The sun is shining, birds are singing, flowers are blooming and the temptation is to launch full-on into your horse-training endeavours. You may have kept fit throughout the winter on the ski slopes or at the gym but what about your horse? Unless you had access to an indoor arena or migrated south for a few months with your four legged friends, chances are your horse’s fitness level is not quite sufficient for competition or strenuous outings yet. While there is no fool-proof way to avoid all circumstances that could necessitate a lameness exam, there are precautions every horse owner can take to reduce the risk of injury. As with every great fitness program, the key to success is a logical progression and controlling the factors you can control such as footing, stable management and horse health care. Logical Progression Many training programs have a pinnacle event in mind. In this case, a work back plan is created based on when you want the horse to be in peak fitness. The journey leading up to the main event consists of weeks and months of conditioning including a lead up with smaller events to ensure the horse is ready for the more strenuous task ahead. It only takes one month off for a horse to start loosing fitness. If you are coming back from a winter of inactivity, it is wise to start slow with 20 minutes of walking and to build up from there. Increase the length of conditioning sessions first, before increasing intensity. It is not realistic for a horse to be in peak physical condition at all times. Good fitness programs do not ask a horse for maximum exertion on an ongoing basis but allow for peaking and tapering, muscle building and down time for repair. Increasing cardiovascular fitness, strength training and flexibility in a progressive way will increase fitness and make the horse stronger and more resilient when the time comes for a maximal performance. A horse that has been fit previously will return to fitness faster than one that has never been fit before. Each horse’s training program needs to be tailored to the individual with consideration given to: age, breed, conformation, discipline requirements and previous injuries. One of the learning objectives in the Equine Guelph, 12-week online course, Equine Exercise Physiology, is to design and monitor a year-round training program for a horse (using training principles, structuring the workout, monthly and yearly plans). Also addressed are topics such as: base conditioning, aerobic and anaerobic exercise and recovery, monitoring of conditioning gains and prevention of health and performance problems and more. No Footing, No Horse Back to that sunshine again. Oh boy, is it tempting to go ride outside now! Before you step out consider all the footing factors. If you have been lucky enough to train in an indoor ring all winter, chances are your horse has been enjoying consistent, even, well-maintained footing. The outdoor options will not be exactly the same. Even if you are simply moving to an outdoor arena, there will be changes in depth, surface material, drainage and so on. While riding on different surfaces can be hugely beneficial, it takes time for horses to adapt, both to the new surface and possibly to the new training intensity. Dr. Brianne Henderson explains in her archived article on legs, “Bone is always changing and responding to stress. Microdamage can occur within the bone as a consequence of repetitive strain. Overtraining causes this “microdamage” to occur at a faster rate than the body can fix and so the repair is never as strong as the original bone. A similar ‘micro-damage-repair’ cycle occurs within the tendons and ligaments.” The chance of repetitive strain injuries can be significantly reduced with judicious training and the incorporation of lighter work days and rest days. Training in deeper footing and muddy conditions can predispose horses to soft tissue injuries such as sprains and strains. Those taking to the roads need to be aware of the impact on joints and bones, which can occur when training on harder surfaces. Training on hills is a great work out for both balance and strength training, but again logical progression of duration and intensity of workouts are all important to avoid fatigue and lameness issues. It pays to be choosy about the footing you ride upon. Not all surfaces are a good match for all disciplines. Dr. Jeff Thomason of the Ontario Veterinary College has done intensive research studying surfaces and how the horse interacts with a variety of footing. More information on this research can be found on the Equine Guelph website in archived news article: “From the Ground Up” . Shape Shifting Everyone knows about the importance of deworming and vaccination but no spring checklist would be complete without due diligence on the stable management aspects of dental care and saddle fitting. A painful mouth due to sharp points can manifest as reluctance to be ridden. There are many changes constantly occurring in a horses mouth and having a dental exam performed by a veterinarian once or twice a year is recommended for both digestive health and to avoid set backs in training. The saddle fitter is another important member of your healthcare team. Horses change shape over time and at different stages of training. Ensuring proper fit is important not only for the horse’s comfort but also for correct muscular development. Several appointments throughout a year are not uncommon and the spring check up is one of the saddle fitter’s busiest times of year. Know your Horse Health Knowing your horses’ normal heart rate, temperature and breathing rate before you begin a training program is important. “A work back plan falls into place once you have an understanding of your horses’ current fitness level and set an end goal,” says Equine Guelph’s director and former advisor for Canada’s endurance team, Gayle Ecker. A free 16-point horse health check is available with Equine Guelph’s Horse Health Tracker App as well as body condition scoring and a weight estimator. Knowing your starting point and what is normal for your horse is vital information for moving forward and monitoring your horses health through every stage of its training. Tracking how quickly vitals return to normal after exercise gives the horse owner a measurable indicator of fitness level. As a horses exercise routine ramps up, nutrition and electrolyte balance will also need to be adjusted accordingly. Early Detection Flexibility is of course a component of any training program. No matter how well we plan, setbacks can and will occur and it is of paramount importance to detect and address any health concerns early on. Early detection and treatment generally result in a more favorable prognosis. Archived article by Dr. Brianne Henderson, “Legs, Common Injuries, and how we can Treat Them” can be found on Equine Guelph’s news page. To practice your early detection skills for lameness, visit Equine Guelph’s free online healthcare tool, Lameness Lab, kindly sponsored by Zoetis. Lameness Lab reviews causes of lameness, goes over checklists, looks at when to call the veterinarian and what to expect in an exam. Finally, take the video challenge to see if you can spot the lame leg! To gain a wealth of information on conditioning programs, sign up for the Equine Guelph 12-week Exercise Physiology course beginning May 9. Equine Guelph would like to wish you all the best with your horse training programs. More resources promoting horse health and welfare can be found atEquineGuelph.ca.
