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
Often times, horse owners feel their beloved equines are simply a magnet for injuries. Being accident prone just seems to be in their nature, most times brought on by their instinctive fight-or-flight response, their need to establish herd hierarchy, and in some cases, their sense of natural curiosity. By spending time to minimize the various hazards found on your property through identification and removal, you'll take one step closer to making your barn and property safer for your horse and eliminate any potential accidents that may occur. "There is no such thing as an accident, they are only incidents," says Dr. Rebecca Gimenez, Primary Instructor and President of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Inc. (TLAER), based in Georgia. "No matter how unfortunate the situation, looking back, something somewhere probably could have prevented it from happening in the first place." Gimenez provides training in technical animal rescue techniques, procedures, and methodologies across the U.S. and internationally. In addition to publishing numerous critiques, articles, and journal submissions on horse safety, technical large animal rescue and horse handling issues, she published her first book, Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, in 2008. She recommends that horse and facility owners become educated in both prevention and safety in order to identify any possible hazards and take the appropriate action beforehand to help offset an emergency visit from your veterinarian or even worse, having to resort to calling 911. "The issue is usually having enough knowledge to understand where these hazardous problems lie and to act on them," says Gimenez. Farm properties can commonly become a catch-all for clutter and various safety hazards. Make it a habit to walk the property and be on the lookout for anything that could pose a problem should a horse connect with it. Keep an eye out for any sharp edges or protruding items such as nails, screws, torn metal, etc. Farm and maintenance equipment such as mowers, bailers, and harrows, should all be stored away in its proper place. Take the necessary steps to dispose of any clutter or debris that has been collecting along fence lines, laneways, or around the barn. Walk your pastures and fill in any holes to prevent torn ligaments or a broken leg, as well as collect any discarded round bale netting or binder twine - it's surprising how some horses like to munch on this. Also keep a look out for any potentially poisonous or toxic plants, such as tansy ragwort, nightshade, cocklebur, etc. While they may have not bothered with them in the past, a hungry horse without adequate pasture or hay will eat anything. Inspect not only your grazing field, but your hay as well. For a list of dangerous plants in your area, check with your local ministry of agriculture. If you are unable to tackle any of the potential hazards immediately, make note of your findings so that they are not forgotten. For a complete list of identifying hazards on the farm, please visit http://www.equineguelph.ca/pdf/courses/trainer_kit/barn_safety_checklist.pdf. Hidden Hazards Dusts, fumes, and vapours are hidden hazards that can have long-term effects on respiratory health for both horses and the humans who work around them. Poor ventilation can contribute to allergies and respiratory ailments including recurrent airway obstruction (RAO), better known as heaves. "We've all been in barns during the winter, where all the doors and windows are closed up tight because of the cold," notes Gimenez. "And this comes down to human comfort. We're cold, so we think the horses are cold and close everything up. Without proper ventilation, the horses breathe in all that dust and ammonia. This is an unseen hazard that a lot of people don't think about." A properly ventilated barn encourages correct airflow movement that expels stale air and pushes chemicals odors such ammonia out of the barn and allows fresh air to enter. "I've seen people spend $100,000 on a new barn and put in cheap $10 box fans, which are also a huge fire hazard," continues Gimenez. "Why didn't they spend a bit extra and install overhead fans? Or bring in a ventilation expert to look at their place and evaluate a proper ventilation system that can release the fumes and help improve the air quality in that barn?" High Risk Factors Statistics show that the two most common emergencies affecting horse owners are trailer wrecks and barn fires, notes Gimenez. This is followed by entrapment-type emergency situations where the horse is stuck in mud or icy water, tangled in fences, or other around-the-farm situations where they become trapped and cannot remove themselves. While a necessity, fencing is also a major contributor to hazards on the farm and inspection should be done as part of your daily routine. Don't forget to check BOTH sides of your fencing and look for any protruding nails or wire, rotting posts, loose boards, dropped gates, etc. "Make a habit of checking your fences regularly," says Gimenez. "Not only can your horses injure themselves on broken boards or wires, but it only takes a stiff wind or the snow being so deep that the horses can just step over them, and then they're loose. And a panicky, loose horse on the run can then open up a whole new set of emergency situations." Another danger that Gimenez warns of is housing horses in fields with ponds during the winter. If you are not able to relocate them to another area of the property, ensure that ponds are fenced off with some form of