learning the hard way. I wish this popular two-week online course had been around when I was driving my parents insane with demands for riding lessons. Now, as a coach, my lessons revolve around safety, starting with ground handling. The Behaviour and Safety eWorkshop teaches horse owners to read their horses body language and understand their motivations as a prey species. "We are pleased that horse people are interested in educating themselves about 'why' horses behave the way they do and how that translates into becoming better and safer handlers," says Equine Guelph Director, Gayle Ecker. Students of the program are 16 years of age and up and they are welcomed by a community where shared experiences further learning. Led by experts, this course has received high praise from parents, new horse owners and coaches who then pass the knowledge on to their students. This eWorkshop qualifies for Equine Canada coaches updating credits and is approved by the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians. Guest speaker, Dr. Rebecca Gimenez, brings a wealth of experience, teaching horse handling skills all over the world in her Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue courses. She communicates from first-hand knowledge that horses can exhibit extremist behaviors; where fear and panic drive them to do things that most owners and handlers cannot imagine in daily life. "Ignorance is no longer 'bliss' when it comes to one's ownership and relationship with their equine partner, says Gayda Erret, previous student. "One gains vast knowledge they may never have realized they needed." It is so easy to become complacent in many of the ten topics covered such as: fire safety, trailer loading and safety around the barn and paddocks. This course is a great refresher for industry experts and an excellent start for those new to the world of equines. Don't miss out on Equine Guelph's Horse Behaviour and Safety eWorkshop February 22 to March 6, 2016, for $75 plus HST. Space is limited. For more details contact Susan Raymond at email@example.com or visit: http://www.equineguelph.ca/eworkshops/behaviour_safety.php by Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Equine Guelph's year of "Full-Circle-Responsibility" welfare campaign, ended with a wonderful journey. Gayle Ecker was an invited guest to the World Horse Welfare conference in England! Presentations from this invitation only event can be viewed on the World Horse Welfare website. Ecker also attended information meetings at the World Horse Welfare headquarters near Norwich, followed by a tour through Hall Farm (one of their major horse rescue centres). The trip continued on to The Horse Trust to learn about their horse rescue operations and education programs. A visit to the Hampshire Fire and Rescue also provided information on training of first responders for technical large animal rescue in the UK. Can you say whirlwind tour? "The World Horse Welfare conference was excellent and demonstrates that we share many welfare concerns between Ontario and the UK, including the need for more education for horse owners to support equine welfare," says Ecker. "Important relationships were developed with these organizations. This will result in information sharing to move forward the important initiative of advancing horse welfare." Horse Welfare has been at the core of Equine Guelph's mission since day one and we offer specialized online courses including Equine Welfare, and Global Perspectives in Equine Welfare. Equine Guelph's Equine Welfare Certificate was launched in June 2012 and attracts students from all over the globe and from many different backgrounds. "As a full-time equine veterinarian, I wanted to explore my understanding and awareness of current issues relating to welfare within the equine industry. All stakeholders within the industry have pre-formed perspectives and this course allowed students to share different opinions and thoughts about salient issues within the equine world. I experienced the level of passion that horse owners and horse lovers have regarding not just their own horses, but the horse population in general. Although these issues are not always straightforward with resolutions that all stakeholders consider satisfactory, the dialogue was thought-provoking and enlightening. The online format allows people with busy schedules to fully participate on their own schedule without missing out on any topics. I would certainly take another online course offered by Equine Guelph in the future." Greg Evans, DVM, BSc. Ag. The Equine Welfare certificate, made up of six online courses, is offered by the Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare (CCSAW), Equine Guelph, and Open Learning and Educational Support at the University of Guelph. Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Puslinch Firefighters' were dispatched to a Public Assistance call for a horse stuck in a horse trailer on October 12th, 2015 around 09:30 hours. Ten Firefighters were in attendance for the nearby horse farm on Wellington Road 34 in Puslinch Township. The crew responded quickly; and were at the scene within 7 minutes from the initial pager activation. A 14 yr old mare named "Heidi" was trapped halfway through the side door of the trailer and could not move forward or backwards. The owners and by-standers assisted in keeping the horse calm and relaxed while fire personnel quickly derived a plan of action to free the trapped horse. It was determined that the best and safest option was to use hydraulic spreaders above the horse to spread the opening apart. It was quickly determined other hydraulic devices and cutting options were out of question due to safety and noise that could further hinder the stuck mare. Dealing with a matter of inches, Heidi was quickly and successfully freed. Miraculously, she sustained zero damage or injury throughout the entire event; not even so much as a cut or scratch. The horse trailer also sustained minimal damage. The entire process from arrival on scene to complete extrication of the horse took a total of 13 minutes. Among the firefighters who responded, three of them had recently attended the Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) course only eight days earlier, organized by Equine Guelph, University of Guelph through Susan