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
Life for the horse changed profoundly and forever when the first humans began the process of domestication of the horse for human needs — perhaps more profoundly than we as humans can fully appreciate. The horse is a herd animal that is designed for long hours of grazing in the great outdoors. Fences, paddocks, stalls, intense housing, controlled breeding and more became increasingly complex as the demands on the horse increased. From a simple “food-producing” animal, to war machine and beast of burden, to the demanding athletic life, the “ask” of the horse is far from natural. As owners of the horse, our responsibility for proper care of our animals has grown as well. Certainly domestication of the horse and a variety of human uses of the horse have brought many positives to the life of horses as well. These include: better protection, nutrition, and health management. The role of equine veterinarian developed greatly during wartime as horses became important tools in battle. Welfare of the horse has been better served with increasing knowledge gained by research on health and well-being of the horse on many continents. This research has played a critical role in developing the new standards for care of horses, now outlined in the new Code of Practice for horses in Canada. It is well known that management practices can greatly affect the health and welfare of horses and can be the cause of many conditions. Section two of the Code outlines the consensus and evidence-based recommendations for standards and “best practices” for our domestic horses, with the goal of preventing many of the common health problems associated with different housing practices. The horse industry of today has changed greatly as have our expectations of the horse and its role in our society. Societal expectations have also changed with respect to our management practices and the responsibility for supporting equine welfare and preventing pain, illness and suffering. A strong knowledge of management and disease prevention is the first step to implementing high standards of care for the horses in our care, whether it be the backyard horse or high level athlete. We must all be familiar with our new Code of Practice and the standards set out in this document. Learn more about the Equine Code of Practice – visit – Facilities and Housing Stay tuned for more about Facilities and Housing in the April e-news. Sign up for our free e-newsletter which will deliver monthly welfare tips throughout 2015 and announce tools to aid all horse owners in carrying out their ‘Full-Circle-Responsibility’ to our beloved horses. | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Many ex-racehorses are finding second careers once their racing days are over, thanks to the ever increasing awareness of what these multi-talented athletes can also do off the track. As a result of this growing movement to retrain the racehorse, Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds and Quarter Horses have successfully been transitioning from the track to a new lifestyle as sport horses, show horses or all-around pleasure mounts. Canadian Olympian Jessica Phoenix is a huge proponent of the "ex-racehorse" breed and has successfully worked with them for years. Two of her well-recognized horses in eventing -Exploring and Exponential - were off-the-track Thoroughbreds (OTTB) that successfully took Phoenix to top international levels of competition in eventing. "Exploring went to the Pam Am Games in 2007, and Exponential went to the Olympics and the Word Equestrian Games in 2010 and 2012," says the Cannington, Ontario resident. "Exponential is such a tough horse. He's 17 now and is still competing at the four-star level." In June of 2014, Phoenix won the CCI3* division at the Jaguar Land Rover Bromont Three-Day Event in Quebec aboard A Little Romance. Owned by Don and Anita Leschied, the nine-year-old Canadian-bred mare is a Thoroughbred-Trakehner cross. "I believe that Thoroughbreds are so appealing to our sport because they love to run, as that's what they're bred to do, and I think that's one of the biggest draws to having a Thoroughbred in our sport," says Phoenix. "They also have such a courageous spirit and a zest for life." Phoenix feels that she would not have been able to get a start in this sport if it hadn't been for her OTTB's, Exploring and Exponential. "They were both inexpensive horses to purchase and they were both extremely talented," she says. "They gave me a real opportunity to get into the sport of eventing, to compete at the highest level and be competitive. Starting out, I certainly wasn't in a position where I could purchase a really expensive horse, so honestly, without having been able to start with Thoroughbreds; I probably wouldn't be where I am today." As a competition coach and eventing specialist, Phoenix operates Phoenix Equestrian in Oshawa, Ontario and notes that of the 35 horses currently in their program, half of them are Thoroughbreds. Phoenix is currently training a LongRun Thoroughbred graduate named Exultation, (aka Down By The Docks) who has been declared for the Pan American Games in 2015. Finding Mr. Right With their versatility and great work ethic, a retired racehorse can be hugely rewarding, but it's important to do your homework in order to find the most suitable mount for you. Each year, the racing industry ensures a steady stream of horses that have