temporary fencing before they freeze over. There have been numerous incidents where a horse will walk out across a snow-covered pond and fall through the ice into freezing water. Sometimes it doesn't end well. "Last December, the Emergency Equine Response Unit in the Kansas City area had the horrifically tragic and difficult job of retrieving the bodies of three young horses out of a pond after they fell through the ice and drowned," she says. "I can't stress it enough, people have to fence off their ponds and keep them out of mud, ice and water." Don't Fall Victim to "It Won't Happen to me" Syndrome Accidents involving horses can happen anywhere, anytime, and it's an unfortunate fact that many could have been prevented. By taking the time to identify and correct any hazards that may be found on your property, you'll be in a better position to prevent any possible injuries that can arise. This saves aggravation on not only your horses, but also your pocketbook. "I can't stress it enough, take the time to educate yourself on accident prevention and maintain your facilities so as to minimize injury to your horses," says Gimenez. "They will thank you for it." Interested in learning more? Equine Guelph will be hosting an Emergency Preparedness Workshop for Horse Owners in Guelph on Sept 18, 2014 followed by a Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Awareness and Operations Level Course on Sept 19, 20, 21. Sign up for our free e-newsletter at EquineGuelph.ca, which delivers monthly welfare tips throughout 2014 and provides 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. by Barbara Sheridan, for Equine Guelph
Early Bird Registration extended to April 7th A Guided Tour of Equine Anatomy is a dissection workshop offered to horse enthusiasts and professionals alike to help them understand equine anatomy first hand. Led by Ontario Veterinary College researcher and anatomy instructor, Dr. Jeff Thomason, this unique educational workshop is offered at the Ontario Veterinary College. Early bird sign up has been extended to April 7th for workshops offered on April 26 and 27, 2014. Well known for his ability to bring anatomy to life, Thomason guides participants through plenty of hands-on exploration of the anatomy of a horse in a way most do not get to experience. An overview of the large muscle groups of the neck, trunk and legs is followed by an exploration of the abdomen and chest. The latter part of the laboratory is designed to allow individual students to explore their areas of interest in further detail. This one day workshop can be followed by a second day of advanced exploration which would allow the participants to get even more specific in learning how different systems function. Some of the second day topics have included looking at the mechanics of the leg or the complexities of the respiratory system. Students leave with a much broader understanding of how form and function intertwine. Dr. Thomason, is not only an internationally recognized researcher but he also teaches anatomy to veterinary students at the OVC and is excellent at explaining basic to advanced anatomy topics. Registration is online at: http://tinyurl.com/anatomyworkshop. For more information about this workshop: http://www.equineguelph.ca/pdf/workshop/Equine%20Anatomy%20Workshop%20Flyer%20-%202014.pdf or contact Equine Guelph. 519-824-4120 ext 54205 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Storms, blizzards, floods, or tornadoes - it seems that over the past few years, we've seen them all. Disasters often strike without warning as demonstrated recently by the notable December ice storm that wreaked havoc on hundreds of thousands residents in Ontario, the Maritimes, and the northeastern U.S. with downed tree limbs and power lines. Many were without power for days, while for others it was weeks, which meant no heat, hydro or water. No one is immune from the possible effects of a disaster, no matter what the season, but preparing ahead of time and having an emergency plan in place before disaster strikes will help to keep our horses safe and out of harm's way. Plan it Out Being aware of the possible risks in your region is the first step toward preparing for any possible disaster that has the potential to cause a short term or long term disruption to you, your family and your animals. Is your area prone to flooding? What about tornadoes or blizzards? If the roads are closed, how do you get food to your horses? The next step is to plan for any possible extended disruption of services. Authorities usually recommend having at least two weeks supply of feed/hay on hand, and kept stored in a dry area. Top off all water tanks and buckets before an impending storm, and store additional water in plastic trash cans secured with lids in a safe place. Consider having well-maintained generators on hand to provide emergency power, and have enough fuel to keep them running for several days. Always keep an up-to-date emergency care kit that includes vetwrap, bandages, medications, flashlights, batteries, etc. Having an envelope set aside with emergency cash, the amount depending on your budget and needs will also come in handy for times such as these. In addition to Mother Nature's list of natural disasters, you should also consider other potential dangers such as wildfires or the possibility of manmade emergencies including gas leaks or propane spills. Many times, these result in evacuation with very little notice. In the case of an evacuation, while you might be able to take the family pet along with you to a hotel, it's not the time to start calling