The number one killer of horses other than old age is colic. If you search "equine colic" on the World Wide Web, over 400,000 results will appear! Many of them explain colic as a common yet potentially deadly disorder of the digestive system with a wide array of causes. To understand why the domesticated horse is prone to colic, it is important to compare how different the life of a modern horse is compared to its wild counterparts − one of the first lessons learned by participants of Equine Guelph's Colic Prevention two-week eWorkshop. Horses in the wild graze for 16-20 hours and travel 8km/day or more whereas modern horses are often confined to stables or smaller turnout areas, fed concentrate diets and undergo more intensive exercise activity. It is no surprise that the modern use and management of the horse is a huge departure from its natural feeding and activity pattern which can place them at higher risk of digestive issues that can lead to colic. Being aware of these differences and taking preventative measures can minimize their effects and help reduce the risk of colic. Equine Guelph has two resources available to aid you in caring for your horse and its approximate 85 feet of digestive tract. The two-week online short course will help you identify risk factors and assess your management in order to implement preventative measures. It is "cheap insurance" at only $75 + hst. Equine Guelph also has a handy healthcare tool which helps you assess your personal risk with the "Colic Risk Rater". After answering a series of questions, a customized rating for your horse is provided. Intercity insurance is the generous sponsor of this tool. "Given our decades of experience in insuring horses from coast to coast, we know that colic is one of the highest risk factors in the Canadian herd," says Mike King of Intercity. "We can think of no better risk management tool to prevent colic than education." Knowledge is the best defense when more than 80% of colic cases are management-related. Learn how to reduce your risk in practical ways that you can easily implement. "This course is a must for all horse owners as knowledge is the first and best defense against colic!" says Natalie Price, Ontario, Canada, Student. Visit EquineGuelph.ca to sign up for the next Colic Prevention eWorkshop April 11 and take 15 minutes to assess your risk with the Colic Risk Rater healthcare tool. by Jackie Bellamy-Zions
The 14th Annual Mid-Atlantic Nutrition Conference, the regions premier animal nutrition conference, will be held March 23-24, 2016 at the Hunt Valley Wyndam Grand in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Two days of expert speakers have been lined up with the second day featuring a session devoted solely to feeding horses engaged in elite equestrian competition. Veterinarians, students, horse trainers, horse breeders, and horse owners should not miss this opportunity to learn about exciting new discoveries related to their equine athletes. All attendees will receive conference proceedings, lunch, and the opportunity to ask questions of all of the experts. Pre-registrations are encouraged and can be done online at: https://ansc.umd.edu/extension/mid-atlantic-nutrition-conference 14th Annual Mid-Atlantic Nutrition Conference - Equine Session Schedule Thursday, March 24th, 2016 8:00am A Look Back at the Feeding of Performance Horses Dr. David Marlin, Science Supplements 8:50am Protein Nutrition for Exercise Demand Dr. Kristine Urshel, University of Kentucky 10:20am Mineral Nutrition of the Equine Athlete Dr. Brian Nielsen, Michigan State University 11:10am New Advances for Supplement Use in Performance Horses Dr. David Marlin, Science Supplements 1:30pm Feeding the Elite Show Jumper Dr. Shannon Pratt-Phillips, North Carolina State University 2:20pm New Advances in Treating Gastric Ulcers in Performance Horses Dr. Frank M. Andrews, Louisiana State University The conference is hosted by the Maryland Feed Industry Council, University of Maryland, Pennsylvania State University, University of Delaware, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Rutgers University, American Feed Industry Association, and the United States Department of Agriculture. For more information on the entire conference, please visit our website at https://ansc.umd.edu/extension/mid-atlantic-nutrition-conference. For information on sponsoring this event, please contact Jennifer Reynolds at 301-405-1547. Equine Extension Specialist Rutgers, the State University 84 Lipman Dr., 213E Bartlett Hall New Brunswick, NJ 08901 Please send replies to CAREY.WILLIAMS@RUTGERS.EDU PH: 848-932-5529 FX: 732-932-6996 esc.rutgers.edu
A Paulick Report story about the variances from state to state in enforcement of the veterinarian's list as a safeguard for unsound horses is the first nominee for Team Valor International's 2016 Stan Bergstein Writing Award. Natalie Voss's piece is titled "Time for a Change? Veterinarian's List No Safe Harbor For Racehorses.” It centers on an example from last January when the gelding Time For a J was on the California vet's list, making him ineligible to race in the Golden State until his status changed, but he was allowed to race in Arizona at Turf Paradise, where he broke down and had to be euthanized. Voss notes that only a handful of states have reciprocity in place to address the status of horses who are on vet's lists in other states. Some racetracks have reciprocal policies of their own, but other tracks have nothing in place. Voss also examines higher rates of fatal injury for horses making their first start since coming off a vet's list, along with higher incidence of drug positives. The story (link) was published on November 18, a few weeks into the one-year period from November 2, 2015 to November 1, 2016 for eligibility for the fifth annual Stan Bergstein Writing Award. The winning prize from Team Valor and CEO Barry Irwin is $25,000. Voss also wrote a story on drug testing in the state of New York that was a nominee for the 2015 Bergstein Award, won by Chris Wittstruck of the U.S. Trotting Association website. Team Valor welcomes story submissions to Jeff Lowe at email@example.com.
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. For a discounted registration checks must be post marked by January 29th. “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 Arizona. 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 under the ‘outreach & events’ tab. For more information, Dr. Carey Williams at 848-932-5529, Carey.Williams@rutgers.edu. Remember, 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.
