Search Results
1 to 16 of 219
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

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 Vétoquinol 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.

At the May 19 Ohio State Racing Commission (OSRC) meeting, discussion continued regarding a new study concerning the effects of cobalt on Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses. Dr. James Robertson, consulting veterinarian, updated the OSRC on the progress of the OSRC/The Ohio State University (OSU) and Ohio Department of Agriculture's Analytical Toxicology Laboratory (ATL)'s comprehensive cobalt research study, which focuses on what cobalt does to a horse's system and its potential effect on racehorses. Dr. Robertson said the most recent meeting of the cobalt research committee was held May 12, 2015 at The Ohio State University to discuss the study parameters. Dr. Beverly Byrum, Director of Laboratories for ATL, the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL) and the Consumer Protection Lab, spoke in detail about the ATL, the official equine drug testing lab for the Ohio State Racing Commission. Dr. Byrum said the ATL currently tests post-race samples of equine urine and blood from all seven of Ohio's pari-mutuel racetracks and the 65 county fairs that conduct pari-mutuel wagering on harness racing, and that the ATL's objective is to protect horses through the detection of prohibitive substances and report their findings in a timely manner to the OSRC. "ATL is one of the premiere equine drug testing labs in the United States and is a Racing Medication Testing Consortium (RMTC) accredited lab," she declared. "ATL has one of the highest standards of technical competency in the US, and is one of only five labs in the United States to be approved by the RMTC." In 2014, Dr. Byrum explained, ATL partnered with The Ohio State University and initiated a post-doctorate degree for students to gain experience in laboratory testing, and added that the ATL regularly does interval, double-blind studies that speak to the quality management of ATL. "ATL is one of the few laboratories in the United States that has the equipment which is able to detect cobalt in both the blood and urine of equines," Dr. Byrum acknowledged. Of 15 equine testing laboratories nationwide, only five have the ability to test for cobalt. Soobeng Tan, ATL Director, submitted the 2014 ATL annual report to the OSRC, discussing testing procedures and results from 2014. Last year, Tan said, 6,764 equine urine samples, 9,222 equine blood samples and 5,163 TCO2 tests were performed, for a total of 21,149 total tests. As a result of these tests, 112 positives, including those taken at Ohio's county fairs, resulted (52 Thoroughbreds & 60 Standardbreds). In addition, 62 human urine samples were submitted to the lab, of which ten (16.1%) were positive (the most common drug being marijuana). In the equine sector, 71% of the 112 positives were either flunixin (Banamine) or phenylbutazone (Bute), a trend that had continued from 2013 of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications being the most dominant pharmacological group of drugs detected, with a total of 79 positives. In 2014 TCO2 testing was re-initiated by the ATL, resulting in seven TCO2 positives from 5,163 blood samples drawn. From 2007 through December 2013, TCO2 testing had been performed at each of Ohio's seven tracks prior to each race. The next OSRC monthly meeting will take place on June 23 at 10 am, 77 South High Street, 31st floor, Columbus, Ohio. The meeting is open to the public and horsemen are encouraged to attend. Kimberly A. Rinker The following is from  http://www.horsemansnotebook.com/  Cobalt Use In Racehorses February 11, 2015 RACING Drugs, horse health, Horse Welfare, horseracing In the horseracing world trainers are always looking for the magic bullet; something to give their horses an edge over competitors.  Cobalt appears be an addition to a long list of pharmaceuticals and nutriceuticals being used on racehorses for the purpose of performance enhancement. Cobalt occurs naturally in horses in very minute amounts.  The dietary requirement for cobalt is less than 0.05 ppm.  Cobalt is a component of Vitamin B-12.  B-12 is produced in the horse’s cecum and colon by microorganisms.  The amount of cobalt required by horses is easily reached through typical horse feeds. There have been no known cases of a deficiency of cobalt in horses or a deficiency of vitamin B-12.  There shouldn’t be any need to supplement a horse with cobalt for reasons of preventing a deficiency. Horse trainers are supplementing their horses with cobalt thinking it will increase the production of red blood cells making it another form of blood doping.  Whether it works or not is not known although veterinarians studying cobalt use don’t think it’s effective.  One of the big concerns is the negative side effects of overdosing horses with the mineral.  Heavy metals like cobalt can’t be broken down by the body and can accumulate to toxic amounts over time.  In humans overdoses produced organ damage, impaired thyroid activity, goiter formation and death. Another concern should be that trainers giving horses cobalt with the intent to enhance their performance are acting criminally.  Even if it the cobalt doesn’t enhance performance, it tells me there are trainers who will put just about anything into their horse’s bodies if there’s a chance it will enhance performance even when they don’t know what negative effects there could be to the horse’s health. Countries worldwide are testing for cobalt use in racehorse.  It is said that supplementing racehorses with cobalt has been around for the past couple of years.  Australia has reported cobalt showing up in horses above the 200 microgram threshold set by the Australian Racing Board.  Some states in the United States have been testing for cobalt since last year but there has been a problem setting a threshold.  The Emirates Racing Authority says it has been testing for cobalt since January 2014 and doesn’t feel there is a problem in the United Arab Emirates. In the United States, the New York Gaming Commission recently passed an amendment to the Thoroughbred out-of-competition testing rules that adds cobalt to the list of blood doping agents they are testing for.  Under its rules for harness racing the Gaming Commission already has a heavy penalty for testing above the current 25 ppb threshold.  Indiana has a ruling that penalizes trainers with horses testing over 25 ppb with up to a one year suspension. Some horsemen are worried that the 25 ppb threshold may cause them to be penalized for giving basic supplements that contain cobalt.  Dr. Rick Arthur , Equine Medical Director for the California Racing Board, determined the 25 ppb threshold was reasonable after doing a study on California Thoroughbreds where the average cobalt level was 1.8 ppb and the highest was 8.2 ppb.  Around the same time Dr. Arthur was studying horses to get a baseline for cobalt, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) collected samples, to retest for cobalt, from racing jurisdictions all over the country and in every jurisdiction there were horses that tested above 50 ppb.  Dr. Arthur said you couldn’t get those results without giving horses high levels of cobalt. Dr. Mary Scollay, the Equine Medical Director for Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, in her research on cobalt, said high doses caused profuse sweating, muscle trembling, aimless circling, horses dropping to their knees or collapsing.  Also, she noted changes in the blood she collected from the horses.  The blood in the samples didn’t clot like it should.  Dr. Scollay said that the test she had done on Kentucky racehorses showed a normal range for cobalt to be between 1 and 7 ppb even when given supplements with trace levels of cobalt. The Unites States Trotting Association disagrees with the 25 ppb threshold after doing its own study and says it should be 70 ppb.  The RMTC’s Scientific Advisory Committee hasn’t been able come to a consensus on a threshold for cobalt as yet. It’s concerned about penalizing a training for giving routine supplements and vitamins that may contain cobalt.  It’s hoped the committee will meet in March and by that time maybe it will be able to make a decision. Dr. Scollay said Kentucky is waiting for the RMTC to come up with a threshold before the State announces penalties for horses testing beyond the threshold.  California requires that Standardbreds testing above the 25 ppb be put on the vet’s list until cobalt is cleared from the horse’s system.  This can take time because the half-life for cobalt is one week.  Dr. Arthur plans to recommend the same rule apply to Thoroughbreds. I certainly hope all racing jurisdictions will set a threshold for cobalt not to exceed 25 ppb.  From what I have read even 25 ppb seems high.  I don’t think anyone knows the effect, on a horse’s health, that long-term ingestion of large doses of cobalt would have.   Related Articles: Cobalt, the Latest in Performances Enhancers?; 10 Year Suspensions for Cobalt Violations; More on Cobalt Use in Racehorses