found themselves at the end of their racing careers. On average, ages can run from two-year-olds (they usually begin their racing career between the age of two and three), to four-and five-year-olds, while some with steady, lucrative careers retire from the track at six years and upward. Their reasons for retirement vary, but most common is their lack of speed, while others, because of the high cost of training, may have been downsized by the owner for economic reasons. Ex-racehorses are naturally competitive, with a willing- to-please personality. As a result, they can be easily trained to adapt to a new discipline, says Phoenix. But with their abundance of availability, how do you know which one is right for you? "I would definitely recommend that you purchase a horse with a basic vetting done, because nine times out of ten, if the horse is clinically sound, and their heart, eyes and lungs are good, they will last the average rider a long time," says Phoenix. "It doesn't have to be an X-ray of every single joint, but this just gives you a bit of information so that if there is something there, you are aware of it and able to maintain it going forward." Some suitable ex-racehorses come off their racing career in fine health, while others can have lower level issues that can be overcome with rest and rehab. Find out ahead of time what your prospect is capable of achieving and whether or not he would a suitable choice, whether for pleasure or as a show mount. To assist with your search, Phoenix recommends the assistance of a trainer or agent, as some ex-racers come at a bargain price for a reason. Those without access to a trainer or agent can turn to one of the many "Off the Track" rehabilitation organizations readily available across the country that retrain and place ex-racehorses for successful second careers. "When you purchase an ex-racehorse from a reputable and established organization, you get the right history on that horse," says Dr. Oscar Calvete, Farm Manager and Veterinarian at Adena Springs North, based in Aurora, Ontario. Created by the Stronach Family in 2004, the Adena Retirement Program was developed as a rehabilitation and retraining program for former racehorses. "At Adena, we take care of the injuries first before we make the horse available on our website. We keep records of everything and make these records available to the public." Calvete notes that by providing the new adoptive owners with full disclosure of each horse's health history and their current retraining status, they're able to ensure that the horses are matched with the right owner and home. The Right Choice Once you've narrowed it down to a few prospects, Phoenix recommends using one's "horse sense" and good judgment to decide on the right prospect. "When considering a purchase, make sure that you really enjoy the horse. Not that you just like the looks of it, but that you really like the horse's personality," she says. "And sometimes, that means you have to spend some time with it. Horses are just like people. They all have different personalities; and sometimes you get along well with them, and sometimes you don't. I would also say knowing their history is helpful, including if they've had any vet-related incidents." A career in equine sport, for both racehorses and sport horses, can put them at risk for training-related injuries. However, the past decade has seen tremendous advances in the field of equine sports medicine in both identification and treatment of these injuries. "The most common ailments that you will find in retired racehorses are mainly soft tissue issues such as tendons and ligaments, as well as joint problems in the front limbs," Calvete notes. "This would be followed by hind limbs, hocks, stifle, hip and back problems, mostly in that order." Many of the more common ailments, such as soft tissue injuries, can easily be overcome with treatment and rest. A vet check can assist in identifying any possible issues that may affect the horse during its second career, as well as advise if the injury is recoverable to allow him to return to full athletic function. "We recommend a program that goes in a slow and consistent manner, always having in mind the horse's temperament and conformation," adds Calvete. Patience is Key Racehorses are worked differently than the average riding horse, as their training mostly involves fitness and speed work. While the transitioning process from racehorse to retraining can vary depending on the horse, most recommend some type of down time before beginning the retraining process. "When they've just come off the track, they are really fit, as they've been galloping every single day," says Phoenix. "Often times when people give them a break, it's more to just let their fitness down and their bodies relax to allow them to be more like an average horse, instead of a finely tuned athlete. But each horse is different. We've acquired horses straight from the track, and two weeks later they've happily competed in their first show. Others, we've given them two months in order to allow them to relax their bodies after coming off the track. You really have to look at each horse as an individual so that every plan is made different." Because Thoroughbreds are sensitive and have a quick mind, Phoenix says her training techniques involve getting their mind to work for her, to keep it really fun for them, but also to keep them engaged. "We do a lot of ground work with them," says