I have spent quite a bit of time this year getting to know the horse industry in Ontario. One thing I have noticed is the enduring passion of our horse people, including my veterinary colleagues, regardless of the ups and downs of the industry. The equine industry in Ontario has encountered real challenges over the last few years, but it remains an important contributor to the culture and economy our province. The racing industry has been hit the hardest, but we are now seeing consultation and reorganization of racing, leading to an atmosphere of cautious optimism at tracks and training stables. The University of Guelph has always played an important role in supporting the industry through education, research, and clinical care, primarily through the efforts of our talented people in the Ontario Veterinary College, Ontario Agricultural College and Equine Guelph. Changes are afoot in the industry, and the role of our university may be set to expand once again. Equine Guelph has a special place in the horse industry. Its mission is to support the health and well-being of horses and the equine industry. Since its inception in 2003, Equine Guelph has kept an unwavering focus on this mandate with remarkable success. This past week, I attended a meeting of the Equine Guelph Advisory Council and was once again impressed with the industry support around the table. The output of this centre is especially impressive given that it is almost entirely self-supporting. Equine Guelph's education programs are the most widely known examples of their success in connecting with the horse industry. The student numbers in these programs, such as the continuing education program in Equine Studies, and certificates in Equine Science, Business Management and Welfare, illustrate their success. Since the first diploma in Equine Studies was awarded in 2009, 170 diplomas have been awarded. To date, 365 Equine Science certificates have been awarded since this program began in 2002. The Equine Science certificate program is the first of its kind from an accredited university with evidence-based information and welfare of the animals as the underpinning of all its offerings. Education offerings such as the Equine Welfare Certificate, a partnership between Equine Guelph, the Campbell Centre of the Study of Animal Welfare (CCSAW) and Open Learning and Educational Support (OpenEd), emphasize the co-operative partnerships Equine Guelph has developed. The remarkable reach of Equine Guelph cannot be overstated. Horse people in the US and Britain often know about Equine Guelph. The award-winning EquiMania! Program for children, which just celebrated its 10th year at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, is a regular fixture at the Minnesota State Fair. Last year, as I was preparing to take my position here, my farm clients in PEI were envious that I was about to meet Gayle! Equine Guelph also prides itself on developing educational programing that is relevant, practical and topical. In 2016, Equine Guelph responded quickly to the unfortunate rash of horse barn fires, launching a Fire Prevention program providing valuable information to prevent fires. The innovative programs of Equine Guelph were recognized in 2015 when Gayle Ecker was awarded the Equine Industry Vision Award, sponsored by the American Horse Publications Group and Zoetis. This is the only time a Canadian has been so honoured, and recognizes Gayle's leadership and the growing recognition of Equine Guelph's high-quality programming. Beyond its mandate for education, Equine Guelph has been a trusted steward of the industry's research funding. In 2015-2016, more than $130,000 was directed towards research to support new and ongoing projects including research into new approaches to stem cell therapy, emerging disease concerns, failure of pregnancy, and new approaches to modeling and tracking biosecurity issues and risks. Much of this research draws on the talents of researchers at the Ontario Veterinary College who bring expertise in infectious disease, biosecurity, reproductive technologies and therapies. Emeritus professors such as Dr. Laurent Viel and Peter Physick-Sheard are internationally known for their contributions to horse health. Not only do these projects focus on industry-identified priorities, they provide important training opportunities for student veterinarians and develop local expertise in these important areas. Communication and promotion of University of Guelph research results occurs via print and social media. A new on-line portal is about to be launched which will provide a platform for connecting with the horse world at the owner and the advisor levels. Aside from Equine Guelph, there is a lot going on at the UofG. The equine undergraduate program at OAC is expanding, with several new equine faculty now at the Guelph campus and enrolments increasing. Interest in equine careers remains strong in our DVM program, and there are outstanding practices looking to hire our graduates. On December 15th, equine faculty in the Health Sciences Centre are hosting a Research Update for practitioners, signaling a renewed commitment to building relationships through the equine veterinary community. At the same time, in concert with OVC strategic planning, and the on-going racing industry renewal process, the members of OVC, OAC and Equine Guelph have convened a planning group to look at leveraging their success. Dr. Scott Weese is leading the group, and they are making plans to better position UofG within the industry, and further expand our role in research and education in support of a sustainable and innovative horse industry. Look for further announcements on new models for funding equine research and education in the New Year. Story by: Karen Mantel Equine Guelph, 50 McGilvray St, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1 Canada
Guelph, Ontario - Equine Guelph is calling on grooms, trainers and owners in the racing industry, to complete a first of its kind survey on racehorse health and well-being to direct future research and programs for the industry. Your feedback can help shape the future of racing in Ontario. The goal of the survey is to learn more about the current challenges facing the Ontario horse racing industry in all three sectors (quarter horse, standardbred, thoroughbred). More specifically, this project explores: current racehorse health concerns (injuries and diseases of most concern), horsemanship and racehorse well-being including post racing opportunities, communications and training. As a racing professional, your input is important to help drive new research, educational programs and outreach efforts to maintain and improve racehorse health and well-being in Ontario. The survey is anonymous; no specific identifying information will be collected. A summary of the results of this comprehensive survey will be published. At the end of the survey, participants have the option to enter a draw to win either one of five $100 fuel cards, one of five $50 Tim Horton's cards or one of ten $25 Tim Horton's cards. Chances of winning are approximately 1 in 20. Give your input before December 15, 2016! Click on this link. If you have any questions or concerns about your participation, please feel free to contact Diane Gibbard at (519) 824-4120 ext 53457 (or firstname.lastname@example.org) or Gayle Ecker at (519) 824-4120 ext 56678 (or email@example.com) 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. Equine Guelph, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1G 2W1, Tel: (519) 824-4120 ext. 54205
A respected authority in large animal handling techniques brought her expertise to the Ontario Veterinary College's Large Animal Hospital in early June. More than 50 staff, registered veterinary technicians, clinicians, interns and residents from the UofG's OVC joined a half-day Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) course with Dr. Rebecca Gimenez, focusing on safe transfer and handling of large animals. "She shared some great knowledge and experience with us that will help us provide more efficient and safer patient care - not only safer for the patient but also safer for our employees," says Amy Richardson, Supervisor, Patient Care and Service Delivery in OVC's Health Sciences Center. Gimenez customized her TLAER course offering for the OVC session, providing hands-on opportunities with equine models using a variety of large animal techniques, tactics, and procedures to safely move and handle animals. Participants practiced assembling halters from ropes and straps, perfected using a sideways drag and roll to position a horse onto a glide, and worked as a team to set up an Anderson sling in the Large Animal Hospital. Anderson slings can be used in multiple scenarios to lift a large animal or to elevate an injured animal and relieve pressure on its limbs. Participants also tackled emergency scenarios, rescuing an injured horse model from a trailer, first stabilizing the patient and then working together to safely move the animal out of the trailer using a glide. Based in Georgia, Gimenez developed the TLAER training in the mid-1990s with Dr. Tomas Gimenez. She has travelled extensively training first responders, veterinarians and veterinary technicians in these techniques. Key to every scenario is safety "for self, team and the animal," says Gimenez. Positioning is vital with horses to stay clear of the head and kick zone of the legs. She advocates assigning one individual as the incident commander during rescue operations or emergencies and another to focus solely on safety. She is also a strong advocate for helmets and gloves when working with horses. Planning is also vital in an emergency situation. An 'aha' moment during the training for Carina Cooper, a large animal internal medicine resident, was the reminder that an emergency situation may have been happening for hours. "Take the time to come up with a good plan and equipment. A best laid plan is worth way more than rash decisions." While the rescue training focuses on emergency situations, techniques are applicable to day-to-day work with animals. "It's easier to do these things in a clinical situation where you have lots of people and all the equipment you need, but you're trying to prepare the veterinarian and the veterinary technician for a situation where there is only one or two of them and they need to be able to use mechanical advantages or tools that will make their job easier and safer," she adds. "It was an excellent course and good refresher for what we do here," says Andrew McHitchison, who provides clinical support in the OVC HSC. "Rebecca is a fantastic speaker." Many of the tips Gimenez suggested were straightforward, adds Richardson, how to position proper ropes or straps for forward assists, backward assists, and how to make rope halters. "Sometimes you may have a horse that either doesn't have a halter or doesn't have one that fits properly so we can fabricate one quickly and simply from cotton rope which we have in stock," adds Richardson. "Maneuvering in a trailer, how to use the sling in an efficient manner, using straps to move a horse into a sternal position, and even hospital or stall design recommendations to make your life easier when handling or moving animals were all helpful tips for in-hospital cases," adds Cooper. First responders from Adjala-Tosorontio, Guelph/Eramosa, and Erin Fire Departments, with previous TLAER training through Equine Guelph also assisted with the workshop. "We are so pleased to have this opportunity to facilitate bringing this training to the large animal clinic. There are so many professional groups that benefit from this level of expertise for safety and welfare of both animals and people involved. We are committed in our ongoing efforts for this program and look forward to future training offerings," says Dr. Susan Raymond, Communications and Programs Officer, Equine Guelph. "Rebecca was quite pleased with our facilities and to see a lot of the equipment that we have in place to help us do a better job and to make things safer for all of us," adds Richardson. The training offered hospital personnel a chance to ask questions and "learn from one of the best in the world," The training was sponsored by Merial, the Ontario Equestrian Federation and Equine Guelph. by: Karen Mantel