Equine Guelph and researcher Dr. Judith Koenig would like to thank the Equine Foundation of Canada, for their recent donation to support horse welfare.  EFC has contributed $16,000, 80% of the purchase, of an Equinosis Lameness Locator® which will benefit both research projects and education by providing an objective method of determining equine limb lameness. This equipment is better than the naked eye, because it samples motion data transmitted by sensors and algorithms at a very high frequency (200x). The human eye is capable of (10x to 20x). The Equinosis Lameness Locator® enables quantifiable diagnostic technology that removes the bias that frequently accompanies subjective evaluation. When a horse is trotted, the data is transmitted wirelessly in real time. This means immediate availability of a kinematic lameness assessment for the practitioner/researcher. Together with the clinical ability of the clinician, this will improve accuracy. Currently, evaluating lameness or improvement of lameness after treatment is performed with the naked eye. For research, this requires at least two specialists to evaluating the horses in an attempt to reach agreement. Koenig says, "This equipment will give us hardcore data together with our lameness evaluation, thus making lameness evaluation more objective." The new Equinosis Lameness Locator® will also help students to learn about kinematics, see how it is applied, while learning to evaluate a lameness. 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. Jackie Bellamy

In harness racing you can be on top of the world one minute and in the depths of despair the next when you are dealing with 500 kg horses. That's how the owners of The Manipulator must feel tonight after their very promising three year old son of Panspacificflight broke down while racing at Addington Raceway today (May 9th). A warm favourite for the $23,505 Alabar Super Series final for C1-C3 pacers,The Manipulator went away well initially but then galloped after 100 metres when checked and settled well behind the field. The Manipulator made up a lot of ground during the race and would have finished a lot closer than ninth if he hadn't been badly held up in the home straight. Nothing was noticeably wrong with the horse as he was ungeared and washed but as he cooled down The Manipulator was favouring his offside front leg. The Addington Raceway vet Corin Murfitt was quickly on the scene and after a thorough examination was convinced that The Manipulator had either fractured a cannon bone or a suspensory. The Manipulator will be x-rayed tomorrow and then a course of action decided after the diagnosis has been made. Natalie Rasmussen was philosophical about the injury. " It is just one of those things when you are racing horses but it is still not nice when it happens." " You just hope that it is not as bad as it looks and that the horse can make a complete recovery," Natalie said. We here at Harnesslink echo those sentiments and wish The Manipulator a speedy recovery. Harnesslink Media  

Five veterinarians presented their views on testing and medication issues at the Ohio State Racing Commission's (OSRC) monthly meeting on April 28 in Columbus. Early in 2015, the OSRC began listening to presentations from a wide variety of individuals concerning the development of model medication rules based upon scientific and fact-based analysis. Veterinarian Dr. John Piehowicz, who treats racehorses at his Cincinnati-based clinic said "the welfare of the horse must come first," mirroring the mindset of the other veterinarians in attendance. "I believe Ohio's policy is the most humane for treating horses," Dr. Piehowicz stated. "While uniformity is desirable, it is not practical. Currently I can help horses, but if we change to the RCI-RMTC rules, I can no longer effectively treat racehorses with safe, FDA-approved medications. We need a published curve based on real world information and rational decisions based on creditable research. The use of some medications, such as Clenbuterol, allow racehorses to live comfortably." "I commend the OSRC in the direction they are going regarding medication policies," stressed Dr. John Reichert, who practices on Standardbreds at Woodland Run clinic in Grove City, Ohio. "In Ohio we've had 122 positives from 12,000 tests in the past year, which is less than one percent. That says to me there are relatively few positive tests in Ohio and that the majority of people-vets and trainers-are playing by the rules. The hot issues with the RCI-RMTC are steroids and Clenbuterol, which we use primarily to treat inflammatory airway disease and joint issues." "In my practice, I'm addressing mainly soreness, lameness and breathing issues," Dr. Reichert continued. "Corticosteroids are used a lot in inflammatory airway disease and joint issues, and in the 25 years I've been a vet I have yet to see a catastrophic breakdown from the use of these steroids. Nobody wants a catastrophic breakdown-but unfortunately it is part of the athletic scene. We see more of these from backyard pleasure horses than we do in racehorses. "In regards to Clenbuterol, as vets, we have to be able to use Clenbuterol within reason," Dr. Reichert stressed. "My perspective as a vet is that I look at Clenbuterol as a therapeutic treatment of a racehorse. A five-day course of treatment is more of what is required for the Standardbred racehorse. Scientific research doesn't support performance-enhancement by the use of Clenbuterol." "It's difficult to obey the rules if you don't know what they are," explained Dr. Dan Wilson, a partner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic. "We routinely test blood and urine, and the tests are sophisticated to the level of one grain of sand on a beach. There is nothing to suggest this level would enhance a horse's performance. Muscle and enzyme physiology is different for each breed: Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Quarter horses-they are all different. As proposed, the RCI & RMTC rules would alleviate all therapeutic medications for the use in Standardbreds. The loss of Clenbuterol and corticosteroids for treatment in Standardbred racing would compromise the industry and limit my ability to effectively treat horses." "We need uniform medication rules," agreed Dr. Brett Berthold, owner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic. "Corticosteroids are used daily by my friends in the human medical field and we need the same tools as veterinarians. A uniform program needs to be in place for daily treatments, and there needs to be regulated medications we are allowed to use therapeutically. The question I have is in regards to dosage in surgical medications, that's an issue. Where is the safe zone? The emergence of newer therapeutic medications being adopted into the regulations is another main concern regarding the welfare of the horse." "There is not another commission in the country that has gone to the depths of what the OSRC is doing here." admitted Dr. Clara Fenger, a founding member of the