The issue of bleeding in harness racing is always a highly sensitive one due to the animal welfare issues involved and authorities on both sides of the Tasman tend to take a dim view of anyone breaking the rules around bleeding. The recent case of the former New Zealand trotter Saratoga in Queensland is a great example of the pitfalls that await you if you are not fully conversant with all the rules and regulations Saratoga was transferred to the care of Adam Sanderson in September 2015 after struggling to find his feet in Victoria with Brent Lilley. On the 19th of September Adam informed the owners of Saratoga in New Zealand that he had bled from both nostrils during track work that day. Saratoga had previously bled in New Zealand so it wasn't a complete surprise to the owners who race the horse under the goHarness Trotting For Fun syndicate banner. With no further episodes in following weeks, Saratoga then had five starts between the 9th October and the 21st of November in which he won twice and was placed twice. However Stewards in Queensland somehow got wind of the bleeding incident and held a hearing into what had happened on November 21st at which Mr Sanderson admitted that he failed to notify the authorities that Saratoga had bled from both nostrils during track work for which the stewards fined him five hundred dollars. However worse was to come. The stand down period in Australia for a horse bleeding from both nostrils is three months and Saratoga was therefore ineligible to race until December 19th after his September 19th bleed. Therefore the stewards had no option but to disqualify Saratoga from the five starts he had had in October and November as he was ineligible to start, costing the horse's New Zealand owners A$10,314 in stake money. It has been a steep learning curve for both Saratoga's young trainer Adam Sanderson and his Kiwi owners but they are both determined to put the matter behind them and move forward as the horse obviously has unfulfilled potential in Queensland. Harnesslink Media
Equine Guelph's year of "Full-Circle-Responsibility" welfare campaign, ended with a wonderful journey. Gayle Ecker was an invited guest to the World Horse Welfare conference in England! Presentations from this invitation only event can be viewed on the World Horse Welfare website. Ecker also attended information meetings at the World Horse Welfare headquarters near Norwich, followed by a tour through Hall Farm (one of their major horse rescue centres). The trip continued on to The Horse Trust to learn about their horse rescue operations and education programs. A visit to the Hampshire Fire and Rescue also provided information on training of first responders for technical large animal rescue in the UK. Can you say whirlwind tour? "The World Horse Welfare conference was excellent and demonstrates that we share many welfare concerns between Ontario and the UK, including the need for more education for horse owners to support equine welfare," says Ecker. "Important relationships were developed with these organizations. This will result in information sharing to move forward the important initiative of advancing horse welfare." Horse Welfare has been at the core of Equine Guelph's mission since day one and we offer specialized online courses including Equine Welfare, and Global Perspectives in Equine Welfare. Equine Guelph's Equine Welfare Certificate was launched in June 2012 and attracts students from all over the globe and from many different backgrounds. "As a full-time equine veterinarian, I wanted to explore my understanding and awareness of current issues relating to welfare within the equine industry. All stakeholders within the industry have pre-formed perspectives and this course allowed students to share different opinions and thoughts about salient issues within the equine world. I experienced the level of passion that horse owners and horse lovers have regarding not just their own horses, but the horse population in general. Although these issues are not always straightforward with resolutions that all stakeholders consider satisfactory, the dialogue was thought-provoking and enlightening. The online format allows people with busy schedules to fully participate on their own schedule without missing out on any topics. I would certainly take another online course offered by Equine Guelph in the future." Greg Evans, DVM, BSc. Ag. The Equine Welfare certificate, made up of six online courses, is offered by the Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare (CCSAW), Equine Guelph, and Open Learning and Educational Support at the University of Guelph. Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
As racing steward Terry Bailey stumbled on to his nature strip, clutching a tribal carving for defence seconds after gunfire peppered his suburban family home, he confronted two new realities. His world as sheriff of the track had changed forever: criminal elements had taken the fight straight to his doorstep only days before the Melbourne Cup. His second thought provided little comfort: the shooter could be anyone among a bulging Rolodex of enemies the 48-year-old chief steward had accumulated during a meteoric rise from Rockhampton racetrack to the hallowed turf of Flemington. Among the beaming celebrities and corporate suits in the luxurious marquees of the Birdcage from today, the party will barely miss a beat: DJs, champagne, fashion and some stunning feats of equine athleticism. But the racing industry — and its top cop — have been blasted into a new and terrifying era. Bailey speaks with a slow, nasal drawl that betrays his humble origins as the son of a cop who grew up in the backblocks of Queensland and NSW. But, up close, his eyes twinkle with a raw intelligence that smart folk quickly detect. John “The Sheriff” Schreck, perhaps the most famous steward in Australian turf history, saw that glimmer in Bailey’s eye and plucked him from obscurity at Rockhampton and put him on the path to the big league. “I first met him when he was still at school and he was working as a gofer on the track at Rockhampton — all he ever wanted to do was be involved in the administration of racing,’’ he tells The Weekend Australian in his first extended interview since the shooting. “His work ethic was quite outstanding and his common sense.” Today the stakes are astronomically higher, the villains smarter and far more ruthless, but Bailey hasn’t lost his laconic bush sense of humour. “I don’t have any other interests in life so, I presume, this is the common denominator,’’ he said the morning after an unknown enemy had pumped six rounds from a semi-automatic weapon into the front door of his suburban Melbourne house. “If they want to find you, they’ll find you.” Now, as the $16 billion racing industry begins its biggest week of the year, with the eyes of the racing world fixed on Melbourne, he and his family (a wife and two teen daughters he “idolises”) are living out of a safe house with a security detail attached to them 24/7. The attack was written up this week as the moment that racing lost its innocence, a description that didn’t pass the laugh test even