around to find a safe location to move your horses. Prearrange an evacuation site for your horses and map out primary and secondary routes in advance. Develop a buddy system with friends and neighbouring barns. Don't hesitate to ask for help when the time comes. Also, make sure your horses are trained to easily load and unload from a trailer. If evacuation is not possible, decide where on the property to safely store your horses. Micro chipping, branding, or tattooing, along with registration with online identification agencies, provides a permanent form of animal identification. As an alternative, ensure that your horses are equipped with some form of identification such as a halter tag, neck collar, or leg tag that contains your contact information, should you have to leave them behind. Human Safety Comes First In the case of a natural or man-made disaster, it's important that the safety of humans come first, says District Chief Victor MacPherson of the Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department. "Make sure that you and your family are safe before assisting your animals," he says. "In the case of a fire, this is where emergency preparedness comes into play. If the barn is on fire, what do you do? What do you do with your livestock? My advice is, if it's safe to do so, try to get them out. However, if you bring them out of the barn and just turn them loose, most likely the horses will try to run back into the barn. That's where their haven is; what they consider to be their safe place. People should have a location in mind ahead of time to safely keep them together, such as a field or another barn far away from the fire." MacPherson recalls an incident with a large grass fire that claimed nearly 200 acres in the Adjala-Tosorontio area in July 2012. "The grass fire was moving aggressively towards a certain farm area, and was a heavy fuel load [had a lot to burn], with a lot of smoke," he says. "Smoke can be just as dangerous as fire because it'll spook the horses. With the help of the property owner, we were successful in moving them out to a safer place." As is often the case in an emergency when people call 911, firefighters are usually the first responders to the scene. Because of this, many firefighters are now receiving training in how to handle animals in emergency situations. Last year, the Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department held a Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) course for first responders and animals owners. Deborah Chute, owner and operator of Laurenwood Stables and a volunteer firefighter with the Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department, helped co-ordinate this course after seeing the need for such a training program. "I first started thinking about the need for a course such as this one after the grass fire in June 2012," she says. "It was necessary to evacuate people, but there were over 50 horses that were also at risk, as well as other large animals and livestock. Thankfully, the fire was brought under control, but contemplating the logistics of moving that many animals made me realize we needed some additional training." Preparedness is Essential While it's impossible to prepare for all conditions, don't let an emergency situation catch you off guard. Having a basic plan in place ahead of time for either the evacuation or sheltering of your horses allows you to handle an emergency with less stress and a clearer head. "Pre-incident planning is crucial for any farm owner," says Chute. "Farms by their very nature contain many hazards to humans, animals and the environment, and careful planning before the event of an emergency can save lives and property. Local fire departments are usually quite happy to assist in developing pre-incident plans and can give further advice on fire detection and suppression systems that can be retrofitted or installed in new buildings. Regular inspection and repair of all human and animal housing and fencing will go a long way to keep you and your animals safe." Sign up for our free e-newsletter at EquineGuelph.ca 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. Visit Equine Guelph's Welfare Education page for more information http://www.equineguelph.ca/education/welfare.php 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. Equine Guelph will be hosting an Emergency Preparedness course for horse owners Sept 18 (tentative date) followed by a Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Awareness and Operations Level course Sept 19, 20, 21 (tentative dates). Contact Susan Raymond email@example.com for more details. 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, for Equine Guelph
Stem cell therapy at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) Health Sciences Centre is yielding promising results in the treatment of tendon injuries in horses. Two horses are currently being treated using allogous stem cells - cells that were banked and transplanted from another donor horse - a medical first in Canada and among only a handful of cases reported worldwide. "The results are encouraging," says Dr. Judith Koenig, an equine surgeon in the Department of Clinical Studies and OVC's Equine Sports Medicine and Reproduction Service. "Now we want to attract more cases so we can continue to evaluate stem cell therapy for the treatment of tendon lesions, ligament and joint injuries." Koenig is treating the horses using stem cells derived from the umbilical cord blood of foals obtained using a process developed by Dr. Thomas Koch, a veterinarian and researcher