Phoenix. "We apply a lot of games so that they learn how to follow us and look for us, and then read our movements. Often times we do that every day before we even get on them so that they're really thinking about the rider and working with you. Because they're just very playful in their minds, you have to make sure that they're ready to work when you get on them, otherwise you're just going to fight with them." Off-The-Track Feeding Checkup As with any horse, an ex-racehorse's feeding program should be based on its individual needs and level of training. Because of their high-energy needs during their racing careers, they would typically receive three to four feedings a day of a calorie-dense diet made up of energy-rich grains in order to meet their nutritional needs for optimum performance. While in training, most are offered roughage in the form of hay throughout the day, but often times concentrate can make up a very high portion of their diet. Once he's being re-trained as a riding horse, Calvete recommends reducing the level of carbohydrates in his diet to reflect his new workload. "We recommend a feeding program based on roughage, grain and beet pulp, in addition to a lot of turnout." Achieving that correct balance of roughage and nutrients to meet your horse's needs can be easily achieved with the advice of a qualified feed specialist. Most major feed manufacturers have a nutritionist available on staff that would be able to come out to the farm and assess your horse to help you decide which the best product is for him. Many times, this service is offered for free. The Sweet Reward Ownership of an ex-racehorse can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Whether they're purchased directly off the track, through a trainer, or from a retired racehorse organization. There are plenty to choose from and can be quite affordable. Taking the time to assist with his new way of life will make the transition a positive experience for both horse and rider. "I love working with my Thoroughbreds every day," says Phoenix. "I love their attitude, and I love the excitement that they bring. It actually excites me to get up in the morning and see what they're going to do that day. I definitely owe them a lot." Sign up for our free e-newsletter which will deliver monthly welfare tips throughout 2015 and announce tools to aid all horse owners in carrying out their 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' to our beloved horses. In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Equine Guelph is developing a 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' equine welfare educational initiative which stands to benefit the welfare of horses in both the racing and non- racing sectors. Visit Equine Guelph's Welfare Education page for more information.
"Education that fits into your busy schedule, that you cannot afford to miss" is one statement to describe Equine Guelph's two week eWorkshops. With access 24 hours a day, seven days a week, hundreds of students from all over the world have armed themselves with knowledge; protecting themselves and their horses against costly and often dangerous mistakes. Created as a response to industry demand; the three eWorkshops on offer this spring are: Horse Behaviour and Safety, Colic Prevention and Biosecurity. $75 + HST/course is cheap insurance to help reduce the risk of sickness and injury. Behaviour and Safety eWorkshop Can you think of a better way to study horse behaviour than to learn how to speak their language? Equine Guelph's Behaviour and Safety eWorkshop reduces your physical risk by teaching practical horse handling skills while taking into account how horses perceive the world around them. Paddock safety, fire prevention, barn safety, rider safety and trailer loading basics are covered in this practical two-week eWorkshop running from February 23 - March 8, 2015. Renowned guest speaker Dr. Rebecca Gimenez from Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) is back for the third offering of this popular course available to participants 16 years and up. Learning horsemanship through understanding behaviour provides a great foundation for learning safety. Course instructor Susan Raymond says, "This eWorkshop is invaluable for beginners and a great way for industry professionals to brush up on knowledge they work hard to instill in their students." Equine Guelph also offers a Train the Trainer module for industry professionals who wish to impart the Behaviour and Safety course by hosting their own clinics. Contact Susan Raymond for more details at email@example.com or visit EquineGuelph.ca/eworkshops/behaviour_safety.php Colic Prevention eWorkshop The majority of colic incidents can be avoided through preventative stable management strategies. The 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. Student Natalie Price said, "This course is a must for all horse owners as knowledge is the first and best defense against colic!" Colic is the number one killer of horses other than old age! Participants age 18 and up will learn about the different types of colic and how to implement practical ways to reduce the risks of colic in this two-week eWorkshop running from April 13 -26, 2015 Biosecurity eWorkshop From Equine Herpes virus outbreaks to common flu virus outbreaks, prevention is the key concept every horse caretaker needs to implement. In Equine Guelph's Biosecurity eWorkshop, industry experts, including guest