for those who love the so-called sport of kings. “Don’t they remember (gangster) Tony Mokbel betting up a storm? Or (a certain jockey) taking bungs? Or the Smoking Aces (race-fixing) case? Or the cobalt scandal,’’ one world-weary racing fan mused. But Bailey’s mentor Schreck, who was the Australian Jockey Club’s chief steward for 15 years and did stints in senior roles in Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau, believes the attack on his friend and protege marks a significant new low and racing needs to recognise it. “It’s a bloody awful thing and it’s done untold damage to horse racing in this country,’’ he said. “He (Bailey) would be terribly disturbed about it and worried for his family. In the future, when Terry Bailey moves back home I would expect he will have CCTV throughout the house. I never thought I would see those days. It’s just gangster stuff, isn’t it?” Gunshots flying into the home of the industry’s top cop is undoubtedly a new low, but villains have always lurked in the shadows of horse racing. There was the Fine Cotton scandal in the 1980s, George Freeman roaming Sydney tracks before that — the links even go back to the days of John Wren, depicted in Frank Hardy’s Power Without Glory. In more recent times, there has also been the unsolved execution-style murder of horse trainer Les Samba, gunned down on a Melbourne street in 2011. The jailed drug lord Tony Mokbel was a horse owner and reputedly still punts from his maximum-security prison, having led the so-called Tracksuit Gang in the 1980s and 90s, trading words and tips at racecourses across Australia. His brother Horty Mokbel was banned from tracks in 2004. Mick Gatto, who shot dead gangland killer Andrew “Benji’’ Veniamin more than a decade ago but beat a murder charge, is also now banned from racetracks and Crown casino. Carl Williams, the murderer who was killed in jail, was at the epicentre of Melbourne’s gangland war. He loved a punt as well. As did Alphonse Gangitano, once the public but violent face of the Carlton Crew. His interest in horse racing and protection rackets ended with his death in 1998 at the hands of — police believe — Jason Moran. The Morans had close links with racing and Jason Moran was accused of triggering the underworld war that killed dozens. He, too, is no longer with us. Beyond the glittering success of the Flemington carnival, racing has for years been locked in a struggle to expel criminal elements, with Bailey at the vanguard. Pretty much ever since he was lured from the Gold Coast to clean up harness racing in Victoria, he has had a tiger by the tail. Bailey soon unearthed a race-fixing scandal involving the use of a drug known as Blue Magic. In a move that foreshadowed his aggressive style, he liaised closely with police and used covert surveillance to build a case that culminated in raids in Australia and New Zealand that would smash a crime syndicate. He parlayed that success into a shift into thoroughbreds — the main game — where he became one of the youngest chief stewards in Victorian history, replacing stalwart Des Gleeson. As Bailey drove a more aggressive enforcement culture, that Rolodex of enemies continued to grow. His detractors accuse him of the law enforcement equivalent of “managing up” — kicking the shit out of industry participants to garner publicity and to further his own career. He tangled with talented but troubled jockey Danny Nikolic, pursuing the hoop unsuccessfully over the so-called Betfair scandal and then the Smoking Aces race-fixing probe. Nikolic was cleared on both, but it was the start of a bloody war of attrition between the steward and jockey that would ultimately see Bailey get his man following a clash outside the steward’s tower in which Nikolic is alleged to have said: “We’ve all got families, c---, and we know where yours live ...” Nikolic, who was banned for two years, denied making the comment and was not commenting on this week’s incident. Bailey has been unrelenting in driving higher integrity standards, pushing for covert surveillance of stables and demanding trainers give his officials keys to their stable doors and even seeking to implant a spy in one stable. He found himself at the centre of the most high-profile drug case in the sport’s recent history when big-name trainers Peter Moody, Mark Kavanagh and Danny O’Brien were charged over positive swabs for cobalt returned by horses in their care. The cases continue to grind on, further damaging the sport’s image as ever darker secrets emerge, such as the reported links between a vet involved in supplying cobalt and organised criminals with ties to the harness racing world. It is true that racing has taken big strides towards a far more ruthless enforcement culture, introducing tough drug standards and investing in testing laboratories that keep officials close on the heels of biochemists. Victoria’s Racing Integrity Commissioner, Sal Perna, says on top of sophisticated race-day betting analysis teams, racing now has its own compliance and audit squads. “These are guys who are jumping the fences of trainers’ properties and checking the stables and drug testing,’’ he said. “Integrity has become much (more) important. Racing’s success is based on public confidence. If the public don’t have confidence in integrity, they won’t bet, then there’s less money coming in.” Racing Australia chief executive Peter McGauran says the brazen gun attack is a wake-up call for the federal government, which must let the industry’s integrity bodies have better access to phone call and intercept data to protect the sport from organised crime. “If there are criminal elements capable of that here you can only imagine what those associated with illegal Asian bookmaking are capable of,” he said. Racing commentator Richard Freedman, the brother of Melbourne Cup winning trainers Lee and Anthony Freedman, says the attack on Bailey comes at a bad time for the sport but he doesn’t believe it will have a lasting negative effect. “I don’t want to sound blase about what happened to Terry because it’s appalling, but you have to take the long view — in the long term, the sport will be better.” Freedman agrees that racing is suffering from “the Tour de France syndrome”. “If you attempt to tackle cheats in your sport, you will expose yourself to claims your sport is full of cheats, because you will find them,’’ he said. By Rick Wallace Reprinted with permission of The Australian.com.au site
The vet allegedly at the centre of the cobalt crisis gripping Australian racing is set for a Supreme Court showdown with Racing NSW to prevent the governing body from publicising any potential charges against him. A matter involving Dr Adam Matthews, the former Flemington Equine vet, was mentioned in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday in another twist to the cobalt saga. The vet's lawyer Nicole Spicer declined to comment on the matter, but Fairfax Media understands Matthews is seeking to prevent stewards releasing any charges possibly brought against him into the public domain. To read the full article written by Adam Pengilly in the Sydney Morning Herald click on this link.