in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. Koch's work is focused on regenerative medicine and the potential of stem cells to repair damage to joints and cartilage caused by injuries and diseases such as arthritis. The cases illustrate the hope and promise of stem cell therapy, and the need to proceed with caution. Koenig first assessed one of the horses, a two-year old racing Thoroughbred, about seven months ago for an injury to the superficial digital flexor tendon in its right front leg. "The injury was career-ending in severity using conventional therapies," Koenig says. So a new approach was needed. In June, stem cells were injected into the horse's injured tendon. The horse has since shown remarkable improvement at its three-month and six-month rechecks at OVC. "We were absolutely astonished," says Koenig. "At three months, the tendon looked as good as it would after six months of healing. It looks amazing on ultrasound." Diagnostic imaging is provided by Dr. Heather Chalmers, who uses ultrasound to assess the injuries and to guide the injection of stem cells to the injury site. The other horse, a Hanoverian breeding stallion, has received two stem cell injections to treat a chronic injury to its left hind leg that prevents him from mounting. The horse had been making good progress following successful surgery at OVC to treat a proximal suspensory lesion, but then came up lame again before Christmas. "This time, he was more lame than before," says Koenig. "Because our other stem cell patient was doing so well, we decided to try it in this case as well." However, while the injury responded well to the first injection, the follow-up ultrasound also revealed a new tear in another part of the tendon. "He's tolerating the stem cells quite well - there have been no signs of inflammation or rejection in response to the injections," says Koenig. "So we plan to bring him back in a month for another injection and hopefully we'll see improvement." Koch was the first to establish a protocol for collecting and differentiating stem cells from equine cord blood, a process that is non-invasive and simple compared with obtaining cells from embryos or bone marrow. Subsequent research, by a number of Koch's and Koenig' s graduate students, has shown that compared to cells from other sources, mesenchymal stem cells derived from cord blood have equal or greater potential for healing connective tissue, muscle and bone. "From my perspective, these clinical cases are first of all about safety because these cells are not from the patients themselves, but transplanted from another horse," says Koch. "Second, we want to know if the cells make a difference and help the patient heal - and it seems that they do." The hope is that allogous stem cells will offer at least one key advantage over autologous therapy in which the patient's own cells are used: time. It can take two to four weeks to collect cells from the patient's bone marrow, blood or fat, and culture the millions of cells required for injecting back into the injured tissue. The process only takes four to six days with cord blood including over night courier shipping to the treating clinician. Allogous cells can be banked for future "off the shelf" use, which means horses can be treated within days of being injured. Allogous cells can also be screened and categorized into cells with optimal properties for treating various conditions. When treating soft-tissue injuries, timing is everything, says Koenig. Studies of tendon injuries treated with bone-marrow-derived stem cells have shown that horses are much more likely to re-injure the same tendon if they're not treated within 44 days. "That's why it's so critical to treat them quickly," she says. by Barry Gunn, for Equine Guelph
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) has received reports of several cases of equine Strangles (S. equi sp. equi infection) in the Waterloo-Wellington County area. Strangles is not a reportable disease in the province of Ontario, however, it is highly contagious to horses and other equids, and outbreaks are a concern to the equine industry. The reported cases have predominantly shown signs of high fever (40-41⁰C) and mucopurulent nasal discharge with only occasional horses developing enlarged lymph nodes with abscessation. Disease Facts: Strangles is a highly contagious infection of horses caused by the bacterium Streptococcus equi. Clinical signs include fever, nasal discharge and, most typically, lymph node abscessation. Transmission occurs by direct nose-to-nose contact with infected horses or via contact with contaminated surfaces, objects or people (e.g. twitches, tack, buckets, feed troughs, stall walls, fences). The bacterium can survive indoors for weeks to months depending on temperature. The disease is diagnosed by detection of S. equi using bacterial culture and/or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of nasal or lymph node discharge, nasopharyngeal (throat) swabs or nasal or guttural pouch washes. Treatment involves managing the fever and encouraging abscesses to burst. Antibiotics should only be used under veterinary supervision as they may prolong the maturation of abscesses and the disease process. Infection control Minimize all human and animal traffic in and out of the premises. No horses should leave the premises unless they are being taken to an isolation facility, as this increases the risk of spread to other horses. All owners, riders and other personnel in the barn should be made aware of the situation to ensure strict control measures are followed, and so they don’t