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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
It was the first day of school for students at the Gippsland Harness Racing Training Centre yesterday. Twenty students have enrolled into full-time studies at the facility at the Warragul harness racing track, and a further fourteen will attend on Wednesday's as part of their secondary school studies, known as the VET In Schools program. Centre founder Des Hughes is delighted with the level of interest in the Centre over recent years, but in particular for 2015. "We're still getting enrolments and enquiries. We don't know where it will end up," Hughes explained. "There are a lot of first timers, but they all have an interest in horses." With the financial support of Harness Racing Victoria, who have provided funding to assist with the purchase of horses, there are now more opportunities than ever for students to experience hands-on involvement with horses. "The hands on aspect is very busy here at the moment," Hughes said. "The HRV contribution has certainly helped us get a few more horses, and their help is much appreciated." As well as from the immediate Warragul area, students are also coming to the Centre from areas closer to Melbourne such as Pakenham and Croydon, as well as areas such as Traralgon and Stratford in the Latrobe Valley/East Gippsland region, where harness racing hasn't been held for some two decades. Students at the Gippsland Harness Training Centre learn all aspects of horse training and driving, as well as animal welfare, and personal development, all keys to embarking on a successful career in the racing or equine industries. The friendships and connections made and life skills learnt by students are also invaluable for their day-to-day lives. The Centre's courses are in their nineteenth year and are co-ordinated by the Warragul based educational provider, Community College Gippsland. The Gippsland Harness Training Centre and its achievements are a good news story for the trotting sport. Kyle Galley
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
At Harnesslink we are constantly keeping our readers up to date with all the developments on the harness racing and breeding side of this industry. One part of this industry that tends to get overlooked most of the time is the part played by all the companies that supply this industry with the products we use. So we thought it was time we shone the light on some of those companies and the part they play. One company that has really come to the fore in recent years is Razerhorse. Razerhorse was established in Sweden in 2003 by Erik Lundquist. Erik was searching for a solution to lameness in one of his racehorses and decided to take a scientific and technology based approach to the problem. Convinced that shoeing played a major part in lameness and performance, Erik in partnership with Upsala University in Sweden spent years researching the action of the hoof with the help of gait analysis software and high speed video. Erik came to the conclusion that the design of the shoes should closely mimic every function of a bare footed horse. The innovative design that Erik came up with allows the horse to balance and move as if it was barefoot yet still protects the hoof from wear. The horse has a perfect design from nature so the shoes are made to perform with the horses natural characteristics which allows the horse to perform to the best of their ability. Razerhorse shoes are made from a unique borium tool steel which is tempered during its production to allow flexibility and shape memory. Specific features include a broad toe and a rounded rim for a smoother slide upon hoof landing and a thinner outer rim to enhance traction and reduce stress during motion. Naturally all horses are born with a hoof capsule that is split in the heel by the frog which allows the two sides of the hoof to flex in, out, up and down. A shoe had to be designed to co-exist with this basic function. Because the shoes are made from this unique flexible tool steel, they do not lock in the hoof capsule and instead allow the hoof capsule to move naturally and flex for optimal health and function. Jimmy Takter interview, Conny Svensson shoeing standardbred trotting horse Razerhorse has also designed a pad to work alongside their shoes with the same emphasis on science and technology in its development. The barefoot hoof of the horse has evolved over time so that the frog and the entire underside of the hoof has full contact with the ground when landing. Named Propad, the Razerhorse pad has been designed with a flexible frog support to fill the void between the hoof frog and the ground when the horse is shod. The flexible zone built into the pad allows the center part of the pad (frog support) to follow all the movements of the frog without causing pressure at rest. The flexible frog supports and extends the frog and works as a shock absorber. It unloads the hoof wall and improves circulation in the hoof. The pads are unique in that they give the horse a barefoot feeling when shod. Razerhorse - Propad It is no surprise Hall Of Famer Jimmy Takter is an enthusiastic supporter of Razerhorse shoes and pads as his farrier of over twenty years Conny Svensson has been heavily involved in the development of Razerhorse shoes and the Propad. In the 2013 edition of the Breeders Crown Finals, three divisional winners in Father Patrick, Shake It Cerry and Ufizzi Hanover all won from the Takter barn using Razerhorse products. Father Patrick 1:50.2 ($1,263,326) who has won six from six this year and is a hot favourite for the Hambeltonian this weekend has raced exclusively with Razerhorse shoes. With the ongoing success on the track backed up by the science and technology behind their products, Razerhorse can look to the future with a lot of confidence. Harnesslink media
