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Guelph, ON - April, 14, 2021 - Prevention of airway problems is the best way to protect your horse, but when not successful, what is next?   Early intervention is paramount when dealing with the irreversible disease, equine asthma, commonly referred to as heaves, RAO or IAD. Equine asthma starts off with a hypersensitivity reaction to particles in the air (e.g., dust, mould). These particles cause inflammation in the airways and restrict airflow.   Heaves is now called severe equine asthma as the horse will struggle to breathe even at rest. Heave Line - the heave line develops along the lower edge of the ribcage as the horse has to work harder to breathe, due to inflammation and airway obstruction. The chest muscles must work harder during each breath taken by the horse.   If you wait until a heave line appears, the disease has already progressed to advanced stages.   It is important that horse owners never ignore a cough in their horse. It should be investigated and diagnosed without delay. There is much that can be done on the management side to prevent further damage, as a global paper on equine asthma attests.   Intervention is recommended at the first sign of coughing, and more so if the cough is repetitive or persistent. Triggered by the microscopic particles that cause airway inflammation, common signs of equine asthma include coughing, nasal discharge, exercise intolerance and breathing difficulties. Equine asthma can affect horses at any age in any discipline of riding.   According to Renaud Leguillette, DVM, DACVIM, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, feeding horses from a round hay bale can potentially double the risk of developing equine asthma! Horses are picky eaters and do not hesitate to bury their heads deep in the round bale to look for the most desirable hay first. In doing so they inhale all sorts of dust, mould and particulates.   Many stabled horses are exposed to exponentially more inhalable irritants than horses kept outside. Pasture board is often the best option for horses suffering from equine asthma – minus the round bales of course. Every precaution to reduce dust in the environment should be taken. Low dust bedding, turning horses out before sweeping, cleaning stalls regularly to keep ammonia levels low and clearing out any mould under stall mats are just some of the effective measures that can be taken. Maintaining arena footing to minimize dust, making sure the barn is well ventilated and feeding steamed hay and soaked concentrates are all environmental factors within the farm owner's control.   If asthma is suspected, the veterinarian will be looking closely at the horse’s environment to determine what is causing the irritation in the lungs. They will be looking at all potential causes which could include: dusty environments, smoke inhalation, pollen or other allergens and particles in the pasture or hay.   One cannot jump to conclusions at the first sign of a cough. The vet will need to rule out upper airway diseases and bacterial or viral infections. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) is the gold standard diagnostic test for asthma. Corticosteroids administered with or without a bronchodilator may be prescribed to help the horse recover from bouts of equine asthma, but environmental improvement is the key to long-term management. Always bring in the veterinarian to check a horse that repeatedly coughs. It is vital to prevent the debilitating progression of asthma.   by Jackie Bellamy-Zions, for Equine Guelph  

Guelph, ON Mar. 16, 2021 - The third week of March (Mar 14-20, 2021) is Canadian Agricultural Safety Week (CASW) - a public awareness campaign focusing on the importance of farm safety. #AgSafeCanada. Workplace Safety & Prevention Services has many ways to help you promote farm safety in your community with its range of programs to help farm-related organizations, including the popular Stop Think Act initiative. Equine Guelph has incorporated this popular initiative into both its online learning platforms and its youth program, EquiMania!   "Equine Guelph programs and volunteers help young people, adults and first responders learn about many topics related to horse health and safety. Stop Think Act is a natural fit with our interactive programs," says Gayle Ecker, Director, Equine Guelph.   Both the youth and adult offerings of Equine Guelph's popular online short course, Horse Behaviour and Safety, feature many resources including a number of videos from the Stop Think Act program. They build awareness of the dangers that exist on horse farms both around equipment and the horses themselves. Videos include such topics as ATVs, electrical safety, barn fire prevention, safety around machinery, when friends visit the farm and more.   The online youth offering (recommended for 13-17 years of age) Horse Behaviour & Safety is now available on demand for a special price of only $25!   EquiMania! introduced a Stop Think Act hopscotch game to the award-winning exhibit in 2017 which really encouraged kids to jump on making good choices when it comes to safety around horses and safety on the farm. The older youth showed they were on board with the important safety messaging, by snapping up the Stop Think Act photo frame - a cool way to spread the word amongst friends on social media. The fun does not stop in the EquiMania! booth. A Stop Think Act - Safety Pledge Certificate can be earned at EquiMania! online so check out the interactive games at   If you are thinking of adding farm safety to your organizations program, we highly recommend checking out the Stop Think Act resources.   by Jackie Bellamy-Zions, for Equine Guelph  

Equine Guelph is pleased to let our newsletter subscribers be the first to hear the wonderful news that Equine Jobtrack is up and running! We are working to help our horse industry by promoting careers, educational pathways and connecting employers and job seekers.   Stay tuned for more information in a press release coming out very soon.   Upcoming Events   EquiMania! has online learning games for kids Large Animal Rescue-Awareness Level Virtual Workshop - Mar 4 & 11 Fire & Emergency Preparedness Mar 8 - 15 Racehorse Respiratory Health (exclusive for racing) Mar 22 - Apr 9   Information for subscriptions is collected and protected in compliance with the University of Guelph's Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Access to Information.   The information collected will not be shared or used by a third party and will be kept confidential.   From Equine Guelph  