Raymond, PhD. Communications & Programs Officer. The TLAER course, instructed by Dr. Rebecca Gimenez (TLAER Inc.) was conducted over 2 days (October 3rd & 4th) at the Grand River Raceway in Elora, ON. The course was very informative and covered both in-class sessions and practical scenarios on both artificial and live animals. "Utilizing the information from this course proved valuable both in maintaining personal safety zones around the animal and scene while coming up with an effective plan to quickly and safely extricate the large animal," said firefighter Michael Dailous. This was the second horse rescue call for the month of October; both calls only days after several firefighters in attendance had taken the TLAER course. Story by: Michael Dailous Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Esteemed equine journalist and photographer, Barbara Sheridan, received second place honours at the 2015 Canadian Farm Writers' Federation (CFWF) Awards Banquet this past Sept 26th. Founded in 1955, CFWF serves the common interests of agricultural journalists, including reporters, editors and broadcasters as well as those in business and government whose primary responsibility is agricultural communications. The Don Baron Award, presented at the annual conference held this year in Calgary, Alberta, was open to photographs published by a Canadian medium that accompanies written copy on an agricultural topic to improve the editorial story telling capacity of the medium. "It was tricky capturing the action shot," explained Sheridan. "I only had the opportunity to shoot off a couple of frames before I had to get out of the fire fighter's way." Of course, a dynamic shot, such as this, comes with an interesting story. First appearing in FIREFighting in Canada magazine, the image was captured during a training exercise led by Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) and hosted by Equine Guelph in the fall of 2014. Dr. Rebecca Gimenez, world renowned TLAER instructor, came back to lead a sold out second round of this important training in October 2015, again hosted by Equine Guelph. "This news is a double delight" says, Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph, "spreading the word about safety and welfare for horses through fantastic training programs and honoring a great photographer, who also happens to be the instructor for Equine Guelph's online Journalism course. Congratulations Barbara!" Barbara Sheridan is an award-winning journalist and former magazine editor, as well as instructor teaching the online Equine Journalism course that is part of the Equine Studies Diploma from Equine Guelph at the University of Guelph. To learn more about this course and other training opportunities visit EquineGuelph.ca. To read related articles by Barbara Sheridan visit the Equine Guelph news archives: http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=426. by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Jesse was a 20 year old Canadian who represented the breed by being distinctively beautiful and sweet. She stood proud at the best of times and was always a pleasure to visit at the barn. She will be greatly missed by all her barn friends especially her pasture buddies, Hannah, Porscha and Nicole. I was first introduced to the Canadian Horse when I met Rose 7 years ago at a local fair. I was intrigued by the horses beauty and historical background. I am pleased that the horses became part of my life and thank my good friend Rose for allowing me to be part of sharing their heritage to the public by traveling with her to local fairs. She will be greatly missed by her owners Rose and Gary Cook. Thank you Rose for allowing Jesse to be part of my life. A beautiful and loving horse. Laura Spies Equine Guelph's Hoofprints Tribute program gives grieving horse owners a positive means to cope with the devastating loss and a loving way to honour the memory of a horse. By dedicating an Equine Guelph donation in their name, their legacy will live on by contributing to longer, healthier lives for other horses. Hoofprints is kindly sponsored by Intercity Insurance Services. 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. 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. Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
The words responsible and breeding should be an inseparable pairing in the harness racing breeding industry. The successful future of a foal depends heavily on the investment of the breeder to: 1) financially project costs from conception to sale or lifespan of the horse if it is to be kept. 2) research, research, research! The homework list is a long one including choosing a mare and stallion with great conformation and temperament, investigating their performance records, checking fertility rates, health records, offspring records and more... 3) educate themselves and plan ahead. Impeccable stable management and genetics knowledge combined with understanding special nutrition and healthcare requirements for the broodmare, foal and breeding stallion are all prerequisites to breeding horses responsibly. In the following article, two experienced and successful horse breeders: Dr. Moira Gunn of Paradox Farm and Doug Nash, formerly from Glengate have taken the time to share some of their vast knowledge. Dr. Gunn has had recent cause for celebration when Lexi Lou, bred by Paradox farm, received the 2014 Canadian Horse of the Year award after a string of wins including the Queen's Plate and the Oaks. Nash was farm manager at Glengate (formerly Cantario Farms) for almost 30 years. Glengate consisted of 3 farms, housing 80 - 100 mares, 8 stallions, and yearlings. In addition to servicing 1,200 mares annually with their own stallions, Glengate collected, shipped, froze, evaluated, imported and exported semen for 125 to 140 stallions of all breeds and disciplines. Nash has also shared his knowledge as an instructor for Equine Guelph's online Growth and Development course. Both breeders were candid discussing one of the most important considerations − ensuring financial means to see the horse through to a purposeful life. From stud fees to reproductive health exams and specialized nutrition, there is much to consider in calculating the bottom line. Stud fees can range anywhere from $200 - $200,000! When discussing