‘‘A BLIND man can see what’s happening, we’re running out of horses.’’ With that stark statement, North Auckland trainer Ray Green issued a warning that unless Harness Racing New Zealand got off its hands and did something to address the problem, the game would quickly die. Green went on the attack this week with the revelation that the number of mares served was down another 6.6% and for the first time in decades New Zealand’s foal crop will dip below 2000. Alarmingly, the number of mares bred is down to 2832, a drop of 28% on 10 years ago. And Green says that’s all down to the wonderful policy HRNZ had adopted to arrest the decline - ‘‘it’s called let’s do nothing.’’ ‘‘Breeders are quite rightly getting pissed off - the owners aren’t there to buy their horses any more because the costs are too high and stakes too low. And HRNZ is the enemy because it has done nothing to counter that.’’ Green, trainer for the powerful Lincoln Farms operation, said they had recently sold talented pacers Medley Moose, Hawkeye Bromac and Imhisdaughter to Australia because it made no sense to keep racing them here. ‘‘Medley Moose is a beautiful horse, I would love to have kept him, but we had a good offer for him and it would have been hard to win that sort of money here. The handicapping system is such that with one more win he would have been up against Terror To Love. You just have to sell them.’’ Green said owners are continually weighing up whether to take a punt and keep their horse or to sell them. ‘‘If an owner thinks his horse can win two more races, and perhaps another $10,000, if an Australian wants to give him $50,000 for his horse, it’s a no-brainer. ‘‘The Auckland Trotting Club, struggling to fill its fields, is offering higher stakes, hoping people will retain their horses. But horses will still be handicapped out of it too quickly and people will still want to sell them.’’ Green cited the case of a two-year-old in his stable who had won three races.‘‘He’s a c2 but if he wins another race over $15,000 he’ll start next year as a c3 horse and to get a run he’ll have to go in standing starts and have Besotted, our c9 horse, breathing down his neck.’’ Crazily, Besotted, who has never won a race over $15,000, is still rated an M0 in Australia and could go to Sydney and win two or three races really quickly. ‘‘They need to create more opportunities for horses to be viable here if they want to keep them. But people will not wait forever. Like cars, horses depreciate as they get older, and the more a horse wins here, the less it is worth over there. ‘‘The game’s going to die unless something is done but the powers that be don’t seem to be interested.’’ HRNZ chief executive Edward Rennell said Green was completely wrong to say nothing was being done to solve the problem but there was no silver bullet. ‘‘Yes, the number being bred is of concern but what is encouraging is the wastage factor is less.’’ Rennell said the breeding decline was a worldwide problem. In Australia, standardbred breeding numbers dropped by 33% in the last 10 years and by 47% in North America, according to a report it commissioned from the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders’ Association. The thoroughbred code faced the same issue, he said. Rennell said while the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club had introduced a breeders’ bonus - in the last three months 34 $500 bonuses have been paid out to breeders of tote race winners at Addington - HRNZ did not agree that all stake payouts should incorporate the same bonus, a French initiative being promoted by Studholme Bloodstock’s Brian West. ‘‘There is a limited pool of funds and if you pay some of that to the breeders that’s less that goes to the owners,’’ Rennell said. ‘‘And we are trying to make ownership more attractive and viable.’’ Rennell said HRNZ had increased the minimum stake to $5000 this season and stakes were up overall by 6%. It would be examining whether to increase the $80 payout to every starter. HRNZ was also looking at reducing the number of races next season by 2%. In the 2005-06 season, 2435 races were run while that number rose to 2743 last year, putting more strain on field sizes. Discussions were also underway with the Sires’ Stakes Board, the breeders and two principal clubs on whether changes were needed to age group and premier racing. ‘‘But we think that the changes to the handicapping system are working because field sizes are up from 10.4 starters per race to 10.6.’’ While that might not sound much, it was a significant improvement when it covered 2700 races. Rennell said the handicapping sub-committee was meeting next week to review the performance of the new system and its age group concessions and would make a recommendation on whether it thought the drop back provision should be reduced from 10 starts. The challenge for HRNZ was not only to get more horses to the races but to better use the horse population – if every horse raced just once more in a season, field sizes could be maintained. Rennell said the number of horses sold to Australia was actually down on previous years. ‘‘It averages around 850 a season but that’s down 50-100 because of the new import levy.’’ Overall, exports were similar with about 100 sent to China. WASTAGE COSTS BREEDERS $11 MILLION HALF OF all the standardbred horses we breed never get to the races. And that disturbing fact, rather than the continuing decline in numbers, will be the immediate focus for the industry’s main breeding body. The annual cost to breeders of the high level of wastage is put at $11 million in a paper by Kiely Buttell, executive manager of the NZ Standardbred Breeders’ Association. ‘‘At an average service fee of $6000, plus vet costs, stud handling fees and agistment charges of a further $1500, the annual (wastage) cost to breeders is $11 million.’’ While figures show the percentage of the foal crop wasted dropped from 61% in 1995 to 53% in 2005, Buttell says the continuing high level is a major conern. ‘‘There will always be a percentage of the foal crop that is born with defects, die at an early age or suffer accidents that will impinge on their racing viability. ‘‘But we need to understand the percentage of horses that are deemed unviable for non injury related reasons and identify solutions to address this.’’ The NZSBA would also be focussing on conception rates. Only 71% of mares served in the latest breeding season were confirmed in foal, a figure which has been static in the last 20 years despite improvements in artificial insemination in other breeds. "Serving a mare three times and not getting her into foal is a massive cost to breeders.’’ Buttell said the association had engaged Palmerston North trainer and equine researcher Jasmine Tanner to scope a research project to investigate the quality parameters of chilled standardbred semen in New Zealand in order to improve conception rates in mares and increase the economic viability for broodmare owners. Funding would be sought from the NZ Equine Research Foundation but the industry might have to foot some of the bill itself, she said. Evidence suggested it was the smaller hobby breeder who was exiting the game, citing rising breeding costs along with declining stakes. That was a problem when breeders here raced 50% of horses. BARRY LICHTER Courtesy of the Sunday Star Times
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: email@example.com
Schenectady, NY – Harness Racing’s top guns descended upon the New York State Gaming Commission public hearing to advance concerns over proposed drug levels for racehorses. U. S. Trotting Association President, Phil Langley, and Standardbred Owners Association of New York President, Joe Faraldo, led a group of distinguished veterinarians and research experts to counter the “one size fits all” approach being forwarded by the Thoroughbred-based Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) proposals. The appearance of the Standardbred leaders at the public hearing, called by the agency formerly known as the NYS Racing and Wagering board, was to hear “testimony about adoption of per se regulatory thresholds for 24 approved equine medications and amending pre-race restricted time periods for various drugs.” One particular therapeutic substance, respiratory aid Clenbuterol, has been at the forefront of a debate over uniform medication rules approved by the RMTC. Although there is widespread Thoroughbred support for the measures, the Standardbred industry has argued that the two breeds have very distinct differences and therefore should be treated differently. The proposed rule would prohibit the bronchial dilator from being administered within 14 days of racing, effectively eliminating its potential benefit to Standardbreds that generally race every week. Langley noted that, “Our horses are so durable, they do not even look [like Thoroughbreds.] Many of our horses race 30 to 40 times each year. In fact, the leading money-winning horse of all time started 198 times. We are not trying to get the standards lowered. We just want to conduct [racing] the way we are.” Dr. Kanter, an expert in equine medicine and pharmacology, with over 40 years of experience as the track vet at Buffalo and Batavia. “This measure could be denying horses the benefit of years of research of these useful therapeutic drugs, while the efficacy of known substitutes is yet unproven.” Dr. Janet Durso of Goshen, NY, reiterated those concerns. “Clenbuterol is one of the best drugs for treating blood and discharge from a horse’s lungs. Remedies would be problematic without it!” One of the contributing factors toward this proposal is the concern that some Thoroughbred trainers are abusing Clenbuterol by overdosing in order to achieve a repartitioning effect, or