speakers from the Ontario Veterinary College, share their knowledge showing horse owners the simple steps they can take to protect their horses from infectious disease. OVC researcher, Dr. Weese, who also authors the "Worms and Germs" blog, says "Having a basic infection control plan in place is probably the biggest thing someone can do to reduce the risk of disease." Infection control both on the farm and while traveling are covered in this practical two-weekeWorkshop running from April 20 - May 4, 2015. Time for Two-weeks of eLearning The spring offerings will deliver more knowledge from experts on topics the equine industry has cited as top priorities. Equine Guelph's director, Gayle Ecker says, "The two-week short course format has proven popular as a quick, effective way for horse owners to learn more about safety and important equine welfare topics." Equine Canada has also approved the eWorkshops for updating credits for their coaches. You can register for Equine Guelph's upcoming Spring eWorkshops at: http://equineguelph.ca/education/eworkshops.php Horse Behaviour and Safety - February 23 - March 8, 2015 Colic Prevention - April 13 - 26, 2015 Biosecurity - April 20 - May 4, 2015
"When to Call the Vet" is one of five major topics in Equine Guelph's free, interactive, Lameness Lab tool, kindly sponsored by Zoetis. L earning to spot unsoundness is an important skill for horse owners to develop because the earlier you can detect lameness, the better you will be at maintaining the health and welfare of your trusty steed. "We think that a visual approach to lameness will greatly help horse caregivers better understand the basics of lameness and how to recognize the signs of lameness in their horse," says Dr. Cathy Rae, equine Technical Services veterinarian for Zoetis. "This understanding can help them detect lameness earlier as well as guide them in knowing when to call their veterinarian." Dr. Ken Armstrong, equine veterinarian and partner of Halton Equine Veterinary Services, featured in the "When to Call the Vet" videos, further explains how vets identify and assess lameness. He also guides horse owners through how to prepare for a lameness exam including advice on teaching your horse to trot in hand. Dr. Nicola Cribb, assistant professor and equine surgeon at the University of Guelph, describes how changes in behaviour and a slightly unbalanced stride can be early warning signs before lameness becomes more obvious with signs such as a head bob or a leg hitching. Her video goes through a lameness checklist and helps you understand the zero to five Lameness Scale used by American Association of Equine Practitioners. Lameness Lab allows horse owners to test their knowledge with interactive diagrams of muscles, tendons, bones, joints and the hoof. The tool also goes through the causes and factors contributing to increased risk. Remember early detection is so important in the treatment of lameness. Contact your vet if you see swelling, lameness, shortened stride or any signs of pain in your horse. Finally, find out why Lameness Lab receives thousands of visits! Test your skill at detecting lameness in the video challenge which will take you through four different case assessments. Go to Equine Guelph's 'Toolbox' at www.EquineGuelph.ca and click on Lameness Lab. More interactive activities await in Journey through the Joints, another healthcare tool generously sponsored by Zoetis. 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. Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions
One cannot help but get excited about the possibilities for electroarthrography (EAG) as a diagnostic tool after speaking with Ontario Veterinary College researcher, Dr. Mark Hurtig. He is developing a non-invasive way to assess joint cartilage health in fetlocks (the most commonly injured joint in horses). Current technologies to assess fetlock health have their limitations. Veterinarians mainly use physical exams, diagnostic injections, x-ray images and ultrasound - yet these methods provide no information about the quantity or health of the articular cartilage that is critical for pain-free joint function. Electroarthrography (EAG) is a novel method for easily assessing cartilage quality. Dime-sized electrodes are placed on the skin to record electrical signals produced by joint cartilage when loaded and unloaded. Researchers from the UniversitÃ© de Montreal and Ãlcole Polytechnique reasoned that electrical signals might be measured on the skin surface similar to electrocardiography (ECG) for the heart. They found that people with knee arthritis had lower electrical potentials than normal people. So the concept of electroarthrography (EAG) was born. Hurtig's contribution-with his team of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students-is applying the technique to horses by performing validation studies in cadaveric limbs, in which electrical signals can be directly correlated to cartilage quality. Hurtig explains, "We thought that the fetlock might be a good place to start in the horse since the cartilage surface is close to the skin without any bulky muscles overlying the joint." Preliminary data from cadaveric forelimbs of horses under simulated weight bearing have shown that EAG signals can be easily recorded from the fetlock and are altered by damaged or osteoarthritic cartilage. When the cartilage is deliberately damaged with an enzyme like those found in osteoarthritic cartilage, it