Equine Guelph would like to announce a wonderful opportunity for members of the harness racing industry. After the rash of barn fires in Ontario at the beginning of 2016, Equine Guelph and its partners were quick to respond, bringing educational material regarding fire prevention to the horse industry. During the summer of 2016 a pilot program will be introduced for horse farms involved in the racing industry; including thoroughbred, standardbred and quarterhorse racing, whether racing, training or breeding. A limited number of visits will be scheduled for farms interested in having a fire prevention professional walk through their facility, providing a valuable assessment and recommendations to maximize safety. So many members of the racing industry were devastated by the tragic fires earlier this year bringing a focus on fire safety and prevention to the forefront of industry interest. Equine Guelph is pleased to be able to offer this valuable, one-time, learning opportunity to the racing industry of Ontario. "It is our belief that an investment in fire prevention and safety education/training will help protect people, horses and facilities." says Gayle Ecker, Director of Equine Guelph. "Prevention is key and this is a special opportunity to become more aware of the steps we can take to reduce the risk. Our horses are depending on us to protect them." For more information on fire safety and prevention visit EquineGuelph.ca/tools/fireprevention.php Farms interested in scheduling an assessment, please contact Dr. Susan Raymond, Equine Guelphslraymon@uoguelph.ca or call 519-824-4120 ext 54230
The number one killer of horses other than old age is colic. If you search "equine colic" on the World Wide Web, over 400,000 results will appear! Many of them explain colic as a common yet potentially deadly disorder of the digestive system with a wide array of causes. To understand why the domesticated horse is prone to colic, it is important to compare how different the life of a modern horse is compared to its wild counterparts − one of the first lessons learned by participants of Equine Guelph's Colic Prevention two-week eWorkshop. Horses in the wild graze for 16-20 hours and travel 8km/day or more whereas modern horses are often confined to stables or smaller turnout areas, fed concentrate diets and undergo more intensive exercise activity. It is no surprise that the modern use and management of the horse is a huge departure from its natural feeding and activity pattern which can place them at higher risk of digestive issues that can lead to colic. Being aware of these differences and taking preventative measures can minimize their effects and help reduce the risk of colic. Equine Guelph has two resources available to aid you in caring for your horse and its approximate 85 feet of digestive tract. The two-week online short course will help you identify risk factors and assess your management in order to implement preventative measures. It is "cheap insurance" at only $75 + hst. Equine Guelph also has a handy healthcare tool which helps you assess your personal risk with the "Colic Risk Rater". After answering a series of questions, a customized rating for your horse is provided. Intercity insurance is the generous sponsor of this tool. "Given our decades of experience in insuring horses from coast to coast, we know that colic is one of the highest risk factors in the Canadian herd," says Mike King of Intercity. "We can think of no better risk management tool to prevent colic than education." Knowledge is the best defense when more than 80% of colic cases are management-related. Learn how to reduce your risk in practical ways that you can easily implement. "This course is a must for all horse owners as knowledge is the first and best defense against colic!" says Natalie Price, Ontario, Canada, Student. Visit EquineGuelph.ca to sign up for the next Colic Prevention eWorkshop April 11 and take 15 minutes to assess your risk with the Colic Risk Rater healthcare tool. by Jackie Bellamy-Zions
After spending only five minutes browsing my email inbox, I am reminded of the need to promote Equine Guelph's Behaviour and Safety eWorkshop to anyone and everyone who ever plans to spend time in the company of equines. A horse has died while being hand-grazed. It's neck broken after stepping into a lead shank chain which was not being used over the nose but doubled through the halter instead. A Facebook video shows a toddler frolicking in a paddock with a loose pony. The caption is cute, but watching the clip fills me with dread. I see the pony going back and forth between inquisitive behaviour to defensive body language warning of an impending kick. An accident is waiting to happen if the parents continue to believe this pony is a harmless toy for their tot to play tag with. Photos of people with horses roll in - halter too low on the nose, handler in a precarious position if the horse spooks, the list goes on. An education in how horses react to what they perceive as frightening doesn't need to come from the school of hard knocks. As a horse-crazy child born of "non-horsey" lineage, I can tell my fair share of stories about learning the hard way. I wish this popular two-week online course had been around when I was driving my parents insane with demands for riding lessons. Now, as a coach, my lessons revolve around safety, starting with ground handling. The Behaviour and Safety eWorkshop teaches horse owners to read their horses body language and understand their motivations as a prey species. "We are pleased that horse people are interested in educating themselves about 'why' horses behave the way they do and how that translates into becoming better and safer handlers," says Equine Guelph Director, Gayle Ecker. Students of the program are 16 years of age and up and they are welcomed by a community where shared experiences further learning. Led by experts, this course has received high praise from parents, new horse owners and coaches who then pass the knowledge on to their students. This eWorkshop qualifies for Equine Canada coaches updating credits and is approved by the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians. Guest speaker, Dr. Rebecca Gimenez, brings a wealth of experience, teaching horse handling skills all over the world in her Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue courses. She communicates from first-hand knowledge that horses can exhibit extremist behaviors; where fear and panic drive them to do things that most owners and handlers cannot imagine in daily life. "Ignorance is no longer 'bliss' when it comes to one's ownership and relationship with their equine partner, says Gayda Erret, previous student. "One gains vast knowledge they may never have realized they needed." It is so easy to become complacent in many of the ten topics covered such as: fire safety, trailer loading and safety around the barn and paddocks. This course is a great refresher for industry experts and an excellent start for those new to the world of equines. Don't miss out on Equine Guelph's Horse Behaviour and Safety eWorkshop February 22 to March 6, 2016, for $75 plus HST. Space is limited. For more details contact Susan Raymond at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: http://www.equineguelph.ca/eworkshops/behaviour_safety.php by Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – “Why Do They Do That? Behavior and Training of Horses” is the over-arching theme of the upcoming Horse Management Seminar hosted by the Rutgers Equine Science Center and Rutgers Cooperative Extension. The seminar, scheduled from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm on Sunday, February 14, 2016, will feature presentations by several equine industry experts. “Horse training is an often-requested but tricky theme for this seminar because there are so many methods out there, so we will instead explain how horses learn and how that knowledge can be applied to training,” says Dr. Carey Williams, Extension Equine Specialist and Associate Director of Extension for the Equine Science Center. “Our goal in presenting this workshop is to give our audience an understanding of the concepts behind equine learning which are present regardless of discipline or training method and provide some of the research techniques that can be applied.” Williams has assembled presenters who are recognized as experts in their field to offer background and advice. The morning will start with topics including “Normal/Natural Behavior of Horses” by Dr. Carissa Wickens from University of Florida, “Using Learning Theory to Train Horses” by Angelo Telatin from Delaware Valley University, and “Psychological Stress and Welfare of Horses” by Dr. Betsy Greene from University of Vermont. The afternoon will continue the behavior theme, including “Problem Solving Using Learning Theory” by Angelo Telatin, “Stereotypic Behaviors: Understanding Cribbing, Weaving, and Other Behaviors” by Dr. Carissa Wickens, and “How Nutrition Can Affect Behavior” by Dr. Carey Williams. The day will conclude with a panel of each of the speakers for additional question and answer opportunities. In addition to the educational presentations, the seminar will feature informational displays, networking opportunities and door prizes from industry companies and area organizations, along with ample time for one-on-one discussions with the day’s presenters. Complete program, registration information, and seminar brochure are posted on the Equine Science Center website at esc.rutgers.edu. For more information, contact Laura Kenny at 848-932-3229, email@example.com, or Dr. Carey Williams at 848-932-5529, firstname.lastname@example.org. Early bird discount registration ends on January 29! About Rutgers Equine Science Center The Equine Science Center is a unit of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Its mission is Better Horse Care through Research and Education in order to advance the well-being and performance of horses and the equine industry. Its vision is to be recognized throughout New Jersey as well as nationally and internationally for its achievements in identifying issues in the horse industry, finding solutions through science-based inquiry, providing answers to the horse industry and to horse owners, and influencing public policy to ensure the viability of the horse industry. For more information about the Equine Science Center, call 848-932-9419 or visit esc.rutgers.edu. Carey A. Williams, Ph.D. Equine Extension Specialist esc.rutgers.edu