The horse racing for a great cause is due to have his first start under his new ownership on Sunday at the harness racing meeting at Motukarara. Spirit Eclipse is a standardbred racehorse that severely fractured his leg in a training accident in November 2014. This was a life threatening injury for the horse in that only two treatment options were available; euthanasia or attempt surgical repair of the fracture, in the hope that the horse would race again. Witnessing a fighting spirit in the horse, Canterbury Equine Clinic stepped in to save him. With Spirit Eclipse a symbol of hope, the idea arose to use this opportunity to raise funds for a much bigger and wider-reaching cause, The Ronald McDonald House South Island. Canterbury Equine Clinic successfully performed surgery on Spirit Eclipse. All costs associated with his surgery, convalescence and now ongoing veterinary care have been donated by the Canterbury Equine Clinic. After four months, Spirit Eclipse was fit to resume training again. A Spirit Eclipse syndicate, made up of Spirit Eclipse Charter Members, was formed to cover the costs of his training, provided at a significantly discounted rate by trainer Nigel McGrath. These Spirit Eclipse Charter Members are people from the general population who have embraced the opportunity to fundraise for an incredible cause. They have each donated $250 to join the syndicate. The Spirit Eclipse Syndicate will race the horse. He will race in specially commissioned Ronald McDonald House South Island colours. All stake money won during Spirit Eclipse’s ongoing racing career will be donated to Ronald McDonald House South Island. In addition to that, all money left over after racing expenses from the Charter member contributions will also go directly to Ronald McDonald House South Island. At the end of his racing career, Spirit Eclipse will be retired with a good home already arranged. Spirit Eclipse is set to race at the Banks Peninsula meeting at the picturesque Motukarara Raceway on Sunday (27th September). He is competing in the aptly named Spirit Eclipse-Racing For Ronald McDonald House (SI) Pace at 4.36pm. There is already interest from several news and media outlets to cover the race. Hopefully he will be able to give everyone something wonderful to cheer about. For more information visit www.spiriteclipse.co.nz Stacey Markham
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
Infection control is easier to understand when illustrated by Mark and Dan. Through unique whiteboard videos, Equine Guelph would like you to meet Mark, a lifelong member of the horse racing industry. Mark takes you on a journey through a steep learning curve as he recognizes the threats viruses and bacteria pose for his herd. You will hear about how he experienced the need for good infection control practices firsthand. His story is all about the basics and answers: What are the differences between bacteria and viruses? How are they spread? What can you do to prevent them? His brother Dan also has an important story to tell. Watch a second video where he tells his story about improving infection control practices to keep his horses happy, healthy and at peak performance. This video answers: What should my goals for infection control be? How can I prevent illness at home? How can I prevent illness at the track? Both whiteboard videos are part of a targeted, racing-specific biosecurity training program launched by Equine Guelph in partnership with the Ontario horse racing industry. The program consists of training sessions, tools, resources and videos available to all three horse racing disciplines - Standardbred/Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse. This 3-stage program will help to protect the industry from the threat of infectious disease. In the first stage, Equine Guelph tailored its successful two-week online biosecurity course to Ontario Racing Commission officials (ORC) in a half-day workshop and subsequent two-week online course. The course covered racing specific topics. In the second stage, a 'Virtual Video Tour' featuring biosecurity expert Dr. Scott Weese was developed. These informative five-minute videos offer assessments and practical solutions for racetrack paddocks and training centre barns. The videos are packed full of useful and practical information that make sense for every racing stable wanting to reduce the chances of illness. The videos can be viewed on the Equine Guelph website, under infection control resources. "Biosecurity is trying to prevent things from coming on the property and infection control is trying to contain the risk we always have." Weese explains. One practical example of infection control is using chain cross ties rather than rope because they can easily be cleaned with a disinfectant wipe. They should also be adjusted short enough that horses cannot chew on them. In stage three, racehorse owners, trainers and groomers have been receiving material distributed by the ORC and racetrack officials. Printed resources are available at all ten Ontario racetracks, paddocks and offices as well as approximately twenty major training centres. The print material includes posters outlining five key things horse caretakers need to know to protect horses from getting sick, and a handy checklist to use at home and the track. USB sticks containing the new video resources will also be distributed. The key to prevention is focusing on what you can control. Using vaccines to lower the odds of sickness, not sharing equipment such as buckets and washing hands regularly, especially if you are handling more than one horse are just a few of the practical steps. By spreading the word on biosecurity and infection control, Equine Guelph is helping facilities save money in veterinary bills and days off by lowering the odds of their horses getting sick in the first place. In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Equine Guelph is developing a 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' equine welfare educational initiative which stands to benefit horses in both the racing and non-racing sectors. This project is funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario. Other partners include: Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Equine Canada, Grand River Agricultural Society, Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, Ontario Harness Horse Association, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario Racing Commission, Ontario Veterinary College, Quarter Horse Racing Association, Standardbred Canada and VÃ©toquinol Canada Inc. by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