produces lower EAG signals. Once this validation study is complete, the next phase is to apply EAG to normal and lame horses. In a preliminary live-animal test, electrical signals were recorded from fetlock joint cartilage while the horse was being pushed side to side while standing on a steel force platform. Human researchers have adopted the same technique using a Wii (game) platform. Software correlates the electrical signal on the skin surface of the knee to the timing of weight shift sensed by the platform. The strength of the EAG signal under the same weight indicates the status of cartilage health. In an eroded or damaged cartilage surface, the water and protein content changes resulting in a decline of electrical signals. Since a horse is too heavy for Wii and a platform will not be portable for on-farm assessment, an instrumented horse boot (capable of recording weight bearing while the EAG signal is recorded) is being developed by other collaborators in the University of Guelph, School of Engineering. Future research will include localizing cartilage damage by loading different parts of the fetlock joint using wedge pads. Hurtig explains, "If we are successful it could mean that we can diagnose cartilage damage years before conventional methods." Electroarthrography could prove clinically useful in diagnosing hard to pinpoint lameness such as early osteoarthritis. Dr Hurtig also points out EAG could be used in similar contexts as diagnostic ultrasound in tendon injuries, which has been useful in establishing when it is safe to step up rehabilitation or return a horse to work. Funding for this research has been provided by Biomomentum Inc., Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Equine Guelph. Take a tour through healthy and arthritic joints with Equine Guelph's online healthcare tool: Journey through the Joints and learn more about detecting lameness with Lameness Lab. Both interactive tools are kindly sponsored by Zoetis. This story has been excerpted from the front page of Equine Guelph's 2014 Fall Research Newsletter. To read more research updates visit EquineGuelph.ca MAINTAINING HEALTHY FETLOCKS Proper trimming/shoeing is important maintenance for healthy joints just like having the right tires on your car. Most hard working horses will have windpuffs but there is a difference between this blemish and fetlock effusion. Heat in the joint or sensitivity to flexion is cause for concern. Be cognizant of the intensity of training and the quality of surface upon which it is performed. by Jackie Bellamy-Zions, for Equine Gulph
Equine Guelph and the University of Guelph are conducting a study on the awareness of current research among members of Ontario's horse industry - the study aims to measure who in the equine industry is accessing University of Guelph research, how they are accessing it, and whether the information changes their practices. In order to assess this, members of the industry are being asked (riders, athletes, owners, veterinarians, and equine business owners) to complete a short online survey. The survey will ask industry members about their involvement with the horse-industry and where they source horse-related information and if they have had any experiences with University of Guelph equine research. Participation in the survey is completely voluntary and anonymous and should take no more than 30 minutes. Participants under the age of 18 are asked to seek consent from their parent or guardian before completing the survey. Below is a link to the survey, which contains an information letter describing the project and the role of participants. The research team can be contacted with any questions: principal investigator Professor Jeff Thomason at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Amy Binning at email@example.com. Survey Link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/17CAwAJWab6AYl3b3VLIMffsBsW0fb-guchmSCTuy0kw/viewform 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 Equine Guelph
In an ideal world, horse owners prefer the thought of their aged senior dying a peaceful, natural death. Unfortunately, many owners are faced with the difficult decision of having to put down their beloved equine due to humane or medical reasons. While planning ahead for the inevitable may be somewhat painful, understanding the process and knowing ahead of time who to turn to for help will make the decision easier, especially when our minds are clear and free of emotion. Throughout the eight years that Bronwynne Wilton owned Pepper, a lively gray pony with a personality, he gave her family all that he had, and more. Saved from a trip to the slaughter house by his previous owner, where she paid the equivalent of meat price for him, Wilton never knew Pepper's true age, but estimated that he was likely in his teens. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, his feet were already showing the tell-tale signs of some metabolic issues occurring within the hoof capsule. "After bringing him home to a friend's farm, we discovered he was much more nervous around humans than we originally thought, and his feet were quite a mess, as they were long and laminitic," says Wilton, who is on staff with the Office of Research at the University of Guelph in Ontario. "We worked on his feet gradually and also on his confidence around us, and both improved quite quickly. We kept him off grass, and his feet were quite good for about five years with us, and all three of my children learned how to ride on him. He had a lot of character and was a funny little pony to get along with. There was quite a bit of bonding with him and our family over the years." Pepper was loaned out on a free lease to allow another little girl to learn how to ride, and about a year later he came back to the Wiltons and was retired on their farm near Fergus, Ontario while they carefully managed his laminitic condition. One of the most common causes of lameness in horses and ponies, laminitis is a painful inflammatory condition found in the laminae of the hoof. Research has found that it can be triggered by a variety of metabolic or physical causes. Even though the Wiltons monitored his diet by restricting his access to grass completely, soaking his hay and regularly consulting a veterinarian, Pepper's health continued to deteriorate. "We tried to keep him as comfortable as possible for months; however, given his age - we figured him to be about 24 years old - and the obvious pain that he was in, we discussed options with the vet, " says Wilton. "In the end, it just didn't make sense to prolong his distress any further." The vet was wonderful about affirming their decision and said it was the kindest option given Pepper's circumstance, she added. "The actual end, while of course incredibly sad and heart-breaking, was also reassuringly peaceful," says Wilton. "Pepper spent the last morning of his life being loved and pampered by the people who knew him best. He was fed his favourite treats, which he hadn't been allowed to have for so long, and everything was very kind and calm." While it was not an easy decision to make, it was a respectful and humane ending for a pony who gave years of enjoyment to the Wilton family. Knowing When to Make the Call The decision to have one's horse euthanized can be complex and is unique to each individual horse and its owner, advises Laura Frost, BSc., DVM, of Halton Equine Veterinary Services in Puslinch, Ontario. "It is beneficial to explore the options of euthanasia ahead of time," says Frost. "Many of us, including veterinarians, can be highly emotional while dealing with our horses' illnesses, and the ability to make decisions can be hampered, especially when one is expected to make a tough decision within a short period of time." Euthanasia, the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering, comes from the Greek language meaning "a good death." In the majority of cases, there are two instances wherein equine euthanasia is considered. The first involves an emergency setting where the horse is seriously ill or injured, such as cases of severe colic, head or spinal trauma of the horse. This requires immediate veterinary attention and involves evaluation and consideration for euthanasia. Many times the decision is made for the owner by the vet, for the sake of the horse. The second situation is a chronic, longer-term problem, whether the horse is suffering due to an age-related ailment or a chronic injury that can affect the quality of its life or the cost of care is prohibitive. And in this case, the end of life decision can be much more difficult, as many prefer to avoid making "the call." Euthanasia is a kinder option than letting a horse suffer explains Frost. Removing ourselves from the picture and knowing what is best for the horse helps us all deal with the reality of the situation. "The vet can help with the transition by discussing how the quality of life can be assessed, such as the lack of appetite, severe weight loss, identifying signs of pain, such as bruxism (habitual grinding of teeth), prolonged periods of recumbency (lying down), and chronic wounds that are not healing," says Frost. The cost to euthanize a horse can vary depending on the veterinarian, farm location, medications that were administered to treat the horse, etc.; however, most average from $175 to $250, barring any complications. Determining the Options Considering one's options and having the knowledge provided by your veterinarian beforehand rather than during an emergency-type situation will make it easier in dealing with a death and the grieving process. "The veterinarian can also talk about options such as the location of the euthanasia, and what can be expected during the procedure so that the owner can decide if he or she will be present," says Frost. "It is also important to know how the body will be looked after (buried, cremated). The time of season may limit certain options such as dealing with frozen ground, and if dealing with extreme heat, you may need to try to time the euthanasia so that pickup by a deadstock removal company can be at the farm promptly, not only because of decomposition of the body, but also to avoid predators." Disposal options should be considered in advance and carried out according to municipal and/or provincial regulations. Euthanasia is a final decision, notes Frost, and both the before and after should be well thought out. "Horse owners should make themselves aware of the options available beforehand, such as a post-mortem or the return of ashes through special cremation, or they may have some regrets, which will make the grieving period that much more difficult," she says. The 2013 Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines recommends the decision to euthanize should be made with careful consideration, and at the same time, not to delay the process for reasons such as the horse owner's