Puslinch Firefighters' were dispatched to a Public Assistance call for a horse stuck in a horse trailer on October 12th, 2015 around 09:30 hours. Ten Firefighters were in attendance for the nearby horse farm on Wellington Road 34 in Puslinch Township. The crew responded quickly; and were at the scene within 7 minutes from the initial pager activation. A 14 yr old mare named "Heidi" was trapped halfway through the side door of the trailer and could not move forward or backwards. The owners and by-standers assisted in keeping the horse calm and relaxed while fire personnel quickly derived a plan of action to free the trapped horse. It was determined that the best and safest option was to use hydraulic spreaders above the horse to spread the opening apart. It was quickly determined other hydraulic devices and cutting options were out of question due to safety and noise that could further hinder the stuck mare. Dealing with a matter of inches, Heidi was quickly and successfully freed. Miraculously, she sustained zero damage or injury throughout the entire event; not even so much as a cut or scratch. The horse trailer also sustained minimal damage. The entire process from arrival on scene to complete extrication of the horse took a total of 13 minutes. Among the firefighters who responded, three of them had recently attended the Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) course only eight days earlier, organized by Equine Guelph, University of Guelph through Susan Raymond, PhD. Communications & Programs Officer. The TLAER course, instructed by Dr. Rebecca Gimenez (TLAER Inc.) was conducted over 2 days (October 3rd & 4th) at the Grand River Raceway in Elora, ON. The course was very informative and covered both in-class sessions and practical scenarios on both artificial and live animals. "Utilizing the information from this course proved valuable both in maintaining personal safety zones around the animal and scene while coming up with an effective plan to quickly and safely extricate the large animal," said firefighter Michael Dailous. This was the second horse rescue call for the month of October; both calls only days after several firefighters in attendance had taken the TLAER course. Story by: Michael Dailous Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Hiding pain is one of the top survival skills of the horse. An important part of horse ownership is learning to recognize the signs a horse may be in discomfort rather than dismissing certain subtle cues as just bad behaviour. Dr. Brianne Henderson recently gave a well-received lecture to a room full of horse owners in Hillsburgh, ON. The attendees were interested in ensuring the welfare of their equine companions by honing their skills for detecting pain. There has been increased awareness of pain recognition and management in small animals and this science is also gaining more acknowledgement in the world of horses as well. The Facial Grimaces Score used originally to identify pain in rodents and rabbits has been incorporated into a “grimace scale” for equines as well. It uses ear position and tightening of the muscles around the eyes and mouth to come up with a score (0 – no pain, 1 – moderate, 2 – obvious). Everyone wants to be greeted by a bright-eyed, soft and relaxed face. The horse is telling you something hurts when they avoid looking at you, appear despondent, clench their jaw, flatten ears back and/or squint their eyes. Dr. Henderson went on to briefly explain pain scales used by veterinarians that focus on physiological parameters and behavior patterns. One included the Composite Pain Scale (CPS) which looks at the change in frequency of normal behavior patterns such as eating, the presence of pain-related behaviours such as kicking at the abdomen and physiological parameters such as elevated vitals. There is a long list of signs that are scored from 0 – 3. Some of these indicators, including vitals, can also be assessed using a quick 16-point health check poster developed by Equine Guelph. The poster or handy new Horse Health Tracker app are invaluable tools for horse owners to provide important health data to their veterinarian. The choir was obviously present and little preaching was required as Henderson rolled through a barrage of images asking the audience to denote which ones depicted animals in pain. By stance, facial cues and action the savvy auditors were hitting the mark and also picked up on the fact that circumstance plays a role. How many people have had the phone call of alarm when a passerby sees a horse flat out in the field when it was actually just napping in the sun? Flehmen is another response that can be circumstantial. It can occur due to an interesting smell or taste sensation but it can also be a moderate pain response displaying nostril and mouth tension. The stallion curling his upper lip testing for pheromones when a mare passes by is a different context than the horse who didn’t finish his feed, is stretched out with his poll low and is showing the flehmen response. Subtle changes require your attention such as a horse at the back of its stall with a half-eaten breakfast when it is normally standing at the door waiting to go out after licking the feed tub clean. Catching a potential colic at this early stage could result in a huge cost savings as well as avoid what could turn into a very painful experience for the horse. The performance horse who suddenly starts refusing to accomplish tasks that it used to find easy requires a careful evaluation as early signs of lameness rather than misbehaving could be the culprit. As the owner of a stoic animal, accustomed to hiding pain, horse people need to be on the lookout for atypical behavior such as a horse who begins to segregate itself from the herd or suddenly displays a less tolerant behavior with its paddock mates. When variations in behavior occur, a step back may be required to figure out if it is you or the horse that has changed. “If I have had a bad day at the office and not taken the time to decompress – my horse will not come to the gate for me,” Henderson explains. “Similarly, I know if he doesn’t come to the gate under normal circumstances, there is something wrong because he typically loves his job.” Grooming is the next interaction where paying close attention will tell you much about your horse’s health. Rather than quickly dusting off the saddle area and jumping on to ride, take the time to run your hands over their whole body, especially the back and legs, before and after work, checking for any heat, swelling or reactions that can be early indicators something is not quite right. Obvious pain requires a veterinary examination. When a horse comes in from the paddock hopping lame, it can often be hard to tell if it is an abscess requiring a simple poultice or a fracture requiring much more intensive treatment and stabilization. When acute pain is obvious; don’t guess or delay – call the veterinarian. For less obvious lameness, your veterinarian has been trained to assess the severity on a scale from one to five. Early intervention increases the chances of a good outcome and can prevent matters from escalating into a much worse injury. The veterinarian will check the horse in both walk and trot, on straight lines and turns.“A lameness that is visible at the walk is automatically going to be at least a three if not higher,” comments Henderson. After a thorough exam, a rehabilitation plan can be made. Chronic pain will impact the horse’s ability to heal and their quality of life. “It is an old way of thinking to want a horse to be a bit sore in the healing process to prevent it from box-walking,” explains Henderson. “Our ability to control pain both every day and certainly in the medical environment is becoming more and more recognized as mandatory.” Once the horse is controlled in its pain, they can move better and heal faster and therefore do not lose as much muscle quality during the healing period. Modern treatment methods can also help avoid the knock on effects of stomach ulcers and sourness that often accompany chronic pain. Choosing the right pain control method or treatment is another conversation to have with your veterinarian as there are many option available and extended use of Phenylbutazone can have negative effects on a horse’s stomach. In addition to being on the look-out for signs of pain, a dutiful horse owner is always employing prevention practices. They apply poultice and wrap horse’s legs to stem swelling after a hard work out and give them time to recover. Similarly, we take care of ourselves with rest after a work-out, a hearty meal to replace nutrients and perhaps a hot bath. Our horses count on us, their primary care-takers to be diligent and attentive in both prevention and early detection of pain. Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the University of Guelph. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government – for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information visit: EquineGuelph.ca. Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
The words responsible and breeding should be an inseparable pairing in the harness racing breeding industry. The successful future of a foal depends heavily on the investment of the breeder to: 1) financially project costs from conception to sale or lifespan of the horse if it is to be kept. 2) research, research, research! The homework list is a long one including choosing a mare and stallion with great conformation and temperament, investigating their performance records, checking fertility rates, health records, offspring records and more... 3) educate themselves and plan ahead. Impeccable stable management and genetics knowledge combined with understanding special nutrition and healthcare requirements for the broodmare, foal and breeding stallion are all prerequisites to breeding horses responsibly. In the following article, two experienced and successful horse breeders: Dr. Moira Gunn of Paradox Farm and Doug Nash, formerly from Glengate have taken the time to share some of their vast knowledge. Dr. Gunn has had recent cause for celebration when Lexi Lou, bred by Paradox farm, received the 2014 Canadian Horse of the Year award after a string of wins including the Queen's Plate and the Oaks. Nash was farm manager at Glengate (formerly Cantario Farms) for almost 30 years. Glengate consisted of 3 farms, housing 80 - 100 mares, 8 stallions, and yearlings. In addition to servicing 1,200 mares annually with their own stallions, Glengate collected, shipped, froze, evaluated, imported and exported semen for 125 to 140 stallions of all breeds and disciplines. Nash has also shared his knowledge as an instructor for Equine Guelph's online Growth and Development course. Both breeders were candid discussing one of the most important considerations − ensuring financial means to see the horse through to a purposeful life. From stud fees to reproductive health exams and specialized nutrition, there is much to consider in calculating the bottom line. Stud fees can range anywhere from $200 - $200,000! When discussing logistics, Nash gives an example, "If you are breeding for profit you would not spend over $3,000 in stud fees if your broodmare is worth $10,000." Nash also expects private operations will not incur less than $14,000 (excluding the stud fee) in costs leading up to a yearling sale. In commercial operations this number would be closer to 17 or $18,000. Gunn explains daily costs of boarding just a broodmare vary widely and range up to $40/day. "Quality of care" questions should include the size of stalls and pasture. Methods and frequency of ongoing nutritional