Feeding a balanced diet then taking care of nutrient replacement after exercise is imperative to keep horses performing well at an upper level of performance. Don Kapper, shared his wealth of knowledge in equine nutrition and management in a recent visit to Canada. His talk at the University of Guelph discussed the importance of understanding gut function and nutrient absorption in order to understand the importance of nutrient replacement. Assessing body condition and topline evaluation scores were addressed as was the importance of providing good quality protein as a source of amino acids to avoid deficiencies that can negatively affect topline muscles, tendons, hooves and overall health. Last but not least, the role of electrolytes were discussed to avoid dehydration and keep athletes bouncing back into top form for the next day of competition. GUT FUNCTION "Horses are designed to be continuous grazers," explains Kapper. An 1100 pound horse will eat up to 18 hours a day consuming 2.0% to 2.5 % of their body weight per day in dry forage (22 to 28 lbs). While doing this, they will produce between 25 to 30 gallons of saliva, significantly reducing the chances of acid gut syndrome and improving nutrient absorption and over-all gut health. Horses only produce saliva when they chew, therefore, feeding forage ad-lib will increase the production of saliva - one of the best buffers for the horses' digestive system and the most effective way to reduce the chance of ulcers and impaction colic. Kapper brought home another benefit of continuous grazing by comparing the small intestine to sausage casing, "When it is full it is almost impossible to twist." Going without eating for several hours at a time can be a factor in colic resulting from a twisted intestine. The stomach of the horse is relatively small and food only stays there for around 15 minutes, where acids begin to break it down. Moving through the next 90 foot of small intestine, it takes between 30 - 90 minutes, therefore, it moves at a rate of one to three feet per minute. Now you can understand why horses seem to be hungry all the time. The small intestine is the primary absorption sight of amino acids, fatty acids, major and trace minerals and vitamins. Therefore, the quality of the forage and feeds fed to a horse is more important than the quality of the forage and feeds fed to ruminants (cattle, goats and sheep, etc.). Ruminants will break down the crude proteins and form needed amino acids in their rumen, then it travels into the small intestine for absorption to occur. In horses, all food goes into their stomach, then small intestine, and then into their fermentation vat (cecum) to be broken down. Unfortunately, their fermentation vat is AFTER it passes through the small intestine, the primary absorption sight for many nutrients. That is why ruminants will get more nutrients out of the same forage than a horse. The quality of ingredients, or the availability of the nutrients fed to horses, are far more important than the quality fed to all ruminants. The hind gut of the horse makes up 62% of their digestive system, which functions with a microbial population breaking down the fibre in forages by fermentation. Forage should make up 50% to 90% of a mature horses total diet. Therefore, knowledge of the nutrients in your forage is important so you can factor in what your horse may need in the way of concentrates and/or supplements to meet their needs every day. Kapper says, "If you don't know what nutrients are in your forage, you are guessing at what needs to be added. If you don't know what nutrients your horse needs every day - you are guessing at everything." He stressed, be an educated consumer, because economics come into play when you feed more than you need, but even more so, if your horse breaks down or becomes ill due to deficiencies in their diet. Kapper also reminded us that concentrates are never to exceed 50%, by weight, of the mature horse's total diet/day or exceed five pounds in one feeding/1,000 lbs of body weight. This is to avoid digestive upsets. Emphasis was put on good forage to meet the nutritional needs, optimize digestive health and improve the overall well-being of your horse. Ad-lib forage will also facilitate the best mental state. VISUAL ASSESSMENT Performance loss will occur before you see visual changes in your horse that may indicate an unbalanced diet. Visual changes that put up red flags include: loss of muscle over the topline, then a decline in hoof and hair quality and finally a loss of appetite and general unthrifty condition. Checking the horses Body Condition Score on a monthly basis provides a good visual indicator for achieving optimal calorie intake with the ideal being between five and six on a scale of one to nine (Body Condition Scoring link http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=408). However, it is possible to have a horse in ideal body weight and still be deficient in nutrients required to build and support the muscles necessary to perform athletic tasks. Muscle soreness and changes in saddle fit are early indicators of a diminishing topline. Topline Evaluation Scoring (TES) is graded from A to D, looking at the muscles on the horses back, loin and croup areas. Loss of muscle (muscle atrophy) is a solid indicator of an amino acid deficiency. Amino Acids are the building blocks that make up crude protein. Muscles contain 73% protein and the first limiting amino acid will determine how much 'all' of the other amino acids in their diet can be utilized. The easiest and first place to visualize a horse losing muscle mass, when a deficient amino acid diet is fed, is in their back area; the second is their loin; and third is their croup area. TOPLINE GRADES with DEFINITIONS: Grade A- The horse has 'ideal muscle development''. The back, loin and croup are full and well rounded. The topline muscles are well developed and blend smoothly into his ribs. The horse should be able to perform work requiring the use of all of these muscles. Grade B- The 'back area is concave' (sunken) between the vertebrae and the top of the ribs: 1. You may have trouble fitting this horse with a saddle. 2. The muscle atrophy in this area may cause back soreness when worked. 3. Soreness can negatively impact their attitude and performance. 4. The loin muscles are well developed and are the same height as the spinal processes, i.e. you cannot see or palpate the spinal processes. Grade C-The 'back and loin areas are both concave' (sunken) between the vertebrae and the ribs: 1. The 'spinal processes' in the loin area are higher than the muscles beside them and can easily be seen and palpated. 2. The atrophied muscles in the back and loin areas weaken the horse. 3. The length of time they are able to work and perform will be compromised, causing them to tire easily. 