North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians (NAARV) and Kentucky practitioner. "Eighteen of the 26 drugs in the RCI-RMTC report have no published data. The idea of thresholds is great and we're all about uniform rules, but let's get things right first. "In 2013 for instance, 24 hours out was the standard time for Banamine (to be administered prior to a race) and then in 2014 a new study came out and the RCI-RMTC said 'oops! we were wrong and Banamine can now only be used 32 hours out,'" Dr. Clara Fenger. "All kinds of people got positives as a result and purses had to be redistributed and horsemen were in danger of losing their livelihood. There was just vagueness in their limits. "We use medications because we need to," she stressed. "For instance, 27% of yearlings that go through the Keeneland Sale already have arthritis in their hocks-and that's not limited to Thoroughbreds. It's in all breeds-as these are living, breathing animals we're dealing with. We need education so that other practitioners can learn what works best in practical situations. Based on our preliminary data, most vets are using the appropriate amounts. Most Ohio rules we can live with and the RCI should be looking to Ohio instead of the other way around." The OSRC will listen to chemists and scientists present their views on these same medication and threshold levels in Standardbred and Thoroughbred racehorses at its June 23 meeting, schedule for 10 am, 31st Floor,East-B, 77 South High Street, Columbus. Kimberly A. Rinker

Earlier this year, the Ohio State Racing Commission began hearing presentations from a wide variety of individuals concerning the development of model medication rules based upon scientific and fact-based analysis. "The Ohio State Racing Commission values input from all parties within both the Ohio Thoroughbred and Ohio Standardbred racing communities in order to move forward into developing a sound medication policy," said Robert K. Schmitz, OSRC Chairman. At the February OSRC meeting, Edward J. Martin, President of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) and Dr. Dionne Benson, Executive Director for the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) expressed their opinions on the current research methodology and passage of model medication rules. Martin stressed his support for adoption of rules that would have all trainers in all jurisdictions racing under the same medication protocols. Martin is also in favor of out-of-competition testing of horses in order to detect possible future lameness or injuries due to racing. Dr. Benson enlightened the audience concerning the testing procedures at the RMTC-accredited Consumer Analytical Laboratory at the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture (Reynoldsburg), where all of Ohio's racehorses' blood and urine samples are tested. Six personalities from the Ohio racing industry expounded on these same issues at the OSRC March meeting. Phil Langley and Mike Tanner, representing the United States Trotting Association (USTA); Dave Basler, Executive Director of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and Thoroughbred trainer William Cowans; along with Standardbred conditioner Virgil Morgan, Jr., and Renee Mancino, Ohio Harness Horseman's Association (OHHA) Executive Director all expressed their views on the aforementioned subjects. "Published research should be the basis for any changes to medication threshold levels,'' Basler stressed. "Medication policies should be about protecting the welfare and safety of the horse based upon science not hype. Policies should be established via a completely transparent process with input from all interested parties. We applaud the OSRC for its measured approach on this issue." Langley and Tanner discussed the need for varying rules between the Standardbred and Thoroughbred breeds, based on the variances in training and race of those equine athletes. Morgan, Jr., one of Ohio's leading harness racing conditioners, discussed the differences in training regimes between the breeds, while Macino reiterated the need for uniform rules and testing applications. Cowans, one of the Buckeye State's top Thoroughbred trainers, expressed dissatisfaction with the RMTC's process, adding that "no medication in horses? That's like saying no medication in humans." At the April 28 OSRC meeting (10 am, 19th floor, Riffe Center, 77 South High St. Columbus), five veterinarians have been invited to speak and will present their views regarding medication protocols for both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing industries. They will also provide their insight into the Racing Commissioners International (RCI) and Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) controlled therapeutic medication proposals. The veterinarians scheduled to attend include: Dr. John Reichert, partner/practitioner at the Woodland Run Equine Clinic in Grove City. Dr. Dan Wilson, partner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic specializing in racetrack Standardbreds, equine anesthesia, and racing medications and testing. Dr. John Piehowicz, practitioner/owner at Cincinnati Equine, LLC, whose client list includes Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup winning conditioners. Dr. Brett Berthold, owner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic whose area of focus includes lameness evaluation, respiratory health and MRI. Dr. Clara Fenger, a founding member of North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians and a practitioner in central Kentucky.   Kimberly A. Rinker

Four veterinarians entered guilty pleas for their illegal doping of thoroughbred race horses at Penn National Race Track in Grantville, Pennsylvania. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Dr. Kevin Brophy, age 60, Florida, Dr. Fernando Motta, age 44, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Dr. Christopher Korte, age 43, Pueblo, Colorado, pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Schwab in Harrisburg. Dr. Renee Nodine, age 52, Annville, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon. Each defendant is charged with allegedly administering drugs to horses within 24 hours of when the horse was entered to race. This conduct was in violation of the state law prohibiting the rigging of publicly exhibited contests and regulations prohibiting the administration of drugs to horses within 24 hours of when they are entered to race. Additionally, because the administering of the drugs was in violation of the state criminal laws, rules and regulations governing thoroughbred racing, they were not dispensed in the course of the defendants’ professional practice. At the guilty plea proceedings before Magistrate Judge Schwab, Assistant United States Attorney William A. Behe explained that the drugs were not administered to treat the horses but to enhance the horses’ performance in the race or to give it an edge over other horses. According to Behe this constituted misbranding of the prescription animal drugs in violation of federal law. The alleged activity took place at various times beginning as early as 1986 and continuing up to August 2014. The Informations also allege that the defendants conspired with horse trainers, whose identities are “known to the United States”, to administer the drugs in violation of the laws, rules and regulations governing the conduct of thoroughbred racing. The guilty pleas this week were pursuant to plea agreements in which the defendants agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with the United States in the continuing investigation. At the guilty plea proceedings Behe informed the court that cooperation by the defendants was an essential part of the plea agreement and that the defendants had already identified for the United States the many trainers with whom the defendants conspired with to illegally administer drugs to the horses. Behe identified for the court the drugs that were administered to include, among others, Kentucky Red, Carolina Gold, Bute, Dexamethasone, Banamine, Stop2, Estrogen, L-Arginine, and ACTH. According to the