analysis should be discussed, for example, testing each batch of hay, soil testing the fields and consulting with a nutritionist to balance feed rations. Both Gunn and Nash concur that selecting the best genetics in the world will not help if paramount importance is not placed on the special nutritional needs of the broodmare and foal. An excellent in-depth understanding of nutrition, including protein requirements, micro-minerals, etc. is crucial to guard against the myriad of developmental conditions that could seriously affect the horse's future potential. Gunn points out, "the number one mistake I see people make is not understanding the nutritional program required prior to conception, during pregnancy and in the first two years of life of a foal." Nash and Gunn understand the value of a reproductive exam, especially if it is suspected the mare may have troubles conceiving or has lost a foal in the past. Nash explains the reproductive exam is much the same as a pre-purchase exam, checking for good overall health but also including the reproductive tract. Gunn described elements of the exam such as performing an ultrasound to check size, shape and consistency of the uterus and inspecting the vulva conformation (i.e. too sloped could predispose windsucking). On a suspect mare, a uterine culture and biopsy can also provide important information. If the mare has a cresty neck, hormone profiles can check for hypothyroidism. Nash comments, "Money spent today on a reproductive health exam can save you tomorrow by avoiding an abortion." Following the reproductive exam there will be many veterinary service calls including palpations and ultrasounds which can run approximately $1,000 - $2,000. Once the budget hurdle has been cleared, the homework begins. One of the biggest questions to answer is WHY are you breeding? Knowing your expectations of the foal will help you make realistic selections when it comes to choosing an appropriate pairing considering size, breed, athletic ability, temperament... which brings us to WHO? When looking at performance records, it is important not to skip over the broodmare and look only at the stallion. Look for the traits, conformation, personality and athletic ability desired in both parents. An ideal body condition score (5-6 out of 9) and good overall health including up to date health records (vaccines, worming...) should exist for the dam and stud. Nash states he likes a mare who adapts quickly to new surroundings and possesses a pleasant attitude. Age is a special consideration for the mare as a decline in reproductive ability starts between the ages of 12 and 15. The older mare may have trouble bringing a pregnancy to term. Expanding on the importance of health Nash cautions, "Horses in pain do not conceive." A mare retired from work is not an automatic breeding prospect, depending on the reason. For example a mare with chronic laminitis is not a breeding candidate. Nash advises the selection process when deciding to breed horses involves three to four months of homework. He looks at performance records not only of the stallion but also the offspring. The size and conformation of the offspring should be noted. "Find out as much about the stallion as you can," says Nash. This includes questions such as live foal rate? A thorough check for any hereditary conditions is a must. Breeding for your own preference needs to be carefully balanced by being cognizant of the marketplace to avoid unwanted horses and paddock ornaments. After the WHY and WHO comes HOW? Live, fresh or frozen is the next topic to study. "Professional breeders will be able to provide semen analysis and be able to tell you how well it transports either fresh or frozen," says Gunn. Raw motility and extended motility are important considerations when transporting semen. Morphology of semen and track records of fertility should also be available. If the mare in question has had difficulty conceiving, you are better off selecting a stallion with high fertility rates. If considering live cover, not all of this information will necessarily be available but past track records of getting mares into foal should be unless it is the stallion's first year standing at stud. A semen evaluation will also give insight as to how many mares the stallion can breed in a day. When choosing live or fresh semen, you must also ensure timing of ovulation and sperm delivery are accurately synchronized. For a live cover, Nash recommends a site visit and inquiring about the facilities health, safety and biosecurity procedures. When using frozen semen, Gunn explains frequent palpations will be necessary for the mare throughout the day and night to have success with this method as timing is critical. When it comes to stable management, you need to be a planning pro with a dedication to details. On top of impeccable general standards, breeding facilities need to provide a suitable environment for broodmares and foals. The foaling area needs to provide ample room to avoid injury during birth. Stalls should have solid walls with dimensions of 16 x 12 being more desirable. In the turn out area, the addition of skylights in three sided sheds make use of sunlight to kill bacteria. Pasture fences should be constructed so the foal cannot roll out of the paddock when lying down. For example: post and board fencing with a fourth rail is often used to contain young stock. Hay racks need to be attached high enough up on the wall that a foal or yearling cannot get hung up. Creep feeders allow weanlings to feed undisturbed and reach their nutritional requirements. It is important to ensure the weanling is consuming enough feed prior to weaning to ensure there will not be a shock on its nutritional development. At weaning time, it is ideal to move the pair out of visual and vocal contact to reduce the risk of injury should they try to reunite. Have a plan for companionship for the mare and weanling after they are separated. The weanling could be introduced to other weanlings or an older gelding. Equine Guelph has published new research on Two-stage weaning as another method of weaning. Last and certainly not least, it is important to plan every step of the way with your veterinarian to ensure good health before, during and after foaling. Vaccinations and boosters need to be given at the correct times and accurate records kept. They may also be able to direct you to a source of colostrum, should there be any issues in the crucial time after the birth. This information is worth checking into before you need it. Planning every detail ahead of time is required to prepare for any eventuality. Responsible breeders perform due diligence in all areas of stable management, financial planning, and market research. The investment of hard work, homework, record keeping and proper care is realized when horses reach their full potential. If you are the owner of such a horse - it all began with the responsible breeder. by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions Web Link: http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=457 Story Links: Nutrition Right from the Start: http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=438 Vaccination EquiPlanner: http://www.equineguelph.ca/Tools/equiplanner.php When to Vaccinate Broodmares video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnL68L5smsE Colostrum: http://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/files/2006/11/JSW-MA1-Colostrum.pdf Two-stage Weaning article - page 3 of EG Newsletter http://www.equineguelph.ca/pdf/newsletter/EG%20newsletter%20Spring%202013_web.pdf Research Radio (Dr. Chenier's podcast on preparation for breeding season) http://www.equineguelph.ca/research/radio.php Equine Guelph's Online courses: http://www.equineguelph.ca/education/indiv_courses.php Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Feeding a balanced diet then taking care of nutrient replacement after exercise is imperative to keep horses performing well at an upper level of performance. Don Kapper, shared his wealth of knowledge in equine nutrition and management in a recent visit to Canada. His talk at the University of Guelph discussed the importance of understanding gut function and nutrient absorption in order to understand the importance of nutrient replacement. Assessing body condition and topline evaluation scores were addressed as was the importance of providing good quality protein as a source of amino acids to avoid deficiencies that can negatively affect topline muscles, tendons, hooves and overall health. Last but not least, the role of electrolytes were discussed to avoid dehydration and keep athletes bouncing back into top form for the next day of competition. GUT FUNCTION "Horses are designed to be continuous grazers," explains Kapper. An 1100 pound horse will eat up to 18 hours a day consuming 2.0% to 2.5 % of their body weight per day in dry forage (22 to 28 lbs). While doing this, they will produce between 25 to 30 gallons of saliva, significantly reducing the chances of acid gut syndrome and improving nutrient absorption and over-all gut health. Horses only produce saliva when they chew, therefore, feeding forage ad-lib will increase the production of saliva - one of the best buffers for the horses' digestive system and the most effective way to reduce the chance of ulcers and impaction colic. Kapper brought home another benefit of continuous grazing by comparing the small intestine to sausage casing, "When it is full it is almost impossible to twist." Going without eating for several hours at a time can be a factor in colic resulting from a twisted intestine. The stomach of the horse is relatively small and food only stays there for around 15 minutes, where acids begin to break it down. Moving through the next 90 foot of small intestine, it takes between 30 - 90 minutes, therefore, it moves at a rate of one to three feet per minute. Now you can understand why horses seem to be hungry all the time. The small intestine is the primary absorption sight of amino acids, fatty acids, major and trace minerals and vitamins. Therefore, the quality of the forage and feeds fed to a horse is more important than the quality of the forage and feeds fed to ruminants (cattle, goats and sheep, etc.). Ruminants will break down the crude proteins and form needed amino acids in their rumen, then it travels into the small intestine for absorption to occur. In horses, all food goes into their stomach, then small intestine, and then into their fermentation vat (cecum) to be broken down. Unfortunately, their fermentation vat is AFTER it passes through the small intestine, the primary absorption sight for many nutrients. That is why ruminants will get more nutrients out of the same forage than a horse. The quality of ingredients, or the availability of the nutrients fed to horses, are far more important than the quality fed to all ruminants. The hind gut of the horse makes up 62% of their digestive system, which functions with a microbial population breaking down the fibre in forages by fermentation. Forage should make up 50% to 90% of a mature horses total diet. Therefore, knowledge of the nutrients in your forage is important so you can factor in what your horse may need in the way of concentrates and/or supplements to meet their needs every day. Kapper says, "If you don't know what nutrients are in your forage, you are guessing at what needs to be added. If you don't know what nutrients your horse needs every day - you are guessing at everything." He