inadvertently carry the bacterium to other equine facilities Isolate suspect horses as much as possible in a separate, low-traffic area or treat the stall as a quarantined area. Handle infected and suspect horses using gloves, designated coveralls and designated footwear/footbaths. Promote hand hygiene (using products such as alcohol-based hand sanitizers) even when gloves are worn. Take temperatures twice daily on all horses in the facility, including those not showing signs of disease. If a fever is detected (>38.5°C, >101.3°F), the horse should be considered infected and isolated/quarantined until diagnosed. Monitoring should continue for at least two weeks after the last case shows clinical signs. Clean all equipment and surfaces of visible organic material (e.g. dirt, hair, manure) before applying disinfectants. Most common disinfectants are effective. Test horses that have recovered from disease at least twice at one week intervals using throat swab or nasal wash samples to confirm they are negative. Identify those horses that are carriers and intermittently shedding S. equi by testing nasal or guttural pouch washes. Carriers can shed the bacterium for months or years. Prevention Isolate new horses coming on to the farm, or those returning from extended absences, for 2-3 weeks and test them to ensure that they are not shedding the bacterium. If isolation cannot be performed, barn managers should ask for proof of Strangles–free status (based on recent testing) prior to accepting new horses. Discuss with your veterinarian about vaccinating for Strangles. Vaccines can help minimize the severity of disease but may not be appropriate during outbreaks. It is recommended that horses that have been frequently vaccinated for Strangles or have had the disease itself should have a S. equi antibody titre performed prior to vaccination to avoid potential immune reactions. The best method of disease control is disease prevention. See the resources below for other basic biosecurity and infection control practices. RESOURCES OMAF: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/horses/facts/03-037.htm http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/horses/facts/prot_strangle... http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/horses/facts/prev-disease-... WORMS & GERMS BLOG: http://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/uploads/file/JSW-MA2%20Strangles.pdf EQUINE GUELPH: http://www.equineguelph.ca/Tools/biosecurity_calculator_2011-09-12/Biose... Submitted by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food
It is often said that if you ask a question to ten horse owners, you will get ten different answers. However, one thing we can all agree upon is that horses are expensive! Affording the initial purchase cost is the least of expenses. Calculating the maintenance over the horses' lifetime is a more realistic look at a long-term budgeting plan. How much does horse ownership really cost? The short answer is that it depends. There are many variables that come into play when calculating the cost of horse ownership: Buying a Horse "How much does a horse cost?" is a frequently asked question, and like many things in the horse world, the answer is highly variable. Horses can cost anywhere from free to millions of dollars! Realistically, one can expect to spend a few thousand dollars to find an appropriate mount, though this price will depend on the market, the type of horse, intended use and your location. The price of the horse is not the only expense you will encounter when horse shopping. Before buying a horse, it is recommended that you have a trusted veterinarian conduct a pre-purchase exam. After the examination, the vet will give you an opinion on the horse's strengths and weaknesses and discuss any potential problems. This exam will cost anywhere from a few hundred to two thousand dollars, depending on the extensiveness of tests your vet performs and whether you decide to take X-rays. Remember that you will also have to buy all the necessary supplies for your horse: grooming equipment, tack, blankets (if needed) and medical supplies. The cost of these individual items may seem small, but they quickly add up! Routine Costs Your horse has routine care needs. If you are boarding at a stable, the monthly bill can range from $300 to $3000, depending on the services provided. Usually, board includes: food, water, shelter and basic care - however, you may need to provide extra feed and supplements (including salt), or pay for additional services such as blanketing. Keeping your horse at home can be less expensive than boarding, but you will have to pay to maintain the property and provide your horse with feed, water and daily care. Other essentials include routine hoof care by a reputable farrier or trimmer, approximately ever six weeks. A vaccination schedule should be discussed with your veterinarian for annual core vaccines and others which will depend on your horse's individual needs and infection control measures recommended for your area. Your horse may require medication or supplements. Unexpected Costs As a horse owner, you will need to learn to expect unexpected costs - your horse does not know when the next pay day is, or whether you're planning your next vacation; the horse may need immediate veterinarian care, board might increase or the price of hay may suddenly sky rocket. The average horse owner should have a plan to deal with unexpected costs. Common health problems, such as colic, can leave you with thousands of dollars of vet bills. Even relatively minor health problems can become