charges, trainers allegedly placed orders for drugs and the defendants, after administering the drugs, backdated the billing records to avoid detection. The defendants allegedly submitted false veterinarian treatment reports to the State Horse Racing Commission, omitting from those reports any reference to the drugs administered to horses at the track on race day. The filing of these reports and the backdating of billing records were, allegedly, to further the conspiracy by concealing the illegal activity. These acts had the potential to defraud other owners and trainers whose horses were entered in the same race and defrauded the betting public as well. The matter is being investigated by the Harrisburg Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission, U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Pennsylvania State Police. Assistant United States Attorney William A. Behe is prosecuting the cases for the United States. Indictments and criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court. A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The maximum penalty in these cases under the federal statute is 2 years imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $200,000 fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant. By Paul Smith Reprinted with permission of Fox43.com

Five veterinarians have been invited to speak at the Ohio State Racing Commission monthly meeting to discuss possible medication practices for Ohio horseracing. The meeting will be held on April 28, at 10 a.m., 19th floor of the Riffe Center, 77 South High St., Columbus. These veterinarians will present their views regarding medication protocols for both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing industries, and provide their insight into the Racing Commissioners International (RCI) and Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) controlled therapeutic medication proposals. The veterinarians scheduled to attend include: Dr. John Reichert, partner/practitioner at the Woodland Run Equine Clinic in Grove City. Dr. Dan Wilson, partner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic specializing in racetrack Standardbreds, equine anesthesia, and racing medications and testing. Dr. John Piehowicz, practitioner/owner at Cincinnati Equine, LLC, whose client list includes Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup winning conditioners. Dr. Brett Berthold, owner/practitioner at the Cleveland Equine Clinic whose area of focus includes lameness evaluation, respiratory health and MRI. Dr. Clara Fenger, a founding member of North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians and a practitioner in central Kentucky. At the March OSRC meeting, the USTA's Phil Langley and Mike Tanner, along with the HBPA's Dave Basler and trainer William Cowans and the OHHA's Renee Mancino and trainer Virgil Morgan, Jr., offered their thoughts on medication and testing procedures. During February's OSRC meeting Edward Martin, RCI President and Dr. Dionne Benson, RMTC Executive Director provided input into these same subjects. The OSRC values input from all stakeholders within both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred Ohio racing communities and is moving forward into developing a sound medication policy. Kimberly A. Rinker Administrator Ohio Standardbred Development Fund                     Kimberly A. Rinker   Administrator   Ohio Standardbred Development Fund   kim.rinker@rc.state.oh.us   Ohio State Racing Commission   77 S. High Street, 18th Floor   Columbus, Ohio 43215-6108   Phone 614-779-0269   Fax 614-466-1900      

“Increasing the plane of nutrition should start at conception rather than waiting for the last trimester” emphasized renowned equine nutritionist Don Kapper. Sharing his wealth of knowledge in equine nutrition and management in a recent visit to Canada, Kapper spoke on how to feed the broodmare and the newborn foal right up to weaning. Nutrition begins with the Broodmare Nutrition is a vital component in your horse’s health triangle, where genetics, management and nutrition are all equal. Before the foal even hits the ground it is important that the broodmare has received optimal prenatal nutrition, explains Kapper. Replenishing the mares body reserves earlier rather than later will lend greater ability for her to take care of the baby in utero and when it comes time for nursing. It would be remiss to talk about the nutritional needs of a growing horse without first addressing the needs of the broodmare.   What the mare consumes will greatly affect her milk production, her own health and the well-being of her newborn foal. There is a genetic and management component explains Kapper. The mare’s genetics decide how much milk she can produce as well as the quality. The management and nutrition component comprises of making sure we are putting the nutrition, i.e. calories, protein and minerals, into the mare that she is passing on to the foal in her milk. • If we fail to feed enough calories the mare will lose weight. • A lack of protein in the diet will show up as loss of muscle, visible first by a diminishing top line. • Without the appropriate amount of minerals, the mare’s bone and liver stores could be compromised. Feeding the mare a balanced diet is crucial for her own health and that of her offspring. Maintaining the mare’s body condition score between 5.5 and 6.5 and an “A” topline score throughout the pregnancy is recommended management. Colostrum (first milk) is full of protein (75%) and the antibodies the foal needs to quickly acquire and is produced for the first 12 – 24 hours. It is recommended that as soon as the foal is up on its sternum (preferably within the first half-hour after birth) the mare should be milked so the foal can receive 2 – 4 ounces of colostrum from a baby nipple before the foal stands. This allows them to gain immunity from the whole protein antibodies which is absorbed by their open small intestine and diminishes the chance of scours. Scours can be serious, especially to a newborn, as it causes dehydration. Consumption of colostrum before the foal starts wandering around licking foreign objects, which could contain bacteria or viruses, is beneficial in closing the small openings in intestine and boosting immunity. A 100 pound foal should receive 250 ml (approximately one cup) of colostrum each hour for the first six hours after birth. Every breeder should have an adequate stock of colostrum (1500 ml) stored in their freezer (can be stored for up to 5 years), or access to a colostrum bank, just in case. You can collect colostrum for saving, the same time the foal is nursing during the first 12 hours. Feed According to Need Keeping track of a foal’s rate of growth is an important part of managing its diet. The average foal should weigh between 10 – 12% of the mare’s body weight at birth and will double their birth weight in the first 30 days. Not many horse owners have a scale to measure how fast the foal is growing, but monthly monitoring of their age and size becomes critical to feeding according to their growth rate. Feeding less nutrients than required can result in skeletal and soft tissue problems while overfeeding calories can increase the trauma on the sensitive growth plates causing inflammation to occur, i.e. physitis. Physitis can also occur when inadequate minerals are fed and/or when protein (amino acids) are fed below requirement. Physitis can retard closure allowing multiple things to go wrong at this age. Kapper says, “We do not recommend trying to speed up or slow down a young horse’s growth rate.” Just provide the nutrients according to their individual need, that is determined by its age and size i.e. rate of growth. DOD’s If Developmental Orthopedic Disease (DOD) or limb abnormalities are apparent, immediate action should be taken calling in the vet. These conditions do not go away on their own and are indicative of an underlying problem. The mare’s diet should be checked and milk analyzed. Analyzing the milk is easy, inexpensive and can be the key in getting to the bottom of developmental problems in foals. The nutrients in the milk need to match what is recommended to support optimal growth rate. Checking mineral and nutrient density in the milk is suggested at seven days after foaling and then again during week four, eight and twelve. For example: low protein levels or low calcium or phosphorus can result in decreased bone density and have a negative impact on tendon and ligament strength. A deficiency in copper can result in contracted tendons. When the DOD is nutrition induced - balancing the diet in foals under 30 days old can yield a positive response in ten to fourteen days. For weanlings positive results can be seen in 30 – 45 days and yearlings in 60 – 90 days. This is based on the rate of tissue turn-over being faster in the younger horses. If a DOD is diagnosed, you will need to work closely with your veterinarian, farrier and nutritionist. Kapper cautions against practices such as starving the mare to prevent rapid growth. It will only result in decreasing your mares’ body reserves that will reduce the quality and quantity of her milk. Decreasing these essential nutrients and not addressing the real cause of the problem will only lead to more developmental issues in this years’ foal, as well as next years. He also stressed the importance of prenatal nutrition the ‘entire’ pregnancy. Kapper states, “During the past 30 years of research and monitoring growth related problems, when farms have over 25% of their foal crop affected with DOD, we have reduced the incidence on those farms by over 80%. The two management changes we made were: 1) prenatal nutrition fed the ‘entire’ pregnancy and 2) monitoring growth rate and the nutrients (amino acids, minerals and vitamins) fed to meet their requirements based on their growth rate. The Suckling For the first 30 days –foals will average drinking seven to ten times per hour. This is unchanged whether it is straight from the mother or an orphan foal drinking out of a bucket. The frequency of this purely milk diet is key in reducing digestive upsets which can be caused by drinking too much, too fast, from being too hungry. The hungry foal may attempt to eat forage, bedding or the mares feed that they cannot digest yet. Orphan or rejected foals will be extremely hungry if left for 2 hours without milk and therefore require diligent monitoring and free choice feeding of milk. Little and often is the well-known rule to reduce the chances of diarrhea. Proper nutrition is also essential for thermoregulation and weight gain. Foals grow rapidly; doubling their birth weight in just 30 days. First week to Three months old Access to the mare’s cereal grain should be denied to reduce the chance of diarrhea. The foal is not yet equipped with the enzymes to digest the mare’s cereal grain mixture that is formulated to compliment forage, not mare’s milk. A milk-based foal feed should be introduced which complements the mare’s milk they are already receiving. The quantity of ‘Milk Based’ Starter & Creep pellets consumed per day will be directly related to: how much milk the mare is producing per day, the age of the foal and the size of the foal in relation to the mare. One pound of milk-based feed per day per month of age is an average. It is important to consider factors that affect milk production of the mare: • Maiden mares do not produce as much milk as mares that have had foals previously. • When you cross breed a smaller mare to a larger stallion be prepared for accelerated growth (termed hybrid vigor). • Mare’s normally produce enough milk for a foal to grow to her size, not beyond. • At 4 – 6 weeks the mare’s milk production peaks and then dwindles.   Three - Four months old Between three and four months of age the enzymes in the digestive system begin to change. The cecum undergoes further development and a weanling feed can be introduced. Kapper states, “It is very easy to get a pot-belly on a 4 – 6 month old foal due to stemmy hay because they are not very good at fermenting fiber yet.” It is recommended to feed the softest hay when they begin to digest forage. Following Guidelines, Feed Tags and Testing not Guessing National Research Council (NRC) has recommended minimum nutrients to feed for every horse’s status. It is important to consider the changes and variances in forage quality in order to remain above NRC levels. Anything below will result in a state of deficiency. Of course, exceeding the top end of an optimal range can also cause problems if excess of minerals interfere with absorption of nutrients or cause toxicity. Be sure to read the purpose statement on the feed tags and feed according to their recommendations in order to fulfill nutrient requirements. When feeding mares and young horses, it is important to choose a feed that has been formulated to meet the needs of a growing or reproducing horse, as opposed to one that is specifically for mature, idle or maintenance needs. There will not be enough protein or minerals in the latter to support the growing horse. Performance feeds may be higher in calories but will not be balanced with the vitamins and minerals to support development of a strong skeletal structure in a growing horse. Always choose a feed that is tailored to the individual horses needs and feed according to the instructions. Kapper cautions, “Getting away with feeding less than recommended, means you have chosen the wrong feed.” Feeding less than the manufacturers recommended intake will result in nutritional deficiencies. Finally, if you are not testing your hay – choosing a grain mixture and supplements are guesswork. Other than the first 3 to 4 months of life, ad-lib forage should be the bulk of your horse’s diet so it is important to feed good quality and know what is in it. This also applies to testing soil to determine nutrient levels in pasture. “Horses are designed to be continuous feeders,” explains Kapper. An 1100 pound horse will eat up to 18 hours a day consuming about 2 – 2.5 % of their body weight per day in dry forage. This will improve nutrient absorption and over-all health and well-being. Knowing the levels of nutrients in your forage is the starting point for balancing a horse’s diet. Summary It is important to address nutrition right from the start in your horse’s health triangle along with genetics and management. A healthy broodmare is essential to produce a foal full of vigor and good health. Plan ahead to ensure access to extra colostrum, just in case you need it. Feed the right quantity of the right feed for the horse’s life stage to fulfill their dietary and growth needs. Testing the food source (mare’s milk, forage) is the most simple and effective way to make sure your horses are receiving the necessary level of recommended nutrients. Address any developmental abnormalities immediately, working with your healthcare team of veterinarian, farrier and nutritionist. Bio: Don Kapper is a highly experienced equine nutritionist and a member of the Cargill Equine Enterprise Team. Don graduated from Ohio State University and achieved his credentials as a Professional Animal Scientist from the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists in 1996 and has been a sought-after speaker for equine meetings in both the U.S. and Canada. He was a member of the “Performance Electrolyte Research” team at the University of Guelph and wrote the chapter on “Applied Nutrition” for the authoritative veterinary textbook: “Equine Internal Medicine”, 2nd edition. Don also co-developed the “Equine Nutrition” course for the Equine Science Certificate program for Equine Guelph and has been a popular guest speaker in several Equine Guelph online courses, including the Equine Growth and Development, Exercise Physiology and Advanced Equine Nutrition. Equine Guelph | 50 McGilvray St | Guelph | Ontario | N1G 2W1 | Canada

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof. – John Kenneth Galbraith The majority of race tracks are not populated by horses with the qualifications of Dortmund or California Chrome, or by trainers with the name recognition of Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert or Steve Asmussen. The base of the racing pyramid is built with horses named Grant or Get a Notion, animals that are kept in racing condition by trainers who toil in relative anonymity at tracks often ignored by the people who often forget racing occurs at places other than the cathedrals of the sport like Saratoga or Churchill Downs or Santa Anita. The base of the pyramid is built on the blue collar efforts of guys like Bill Brashears, conditioners keeping $3,500 claimers healthy enough to run and plying their trade in the minor leagues of racing at tracks like Turf Paradise, Arapahoe Park, Farmington, Rilito, and Albuquerque. Brashears comes across exactly like what he is. A  guy who shoots straight and understands that you treat people with unambiguous honesty and fairness, expecting the same in return. He is guileless and smart and hard-working, a trainer’s trainer. Success in his business is based on relationships, knowing who the good guys and not so good guys are. Who can be trusted and who needs to be taken with a few grains of salt. In Bill’s world you give the good guys the benefit of the doubt until they give you a reason not to. The bad guys – better to just not deal with them. He treats his horses with the kind of care you only see from someone with a love for the thoroughbred and a passion for watching them run. He is not the guy described by a cynical racing executive as being willing to do anything that will allow him to win. It is simply not in his nature to do anything less than treat his horses as if they were family, the core of Brashears Racing. You can see him metamorphose around his horses, the hardscrabble exterior melting away into a doting grandfather, feeding them peppermints and affectionately scratching at their muzzle. He admits that when he climbed over a fence at 13 so he could see horses run, he was hooked. He trains not simply because it is a job, but because it is so much a part of who he is. He’ll never amass a fortune running at the smaller tracks, but that was never his goal. If Bill Brashears is remembered as a trainer who worked his butt off and played by the rules and was an example to any trainer hoping to make a mark in racing  the right way, he will be satisfied. What a lot of trainers, including Bill Brashears, are having trouble with is believing they could do everything what they thought was the right way, but have still been hit with medication positives. In Brashears case the offending drug was Banamine, a medication that has been used for years to help control inflammation. Horses are athletes and they suffer from the same affflictions common to all athletes. It is nothing less than humane to treat horses with therapeutic medications, drugs that will provide comfort to the animals while they recuperate. What a therapeutic like Banamine doesn’t do is mask pain in a way that will allow a horse to run as if nothing is wrong. Ask any veterinarian – if you are trying to mask an injury, you would have to use a fairly strong narcotic not the equine equivalent of ibuprofen. Again ask any veterinarian – inflammation is a natural process and it is critical for survival. It is defined as “a protective immunovascular response that involves immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. The purpose of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and to initiate tissue repair.” The problem is that often this process becomes excessive, creating a vicious cycle and causing more tissue damage and pain than the injury itself might. Inflammation can produce different products, including prostaglandins and other inflammatory “mediators” that help bring about these effects. According to Thal Equine Hospital in Santa Fe, NM, “This is where anti-inflammatory drugs are helpful. Their role is to dampen inflammation by reducing the formation of these mediators, and thus reducing the signs of disease (swelling, pain and fever, for example) while still allowing healing to take place.” In other words, anti-inflammatory drugs are precisely what are indicated for certain conditions. One might even argue it is cruel not to give a horse with inflammation a medication. Banamine belongs to a class of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (“NSAIDS”), which includes familiar human drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen. They are drugs that have been used safely and effectively for decades. It is generally the veterinarian’s drug of choice for soft tissue inflammatory conditions (sore muscles) and is considered kinder to a horse’s stomach than phenylbutazone (bute) for treating joint swelling. Banamine is also a good choice for horses that have a tendency to tie-up. The Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has stated, “Class 4 or 5 therapeutic medications (mostly NSAID-type medications such as Phyenylbutazone) are used to ease the aches and pains of training – akin to a person taking an Advil before or after a competition. It will not make that individual run any faster or jump any higher than his or her natural ability to do so.” For those concerned about the welfare of the horse, NSAIDs, when used as prescribed, do not put a horse at substantially elevated risk of catastrophic injury. So if you are a racing commissioner and you believe it is necessary to set a standard for Banamine, the question you should ask is straightforward: at what level is the analgesic benefit of Banamine essentially negligible? Whether or not Banamine might have some residual benefit to inflammation should be irrelevant, since good veterinary practice has already established that reductions in inflammation often speed healing. If a horse is not receiving an analgesic effect, it would be hard to argue the drug is performance enhancing. THAT is the level at which we should set the standard. Most vets and pharmacologists agree that any post-race level below 50ng/ml and a withdrawal time of 24-hours from administration will completely ensure elimination of the analgesic effect Racing is governed for the most part by politically appointed boards and commissions. The commissions are not normally filled with experts on pharmacology, and they are often at the mercy of long-time administrators, people like Rick Arthur in California, Joe Gorajec in Indiana, and Dan Hartman in Colorado. These are the people who populate the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI), a group on the record as calling for “the racing industry and member regulators to embrace a strategy to phase out drugs and medication in horse racing.” (ARCI Press Release March 28, 2011) The chairman of the ARCI at the time of that press release? Dan Hartman, Executive Director of the Colorado Racing Commission. He becomes an integral part of Bill Brashears story. In that press release Hartman is quoted as saying that “a five-year phase out [of Lasix] is reasonable to bring North American racing policies in line with what is going on in other parts of the world like Europe and Hong Kong.” Hartman’s successor, William Koester, Chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission, added, “Today over 99% of Thoroughbred racehorses and 70% of Standardbred racehorses have a needle stuck in them four hours before a race. That just does not pass the smell test with the public or anyone else except horse trainers who think it necessary to win a race. I’m sure the decision makers at the time meant well when these drugs were permitted, however this decision has forced our jurisdictions to juggle threshold levels as horseman become more desperate to win races and has given horse racing a black eye.” Koester’s statement is meant to inflame (no pun intended) by referencing needles stuck in horses, as if it was some willy-nilly attempt to torture helpless animals. When I was shadowing Doug O’Neill I watched his vet, Dr Ryan Patterson, administer a Lasix shot and if you had blinked you would have missed it. The horse had no negative reaction at all. Koester further pounds home the point that trainers are medicating their horses only to gain an advantage and win races, seemingly arguing they are not doing it to ensure the horse’s health is being managed so that it can race without distress. Not passing the smell test and black eye for racing are the justifications for trying to make all racing drug free. It reminds me of a quote from Arnold Glasow. “The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.” As long as administrators with the power to make the rules for racing insist the seamy underbelly of racing is legal therapeutic medication, it can become the facts. The press release states that ARCI intends to move toward “enacting a policy of zero-tolerance.” (Note: Once Koester took over as chair, he quickly backed off that statement, stating the ARCI does not subscribe to a policy of zero-tolerance, but bear in mind it was Hartman who approved the press release.) Hartman concludes, “We regulators are the only voice in racing for the animals and betting public. It’s time we raise the bar in service to both.” To reference the famous Pogo line, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” I have already written about why we cannot be Hong Kong (http://halveyonhorseracing.com/?p=910). Basically, North America  runs more races in a week in August than Hong Kong’s entire racing year. To populate those races we need ten times the number of horses in training than Hong Kong does. How does North America compare with Dubai and its 23 racing days a year? I’ll go out on a limb and say if we were racing at a couple of tracks the equivalent of three weeks a year we could have Dubai’s drug policies too. Look at the standards for Europe or Australia. Other than Lasix, there is often not a significant difference between those jurisdictions and North America for therapeutics, and some threshold levels for therapeutic medications are even higher than the ARCI standards. The upshot of the zero-tolerance Dan Hartman favors is almost certainly the demise of small tracks and reduced field size at the tracks that survive, incredibly ironic when one considers one of the small tracks that would suffer is Colorado’s own Arapahoe Park. ARCI has relied on studies commissioned by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) to establish post-race residual levels and recommended withdrawal times. In the case of Banamine (flunixin), a study done by Heather Kynch, Rick Sams, Rick Arthur, and Scott Stanley on how quickly flunixin was cleared in exercised horses provided the initial recommendation on which the flunixin standard was based.  They tested one model (called the sedentarymodel) in which four non-exercised horses were tested and it was determined a probable threshold level of 20 ng/mL with a withdrawal time of 24 hours. For those not familiar with the nanogram (ng) it is a billionth of a gram. However, subsequent testing using a racehorse model took 20 horses in training and determined exact plasma concentrations of Banamine, concluding that 99% of horses would have less than 50 ng/mL, and thus recommended a threshold value of 50 ng/mL 24 hours after administration of the recommended dose. If 20 sounds like a small number for testing animals to set a standard, according to the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products study on the Evaluation of Medicines for Veterinary Use (2000), 19 is the minimum number of animals that need to be tested to conclude a 95% confdence level that 95% of the population will be below a respective standard. Think about this for a minute. Like a lot of ARCI standards, the testing is not to determine at what level a medication stops being performance enhancing (or retarding) but at a level at which almost all horses would have cleared all but a residual amount of the medication by some time in the future. Remember, the ARCI objective as plainly stated by Dan Hartman in 2011 was to eventually rid thoroughbred racing of the scourge of “drugs and medication.” It also points out something else that is critical when looking at new standards – the availability of new mass spectrometers that can measure ridiculously small amounts, even less than nanograms down to picograms – trillionths of a gram. As Dr. Steven Barker said to me once, “show me a lab measuring amounts in picograms and I’ll show you a lab with an expensive new machine they need to justify.” Despite the RMTC study recommendation, the ARCI in April 2013 adopted the 20 ng/mL (with a recommended 24-hour withdrawal time) standard. It is critical to note that even at the time ARCI adopted the standard it was cast as a  “95/95 standard.” As noted above, this means there is a 95% level of confidence that 95% of the horses tested would fall below the standard. In plain terms, one in 20 horses would still be expected to fail a post-race test. By that measure, if a track tested the first and second place finishers of a ten race program, and they all had been given 10 cc’s of Banamine, at least one of them had a probability to come back over the standard. Think about this. ARCI had a chance to adopt a standard (50 ng/mL) that would have all but guaranteed no undeserved positives and no performance enhancement, and instead picked a standard where non-pharmacologically merited violations would abound. Dr. Steven Barker at LSU didn’t equivocate on the adoption of the original ARCI standard. “The Banamine standard is too high, and it is because ARCI didn’t pay any attention to pharmacologists. With the recommended dose, there is no analgesic effect 24 hours after administering Banamine.” So with Dan Hartman at the helm, Colorado adopted the ARCI therapeutic medication schedule of 20 ng/mL for Banamine and in March 2014 the Colorado Racing Commission staff and the track stewards had a meeting with the veterinarians who worked on track at Arapahoe Park. Dr. James Dysart, Bill Brashears’ veterinarian in Colorado, and a vet who has been practicing about as long as Bill Brashears has been training horses, was in attendance at that meeting and asked specifically about what treatment changes would be indicated in 2014. According to Dr. Dysart, he was clearly told, if you practice as you did last year there should be no problems. With regard to Banamine, in March Dr. Dysart was told 10 cc’s with a 24 hour withdrawal time would prevent positives. So when it came to Banamine Dr. Dysart did exactly as he did the year before and by July Bill Brashears had three Banamine positives. There were six positives in all in Colorado and half belonged to Brashears. I asked Dr. Dysart why there were not more positives, and based on his practice, he indicated many trainers had thrown in the towel and switched to bute. Whether the reason was the change in flunixin standard, cost or efficacy, trainers made the switch. After Brashears was hit with the first Banamine positive, he and Dr. Dysart huddled and decided to drop the dosage by 20% to 8 cc’s and increase the withdrawal time closer to 25 hours. Amounts and times for all horses are documented on the medication sheets maintained by Dr. Dysart, and there is no disagreement that the  dose that was administered had sufficient withdrawal time based on the information Dr. Dysart was given in March. After Brashears had five horses test clean after the first positive, he figured they had found the right formula. Unfortunately, this turned out not to be the case. Brashears was informed that two horses that raced about 10 days apart in July came back positive (both under 30 ng/mL), even after receiving the 8 cc dosage. Brashears had no way of adjusting dosage or withdrawal time for the third horse since the results of the testing for the second horse had not yet been given to him. In fact, Brashears was informed of the last two violations at the same time, well after he could have made a further adjustment. Based on that Brashears expected the second and third violations to be combined into one. Until he was given notice of the last two positives, Brashears sensibly was given a warning after the first violation, made a documented adjustment in an effort to comply, and as far as he could see had success with the new protocol, so he stuck with it, not realizing at 20 ng/mL he was still in danger of a violation. Meanwhile something interesting happened at the RMTC. The high number of Banamine positives in different jurisdictions in 2013 caused them to reexamine the 20 ng/mL standard ARCI had adopted. Remember, the initial RMTC testing suggested 50 ng/ml would ensure 99% of the horses treated appropriately would test negative, and at best with the 20 ng/mL standard ARCI adopted we would still expect 5% positives. It turned out the reality was alarmingly beyond 5% positives. RMTC then did another study that included 16 horses (less than the 19 required for statistical validity) that were exercised under laboratory conditions, and four (25%) of the 16 showed residual levels over 20 ng/mL after 24 hours. But, given the umbilical tie between ARCI and the RMTC, rather than suggest the standard was wrong, it was determined the withdrawal time was too short. In fact, the subsequent RMTC study concluded at least 32 hours was required to maintain 95/95 compliance with a 20 ng/mL. In April 2014 ARCI revised the recommended withdrawal time for flunixin a mere year after originally adopting it, but left the 20 ng/mL in place. This was a critical conclusion because changing the withdrawal time instead of the residual standard ultimately would have the effect of eliminating the therapeutic value of Banamine. At 24 hours the analgesic effect is essentially gone, and approaching 32 hours really limits the anti-inflammatory effect. In other words, this could be seen as an indirect way to ban Banamine consistent with the ARCI stated goal. This was also critical because the ARCI standard was not actually either 20 ng/mL or 32 hours, it was simply 20 ng/mL. Regardless of when Banamine is administered, 24 hours or 32 hours, if the level is over 20 ng/mL the horse is in violation. According to Dr. Dysart, veterinarians in Colorado were not told the recommended withdrawal time had changed to 32 hours until July. Since the 32 hours was nothing more than a recommendation, there was no need to provide notification of rulemaking. That would only be necessary if the standard was proposed for revision. The new recommendation came too late for Brashears though. He had to hope the Colorado Racing Commission saw that he and his vet had done everything the Commission assured them would maintain compliance and be lenient with their punishment. Brashears asked for split samples to be tested for the second and third violations, and both confirmed he was over the 20 ng/mL standard (but well below 50 ng/mL). Brashears appealed, resting his case on the fact that his veterinarian did exactly what he had done hundreds of times and was assured he could continue doing it before the season without risking a violation. In front of a hearing officer he lost and on he went to his final appeal to the Colorado Racing Commission. Brashears’ attorney made the relevant arguments, and once the testimony and final arguments were completed the Commission voted on a motion to saddle Brashears with both the second and third violations as separate events. One of the five commissioners was absent from the hearing, and the vote on the motion was 2-2, which normally would have been a win for Brashears. In a rare occurrence, the Commission moved to go into executive session where they got the missing commissioner on the phone, and re-voted on the motion. When they came back Brashears had lost his appeal 5-0. I asked Dan Hartman if this was a regular practice. He said no, but the Assistant Attorney General was consulted and opined it was a perfectly legal procedure. It was never clear exactly what happened to go from 2-2 to 5-0, but Brashears was ultimately assessed a $1,500 fine and 15 days. One of the people privy to the discussions in the executive session suggested that the Commissioners were advised that letting Brashears off the hook could leave them vulnerable to a subsequent action by Brashears. The concern was that it would essentially be an admission that Colorado had committed an error by leading the veterinarians to believe either historical protocols were sufficient for compliance or that a 24-hour withdrawal time indicated compliance. Brashears is not new to the game, and he understood a violation, even if it is for a bad standard, is a violation. Despite believing he had done nothing wrong, he was willing to bargain with the Commission, offering to pay a fine (less than the $1,500) if the days were waived. It appeared the Commission wanted nothing less than what Brashears was ultimately given. Bill Brashears has paid an even higher price than the fine, the loss of purse money and the cost of an attorney. He’s lost clients. After all, owners don’t want to be associated with someone with a medication positive, regardless of the circumstances. He’s lost the ability to even make a living during his suspension. Most of all he’s lost some of his belief that if you do right by racing, racing will do right by you. For Brashears part, he has sworn off racing again in Colorado. He is firm in his belief he didn’t cheat, and that he was the pawn in a bigger battle over medication in racing. In the end, Colorado not only will lose a long term trainer, but a guy who cares about his horses and about training them the right way. It’s hard to imagine this was a success for anyone. I asked Bill Brashears what bothered him the most. He said, “What makes me the most upset is [Arapahoe Park General Manager] Bruce Seymore telling me at the first Commission meeting that he knew I was innocent but that they were going to hang me anyway. I believe Hartman knows I’m innocent but their grand plan of Colorado being medication free would go down the tank if their first experiment went so wrong. Spending thousands of dollars in attorney fees for their screw-up and I’m still doing 15 days and being fined $1,500 and the division [the Colorado Division of Racing] calling it trainer responsibility. Where’s their responsibility?” Author - Rich Halvey

One of the major threats in Friday night’s third race conditioned pace feature at Maywood Park is the Don Laufenberg home-bred Financial Effort. The 6-year-old ICF mare joined the Terry Leonard Stable last November. The daughter of Yankee Skyscaper, out of Laufenberg’s broodmare Finance The Farm, has picked things up a notch ever since she was put on Lasix in her final start of last season, a winning 1:54.3 mile at Maywood Park. “We’ve had horses for Don Laufenberg off and on ever since I was a little kid,” sad her driver Casey Leonard. “I drove Financial Effort a little bit for Lloyd (trainer Daulton) and with him back in Kentucky Don sent the mare over for us to race through the winter. “The horse has some class to her. She had some lameness issues a couple of years ago and didn’t make a lot of starts (14) as a 4-year-old. I believe it was her knee.” As a 3-year-old Financial Effort captured the Ohyouprettything Stake at Balmoral Park (see picture) and later was second in her Grandma Ann elimination and the Thrifty Way stake and third in a Hanover under the care of trainer Lloyd Daulton. Her mother Finance The Farm was the 2003 Springfield and Du Quoin 3-year-old filly champion and also took her Grandma Ann elimination. “At times Financial Effort struggled a bit in the last sixteenth and maybe that’s because she might bled a little,” continued Casey. “We put her on Lasix in late December and that has seemed to help her. She has picked things up and really raced well last week.” Financial Effort dropped a nose decision to Muy Caliente a week ago in the Maywood Park feature  despite racing first up outside of the winner most of the last half-mile. Financial Effort drew the outside six-slot in tonight’s third race conditioned pace for non-winners of $8,500 in their last five races and will open as the 5-2 second choice in the program after the 8-5 favorite Feel Like Dancing (Kyle Wilfong). They’ll be challenged by Melodie Hotspur (5-1, John De Long), ER Monica (8-1, Bobby Smolin), Gentle Janet (4-1, Mike Oosting) and Triple Lane Melody (20-1, Brian Carpenter). By Mike Paradise The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association

1 to 16 of 219
1 2 3 4 5 Next »