stressed, be an educated consumer, because economics come into play when you feed more than you need, but even more so, if your horse breaks down or becomes ill due to deficiencies in their diet. Kapper also reminded us that concentrates are never to exceed 50%, by weight, of the mature horse's total diet/day or exceed five pounds in one feeding/1,000 lbs of body weight. This is to avoid digestive upsets. Emphasis was put on good forage to meet the nutritional needs, optimize digestive health and improve the overall well-being of your horse. Ad-lib forage will also facilitate the best mental state. VISUAL ASSESSMENT Performance loss will occur before you see visual changes in your horse that may indicate an unbalanced diet. Visual changes that put up red flags include: loss of muscle over the topline, then a decline in hoof and hair quality and finally a loss of appetite and general unthrifty condition. Checking the horses Body Condition Score on a monthly basis provides a good visual indicator for achieving optimal calorie intake with the ideal being between five and six on a scale of one to nine (Body Condition Scoring link http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=408). However, it is possible to have a horse in ideal body weight and still be deficient in nutrients required to build and support the muscles necessary to perform athletic tasks. Muscle soreness and changes in saddle fit are early indicators of a diminishing topline. Topline Evaluation Scoring (TES) is graded from A to D, looking at the muscles on the horses back, loin and croup areas. Loss of muscle (muscle atrophy) is a solid indicator of an amino acid deficiency. Amino Acids are the building blocks that make up crude protein. Muscles contain 73% protein and the first limiting amino acid will determine how much 'all' of the other amino acids in their diet can be utilized. The easiest and first place to visualize a horse losing muscle mass, when a deficient amino acid diet is fed, is in their back area; the second is their loin; and third is their croup area. TOPLINE GRADES with DEFINITIONS: Grade A- The horse has 'ideal muscle development''. The back, loin and croup are full and well rounded. The topline muscles are well developed and blend smoothly into his ribs. The horse should be able to perform work requiring the use of all of these muscles. Grade B- The 'back area is concave' (sunken) between the vertebrae and the top of the ribs: 1. You may have trouble fitting this horse with a saddle. 2. The muscle atrophy in this area may cause back soreness when worked. 3. Soreness can negatively impact their attitude and performance. 4. The loin muscles are well developed and are the same height as the spinal processes, i.e. you cannot see or palpate the spinal processes. Grade C-The 'back and loin areas are both concave' (sunken) between the vertebrae and the ribs: 1. The 'spinal processes' in the loin area are higher than the muscles beside them and can easily be seen and palpated. 2. The atrophied muscles in the back and loin areas weaken the horse. 3. The length of time they are able to work and perform will be compromised, causing them to tire easily. 4. Muscling over the croup and hindquarters are well developed and rounded. Grade D- All three areas of the topline, including the back, loin and croup areas are concave (sunken): 1. The croup appears pointed at the top since the vertebrae and hip bones are higher than the muscles in-between them. 2. In severely affected horses, the width of their stifle is narrower than the width of their point of hip. 3. This horse will lack the strength and stamina to perform and the muscle atrophy will cause discomfort when worked. ROLE OF PROTEIN/AMINO ACIDS All 10 essential amino acids need to be provided to horses on a daily basis: arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine (involved in growth and development), methionine (for hoof and hair quality), phenylalanine, threonine (involved in tissue repair), tryptophan, and valine. There are also 12 non-essential amino acids that horses can create themselves in adequate amounts. In order for crude protein to be synthesized, all the 'essential' amino acids must be present in adequate amounts. If one amino acid runs out, it 'limits' protein synthesis for the rest of the amino acids. If you are feeding a grass hay, your first limiting amino acid is going to be Lysine. For alfalfa, the first limiting amino acid could be threonine or tryptophan. Knowing what 'type of forage' you are feeding is key to knowing what supplements you need to choose to complement your horse's diet. During the process of conditioning horses, muscles are torn down during exercise and need additional branch-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) replenished to repair and rebuild those muscles faster. Kapper draws the parallel of weight trainers reaching for their whey protein shake after a work-out. A horse can benefit greatly from having 4 - 10 ounces of branch-chain amino acids replaced within 45 minutes of a workout. Whey is the best quality protein (amino acid) source, followed by soybean. Research has also shown that a lack of amino acids in the diet can affect the utilization of minerals in the diet, potentially causing skeletal and soft tissue problems. To get an idea of their importance - take a look at the amino acid content in the following structures: Hair and hoof = 95% Muscle = 73% Tendon = 93% Bone = 30% Skin = 90% A shortage of 'one' essential amino acid will affect the quality and strength of all of the above. The first one you will 'see' is the one with the fastest turn-over. What the Hooves Can Tell You about the Diet THE ORDER OF NUTRIENTS FOUND INSIDE THE HORSES HOOF: 1. Protein/Amino Acids = 95 % 2. Fat/Oils = 3 % 3. Sulfur 4. Calcium 5. Zinc 6. Copper 7. Selenium 8. Carotene (Vitamin A) 9. Alpha-Tocopherol (Vitamin E) 10. Biotin (Recommend 15 mg/day/1,000 lb of body weight, for "sand" cracks in hooves) When 98% of the hoof is made up of the top two nutrients, begin working with those and work your way down the list for a systematic way to address hoof quality problems that may be nutrition related. Too many times we hear about individuals beginning with Number 10 and work their way up the list. Here are a few examples to help you begin 'problem solving': Slow growth can result from inadequate amino acids, while poor expansion and contraction, with cracking of the hoof wall, can result from inadequate oils in the hoof. A poor quality lamina (white line) can result from a low 'sulfur' containing amino acid diet, i.e. Methionine & Cysteine. In a calcium deficient diet the middle of the hoof wall can break down and crumble. Sand cracks in the outer service of the hoof wall can be an indicator of a lack of biotin. CALORIE SOURCES TO FUEL MUSCLE FUNCTION Choosing the right horse for the work you want to do is important right off the bat (genetics). Then you need to choose the right fuel for your horse's muscles to perform up to their genetic potential. Carbohydrates and Fats and Oils Soluble carbohydrates are the starches and sugars needed to provide the 'glycogen' for intense work. Kapper uses a quarter horse sprinter fueling its bulky 'fast twitch' muscles as an example. Glycogen produced from these carbohydrates are utilized when their heart rate exceeds 170 beats/minute, in anaerobic work. "The heart rate is the key to knowing what kind of fuel you should be using," says Kapper. Soluble carbohydrates are highest in cereal grain: oats, corn, barley, wheat... Fats and Oils - Kapper says the Arabian is a good example of a breed using long, lean 'slow twitch' muscles that burn fat rather than glycogen for fuel. Soybean, flax and fish oils are high in Omega 3's which have anti-inflammatory responses, as opposed to corn oil and sunflower oil which are high in Omega 6's which have pro-inflammatory responses. Vegetable oils can provide slow, long term energy needed for low to moderate intensity, aerobic work. Oils containing higher levels of Omega 3s' are recommended for this kind of work. Kapper then went on to explain that a portion of the muscles of the Thoroughbred and Warmblood can be trained to be 'fast or slow-twitch', depending on what 'fuel' you are feeding. Forage Digestibility Of course, it is important that your horse is able to get the most out of the bulk of its diet. Soft hay is more desirable for the performance horse because its nutrients will be higher and is easier to digest. Over mature hay is cut later, will have grown taller and have larger, courser stems. This hay will be higher in lignin, which makes it less palatable and lower in digestibility, i.e. quality. ROLE OF ELECTROLYTES Given correctly, the use of performance electrolytes can delay the onset of fatigue by over 22%. They can also reduce muscle cramping and improve the horse's ability to bounce back and perform at the same high level the next day. The amount of sweat produced in a workout will determine the amount of electrolytes which require replacing. The demands are highest during hot and humid weather. The heat stress index chart is an important calculation when determining the risk of dehydration. (link: http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=419) When correctly formulated, electrolytes will replace the ions lost in sweat. For performance purposes - the electrolyte should specify it is a "performance" electrolyte on the label. The ingredient dextrose should be present because it is essential to improve the absorption rate of all the ions. The amounts of sodium, potassium and chloride levels are usually provided in the labels ingredient list. Adding the amount of sodium and potassium together should come close to equaling the amount of chloride in the formula. When you compare the amount of these three ions, you will see that not all electrolytes on the market today are created equal! The higher quality electrolytes are palatable, while lower quality ones are bitter, salty and discourage consumption when top-dressed on feed or mixed in water. Before electrolytes can be absorbed they need to be broken down with water. Delivery of a powdered electrolyte in feed or water is acceptable as long as they can continue to drink water. If water is not available or the horse does not drink after administering dry electrolytes, the horse will take water from its body and put it into their digestive system to break the powder down. Mixing electrolytes in water will reduce the absorption time in the small intestine. All electrolytes are hydroscopic, which means if fed in powdered form and the horse does not drink water, they will dehydrate the horse. Paste electrolytes are to be avoided due to their 'short term affects'. They will lay in the gut and actually pull water from the horse's body, increasing dehydration, at the most critical time after exercise! This was proven and published by Equine Research Centre team of researchers, led by Dr. Mike Lindinger, a few years ago. Depending on how hard the horses are working, a 'performance electrolyte solution' can be made by mixing one ounce of powder per litre of water. Increase the number of litre's of this 'electrolyte solution' as the horses training intensifies and/or the 'Heat Stress Index' (HSI) increases. HSI is determined by adding the temperature (F or C) and the percent Humidity, together. 