Guelph, ON Feb 17, 2021 - Equine Guelph's Large Animal Emergency Rescue awareness level workshop is being offered for the first time virtually! Registrants can choose between 2 dates: Thursday March 4 and 11.   For $50+HST up to 30 registrants will receive an introduction to Large Animal Rescue equipment and techniques, as well as, livestock behaviour and handling. These 90 minute online sessions provide an introduction to best practices for mitigating both handler and animal risk for successful rescues and provide a foundation for future hands-on practical training.   In today's society, responding to incidents involving animals is both an expectation and an acknowledgement that such incidents will likely involve people putting themselves and others at risk. All large animal incidents regardless of cause or scope, present a risk of injury to responders.   "Education, awareness, and planning are key to minimizing risk," says Victor MacPherson, Lead Instructor, Equine Guelph Large Animal Rescue and Farm & Food Care Ontario Livestock Emergency Response. "These can be achieved by your awareness training of livestock incidents, following the PLAN method, and knowing your resources. Proper use of specialized equipment and positioning of webbing around the body of the animal is so important to the positive outcome of lifting or dragging a large animal to safety."   By keeping responders safe, we improve our capacity to keep animals safe.   "Tails, legs, heads and necks are not appropriate handles," says Equine Guelph Large Animal Rescue program co-ordinator, Dr. Susan Raymond. "it is important to understand how the animal may react to ensure a safe rescue for the animal and for the safety of the responders."   More workshop information, resource sheets and full bios for the instructors are available on the registration page.   This virtual workshop is being offered in partnership with Farm & Food Care Ontario. It is intended for first responders, pre-service, law enforcement, animal control officers, veterinarians, vet. technicians, emergency animal response teams, horse owners, livestock producers and associations (note: participants must be minimum of 18 yrs of age).   by Jackie Bellamy-Zions, for Equine Guelph        

Guelph, ON Jan, 19, 2021 - Nothing can drain the colour from a harness racing owner’s face quicker than hearing the word COLIC! Winter is an important season to focus on colic prevention and ward off water woes that can lead to impaction in the equine gut.    Equine Guelph has many resources to reduce your horse’s risk of colic, including a FREE interactive online healthcare tool, the Colic Risk Rater ( The importance of access to clean, fresh water 24 hours a day, to keep everything flowing smoothly, cannot be overstated and is one of the top 12 tips discussed among management practices. For an even deeper dive into digestive health – take the next offering of Equine Guelph’s online course, Gut Health and Colic Prevention, Feb 8 – 19 on the Both resources are generously sponsored by CapriCMW Insurance Services Ltd.   What you need to know about horses and H2O   Never assume they are drinking! Just because water is available does not mean your horse is drinking enough. Horses should drink about 37 to 45 litres of water per day in order to stay healthy, and they will often drink less water when it is icy cold, particularly if there are any dental issues. It is also a misnomer to believe all horses will break through a thin layer of ice to access their water source. A heater is the best option, not only for the fussy drinker but also to ensure troughs do not freeze over during overnight hours or on frigid days. A study out of Penn State University has shown that increasing water temperature from just above freezing to 4-18° Celsius will increase the amount of water consumed by up to 40%. Make sure the heater is properly installed and check it is in good repair and operating safely. If you see horses standing by a trough but not drinking, be sure to check there is no electric current due to a malfunctioning heating element.   Dehydration: This is a serious issue which increases the risk of impaction colic. Monitor the horse for any signs of dehydration. Discuss how you can do this with your veterinarian. A “skin pinch” on the shoulder of the horse is a useful tool to assess hydration by seeing if there is any delay in the skin flattening back down (this is called skin tenting). Slowed skin response may indicate a degree of dehydration.   Salt: If your horse is not drinking an adequate amount, in addition to monitoring them for dehydration, consider providing free choice loose salt for the horse to take in what they need.   More water at feed time: You can add water to concentrate ration and/or soak the hay for 10 minutes prior to feeding as this will bring more water into the gut. You may also wish to discuss with your vet or equine nutritionist the use of soaked and shredded beet pulp as an addition to the diet for getting more water into the digestive system. Adding a bran mash once a week was once a popular practice, but the sudden introduction of a different feed is actually another colic risk factor. Adding water to their regular feed is recommended. Being consistent and making feed changes slowly is another one of the top 12 tips in the Colic Risk Rater tool (   24/7 access to water: Horses are trickle feeders and their digestive systems operate optimally when forage is always available. This means water must be available at all times to aid in digestion and avoid blockages. In winter water needs may increase as a result of the increased hay being consumed, which is also much dryer than moisture rich pasture. Always make sure there is lots of fresh, clean water provided 24 hours a day.    Snow is not a substitute for water! Ten inches of snow equals one inch of water. If 2 inches of snow fell, a horse would need to consume over four football fields worth to get enough water.   More recommended and required practices for watering horses are listed in the National Code of Practice for the care and Handling of Equines including: checking automatic watering systems daily to ensure they are dispensing water properly and testing water quality at least annually, unless it is from a previously tested water supply safe for human consumption.   Mike King, of CapriCMW, is a dedicated horseman who believes in the importance of education for horse owners. He addresses why it was so important for his organization to partner with Equine Guelph on colic prevention programs, “Given our decades of experience in insuring horses from coast to coast, we know that colic is one of the highest risk factors for death in the Canadian herd. We can think of no better risk management tool to prevent colic than education.”   This winter, take action to further your knowledge on colic prevention   Learn more about best practices to reduce your horse’s risk of colic by taking 15 minutes to assess your risk with the free Colic Risk Rater healthcare tool (, and then sign up for the next offering of Equine Guelph’s online course, Gut Health and Colic Prevention, Feb 8 – 19 on the   by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions, Equine Guelph  

Guelph, ON Jan. 5, 2020 - Make 2021 a year where you see green' not just in your hayloft and pastures come springtime, but also in your profits! The first half of the Equine Financial Futures webinar series are now posted as replays, focusing on current challenges like boosting your financial health now, balancing the books and understanding debt. On January 18, 2021, this Monday night series will resume for four consecutive weeks, discussing future planning such as building wealth through investing in yourself and your business, retirement income and exit strategies.   As if building your business and wealth was not enough - YOU COULD WIN!!!   The partners of this important webinar series have put together a prize package which will be won by one of the registrants of the January and February webinars. The raffle prize will include an online short course, an Ogilvy saddle pad (jumper or dressage) and hat from Ontario Equestrian. The winning participant will also receive a baseline financial plan developed by Sean Jones of Sunlife Financial.    Registration for webinars 4 – 7 of this seven part series is open!   A bit about Sean   Sean Jones is not only an advisor for Sun Life Financial, he is also an avid equestrian and former facility owner and understands the challenges equine professionals face.   Sean's role at Sun Life involves advising and educating clients on all aspects of financial planning including owning a home, starting a family, education planning, managing your career and preparing for retirement. Sean develops economical, efficient and client-driven plans that are manageable and tailored to meet individual goals.   'The moment this pandemic hit, some of the first people I thought about were the lesson barn owners,' says Sean.'They operate on such tight margins, that a couple weeks of missed lesson revenue can have serious, unrecoverable impacts on their balance sheets. Some have had to sell off assets to make ends meet. Your financial future is too important to leave up to chance,' says Jones. 'Planning today can help your business remain stable during difficult times and look ahead for ways to maximize your growth potential.'   Catch up on replays of the first 3 webinars:   Creating Your Financial Roadmap Five steps to boost your financial health now Balancing your financials and understanding debt   Don't miss the final four webinars and the raffle draw!   Beginning Monday Jan 18, 2021 the webinar series will resume and run every Monday evening 7:30-8:30 EST    Your health AND wealth – how they correlate for your business – Jan. 18, 2020 ·      Building wealth – investing in yourself and your business – Jan. 25, 2021 ·      Advanced retirement income – planning your exit strategy – Feb. 1, 2021 ·      Financial considerations for women in the equine industry – Feb. 8, 2021   Replays and registration details are available at   Each live webinar will be approximately one hour long, including a question and answer period at the end. Many thanks to Sean Jones at Sun Life Financial for donating his time and expertise and thanks to Ontario Equestrian for lending support and the Zoom platform to make this series possible. Get ready to build your wealth at the next live webinar, January 18, 2021.   Jackie Bellamy-Zions Communications Equine Guelph Guelph, ON N1G 2W1 519.824.4120 ext. 54756  

Equine Business Marketing tips from Marketing and Communications in the Equine Industry instructor, Tracy Dopko   Guelph, ON Dec. 22, 2020 - There is an old saying, “How do you make a million dollars in the horse world? Start with two million.” Anyone who is active in the equine industry can definitely vouch for this statement. But why is this statement true? Why is the equine industry notorious for high-effort, low-profit?   The answer is very simple. Most people who start up an equine business do so because they love horses, not business. As a result, they have little or no understanding of pricing, profit margins or marketing. All they know is that they love working with horses and want to turn their passion into a business. Unfortunately, the equine industry requires far more skill and talent to succeed. If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.    Marketing isn’t simply an important part of business success; it is the business. Everything else in the business relies upon marketing. Most businesses would not exist without marketing because it is the act of marketing that ultimately sells products and services. At a basic level, marketing is the process of understanding your customers, and building and maintaining relationships with them.   Importance of Personal Branding   When we think about the equine industry, personal branding is necessary for individuals such as coaches, trainers, farriers, and massage therapists. It is important to understand that personal branding is not about the individual at all, but about delivering value to your customers.   Think of yourself as a business of one If you have a business, you need a brand Personal branding is your way of developing your reputation   If branding is about what people think about you, then reviews and testimonials can have an impact on how your business is perceived. There are many factors that help a customer decide whether or not to use your services. Customers frequently rely on recommendations from friends and online research before purchasing a product or service because they demonstrate if you have fulfilled your promise to your current customers. The growth and life span of your business is directly tied to your business’s reputation.    It is fair to say your business reputation determines your brand equity, which is the value of having a recognized brand. As a result, a large portion of marketing activities should be geared towards building the brand equity of your company. A business’s reputation is considered to be successful when it meets the expectations of its customers effectively. Customers then feel the business is a responsible member of the community, and they become proud to be associated with their products and services. This gives them the confidence to buy more from you and become loyal customers.   Learn Who Your Competitors Are   Understanding who your competitors are will help you determine the strengths and weaknesses of other businesses offering similar services in your area. In Equine Guelph’s online course, Marketing & Communications in the Equine Industry, students learn how to gather information about competitors, which lets you know what your business is facing, how competitive the market is, and allows you to determine any gaps in services that you could potentially fill.   The competitiveness within the equine industry can make it difficult for a business to stand out from its competitors. It becomes essential that you create a brand that is seen as unique and distinct. It is not about having the lowest price compared to your competitors. It is about how you do things and the unique value you can offer your customers that is different from your competitors. As part of the Marketing & Communications course, students learn how to incorporate their story, expertise, strengths and passions into developing their brand.   Key Take-aways   Marketing isn’t simply an important part of business success; it is the business.  Marketing a business within the equine industry comes with some unique challenges. Personal branding is your way of developing your reputation. Brand differentiation is ensuring your business is distinct from the competition.   Bio: Tracy Dopko, BA, DipEqS   Tracy is an accomplished rider, breeder, trainer and senior judge and steward with both Equestrian Canada and the United States Equestrian Federation.   She sits on various equine committees in both Canada and the United States and gives regular equine clinics throughout North America. She owns and operates a successful Equine Appraisal/Equine Expert Witness business, is a freelance writer and runs a Web Design and Social Media Marketing company.    Tracy and her husband own and operate Daventry Equestrian just outside of Edmonton, Alberta and focus on breeding, training and showing warmbloods, pony hunters and Welsh Cobs. Tracy is known throughout the equine industry for her keen marketing skills and the ability to draw in clientele from across North America.   Tracy completed her Equine Studies Diploma (with distinction), Equine Business Certificate (with distinction) and Equine Science Certificate (with distinction) all in one year with the University of Guelph. Upon graduating, she was invited back as a Guest Speaker for the Equine Marketing and Communication course and eventually took over as the full-time instructor. She has a Bachelor’s Degree with distinction from the University of Guelph and is eager to share her experience and expertise with her students.   Check out 2 minute marketing videos from Open Learning and Educational Support: The FAB Model Scheduling Facebook Business posts Google My Business           Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. 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   Story by: Tracy Dopko, BA, DipEqS   Photo Caption: Tracey Dopko teaches the Equine Guelph 12 week online course: Marketing and Communications in the Equine Industry   Web Link(s): Story web link:   Other web links: Marketing and Communications in the Equine Industry online Course beginning Jan 11, 2021   Media Contact:   Jackie Bellamy-Zions Communications Equine Guelph  

Guelph, ON Dec. 15, 2020 Equine Guelph, the horse centre at the University of Guelph in Canada, has announced it is setting up a free virtual classroom for English-speaking youth around the world. Horse-crazy teenagers (ages 13-17) will have the opportunity to take an online Equine Behaviour & Safety course with access open until February 6, 2021 on   With no specific time to be online, the self-paced on-demand format was developed to be super flexible and user-friendly, a perfect way for youth to fuel their passion and learn more about their favourite animal over the COVID-19 second wave months.  There is approximately two-week’s worth of material and activities, but with this special free offering, kids can keep coming back as often as they like during the three month period.     Join over 350 students, from around the globe, that have already signed up in November to learn about:   Course topics include: 1.  Horse Behaviour – Wild vs Stabled 2.  How Horses See and Hear 3.  Herd Behaviour – How Horses Interact with Each Other 4.  Horse Handling – Basic Safety Around Horses 5.  Rider/Helmet Safety 6.  Safe Trailering – Basics 7.  Fire Safety 8.  Safety around the Barn and Paddocks 9.  Returning from an Injury   There will be many more points to ponder as students go through a multitude of videos from industry professionals including guest expert: Dr. Rebecca Husted-Gimenez from the United States. As a world-renowned instructor on technical large animal emergency rescue, Gimenez has a wealth of experience when it comes to horse behaviour and safe handling. For more information on Dr. Gimenez please visit the TLAER website.   Valued at $100, this offering will be a game changer for youth learning to speak horse! As such, Equine Guelph asks youth around the world to pass it on! Tell your friends, tell your barn, tell your ‘Ag’ group!     Equine Guelph thanks its generous sponsors in Canada for making this international youth initiative possible: ESSO, Kubota Canada, Ontario Equestrian, SSG Gloves, System Fencing and Workplace Safety & Prevention Services.   Get all your barn buddies together and sign up today for this awesome opportunity to stay safe and pursue your passion for horses online! Go to for more info.     Jackie Bellamy-Zions Communications Equine Guelph  

Guelph, ON Nov 11, 2020 - Over the last eight months, the struggles of COVID-19 have affected our day-to-day lives. In the wake of the global pandemic, the theme of this year's Equine Industry Symposium will be RESILIENCE: Rethinking, Restructuring, Revaluating due to COVID-19. The event will be hosted as a live webinar via a zoom platform from November 16th through November 20th, 2020 each evening from 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm EST. This event is free upon advanced registration at the Eventbrite website.   How has COVID-19 affected you and your horse? Come find out at the 5th annual Equine Industry Symposium held virtually November 16-20, 2020. Photo credit: Cameron Yach.   Many of those in the equine industry have been impacted by the pandemic in multiple ways. Some of these challenges result from a lack of preparation, which can lead to insufficiencies both financial and of animal well-being. To address how to overcome these negative experiences and plan for a brighter future, each evening of this year’s Equine Industry Symposium is focused on exploring the challenges presented by the pandemic, understanding its effects on the equine industry, discussing opportunities to re-evaluate and restructure, and proactively planning for situations similar to this in years to come.   "Canadians everywhere are suffering through the pandemic, but the horse sector is especially vulnerable. Even during the best of times, our community's margins are meagre, our voices dispersed, and our interests poorly served by institutions that act in our names. We will survive this time of trial only if we find a way to join hands, while remaining physically distant. The University of Guelph's Equine Industry Symposium is one of the few events with the standing to call us all together, and the capacity to help us become more cohesive and better able to defend our common interests," said Akaash Maharaj, CEO of the Mosaic Institute and a triple gold medallist at the International Championships of Equestrian Skill-at-Arms, who will conduct the opening and closing ceremonies for this weeklong event.   The symposium is hosted by students in the Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management Equine Management degree program at the University of Guelph, together with Ontario Equestrian and Equestrian Canada. Over the five evenings, live and pre-recorded speakers will discuss the effects of the pandemic in their areas of expertise followed by live question and answer sessions.   On Monday evening, Bronwynne Wilton from the Wilton Group will give a summary of the report provided to Equestrian Canada on the effects of COVID-19 on the equine industry. An open discussion with Danielle Glanc, farm policy analyst with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Jonathan Zammit, executive director of Ontario Racing, and Christine Reupke, director of Equestrian & Breed Sport at the Royal Horseshow in Toronto, Canada will provide insight on how they viewed and approached the pandemic from their respective equine communities. To make your voice heard, please fill out this survey prior to the symposium to let us know how the pandemic has affected you.   On Tuesday evening, Melanie Barham will discuss farm and business planning. Sean Jones from Sunlife Financial will provide a 5-step action list for designing a recession-proof financial plan. Catherine Willson, equine lawyer, and Mike King from Capri CMW insurance will discuss insurance implications and risk mitigation in light of COVID-19.   Wednesday evening will examine the effects of the pandemic on horse welfare. Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph, will present the minimum standards of care as outlined in the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines. Roly Owers, CEO of World Horse Welfare, will analyze what welfare means and how to cope with pandemic restrictions without compromising welfare. Bettina Bobsien will discuss responsible decision-making for older and retiring horses.   On Thursday evening Stewart Everett, UK Equine Register, and Nic de Brauwere, Redwings Sanctuary, will outline the traceability program in the UK. Kristy House from Equestrian Canada will give a summary of how traceability will be implemented in Canada and how it will assist with emergency situations like the pandemic.   Friday evening will begin with an address from Assistant Deputy Minister Frederic Seppey, Market and Industry Service Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, on how the equine industry is positioned and how the ministry can support the industry moving forward. Kristy House, Equestrian Canada and Tracey McCaugue-McElrea, Ontario Equestrian, will discuss how industry organizations are helping the industry as a whole. The symposium will conclude with highlights of some of the positives that have emerged from the pandemic.   Note that certified coaches can receive one updating hour for each evening attended. While this event is free, attendees may wish to support “For the Herd”, an emergency fundraiser administered by Ontario Equestrian to assist riding schools that are struggling to provide for their horses due to the loss of revenue from lessons and camps due to COVID-19. All proceeds raised go toward riding school facilities and their school horses across the province. For more information and to donate visit the For the Herd Website.   To learn more about the Equine Industry Symposium 2020, follow the Instagram page @equinesymposium and/or the Facebook page @2020EIS for up to date information on speakers and event details.   by Rachel Chater, Equine Management student    

Guelph, ON Oct, 27, 2020 - Since its inception in 2016, the Equine Industry Symposium hosts and participants have set out to be agents of change. As the organizers, preparing for the 5th annual event this November, the students of the Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management degree program in Equine Management are embodying change. Amidst a pandemic that has thrown all sorts of curve balls to every industry, including the equine industry, the event will switch to a new virtual format. Nov. 16 - 20, 2020, from 7:00pm to 8:30pm EST each evening, the focus of this years’ event will be on the pandemic and how it has impacted the equine industry. The theme: Resilience: Rethinking, Restructuring, Re-evaluating due to COVID-19.   The free event, held each year at the University of Guelph, has attracted a growing number of industry professionals that are interested in "being the change" the horse industry needs. The Equine Industry Symposium is for everyone with an interest in horses. It was born from a desire to have the industry working together in unity, despite division between disciplines/sectors. Participants and world renowned guest speakers all come together because they care about horse welfare and a healthy, prosperous industry.   Everyone involved in the horse industry, be it as an owner, competitor, facility manager, discipline specialist, trainer, coach, official, business owner, recreational rider, or any of a myriad of other roles, face both daily and long-term challenges in sustaining their particular equine pursuits. The welfare and wellbeing of the horse and the long-term health and growth of the industry in all sectors are topics of importance for all equine professionals.   In 2016, a group of 40 professionals gathered for this invitation-only event to explore Challenges being experienced as a whole for the industry. Round table discussions focused on hot topics including marketing and outreach, attracting the next generation of youth to horse sport and keeping them engaged, industry standards and certifications related to equine service providers, and last but certainly not least - What the industry could do to become more cohesive amongst its many sectors.   In 2017, Youth engagement was the primary focus. The call was sent out to all interested in attending. The discussions on how to move the industry forward acknowledged the importance of engaging youth to grow the grass roots of the industry. Parents must be educated about opportunities for youth. If equine activities are not more accessible, what does the future of equestrian sport look like? The youth are the next generation of equine professionals and without them, there will be no future industry.   The 2018 symposium themed, Professionalism and standards, built on the topics brought forward in the first two events. Returning for a 3rd year as facilitator, Akaash Maharaj, former Chief Executive Officer of Equine Canada, drew everyone’s attention to the economic impact of the Canadian equine industry.   The well rounded guest speaker line up included:   Dr Kendra Coulter, Professor of Labour Studies at Brock University Catherine Geci, Business Development Manager at the University of Ottawa Diane Creech, elite dressage rider Len Kahn, Kahntact Marketing Cally Merritt and Rory Dimitrioff, Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians   Discussions ranged from: building partnerships to identifying gaps in the industry; athlete and coach development to fragmentation of the sport; comparing coaching certification in Germany to that of Canada, a country where certification of equestrian coaches is not yet mandatory. Improper classification of many stable workers as independent contractors and other challenges equine workers face were brought forward by Dr. Coulter revealing findings from one of her studies. A unified voice for the horse industry and the need to pull together for the future of the industry was a topic agreed upon by all in attendance.   In 2019, Change was the theme announced. Facilitator, Akaash Maharaj set the tone by challenging attendees to consider if they are masters of change or slaves to change and a lively panel discussion closed out a symposium of amazing international speakers:   Zooarchaeologist, Dr. Sandra Olsen, took everyone on a journey through time expounding on the use of horses during ancient times and how we domesticated and evolved with them and the development of the horse-human relationship. Lisa Ashton, a clinician from the United Kingdom, presented an evidence-based approach to riding and training. She advocates for horse owners to "be the change your horse needs", look to science-based research to ‘know better and do better.’ Debbie Busby, a BHS certified Stage 4 coach and registered Clinical Animal Behaviourist, shared her thoughts on human behaviour change for animals.   2020 Equine Industry Symposium promises another fantastic line up so be sure to sign up for the virtual event - Resilience: Rethinking, Restructuring, Re-evaluating due to COVID-19   Expert guest speakers from both Canada and the UK include: Kristy House, Equestrian Canada, Stewart Everett, UK Equine Register, and Nic de Brauwere, Redwings Horse Rescue and Sanctuary. Join in every evening from Nov. 16 - 20, 2020, from 7:00pm to 8:30pm EST by REGISTERING TODAY!   by, Jackie Bellamy-Zions, for Equine Guelph      

Guelph, ON Aug, 27, 2020 - Horse human interaction studies were discussed in a talk presented by Dr. Katrina Merkies, Ontario Agricultural College at the three day virtual conference hosted by the International Society for Equitation Science (ISES).   With around 50 recent horse behavior studies referenced in the 40 minute presentation (and apologies for the many not mentioned), there is an undeniable growing interest to understand our impact on physiological and behavioural states of our equine partners.  “The road to horse and human well-being” was the journey unfolding as Merkies expounded on the discoveries of her studies and those of fellow researchers.  Evidenced-based research stands to make great strides toward continually improving equine welfare.   What do we know about horses?   The talk began by introducing one of Merkies’ collaborative research studies on how humans perceive their bond with horses.  The survey indicated people would characterize their bond in several ways: the horse approaching them, vocally greeting them, trusting them in a frightening situation, taking care of them during hardships and physically touching them.  Another study showed humans can distinguish between positive and negative domestic horse vocalizations.    A study by Merkies PhD student, Cordelie DuBois, surveyed participants with surprising results.  When asked to rank welfare-compromising scenarios, most could easily pick out a physical threat to a horse but there was more variance in answers to questions where the effects of boredom or frustration were to be identified.       How do horses perceive us & what impact are we having on their welfare?   Since the advent of the ‘five freedoms of animal welfare’ and the evolution of ‘the five domains model’, increasing attention has been placed on animals not just surviving in our care but thriving and having their social/emotional needs met for a life worth living.  Scientific research continues to contribute to an ever increasing knowledge base.   Merkies’ latest collective paper on the Effect of Human Attachment Style on Horse Behaviour and Physiology during Equine-Assisted Activities was published earlier this year.  The pilot study aimed to determine the effect of the attachment style of at-risk adolescents on the physiology and behavior of therapy horses during a 10-week Equine Facilitated Learning program.  The therapy horses used during this study indicated a low stress response toward participants in the program.  In particular, a human insecure attachment style produced more predictable behavioural responses in the horses.   In another study, Merkies and her team discovered that, depending on the kind of stress, horses might blink significantly less when they’re experiencing acute stress.     Horses may understand us better than we understand them.  One study has shown that horses are adept at distinguishing human facial expressions.  Another study by Merkies’ graduate student, Abby Hodder, further supported this research and explored how this ability could influence the affective state of a horse.     Can we say we are as good at reading a horses’ expression?  Have a look at the research on facial grimace recognition in horses to see if you can distinguish between relaxed and pained expressions.   Merkies has also joined researchers in the quest to find out how horses listen to us and if the human voice could have a calming effect on horses.  She relays, horses in a round pen moved more quickly when a stern voice was introduced than when a pleasant one was used.  The horses were also more likely to turn their body toward a pleasant voice.  Merkies has also seen for herself in various studies that horses do not like being alone, instantly becoming calmer when a human enters a round pen scenario. Another study reveals horses are more likely to approach an attentive person over an inattentive one.     Studies on horses’ emotional intelligence have come out with conflicting results with some pointing out a confident handler could more easily lead a horse through an obstacle course, while other studies suggest horses are not stressed by a nervous handler.  Some studies have suggested horses can recognize different emotions but empathy or experience of those emotions are unknown.   The hot topics of positive and negative reinforcement in the training of horses had been a recurring theme throughout the ISES conference and was not to be left out of Merkies’ presentation.  Incorrect use of negative reinforcement (such as incorrect timing removing the pressure of an aid) has been linked to increased stress in horses.  Positive reinforcement has been shown to lead to anticipatory behaviour and a greater attentiveness to the trainer.  Other studies have also revealed horses kept on pasture desensitize to novel stimuli quicker.     The talk finished up on more recurrent themes of ‘social license to operate’ and charging the human handlers with practicing ‘agency’ for the horse.  Tuning in to the horses needs and allowing them to express themselves.  Not dismissing if they turn away when the bridle is presented, and similar cues delivered with body language.  Education is the key to recognizing positive indicators of welfare and picking up on warning signs.  Equitation science will continue to play an important role championing for equine welfare.   Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. 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   Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions   Web Link(s): Story web link:   Other web links: 50 recent horse behavior studies referenced   humans can distinguish between positive and negative domestic horse vocalizations lay abstract.pdf   Cordelie DuBois, surveyed participants with surprising results   Effect of Human Attachment Style on Horse Behaviour and Physiology during Equine-Assisted Activities   horses might blink significantly less when they’re experiencing acute stress   horses are adept at distinguishing human facial expressions   facial grimace recognition in horses   if the human voice could have a calming effect on horses   Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. 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      

Guelph, ON Aug. 19, 2020 - Practice makes perfect and veterinarians spend countless hours honing their skills in laboratories before graduating and applying that knowledge in the field.  Anatomical models of the equine neck, created by 3-D printing, are revolutionizing how veterinary students and graduates will practice the precise placement required in ultrasound-guided injections.   Dr. Alex zur Linden, radiologist and Ontario Veterinary College researcher, teamed up with John Phillips, PhD Engineer and director of 3D printing in the University of Guelph’s Digital Haptic Lab to come up with some exciting models that are the first of their kind in the veterinary field.   “We hope the research to create these models will serve as a resource for the scientific community to make similar models,” says zur Linden who published a paper on the research in 2019 with his graduate student Alexandre Beaulieu, and provided Equine Guelph with a fascinating video interview.     Ultrasound guided injections are a common method of treating osteoarthritis in the equine cervical vertebrae.   Typically veterinary students, grad students, interns, faculty and graduate vets train for this procedure using cadavers which is a race against time itself.  Add to that a delay in gaining feedback on the results and the advantages of a 3D printed model become very clear.     Since 2018, zur Linden and his team have been working with Dr. Phillips, testing thirteen different types of materials and printers in combination to compare which model would work best to simulate real bone using ultrasound.  Six of the materials proved suitable for simulating bone or joints for use with ultrasound.  The team has succeeded in creating model vertebrae of the equine neck and embedded them in ballistics gel to simulate the soft tissues surrounding the bones.  These models will give the veterinary community the opportunity to practice ultrasound guided procedures with instant feedback.  The efficiency is beyond compare and the models are completely reusable!  Once the lab practice is complete, the model can be melted down to remove all needle tracks and it is ready to go for the next use.  Time will tell how many procedures can be practiced with one model.   “To create one of these models, the design engineer has the most time consuming job,” explains zur Linden.  “Once we have a CT scan, a few weeks will be spent using software to segment out the anatomy that is to be printed.  The printing of the model only takes 3 – 6 hours.”  Post processing may involve removing supports, removing excess resin and curing to reveal a model that closely mimics bone.  Then the 3D printed models can be embedded in clear ballistics gel to mimic skin and muscle, and degassed to remove all gas bubbles.   There is  great potential for this technology to enhance student learning and to improve the quality of care for the patients.   CT scans from unique cases could be used to create models that would provide vet students opportunities to practice with an array of abnormalities.     “This project, funded by Equine Guelph, afforded the opportunity to work with so many different printers and materials,” zur Linden says, “I am looking forward to sharing results and collaborating with other researchers, working on more challenging and different models including constructing blood vessels and airways for interventional radiology procedures.”       by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions, for Equine Guelph    

Guelph, ON - July, 29, 2020 - A generous donation of $100,000 to Equine Guelph has been made by the Kerr family to establish an equine education and community outreach endowment. A portion of the Kerr Fund for Equine Education and Community Outreach will support much needed ongoing operational funding for the University of Guelph’s not-for-profit Centre for the horse owner.   Sheryl Kerr was inspired to set up the fund through her positive experience taking courses on, Equine Guelph's online learning platform. After taking the Horse Care and Welfare course, quoting from the National Equine Code of Practice came naturally for creating a Covid-19 response plan for her 150-acre farm and training facility. Kerr was impressed with the practicality of the Equine Guelph course and how lessons learned could be directly applied to daily operations.   Having learned so much myself from Equine Guelph's online courses, I know first-hand how much value they bring to the horse community," said Kerr. "Our horses deserve the very best, and Equine Guelph has access to the latest advice from experts across a range of topics that are essential for any horse owner from beginners to barn owners."   Equine Guelph Director Gayle Ecker expressed gratitude and says, “the funding will help us to continue to build our practical and affordable educational programs and industry resources that help improve horse welfare.   The global reach of Equine Guelph's programs was recognized recently by Equestrian Canada as the 2019 recipient of their National Health and Welfare Award. Equine Guelph has been a pioneer in the development of evidence-based, award-winning online education since 2002.   Many student testimonials resonate with Kerr's sentiments, extolling the merits of a wonderful online learning community, the quality of content and expertise of the instructors and guest speakers.   "My hope is that the Kerr Fund for Equine Education and Community Outreach will bring greater awareness for the excellent programs and resources that Equine Guelph has to offer, as well as to inspire others in the horse community to give," said Kerr. "Any horse enthusiast can benefit from what Equine Guelph has to offer, and programs like this rely on donations to survive and thrive."   by Jackie Bellamy-Zions, for Equine Guelph    

Guelph, ON July, 22, 2020 - Cryopreservation is the next exciting stage of research in stem cell therapy. Dr. Thomas Koch and his team are working to preserve cartilage chips for long-term storage, which would enable off-the-shelf use to treat localized cartilage defects. Defects that very often shorten or end horses athletic careers.   Cryopreservation (or vitrification) is the formation of a solid from an aqueous solution without the formation of ice crystals. Using cartilage chips created from equine umbilical cord blood, this next stage in research has the potential to change the way cartilage defects are treated.   If cryopreserved, stored cells can be used; treatment would be very efficient, with no need to harvest stem cells from the patient. This means fewer visits, less waiting and faster treatment.   Listen to the following video where Dr. Koch discusses the future of this ground-breaking research, targeting a common issue (cartilage defects) across disciplines and even species (horse/human).   An injection of funding from Ontario Equestrian allowed for a preliminary study to find out if they were able to vitrify equine cartilage stem cells well from cadavers. "We are very excited to have received this support," says Koch. "The preliminary study will allow for future funding sources from both equine specific and human medicine."   The Ontario Veterinary College is currently working in collaboration with a world-renown cartilage vitrification specialist, Dr. Jomha Nadr, and his team at the University of Alberta, Edmonton to establish a robust vitrification protocol for eCB-MSC-derived neocartilage.   The work will generate pivotal data to support the clinical evaluation of cryopreserved allogenic eCBMSC cartilage chips to repair focal cartilage defects in research horses. Fully implemented, this therapy would provide a safe, efficacious, and technically simple treatment for horses as well as provide an opportunity for a Canadian biotechnology business to bank and distribute vitrified cartilage tissue in unlimited quantities to the world market.   The future of regenerative therapies are exciting, and the potential applications are wide ranging, from treating cartilage defects to potentially delaying the onset of osteo-arthritic changes to treating bacterial infections and inflammation. "We believe this work has the long-term potential to benefit both horses and humans through the development of novel off-the-shelf cell-based therapies for damaged joint cartilage," says Koch.   Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. 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   by Jackie Bellamy-Zions, for Equine Guelph    

Guelph, ON June 10, 2020 - Could biologic therapies be the future for treating joint disease? Ontario Veterinary College researcher, Dr. Mark Hurtig and his team are investigating novel new methods to potentially repair tissue rather than just suppressing the signs of joint disease.   Hurtig also explains the mechanism and contributing factors to fetlock chip fractures stating they can be related to the surface that the horse works on and the intensity of that work.   Dr. Hurtig explains his research into biologic therapies & gives tips to avoid lameness as horses resume training in this 15 minute video.     As a rider and veterinarian, Dr. Hurtig provides some precautions when resuming training of a horse: Return to exercise slowly and incrementally with lots of walking When introducing trotting avoid hard surfaces. Avoid complex moves at first – promote relaxation. Allow an adaptation time when working on new surfaces and cross-train on the surfaces you intend to expose your horse to   Regarding the period of time required before a horse is ready for harder work, Hurtig says, “It depends on the bio-mechanical challenge to their muscular skeletal system.”   One could spend at least three months preparation before the horse is ready for high level performance. It can also take up to a year to get ligaments and tendons ready for Olympic level sport.   Hurtig is excited about his research on Intra Articular therapies that utilize direct injection into the joint as a targeted therapy but cautions against injections used for maintenance or as a preventative measure.   Learn more about Dr. Hurtig's research   Want to learn more about lameness?   Equine Guelph has free healthcare tools: Lameness Lab and Journey through the Joints  Test your knowledge and savvy for spotting lameness!   Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. 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   by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

Guelph, ON - May 27, 2020 - How would equine industry members describe the welfare status of Canadian horses? Which horses do they believe are the most at risk? And what do they believe threatens horse welfare? These are just some of the questions a research team at the University of Guelph set out to answer. In 2015, Master’s student, Lindsay Nakonechny, with the support of supervisor Dr. Katrina Merkies and PhD student Cordelie DuBois, created a survey to find out what adult members of the Canadian equine industry think about horse welfare. The online survey results revealed that participants largely agree on some of the top perceived threats to horse welfare, but also uncovered a few surprises.   Almost one hundred percent of survey participants agreed that there were welfare issues in the Canadian equine industry, citing unwanted horses, inappropriate training methods, and unknowledgeable owners as some of the key issues within the industry. The majority of participants also highlighted ineffective legislation and the incapacity of law enforcement to protect horses as important.   When examining which groups of horses were perceived to be “at risk”, however, opinions were much more divided. Welfare issues connected to auctions or feedlot horses were less divided. Horses intended for slaughter and horses with owners who lack knowledge, were also suggested as affected groups by survey participants.   Lack of knowledge continued to emerge as a re-occurring survey theme. This, along with financial difficulties was considered one of the biggest challenges to “good” equine welfare. This supports the need for educational programs and targeted knowledge transfer. Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph could not agree more. “What this survey tells us is there is a need to work together with strong support from the industry to extend the reach of welfare education,” says Ecker. “Improved information outreach to the industry incorporating human behaviour change approaches are vital if we are to have an impact on improving equine welfare.”   Close to 1,000 participants from multiple disciplines across Canada took the survey and self-identified as at least somewhat knowledgeable regarding horse care. Of the five options regarding horse care knowledge, participants were most familiar with body condition scoring (BCS; 78.6%,). Surprisingly, under 55% were aware of the national document: the Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines (NFACC). Participants were even less familiar with the American Association of Equine Practitioners Lameness Scale (35.6%), the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare (29.7%), and Equitation Science (20.4%).   Alongside examining the participants’ views on equine welfare within the industry, researchers also examined what factors, such as a person’s gender or view on their horse’s ability to feel emotions, most often affected their answers. Researchers found that whether a person considered their horse to be livestock or a companion animal, as well as what discipline they were involved in, most often influenced their perception of welfare issues. People who considered horses livestock, for example, were less likely to believe that horses at auction or on feedlots were an “at risk” group.   Additionally, eight scenarios were included in the survey, each outlining a scenario in which horse welfare could be compromised. Those ranked the most welfare-compromising involved horses being pastured without water during the wintertime and a horse given a sedative prior to training. While participants of this survey almost unanimously indicated that they believed horses could feel a variety of emotional states, this belief was not always reflected in their ranking of the scenarios. Several scenarios described situations in which horses could be suffering the effects of boredom or frustration (e.g. a horse on extended stall rest), but these scenarios were not considered as welfare-compromising as others. The intersection between what individuals think horses are capable of feeling and how this translates into practice (i.e. what situations cause horses to feel emotions such as boredom or pain) is an interesting one, and a challenge to all educators looking to bridge the gap between “knowing” and “understanding.”   To learn more about the survey questions, the diversity of the survey participant’s answers, and how they related to their involvement in the equine industry, read the full publication:   Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. 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   Story by: Equine Guelph

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