costly. Vet visits, medical supplies and care costs quickly add up. It is important to always have a plan to deal with unforeseen costs; you might consider creating a horse specific savings account, or purchasing equine insurance. Human Costs While it is entirely possible to pay only horse-related expenses; if you intend to ride or drive your horse, there will be human costs. Appropriate clothing is a must to stay safe around the barn. You will need a helmet, gloves, breeches or jeans and a boot or shoe with a low wedge heel. While you need not buy expensive clothing, safety is a must. You will likely require lessons to learn how to properly ride and/or drive and handle your horse. Expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $100 dollars a lesson. If you are planning on showing your horse, be prepared to get out your cheque book. At the introductory levels, a schooling show will cost about $200 when you add up trailer, coaching, office and class fees. Show fees increase as one moves up through the levels. More than Money Horses take a toll on more than just your wallet; you will need to invest emotional and physical resources, as well as your time. Driving to the barn, grooming and working your horse can require upwards of two hours each time. For most horse owners this is a three to six day a week commitment. Are you capable of staying up all night with a sick horse - or are you willing to pay somebody else to take on that responsibility? If you get injured by your horse, can you afford to take time off work to heal? Could you handle choosing between an expensive surgery or euthanasia if the situation arises? Horse owners often have to make tough decisions that impact more than their bank account. The Bottom Line As you can see, the cost of horse ownership has a number of variables. Remember that while you don't need to buy the trendiest, most expensive products or services, you do have a responsibility to provide your horse with a safe and healthy environment. What works for one horse and owner may not work for another, and the rules of horse ownership are not set in stone. Working with horses can be very rewarding - building athleticism, co-ordination, dedication, and many life skills - but before deciding your level of involvement, it is important to plan a realistic long-term budget for time and finances. To learn more about the cost of horse ownership, please take a look at Equine Guelph's 'Cost of Horse Ownership' chart, which will outline necessary purchases and their average cost. You can also view our 'The Real Cost of Horse Ownership" video, where real horse owners' talk about their experiences. Sign up for our free e-newsletter at EquineGuelph.ca 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. Visit Equine Guelph's Welfare Education page for more information http://www.equineguelph.ca/education/welfare.php 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. Submmitted by Equine Guelph
Below freezing temperatures can make hibernation look tempting but inactivity in horses can lead to many issues including lameness. Even though the weather outside may be frightful, your horse's need for mobility has not changed. As a grazing animal, horses naturally move and eat for the better part of a day but this can prove challenging when a winter storm hits. Many horses will stay put by the hay feeder and you will see no evidence of tracks elsewhere in your snowy fields. Feeding hay in several different locations throughout the paddock can encourage travel which not only encourages healthy limbs but also aids in digestion. Be sure the paddock is free of dangerous footing and clean up any decaying forage before spring. What is your winter plan? When the yard freezes, your horse may not be able to go outside if the risk of slipping makes conditions dangerous. Those with indoor riding rings have an area to help maintain movement. If you do not have this luxury, hand walking horses where it is safe may be one of your limited options. Winter presents more problems than just storms. Hard ground in the winter can be the perfect storm for bruised feet. It is good practice to keep your horse on a regular schedule with the farrier. If bruising is a recurring problem, seek their advice on options for your horse's feet. Bruising leading to abscess formation is another common winter foe. Immobility can have negative effects including joint stiffness and losing range of motion in horses suffering from arthritis. To learn more about lameness detection, check out Equine Guelph's online healthcare tool 'Lameness Lab' sponsored by Zoetis. The Lameness Lab will allow horse owners to discover the causes and factors contributing to increased risk. You will learn about the body tissues involved and how to tell if your horse is lame. Plus, see videos of lame horses; test your knowledge and find out how a veterinarian detects lameness. Manager of Equine Veterinary Services at Zoetis, Cathy Rae says, "We hope that by visiting the Lameness Lab, horse owners can develop or sharpen their skills in early lameness detection, and work with their veterinarians to ensure that their horses are "road ready" when winter is FINALLY over." Learn something new about lameness. Go to Equine Guelph's 'Toolbox' at www.EquineGuelph.ca and click on Lameness Lab. Zoetis also sponsors 'Journey through the Joints,' another tool to help horse owners understand inflammation and how it affects the health of their horses joints. Please note: This information provides guidelines only and should never replace information from your veterinarian. From Equine Guelph