'Mild' HSI begins when the combination is <140 when using Humidity plus Temperature (F); or <90 when using Humidity plus Temperature (C); 'Moderate' HSI is between 140 - 160 (F) or 90 - 105 (C); 'Severe' HSI >160 (F) or >105 (C). (See chart provided on the link: http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=419) This 'electrolyte solution' should be given with-in 45 minutes after the horse's workout. When the humidity and temperature increase, causing the 'heat stress index' to climb to 'Moderate' to 'Severe', the number of litre's offered should increase according to their training level. One ounce/litre of water will provide the correct osmolarity for the fastest absorption and utilization by the horse. For example: for 'Moderate' Heat Stress Index: provide two litres for training level, four litres for moderate and six litres for intense training. In the cases of 'moderate' to 'intense' training levels, providing the 'electrolyte solution' will work much better than top dressing it on feed. More factors effecting dehydration can include: the trailer ride to the venue if it is a hot day, a decrease in water and food intake from the stresses of being in a new location or from the water tasting different. Add the workload of the day on top of that and you can have a severely dehydrated horse on your hands. Checking for dehydration can include the skin pinch test where the handler pinches the skin on the horses shoulder then checks that it flattens back down in one to one and a half seconds. The capillary refill test is another method, pressing on the horse's gums and seeing the colour return to pink in under one and a half seconds. (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crY8_dBzimw) SUMMARY Kapper encourages horse owners to be pro-active in their feeding programs. Know the 'ideal' body weight of your horse and what nutrients are in your forage. These nutrients will vary with the 'type' of forage (grass vs. legume) and its level of maturity (when it was cut). Knowledge of this will allow you to make informed decisions when choosing feed and/or balancers to make up the difference between what your horse is getting from its forage and what it needs. Be sure to read the 'purpose statement' on every feed tag and feed according to their 'Feeding Directions' in order to fulfill nutrient requirements. Always choose a feed that is tailored to the individual needs of the horse (size, breed, age, workload...) and feed according to the instructions. Kapper cautions, "Feeding less than recommended amounts/day, means you have chosen the wrong feed and it could result in nutritional deficiencies". Stay observant if performance declines and be quick to pick up on the visual clues that the diet may need balancing, i.e. loss of muscle over the topline, decline in hoof and hair quality, loss of appetite and loss of condition could all be indicators of amino acid deficiency and/or an unbalanced diet. For horses in moderate to intense training, giving amino acids and electrolytes with-in 45 minutes after workouts can replenish body reserves the fastest. Nutrition is the science of prevention. Understanding the role of nutrition and working with an equine nutritionist will put you on the road to optimal health and performance for your horse. To learn more about nutrition sign up for the Equine Guelph 12-week online course: Equine Nutrition http://www.equineguelph.ca/education/indiv_courses.php Bio: Don Kapper is a highly experienced equine nutritionist and a member of the Cargill Equine Enterprise Team. Don graduated from Ohio State University and achieved his credentials as a Professional Animal Scientist from the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists in 1996 and has been a sought-after speaker for equine meetings in both the U.S. and Canada. He was a member of the "Performance Electrolyte Research" team at the University of Guelph and wrote the chapter on "Applied Nutrition" for the authoritative veterinary textbook: "Equine Internal Medicine", 2nd edition. Don also co-developed the "Equine Nutrition" course for the Equine Science Certificate program for Equine Guelph and has been a popular guest speaker in several Equine Guelph online courses, including the Equine Growth and Development, Exercise Physiology and Advanced Equine Nutrition. Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Ontario Veterinary College, graduate student, Cristin McCarty is no stranger to joint health issues having to work through her own athletic injuries from rowing. As an avid rider since age 5, McCarty bought an ex-racehorse in her early teens for repurposing into a hunter/jumper and immediately began an education in joint problems and maintenance options aimed towards keeping her newly purchased horse sound. McCarty's interest in how osteoarthritis begins was born from experience. After pursuing an education in biology, McCarty was very excited to be given the opportunity to work with Dr. Jeff Thomason and Dr. Mark Hurtig at the University of Guelph, where ground-breaking research is looking at joint loading of horses travelling at high speed. Thomason specializes in biomechanics, studying mechanics of locomotion in horses, in-vivo bone strain and finite-element (FE) modelling of skeletal mechanics. Hurtig is an expert on the mechanical causes of osteoarthritis. McCarty has been working with FE, gathering and analyzing data on loads acting at the fetlock joint and stresses in the cannon bone. By creating a computer generated model using computed tomographic (CT) or MRI images of an equine fetlock joint they are working on determining the internal bone stress under varying loading conditions (rates, directions and magnitudes) using FE software. This method of analysis could provide further insight into the biomechanical role impact has on the stress distribution in areas of high remodeling, which are associated with osteoarthritis in racehorses. FE has been used for quite some time in the automotive industry in crash test simulations to assess material failure but it is a relatively new technology for applications in biology. McCarty, who has been working under Thomason for three years now, says, "it was a steep learning curve to become familiar with the software to build complex models. That alone took almost two years." FE, through complicated mathematical calculations, can test where stress points will occur under particular loading conditions. In a more dense bone (which occurs in osteoarthritis) these calculations can show how stress points may be transferred and put onto the cartilage of the joint. Using FE researchers can also study how distribution of stress in a healthy, spongy less dense bone differs from that of an osteoarthritic joint. Contributing factors to osteoarthritis(OA) in the fetlock joint of a horse lies partly in conformation. A horses' large body mass is held up by four fairly small limbs and the fetlock joint is a small area to distribute the force and loading that occurs during high speed movement. Long pasterns and steep joint angles increase stresses on the back of the leg and can predispose a horse to issues. McCarty explains the incredible forces calculated from the horses mass x acceleration (F=M x A) during the high speed work a racehorse performs. This can result in upwards of 2.5 times their body weight on one limb. Footing plays a role with harder surfaces resulting in higher strains on the hoof. A blunt force trauma could also predispose a horse to joint injury and make it more susceptible to the onset of OA. Intense continuous training can set a horse up for OA and joint disease. McCarty goes on to talk about training programs and compares the training of human athletics to how we train race horses, "If you wanted to run a 200 meter sprint, you would not sit on a couch all day; get up to sprint 50 meters then return directly to the couch. With no pre-conditioning of joints, this is asking for injury. So why would we ask a horse to stand in a stall all day and then take them out for a gallop?" Chronic overloading of joints leads to problems over time. One of the potential uses McCarty cites for FE modeling could be assessing the chronically lame horse. This technology may allow predications of where the bone may fracture and under what conditions. Also, with greater understanding of high stress point areas and what is creating them, mitigation may be possible such as suggesting a change in the footing surface the horse trains on. This research will be continuing in collaboration with the Robarts Research Institute, Western University and has been funded by the Ontario Veterinary College department of Biomedical Science, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Side bar: Promote Healthy Joints: Daily pasture turn out allows horses to load joints as nature intended Gradual, progressive warm up and cool down periods in training sessions Avoid excessive fast work and training on hard ground Exposing horses to different surfaces while training and hill work can be beneficial Contact your vet if you see swelling, lameness, shortened stride or any signs of pain Learn more about osteoarthritis by visiting Equine Guelph's healthcare tool "Journey through the Joints" and test your ability to spot lameness with "Lameness Lab." Equine Guelph thanks Zoetis for sponsoring these valuable tools. by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Hiding pain is one of the top survival skills of the horse. An important part of horse ownership is learning to recognize the signs a horse may be in discomfort rather than dismissing certain subtle cues as just bad behaviour. Dr. Brianne Henderson recently gave a well-received lecture to a room full of horse owners in Hillsburgh, ON. The attendees were interested in ensuring the welfare of their equine companions by honing their skills for detecting pain. There has been increased awareness of pain recognition and management in small animals and this science is also gaining more acknowledgement in the world of horses as well. The Facial Grimaces Score used originally to identify pain in rodents and rabbits has been incorporated into a “grimace scale” for equines as well. It uses ear position and tightening of the muscles around the eyes and mouth to come up with a score (0 – no pain, 1 – moderate, 2 – obvious). Everyone wants to be greeted by a bright-eyed, soft and relaxed face. The horse is telling you something hurts when they avoid looking at you, appear despondent, clench their jaw, flatten ears back and/or squint their eyes. Dr. Henderson went on to briefly explain pain scales used by veterinarians that focus on physiological parameters and behavior patterns. One included the Composite Pain Scale (CPS) which looks at the change in frequency of normal behavior patterns such as eating, the presence of pain-related behaviours such as kicking at the abdomen and physiological parameters such as elevated vitals. There is a long list of signs that are scored from 0 – 3. Some of these indicators, including vitals, can also be assessed using a quick 16-point health check poster developed by Equine Guelph. The poster or handy new Horse Health Tracker app are invaluable tools for horse owners to provide important health data to their veterinarian. The choir was obviously present and little preaching was required as Henderson rolled through a barrage of images asking the audience to denote which ones depicted animals in pain. By stance, facial cues and action the savvy auditors were hitting the mark and also picked up on the fact that circumstance plays a role. How many people have had the phone call of alarm when a passerby sees a horse