logistics, Nash gives an example, "If you are breeding for profit you would not spend over $3,000 in stud fees if your broodmare is worth $10,000." Nash also expects private operations will not incur less than $14,000 (excluding the stud fee) in costs leading up to a yearling sale. In commercial operations this number would be closer to 17 or $18,000. Gunn explains daily costs of boarding just a broodmare vary widely and range up to $40/day. "Quality of care" questions should include the size of stalls and pasture. Methods and frequency of ongoing nutritional analysis should be discussed, for example, testing each batch of hay, soil testing the fields and consulting with a nutritionist to balance feed rations. Both Gunn and Nash concur that selecting the best genetics in the world will not help if paramount importance is not placed on the special nutritional needs of the broodmare and foal. An excellent in-depth understanding of nutrition, including protein requirements, micro-minerals, etc. is crucial to guard against the myriad of developmental conditions that could seriously affect the horse's future potential. Gunn points out, "the number one mistake I see people make is not understanding the nutritional program required prior to conception, during pregnancy and in the first two years of life of a foal." Nash and Gunn understand the value of a reproductive exam, especially if it is suspected the mare may have troubles conceiving or has lost a foal in the past. Nash explains the reproductive exam is much the same as a pre-purchase exam, checking for good overall health but also including the reproductive tract. Gunn described elements of the exam such as performing an ultrasound to check size, shape and consistency of the uterus and inspecting the vulva conformation (i.e. too sloped could predispose windsucking). On a suspect mare, a uterine culture and biopsy can also provide important information. If the mare has a cresty neck, hormone profiles can check for hypothyroidism. Nash comments, "Money spent today on a reproductive health exam can save you tomorrow by avoiding an abortion." Following the reproductive exam there will be many veterinary service calls including palpations and ultrasounds which can run approximately $1,000 - $2,000. Once the budget hurdle has been cleared, the homework begins. One of the biggest questions to answer is WHY are you breeding? Knowing your expectations of the foal will help you make realistic selections when it comes to choosing an appropriate pairing considering size, breed, athletic ability, temperament... which brings us to WHO? When looking at performance records, it is important not to skip over the broodmare and look only at the stallion. Look for the traits, conformation, personality and athletic ability desired in both parents. An ideal body condition score (5-6 out of 9) and good overall health including up to date health records (vaccines, worming...) should exist for the dam and stud. Nash states he likes a mare who adapts quickly to new surroundings and possesses a pleasant attitude. Age is a special consideration for the mare as a decline in reproductive ability starts between the ages of 12 and 15. The older mare may have trouble bringing a pregnancy to term. Expanding on the importance of health Nash cautions, "Horses in pain do not conceive." A mare retired from work is not an automatic breeding prospect, depending on the reason. For example a mare with chronic laminitis is not a breeding candidate. Nash advises the selection process when deciding to breed horses involves three to four months of homework. He looks at performance records not only of the stallion but also the offspring. The size and conformation of the offspring should be noted. "Find out as much about the stallion as you can," says Nash. This includes questions such as live foal rate? A thorough check for any hereditary conditions is a must. Breeding for your own preference needs to be carefully balanced by being cognizant of the marketplace to avoid unwanted horses and paddock ornaments. After the WHY and WHO comes HOW? Live, fresh or frozen is the next topic to study. "Professional breeders will be able to provide semen analysis and be able to tell you how well it transports either fresh or frozen," says Gunn. Raw motility and extended motility are important considerations when transporting semen. Morphology of semen and track records of fertility should also be available. If the mare in question has had difficulty conceiving, you are better off selecting a stallion with high fertility rates. If considering live cover, not all of this information will necessarily be available but past track records of getting mares into foal should be unless it is the stallion's first year standing at stud. A semen evaluation will also give insight as to how many mares the stallion can breed in a day. When choosing live or fresh semen, you must also ensure timing of ovulation and sperm delivery are accurately synchronized. For a live cover, Nash recommends a site visit and inquiring about the facilities health, safety and biosecurity procedures. When using frozen semen, Gunn explains frequent palpations will be necessary for the mare throughout the day and night to have success with this method as timing is critical. When it comes to stable management, you need to be a planning pro with a dedication to details. On top of impeccable general standards, breeding facilities need to provide a suitable environment for broodmares and foals. The foaling area needs to provide ample room to avoid injury during birth. Stalls should have solid walls with dimensions of 16 x 12 being more desirable. In the turn out area, the addition of skylights in three sided sheds make use of sunlight to kill bacteria. Pasture fences should be constructed so the foal cannot roll out of the paddock when lying down. For example: post and board fencing with a fourth rail is often used to contain young stock. Hay racks need to be attached high enough up on the wall that a foal or yearling cannot get hung up. Creep feeders allow weanlings to feed undisturbed and reach their nutritional requirements. It is important to ensure the weanling is consuming enough feed prior to weaning to ensure there will not be a shock on its nutritional development. At weaning time, it is ideal to move the pair out of visual and vocal contact to reduce the risk of injury should they try to reunite. Have a plan for companionship for the mare and weanling after they are separated. The weanling could be introduced to other weanlings or an older gelding. Equine Guelph has published new research on Two-stage weaning as another method of weaning. Last and certainly not least, it is important to plan every step of the way with your veterinarian to ensure good health before, during and after foaling. Vaccinations and boosters need to be given at the correct times and accurate records kept. They may also be able to direct you to a source of colostrum, should there be any issues in the crucial time after the birth. This information is worth checking into before you need it. Planning every detail ahead of time is required to prepare for any eventuality. Responsible breeders perform due diligence in all areas of stable management, financial planning, and market research. The investment of hard work, homework, record keeping and proper care is realized when horses reach their full potential. If you are the owner of such a horse - it all began with the responsible breeder. by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions Web Link: http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=457 Story Links: Nutrition Right from the Start: http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=438 Vaccination EquiPlanner: http://www.equineguelph.ca/Tools/equiplanner.php When to Vaccinate Broodmares video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnL68L5smsE Colostrum: http://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/files/2006/11/JSW-MA1-Colostrum.pdf Two-stage Weaning article - page 3 of EG Newsletter http://www.equineguelph.ca/pdf/newsletter/EG%20newsletter%20Spring%202013_web.pdf Research Radio (Dr. Chenier's podcast on preparation for breeding season) http://www.equineguelph.ca/research/radio.php Equine Guelph's Online courses: http://www.equineguelph.ca/education/indiv_courses.php Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Infection control is easier to understand when illustrated by Mark and Dan. Through unique whiteboard videos, Equine Guelph would like you to meet Mark, a lifelong member of the horse racing industry. Mark takes you on a journey through a steep learning curve as he recognizes the threats viruses and bacteria pose for his herd. You will hear about how he experienced the need for good infection control practices firsthand. His story is all about the basics and answers: What are the differences between bacteria and viruses? How are they spread? What can you do to prevent them? His brother Dan also has an important story to tell. Watch a second video where he tells his story about improving infection control practices to keep his horses happy, healthy and at peak performance. This video answers: What should my goals for infection control be? How can I prevent illness at home? How can I prevent illness at the track? Both whiteboard videos are part of a targeted, racing-specific biosecurity training program launched by Equine Guelph in partnership with the Ontario horse racing industry. The program consists of training sessions, tools, resources and videos available to all three horse racing disciplines - Standardbred/Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse. This 3-stage program will help to protect the industry from the threat of infectious disease. In the first stage, Equine Guelph tailored its successful two-week online biosecurity course to Ontario Racing Commission officials (ORC) in a half-day workshop and subsequent two-week online course. The course covered racing specific topics. In the second stage, a 'Virtual Video Tour' featuring biosecurity expert Dr. Scott Weese was developed. These informative five-minute videos offer assessments and practical solutions for racetrack paddocks and training centre barns. The videos are packed full of useful and practical information that make sense for every racing stable wanting to reduce the chances of illness. The videos can be viewed on the Equine Guelph website, under infection control resources. "Biosecurity is trying to prevent things from coming on the property and infection control is trying to contain the risk we always have." Weese explains. One practical example of infection control is using chain cross ties rather than rope because they can easily be cleaned with a disinfectant wipe. They should also be adjusted short enough that horses cannot chew on them. In stage three, racehorse owners, trainers and groomers have been receiving material distributed by the ORC and racetrack officials. Printed resources are available at all ten Ontario racetracks, paddocks and offices as well as approximately twenty major training centres. The print material includes posters outlining five key things horse caretakers need to know to protect horses from getting sick, and a handy checklist to use at home and the track. USB sticks containing the new video resources will also be distributed. The key to prevention is focusing on what you can control. Using vaccines to lower the odds of sickness, not sharing equipment such as buckets and washing hands regularly, especially if you are handling more than one horse are just a few of the practical steps. By spreading the word on biosecurity and infection control, Equine Guelph is helping facilities save money in veterinary bills and days off by lowering the odds of their horses getting sick in the first place. In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Equine Guelph is developing a 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' equine welfare educational initiative which stands to benefit horses in both the racing and non-racing sectors. 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: Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Equine Canada, Grand River Agricultural Society, Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, Ontario Harness Horse Association, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario Racing Commission, Ontario Veterinary College, Quarter Horse Racing Association, Standardbred Canada and VÃ©toquinol Canada Inc. by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
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