convenience or related costs. The act of leaving a suffering animal to die of natural causes, as what some refer to as "letting nature take its course," is considered to be unacceptable. The Code is also now being utilized by the OSPCA in assessing potential equine welfare cases. The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines can be viewed or downloaded at: http://www.nfacc.ca/codes-of-practice/equine. A Humane End of Life While the decision to euthanize one's horse can be a difficult one, it's something that most horse owners will have to face at some point and plays an important responsibility in horse ownership. Planning ahead for the inevitable arms you with the correct tools to assist you in deciding with a clearer head. It's important to remember that "It's not about you" - it's about what's best for your horse. Sign up for our free e-newsletter which will deliver monthly welfare tips throughout 2014 and announce tools to aid all horse owners in carrying out their 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' to our beloved horses. In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Equine Guelph is developing a 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' equine welfare educational initiative which stands to benefit the welfare of horses in both the racing and non-racing sectors. by Barbara Sheridan, for Equine Guelph
Guelph, Ontario - August 7, 2014 - When it comes to breeding the importance of sound management and health practices play a key role in building a solid foundation toward a horse's future. Equine Guelph is pleased to offer its newly updated "Growth and Development" online course as part of its Fall 2014 lineup, which has been designed to increase awareness by incorporating the advances in research and evolving management practices for the broodmare and stallion. "The Growth and Development course will eliminate all the old wives' tales and myths, and replace tradition with hard facts from research and development," says course instructor Doug Nash who served as farm manager at Glengate Farms in Campbellville, Ontario for almost 30 years. "It will also bring those same people up to date with the latest technology, nutrition and methods used today by the professionals of the trade, through class discussion and the use of guest speakers, as well as the new audio/visuals and revised textbook." Offered as a 12-week online course through the University of Guelph in September, key topics include examining barn and breeding facilities, property location and renovation of an existing facility, water sources and quality, bio-security, nutrition, and animal conditioning for reproduction, as well as encompassing all aspects of reproduction and sound management practices prior to conception and beyond. The course will also consist of video interviews with experienced industry breeders; along with video demonstrations of preparing for semen collection and new technological advances such as embryo transfer. "This is a course for anyone who might be contemplating horse ownership and breeding, as well as future veterinarians considering large animal practice, and veterinarian assistants," says Nash. "It would also benefit those working in the production for sales of equine breeding supplies and building design for the horse industry, as well as the area of bio-security with regard to producing or selling mare and foal feeds, supplements and milk replacers and those boarding mares and foals as a profession or producing weanlings to yearlings for sale or training." Registration for Equine Guelph's Fall 2014 semester is now open with courses beginning on September 15, 2014. Other Fall course offerings include Management of the Equine Environment, Equine Health & Disease Prevention, Equine Nutrition, Equine Functional Anatomy, Equine Business Management, Stewardship of the Equine Environment, Equine Journalism, Advanced Equine Functional Anatomy, and Advanced Equine Behaviour. The early bird deadline is Friday, August 15, 2014. More information can be found at www.EquineStudiesOnline.ca or by contacting Open Learning and Educational Support at info@OpenEd.uoguelph.ca or 519-767-5000. 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: Barbara Sheridan Photo Captions: Understanding the birth cycle of the horse and related warning signs of problems is just one of the many topics that will be explored in Equine Guelph's Growth and Development online course.
Whether you’re 18 or 80, have lots of time or a little – Equine Guelph have the equine program for you. They have a range of online programs from general interest short eWorkshops on practical topics to a comprehensive course of study leading to an accredited Diploma in Equine Studies. Not your typical learning forum, here’s why they are different: • Join a leading online program - the first of its kind (est. 2002) • Learn from an accredited university • Balance your studies with work, family and your horses • Experience practical, meaningful learning • Benefit from leading instructors and industry experts • Be part of a learning community of fellow horse enthusiasts • Share experiences and learn from students around the world Whether you’re destined for a career in the horse industry or a horse enthusiast hungry for knowledge, Equine Guelph’s award-winning online programs have one prerequisite – a love of horses! We welcome you to explore our many educational offerings. Click here for upcoming programs