flat out in the field when it was actually just napping in the sun? Flehmen is another response that can be circumstantial. It can occur due to an interesting smell or taste sensation but it can also be a moderate pain response displaying nostril and mouth tension. The stallion curling his upper lip testing for pheromones when a mare passes by is a different context than the horse who didn’t finish his feed, is stretched out with his poll low and is showing the flehmen response. Subtle changes require your attention such as a horse at the back of its stall with a half-eaten breakfast when it is normally standing at the door waiting to go out after licking the feed tub clean. Catching a potential colic at this early stage could result in a huge cost savings as well as avoid what could turn into a very painful experience for the horse. The performance horse who suddenly starts refusing to accomplish tasks that it used to find easy requires a careful evaluation as early signs of lameness rather than misbehaving could be the culprit. As the owner of a stoic animal, accustomed to hiding pain, horse people need to be on the lookout for atypical behavior such as a horse who begins to segregate itself from the herd or suddenly displays a less tolerant behavior with its paddock mates. When variations in behavior occur, a step back may be required to figure out if it is you or the horse that has changed. “If I have had a bad day at the office and not taken the time to decompress – my horse will not come to the gate for me,”Henderson explains. “Similarly, I know if he doesn’t come to the gate under normal circumstances, there is something wrong because he typically loves his job.” Grooming is the next interaction where paying close attention will tell you much about your horse’s health. Rather than quickly dusting off the saddle area and jumping on to ride, take the time to run your hands over their whole body, especially the back and legs, before and after work, checking for any heat, swelling or reactions that can be early indicators something is not quite right. Obvious pain requires a veterinary examination. When a horse comes in from the paddock hopping lame, it can often be hard to tell if it is an abscess requiring a simple poultice or a fracture requiring much more intensive treatment and stabilization. When acute pain is obvious; don’t guess or delay – call the veterinarian. For less obvious lameness, your veterinarian has been trained to assess the severity on a scale from one to five. Early intervention increases the chances of a good outcome and can prevent matters from escalating into a much worse injury. The veterinarian will check the horse in both walk and trot, on straight lines and turns.“A lameness that is visible at the walk is automatically going to be at least a three if not higher,” comments Henderson. After a thorough exam, a rehabilitation plan can be made. Chronic pain will impact the horse’s ability to heal and their quality of life. “It is an old way of thinking to want a horse to be a bit sore in the healing process to prevent it from box-walking,” explains Henderson. “Our ability to control pain both every day and certainly in the medical environment is becoming more and more recognized as mandatory.” Once the horse is controlled in its pain, they can move better and heal faster and therefore do not lose as much muscle quality during the healing period. Modern treatment methods can also help avoid the knock on effects of stomach ulcers and sourness that often accompany chronic pain. Choosing the right pain control method or treatment is another conversation to have with your veterinarian as there are many option available and extended use of Phenylbutazone can have negative effects on a horse’s stomach. In addition to being on the look-out for signs of pain, a dutiful horse owner is always employing prevention practices. They apply poultice and wrap horse’s legs to stem swelling after a hard work out and give them time to recover. Similarly, we take care of ourselves with rest after a work-out, a hearty meal to replace nutrients and perhaps a hot bath. Our horses count on us, their primary care-takers to be diligent and attentive in both prevention and early detection of pain. by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the University of Guelph. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government – for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information visit: EquineGuelph.ca.
Horse Experience 2015 is an Equine Canada initiative in partnership with the Ontario Equestrian Federation (OEF) and the Headwaters Tourism Association. The project features a month-long showcase of opportunities to see, touch and experience horses in Canada, in parallel with the sold-out Pan Am equestrian competitions in July. The objectives for Horse Experience 2015 include: Developing export markets for Canadian-bred horses, genetics and expertise. South/Central American countries are key target markets for Canadian horse industry exports. Maximizing local horse experience opportunities for international visitors to the Pan Am equestrian competitions. Encouraging participation from the domestic market in horse-related activities. Horse Experience 2015 offers 50 different events on the calendar during July, all within a one-hour radius of the OLG Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park, the central site of the Pan Am equestrian competitions. One of the opportunities includes a unique behind-the-scenes guided walking tour through the Ontario Veterinary College Health Sciences Centre and Equine Guelph-https://horseexperience.ca/events/visit-the-ontario-veterinary-college-equine-guelph/ Horse Experience also features a series of hospitality events and entertainment at the Orangeville Event Centre (July 11th through the 17th) in Mono, Ontario. The Horse Experience website - www.HorseExperience.ca - features details on 50 events, event transportation and shuttle service, RV camping and ticket purchasing options. The Horse Experience transportation offerings include bus service between the event sites, hotels and key mustering points in the region. The objective of the shuttle service and event transportation is to improve visitor access to the Pan Am equestrian competitions, the Horse Experience events and the local communities (to visit, shop and stay). Equine Canada developed Horse Experience 2015 to align with its Long Term International Strategy, funded through the AAFC Growing Forward 2 program. Horse Experience is providing the Canadian horse industry with the infrastructure and marketing platform to increase exposure to international visitors and export market channels, as well as exposure to the domestic market to increase participation in horse-related activities. Through Horse Experience 2015, Equine Canada and its partners have developed a model that has relevance to tourism and economic sustainability in rural communities. Horse Experience has received exceptional collaboration from within the horse industry, with more than eight breed associations and six horse sports represented, as well as 15 different riding and unique learning and spectator experiences. Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. , June 19, 2015 - Today , Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph, was named the recipient of the 14th annual Equine Industry Vision Award. Zoetis, in partnership with American Horse Publications (AHP), presented the award to Ecker at the AHP Seminar in San Antonio, Texas. The Equine Industry Vision Award is the first major award to showcase innovation across the equine industry. Established and sponsored by Zoetis, the prestigious award recognizes ingenuity and service, and it serves to inspire those qualities in others. "We are proud to recognize Gayle for her heartfelt work in connecting people, especially youth, with horses," said Kate Russo, equine biologicals marketing manager, Zoetis. "Gayle's passion for utilizing science-based knowledge to educate people on the health of horses is unmatched. Zoetis is proud to present her with an award to recognize her lifelong commitment to advancing the equine industry." Ecker is director of Equine Guelph, which she has led since its inception in 2003. The center at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, supports the health and well-being of horses through education, research, health care promotion and industry development. It is supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Ecker was instrumental in the creation of the center by writing the grant that led to the development of its education and communications programs. She was a pioneer in online education. In 2002, she established a first-of-its kind educational approach that provides virtual learning pathways for career development in the equine industry. She also serves as an instructor for the program. She also led the development of Equine Guelph's youth exhibit, EquiMania!, which features interactive stations that teach young horse enthusiasts about equine safety and wellness. The exhibit first appeared at the 2005 Can-Am All Breeds Equine Expo and also has traveled to the 2010 World Equestrian Games ™ in Lexington, Kentucky, and the Minnesota State Fair. Each year, Ecker and her team improve the exhibit with up to 25% new materials based on attendee feedback. "I am so grateful for the opportunity to be recognized," Ecker said. "My passion is truly my students - seeing their thirst for knowledge and knowing the time I invest will be tenfold when they go out and make a difference." As a former researcher, Ecker's expertise is in exercise physiology. She has been the assistant chef d'equipe for the Canadian Endurance Team, traveling around the globe to support the team at international events, such as the Pan American Games, the World Equestrian Games and World Endurance Championships. These days, Ecker enjoys trail riding aboard her two quarter horses. Ecker also was named to the Can-Am All Breeds Equine Expo Hall of Fame in 2014, when she received the Builder Award. In 2010, she received the Readers' Choice Award in the exceptional equestrian category from the Horse Journal . Ecker also was named one of the top 15 horse people of the year by Western Horse Review in 2008. Other finalists for this year's Equine Industry Vision Award included: the EQUUS Foundation, a charitable foundation that provides financial support and service to equine charities across the United States; Jim McGarvey, chairman of the board for Back Country Horsemen of America; and Juli S. Thorson, editor-at-large for Horse & Rider . Previous recipients of the award are: · Patti Colbert (2014) · The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Int'l) (2013) · Equine Land Conservation Resource (2012) · Robert Cacchione (2011) · John Nicholson (2010) · Charlotte Brailey Kneeland (2009) · Sally Swift (2008) · David O'Connor (2007) · Stanley F. Bergstein (2006) · John Ryan Gaines (2005) · The American Quarter Horse Association (2004) · Don Burt (2003) · Alexander Mackay-Smith (2002) About American Horse Publications American Horse Publications is a nonprofit professional association dedicated to promoting excellence in equine media and better understanding and communication within the equine publishing industry. For more information on the association, please contact: Chris Brune, American Horse Publications, at email@example.com 386-760-7743, or visit the AHP website atwww.americanhorsepubs.org .