4. Muscling over the croup and hindquarters are well developed and rounded. Grade D- All three areas of the topline, including the back, loin and croup areas are concave (sunken): 1. The croup appears pointed at the top since the vertebrae and hip bones are higher than the muscles in-between them. 2. In severely affected horses, the width of their stifle is narrower than the width of their point of hip. 3. This horse will lack the strength and stamina to perform and the muscle atrophy will cause discomfort when worked. ROLE OF PROTEIN/AMINO ACIDS All 10 essential amino acids need to be provided to horses on a daily basis: arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine (involved in growth and development), methionine (for hoof and hair quality), phenylalanine, threonine (involved in tissue repair), tryptophan, and valine. There are also 12 non-essential amino acids that horses can create themselves in adequate amounts. In order for crude protein to be synthesized, all the 'essential' amino acids must be present in adequate amounts. If one amino acid runs out, it 'limits' protein synthesis for the rest of the amino acids. If you are feeding a grass hay, your first limiting amino acid is going to be Lysine. For alfalfa, the first limiting amino acid could be threonine or tryptophan. Knowing what 'type of forage' you are feeding is key to knowing what supplements you need to choose to complement your horse's diet. During the process of conditioning horses, muscles are torn down during exercise and need additional branch-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) replenished to repair and rebuild those muscles faster. Kapper draws the parallel of weight trainers reaching for their whey protein shake after a work-out. A horse can benefit greatly from having 4 - 10 ounces of branch-chain amino acids replaced within 45 minutes of a workout. Whey is the best quality protein (amino acid) source, followed by soybean. Research has also shown that a lack of amino acids in the diet can affect the utilization of minerals in the diet, potentially causing skeletal and soft tissue problems. To get an idea of their importance - take a look at the amino acid content in the following structures: Hair and hoof = 95% Muscle = 73% Tendon = 93% Bone = 30% Skin = 90% A shortage of 'one' essential amino acid will affect the quality and strength of all of the above. The first one you will 'see' is the one with the fastest turn-over. What the Hooves Can Tell You about the Diet THE ORDER OF NUTRIENTS FOUND INSIDE THE HORSES HOOF: 1. Protein/Amino Acids = 95 % 2. Fat/Oils = 3 % 3. Sulfur 4. Calcium 5. Zinc 6. Copper 7. Selenium 8. Carotene (Vitamin A) 9. Alpha-Tocopherol (Vitamin E) 10. Biotin (Recommend 15 mg/day/1,000 lb of body weight, for "sand" cracks in hooves) When 98% of the hoof is made up of the top two nutrients, begin working with those and work your way down the list for a systematic way to address hoof quality problems that may be nutrition related. Too many times we hear about individuals beginning with Number 10 and work their way up the list. Here are a few examples to help you begin 'problem solving': Slow growth can result from inadequate amino acids, while poor expansion and contraction, with cracking of the hoof wall, can result from inadequate oils in the hoof. A poor quality lamina (white line) can result from a low 'sulfur' containing amino acid diet, i.e. Methionine & Cysteine. In a calcium deficient diet the middle of the hoof wall can break down and crumble. Sand cracks in the outer service of the hoof wall can be an indicator of a lack of biotin. CALORIE SOURCES TO FUEL MUSCLE FUNCTION Choosing the right horse for the work you want to do is important right off the bat (genetics). Then you need to choose the right fuel for your horse's muscles to perform up to their genetic potential. Carbohydrates and Fats and Oils Soluble carbohydrates are the starches and sugars needed to provide the 'glycogen' for intense work. Kapper uses a quarter horse sprinter fueling its bulky 'fast twitch' muscles as an example. Glycogen produced from these carbohydrates are utilized when their heart rate exceeds 170 beats/minute, in anaerobic work. "The heart rate is the key to knowing what kind of fuel you should be using," says Kapper. Soluble carbohydrates are highest in cereal grain: oats, corn, barley, wheat... Fats and Oils - Kapper says the Arabian is a good example of a breed using long, lean 'slow twitch' muscles that burn fat rather than glycogen for fuel. Soybean, flax and fish oils are high in Omega 3's which have anti-inflammatory responses, as opposed to corn oil and sunflower oil which are high in Omega 6's which have pro-inflammatory responses. Vegetable oils can provide slow, long term energy needed for low to moderate intensity, aerobic work. Oils containing higher levels of Omega 3s' are recommended for this kind of work. Kapper then went on to explain that a portion of the muscles of the Thoroughbred and Warmblood can be trained to be 'fast or slow-twitch', depending on what 'fuel' you are feeding. Forage Digestibility Of course, it is important that your horse is able to get the most out of the bulk of its diet. Soft hay is more desirable for the performance horse because its nutrients will be higher and is easier to digest. Over mature hay is cut later, will have grown taller and have larger, courser stems. This hay will be higher in lignin, which makes it less palatable and lower in digestibility, i.e. quality. ROLE OF ELECTROLYTES Given correctly, the use of performance electrolytes can delay the onset of fatigue by over 22%. They can also reduce muscle cramping and improve the horse's ability to bounce back and perform at the same high level the next day. The amount of sweat produced in a workout will determine the amount of electrolytes which require replacing. The demands are highest during hot and humid weather. The heat stress index chart is an important calculation when determining the risk of dehydration. (link: http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=419) When correctly formulated, electrolytes will replace the ions lost in sweat. For performance purposes - the electrolyte should specify it is a "performance" electrolyte on the label. The ingredient dextrose should be present because it is essential to improve the absorption rate of all the ions. The amounts of sodium, potassium and chloride levels are usually provided in the labels ingredient list. Adding the amount of sodium and potassium together should come close to equaling the amount of chloride in the formula. When you compare the amount of these three ions, you will see that not all electrolytes on the market today are created equal! The higher quality electrolytes are palatable, while lower quality ones are bitter, salty and discourage consumption when top-dressed on feed or mixed in water. Before electrolytes can be absorbed they need to be broken down with water. Delivery of a powdered electrolyte in feed or water is acceptable as long as they can continue to drink water. If water is not available or the horse does not drink after administering dry electrolytes, the horse will take water from its body and put it into their digestive system to break the powder down. Mixing electrolytes in water will reduce the absorption time in the small intestine. All electrolytes are hydroscopic, which means if fed in powdered form and the horse does not drink water, they will dehydrate the horse. Paste electrolytes are to be avoided due to their 'short term affects'. They will lay in the gut and actually pull water from the horse's body, increasing dehydration, at the most critical time after exercise! This was proven and published by Equine Research Centre team of researchers, led by Dr. Mike Lindinger, a few years ago. Depending on how hard the horses are working, a 'performance electrolyte solution' can be made by mixing one ounce of powder per litre of water. Increase the number of litre's of this 'electrolyte solution' as the horses training intensifies and/or the 'Heat Stress Index' (HSI) increases. HSI is determined by adding the temperature (F or C) and the percent Humidity, together. 'Mild' HSI begins when the combination is <140 when using Humidity plus Temperature (F); or <90 when using Humidity plus Temperature (C); 'Moderate' HSI is between 140 - 160 (F) or 90 - 105 (C); 'Severe' HSI >160 (F) or >105 (C). (See chart provided on the link: http://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=419) This 'electrolyte solution' should be given with-in 45 minutes after the horse's workout. When the humidity and temperature increase, causing the 'heat stress index' to climb to 'Moderate' to 'Severe', the number of litre's offered should increase according to their training level. One ounce/litre of water will provide the correct osmolarity for the fastest absorption and utilization by the horse. For example: for 'Moderate' Heat Stress Index: provide two litres for training level, four litres for moderate and six litres for intense training. In the cases of 'moderate' to 'intense' training levels, providing the 'electrolyte solution' will work much better than top dressing it on feed. More factors effecting dehydration can include: the trailer ride to the venue if it is a hot day, a decrease in water and food intake from the stresses of being in a new location or from the water tasting different. Add the workload of the day on top of that and you can have a severely dehydrated horse on your hands. Checking for dehydration can include the skin pinch test where the handler pinches the skin on the horses shoulder then checks that it flattens back down in one to one and a half seconds. The capillary refill test is another method, pressing on the horse's gums and seeing the colour return to pink in under one and a half seconds. (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crY8_dBzimw) SUMMARY Kapper encourages horse owners to be pro-active in their feeding programs. Know the 'ideal' body weight of your horse and what nutrients are in your forage. These nutrients will vary with the 'type' of forage (grass vs. legume) and its level of maturity (when it was cut). Knowledge of this will allow you to make informed decisions when choosing feed and/or balancers to make up the difference between what your horse is getting from its forage and what it needs. Be sure to read the 'purpose statement' on every feed tag and feed according to their 'Feeding Directions' in order to fulfill nutrient requirements. Always choose a feed that is tailored to the individual needs of the horse (size, breed, age, workload...) and feed according to the instructions. Kapper cautions, "Feeding less than recommended amounts/day, means you have chosen the wrong feed and it could result in nutritional deficiencies". Stay observant if performance declines and be quick to pick up on the visual clues that the diet may need balancing, i.e. loss of muscle over the topline, decline in hoof and hair quality, loss of appetite and loss of condition could all be indicators of amino acid deficiency and/or an unbalanced diet. For horses in moderate to intense training, giving amino acids and electrolytes with-in 45 minutes after workouts can replenish body reserves the fastest. Nutrition is the science of prevention. Understanding the role of nutrition and working with an equine nutritionist will put you on the road to optimal health and performance for your horse. To learn more about nutrition sign up for the Equine Guelph 12-week online course: Equine Nutrition http://www.equineguelph.ca/education/indiv_courses.php Bio: Don Kapper is a highly experienced equine nutritionist and a member of the Cargill Equine Enterprise Team. Don graduated from Ohio State University and achieved his credentials as a Professional Animal Scientist from the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists in 1996 and has been a sought-after speaker for equine meetings in both the U.S. and Canada. He was a member of the "Performance Electrolyte Research" team at the University of Guelph and wrote the chapter on "Applied Nutrition" for the authoritative veterinary textbook: "Equine Internal Medicine", 2nd edition. Don also co-developed the "Equine Nutrition" course for the Equine Science Certificate program for Equine Guelph and has been a popular guest speaker in several Equine Guelph online courses, including the Equine Growth and Development, Exercise Physiology and Advanced Equine Nutrition. Jackie Bellamy-Zions Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada
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
As ofter happens, horses don't preform to their ability and are followed up by the stewards post race. Here is a roundup of the latest feedback from the Victorian Stewards GEELONG – 1 JULY 2015 RACE 6 - DEVCON PROPERTIES PACE (2100 MS) Craig Demmler, trainer of Summer Of Courage notified Stewards that subsequent to the disappointing performance of the mare, blood tests have revealed Summer Of Courage to have a high muscle enzyme count, indicative of the horse tying up. Mr Demmler added that he would continue to monitor Summer Of Courage prior to any future racing commitments. BENDIGO – 1 JULY 2015 RACE 6 – SAMIOS PLUMBING SUPPLIES PACE (2150 MS) Dean Braun, trainer of Sudden Change NZ, advised Stewards that his stable veterinarian had examined the filly and was of the opinion Sudden Change NZ being lame in the near hind leg was due to the filly suffering from ‘greasy heel’. Mr Braun added that Sudden Change NZ would now be sent for a spell. TABCORP PARK MELTON – 4 JULY 2015 RACE 5 - EMPIRE STALLIONS VICBRED SUPER SERIES (3YO FILLIES) FINAL (GROUP 1) (2240 MS) Trainer Emma Stewart has advised that blood tests conducted on Lovelist following the filly’s performance have failed to reveal any abnormalities. Ms Stewart advised that Lovelist is engaged this Saturday at Globe Derby Park in the Southern Cross Series and she is of the opinion that Lovelist will appreciate the drop back in class compared to recent starts. RACE 6 - MELTON CITY COUNCIL SPRINT (1720 MS) Emma Stewart, trainer of Metro Mike, has advised that blood tests taken from the gelding subsequent to its disappointing performance has failed to reveal any abnormal findings. Ms Stewart advised that Metro Mike may not have handled the hard trial the week prior at Ballarat on 27 June 2015. RACE 7 - EMPIRE STALLIONS VICBRED SUPER SERIES (3YO COLTS & GELDINGS) FINAL (GROUP 1) (2240 MS) Ideal For Real, which performed disappointingly, underwent a post-race veterinary examination which revealed Ideal For Real to be displaying abnormal respiratory sounds resulting in Ideal For Real being stood down from racing until a veterinary certificate of fitness is provided. Trainer Emma Stewart has advised that the stable veterinarian has conducted a lung wash on Ideal For Real in the days subsequent, however final results have not been advised as of yet. Ms Stewart undertook to report these findings to Stewards. RACE 9 - EMPIRE STALLIONS VICBRED SUPER SERIES (4YO MARES) FINAL (GROUP 1) (2240 MS) Amanda Turnbull, trainer of Shes A Runa, has advised that blood tests taken from the mare failed to reveal any abnormalities. Ms Turnbull reaffirmed that she was of the opinion Shes A Runa had failed to back up from the week prior and as a result Shes A Runa has been given a short let-up, with the view of competing in the upcoming Breeders Crown series. Harness Racing Victoria
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.