to build muscle mass. That appears to be a non-issue in Standardbreds as they race too often for long-term dosages to be administered effectively. Dr. Tobin, a renowned expert from the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center, stated, “Clenbuterol did have a repartitioning effect and increased muscle mass, but this did not translate into an increase in performance. In fact, it decreased performance.” Although the prospect of catastrophic injury of racehorses was discussed, Dr. Tobin noted that “Harness Racing was one of the safest sports in North America. Only 1 in 15,000 fatal injuries occurred in Standardbreds, where 1 in 2,000 occurred in Thoroughbreds over the same time period.” Several other items were addressed, such as the list of 24 drugs that would provide for the basis of drugs that would have established levels for testing. All others would be considered “off-limits” for use and result in positive tests if found in race-day blood or urine testing. In addition, the proposal of special corticosteroid regulations sparked added debate. Of the nine speakers, eight of the experts gave convincing testimony toward the need for separate rules for each breed. Dr. Dionne Benson, the executive director of the RMTC (Racing Medication and Testing Consortium), was the last speaker and lone dissenter. She noted that the ad hoc committee for all breeds felt that the thresholds are appropriate, and that the state of Pennsylvania was “on-board” with her groups recommendations. Nonetheless, Joe Faraldo is not convinced that the RMTC proposals are suitable for Harness Racing. “We heard today that not all of the scientific bases have been covered. I believe that the [NYS Gaming Board] is cognizant of that fact. Because this board took the time to listen to all of these points of view, and the science behind them, it is a good indication that Harness Racing will be treated fairly.” by Chris Tully for Harnesslink.com
Equine Guelph has launched a new two and a half minute video to help horse owners with parasite management. When a growing resistance to dewormers is cited as a major issue concerning horse owners today, a fecal exam to see if your parasite control program is working makes sense. Collecting a manure sample is easy, but it must be done properly to ensure accurate test results. How to Collect Manure for a Fecal Egg Count (FEC) 1) Write the date and horse's name on the front part of this zip-lock bag. 2) Take another zip-lock bag and turn it inside-out over your hand. 3) With your hand inside the bag, pick up a fresh fecal mass. 4) Use your other hand to pull the zip-lock bag over your hand, turning the bag right side out. Squeeze out as much air as possible. The feces are now in the bag. 5) Zip up the bag. Place the bag into the labelled bag. 6) Store in a cool place, such as a refrigerator but not in the freezer. 7) Deliver your fecal sample to the vet within 48 hours! WARNING! Do not place the sample in the freezer or leave it in your car. Extreme cold or heat can kill parasites, defeating the purpose of collecting a sample. Be sure to request feces are examined for a strongyle egg count in horses aged 2 years and up. Rotate or rest? That is a very good question when it comes to the use of deworming products. After peaking with parasitic disease expert and Ontario Veterinary College researcher Dr. Andrew Peregrine, I am not only eager to pick up more poop but I am keen to have it analyzed. Ontario Veterinary College researcher Dr. Andrew Peregrine says, "Less than three percent of horse owners perform fecal exams and to date this is the only way to find out if your horse is carrying an unhealthy parasite burden." He recommends all horse owners get in the habit of performing a fecal at least once a year. Peregrine advises horse owners to discuss the right parasite control program with their vet to be sure they are following an individual program that is right for their horse. Rotation of deworming products (not just switching brands but switching drug classes) should not be the only point of conversation. Environment and stage of life plays a key role in determining what measures can be taken to keep the parasite population in check. And of course, the starting point is a fecal exam to learn if the egg count warrants action. If the fecal egg count is high - another exam two weeks after deworming will let the horse owner know if what they are doing is working. For more information on parasite control programs read the full article at: http://equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=364 and check out the video outlining how to collect a fecal sample attached. Jackie Bellamy
LATHAM, N.Y.—The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine will present a seminar on advances in equine health practices and procedures for horse breeders, owners and trainers on Sunday, Aug. 25th, at Vernon Downs in Vernon, N.Y. The event is sponsored by the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund and hosted by Harness Horse Breeders of New York State The seminar will cover how to protect your horse from infectious diseases, platelets and Equine Herpes Virus Type-1 infection, Alternative sources of equine mesenchymal stem cells, Equine Hepatitis Virus discoveries and their importance to equine health and diagnosis of poor performance in racehorses. It begins at 2:00 p.m., with registration at 1:30 p.m., and includes a buffet dinner. Beverages will be available at registration. The seminar is free and includes learning materials. This equine seminar requires advance registration. For more information or to register, please call Harness Horse Breeders at 518-785-5858 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For anyone interested in staying for the races on Aug. 25th, the Zweig Memorial Trot Open and Filly division will take place on the evening card with a post time of 6:45pm. by Betty Holt
Guelph, Ontario - After declaring 2013 the 'Year of Colic Prevention,' Equine Guelph has announced the release of its latest online health care tool - the Colic Risk Rater. This free, customized tool is designed for the individual horseperson to rate his/her horse's risk of colic. The Colic Risk Rater assesses and calculates colic risk while providing useful feedback on management practices through a series of questions in 10 categories, requiring less than 10 minutes to complete. The goal of the Colic Risk Rater tool is to provide horse owners a simple way to determine if their horse is at a high risk for colic, given the horse's personal scenario. After each question, the risk rater dial will fluctuate back or forth, revealing the constantly changing risk - and in the end, providing an overall colic risk rating calculation for each horse. Historically, colic became the horse's arch nemesis thousands of years ago when humans started taking horses out of their natural environment. The use and management of modern horses are a huge departure from their wild counterparts, placing them at a higher risk of colic. Logically, it follows in Dr. Christine King's writings from "Preventing Colic in Horses" that 80% of colic cases are management-related. Dr. Crossan, guest speaker in Equine Guelph's colic prevention eWorkshop, concurs with Dr. King's staggering statistic. "Experts agree that the majority of colic's are a result of management practices," says Dr. Crossan. "Prevention through management is the best course of action when it comes to colic." Thus, horse owners can play a major role in reducing colic risk through management. Owners must be aware of the risk factors, especially the ones we can manage such as feeding, housing, parasite control and stress. The Colic Risk Rater is one more crucial tool in the horse caregiver's arsenal, designed to identify the risk factors and provide prevention tips, aiming to minimize needless pain and suffering of our equine companion. Given that colic is the number one killer of horses (other than old age), the ten minute investment in this free tool is invaluable. In addition to funding from Standardbred Canada, investment in this project has been provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP). In Ontario, the Agricultural Adaptation Council delivers this program. Partners include: Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Society of Ontario, Ontario Association of Equine Practitioners, Ontario Equestrian Federation, Ontario Harness Horse Association and the Ontario Veterinary College. To check out the Colic Risk Rater or to find out more about Equine Guelph's Colic Prevention Programs including the upcoming fall eWorkshop, scheduled for September 9 -22, visit http://EquineGuelph.ca/eworkshops/colic/php by Kayla Dorricott 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.
LATHAM, N.Y.-The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine will present a seminar on advances in equine health practices and procedures for horse breeders, owners and trainers on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013 at Vernon Downs in Vernon, N.Y. The event is sponsored by the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund and hosted by Harness Horse Breeders of New York State. The seminar will cover infectious diseases at home and on the track, platelets and equine herpes virus type-1 infections, alternative sources of equine stem cells, diagnosis of poor performance in racehorses, and a hepatitis virus discover and its potential importance to equine health. There will be open question and answer opportunities available. The seminar begins at 2:00 p.m. with registration at 1:30 p.m. Beverages and snacks will be available at registration. The seminar is free and includes materials and a meal. This equine seminar requires advance registration. For more information or to register, please call Harness Horse Breeders of NYS at 518-785-5858 or e-mail email@example.com. For anyone interested in staying for the races on Aug. 25th, the Zweig Memorial Trot race will take place at the harness track with post time at 6:45 pm. by Betty Holt
Finding out just why horses do the things they do is the focus of Advanced Equine Behaviour, a 12-week course being offered by Equine Guelph that has been designed to increase your knowledge through evidence-based research as it relates to horse behaviour, learning theory, and related welfare issues.
Have you thought about making your farm more environmentally friendly?