No one spends more time with your horse than you. Naturally, the role of primary caretaker and advocate for horse health falls on the person in closest contact with said equine. The well-rounded horse person is more than a good rider. They are educated in normal parameters of horse health and keen observers, on the look-out for anything that is abnormal, for that individual horse. In this article Dr. Laura Frost and Dr. Brianne Henderson will discuss the important role the horse owner plays in maintaining and optimizing their horse's health. Getting to know you Waiting until you have a reason to take a horse's vitals is a good example of shutting the barn door after the great escape. Frost points out vitals vary from horse to horse. "It is important to know if your horse sits at the low or high end of any given vitals range for you to have a good base line." Take the horse's vitals when you can gain the most accurate reading for a resting rate (I.e. not right before feeding, after being outside in the sun, while under tack or after exercise unless you are monitoring recovery rates). Frost and Henderson both concur that grooming is more than knocking off the dirt in preparation for riding but a full body check that can alert owners to any swellings, soreness, changes in behaviour or ailments that may require close monitoring or immediate attention. No stranger to the sport of endurance riding, Henderson also points out one should be familiar with the numbers for their horse's recovery rates determining how long it takes vitals to return to normal after a work-out. Henderson is quick to recommend Equine Guelph's Horse Health check poster as a great resource for horse owners to become familiar with vitals and other normal parameters, sighting its ease of use with the green/yellow/red indicators for each section of the 16-point check. Knowing how to quantify and classify 'not normal' is crucial when speaking to your veterinarian on the phone. Both Frost and Henderson attest this exact information allows them to gauge the urgency of a call and whether they should be treating it as an emergency or scheduling a visit in their upcoming week. The power of observation "Keeping a log really goes a long way," states Frost. "A novel is not helpful but keeping accurate health records and knowing when a problem starts and if it is reoccurring can often tell you more about what is going on." "It is easy to get caught up with goals and the fast-pace of day-to-day life," says Henderson, but it is important to take a moment to look at the full health picture on a daily basis. Henderson goes on to list some components of due diligence: looking at the amount and consistency of manure in the stall, water consumption, noticing if feed is left behind or picking up on an unusual stance in the horse. "One of the first things I look at when attending a colic call is the state of the stall," says Henderson. "I look to see if the shavings are level or if the horse has churned them up box walking." Henderson then goes on to look at the other points of due diligence and asks when the stall was last picked out. For another example -a horse that consistently rests the same hind leg is cause for further investigation. If you push him onto the other hind- does he return to the favored leg? Henderson explains the observant horse owner will quickly notice this is a possible indication of soreness. Springing into action "Early intervention always offers the best prognosis and increases the probability of a good outcome," explains Frost. Take for example a horse that develops swelling in the suspensory area and looks mildly lame for a day. The horse owner might employ cold therapy for a couple days and then put the horse back to work when everything seems to return to normal but later the horse comes up 3/5 lame. "Suspensory injuries can be sneaky," says Frost, "and what starts off as a minor injury can turn into a major one if not diagnosed and treated correctly at the onset." Of course, sometimes springing into action is simply a matter of treating a minor cut or scrape the moment you spot it in order to prevent infection but when in doubt, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian. Frost goes on to explain the dangers of treating horses with the wrong medication sighting a common example of corneal ulcers on a horse's eye. Often they are just mild to start but if left untreated or treated incorrectly they can progress to be quite serious. Treatment with the wrong ointment (perhaps loaned from a well-meaning co-boarder) could result in a melting ulcer. It is always best to call the veterinarian to check out any problem pertaining to eyes as soon as possible (eye issues can be very painful for the horse). Another good example of early intervention could be catching a sarcoid in its initial stages and having the option to treat it topically versus excising a huge growth under general anesthetic if it has been allowed to develop. Springing into action is a definite requirement at the first sign of an infectious disease. This action requires a call to the veterinarian without delay for treatment and immediate advice on biosecurity measures, which may include isolation, to help stop the spread to other horses in the barn and surrounding regions. The all-important "ounce of prevention" Henderson can attest in her experience with horses, this is not an old cliché. Prevention is the best medicine and thinking three steps ahead goes a long way in minimizing injuries. A simple example is avoiding an icy path by breaking it up or putting sand down. Prevention should never be considered time consuming when it is ultimately cost saving and an exercise in preserving health and welfare. Henderson encourages her clients to perform body condition scoring every two to three weeks. It is a good practice all year long. Many horse owners are caught by surprise when they look under the blanket come springtime to find a horse 100 lbs. underweight. More weather-related prevention methods including ensuring horses are drinking adequate amounts and blanketed accordingly on days when the temperatures fluctuate from +5 to -10 in a 24 hour period. Yo-yoing temperatures can be really hard on horses as can the occurrence of brutally long cold snaps. Henderson stresses the importance of providing adequate, good quality, forage and the ability to access shelter to escape from weather and drafts. Increasing forage in a cold spell is an easy prevention measure to help the horse stay warm and avoid dropping weight. Henderson explains, allowing horses to trickle feed hay is also a great way to maintain digestive health, help prevent ulcers and promote good mental health. They were designed to graze while moving over terrain for over eighteen hours a day. Frost stresses horse owners really need to cover all the basics in order to be productive in any riding discipline. This includes: a solid foundation in their training methods, an understanding of proper hoof care, booking routine farrier appointments (every 5 -6 weeks for the average horse) and following routine veterinary care (such as annual dental work and vaccinations). "You can do all the advanced imaging in the world on your horse but if you are not performing basics such as performing fecals and deworming, you will only be as good as your weakest link," concludes Frost. Side bar in getting to know you section: Now there is an App for that! Equine Guelph's Horse Health Tracker has taken all the information from their Horse Health Check poster and packaged it in an App that will allow you to track this important data and much more. The App boasts a body condition score generator and body weight calculator. Purchase the upgrade for more features such as: a reminder dashboard to sync healthcare appointment reminders with your smart phone calendar, how-to videos, email capability to share data from the past 13-months with your healthcare team and custom horse profiles for up to a herd of 50! Check it out at: http://www.equineguelph.ca/Tools/app2.php Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada