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In an ideal world, horse owners prefer the thought of their aged senior dying a peaceful, natural death. Unfortunately, many owners are faced with the difficult decision of having to put down their beloved equine due to humane or medical reasons.   While planning ahead for the inevitable may be somewhat painful, understanding the process and knowing ahead of time who to turn to for help will make the decision easier, especially when our minds are clear and free of emotion. Throughout the eight years that Bronwynne Wilton owned Pepper, a lively gray pony with a personality, he gave her family all that he had, and more. Saved from a trip to the slaughter house by his previous owner, where she paid the equivalent of meat price for him, Wilton never knew Pepper's true age, but estimated that he was likely in his teens. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, his feet were already showing the tell-tale signs of some metabolic issues occurring within the hoof capsule. "After bringing him home to a friend's farm, we discovered he was much more nervous around humans than we originally thought, and his feet were quite a mess, as they were long and laminitic," says Wilton, who is on staff with the Office of Research at the University of Guelph in Ontario. "We worked on his feet gradually and also on his confidence around us, and both improved quite quickly. We kept him off grass, and his feet were quite good for about five years with us, and all three of my children learned how to ride on him. He had a lot of character and was a funny little pony to get along with. There was quite a bit of bonding with him and our family over the years." Pepper was loaned out on a free lease to allow another little girl to learn how to ride, and about a year later he came back to the Wiltons and was retired on their farm near Fergus, Ontario while they carefully managed his laminitic condition. One of the most common causes of lameness in horses and ponies, laminitis is a painful inflammatory condition found in the laminae of the hoof. Research has found that it can be triggered by a variety of metabolic or physical causes. Even though the Wiltons monitored his diet by restricting his access to grass completely, soaking his hay and regularly consulting a veterinarian, Pepper's health continued to deteriorate. "We tried to keep him as comfortable as possible for months; however, given his age - we figured him to be about 24 years old - and the obvious pain that he was in, we discussed options with the vet, " says Wilton. "In the end, it just didn't make sense to prolong his distress any further." The vet was wonderful about affirming their decision and said it was the kindest option given Pepper's circumstance, she added. "The actual end, while of course incredibly sad and heart-breaking, was also reassuringly peaceful," says Wilton. "Pepper spent the last morning of his life being loved and pampered by the people who knew him best. He was fed his favourite treats, which he hadn't been allowed to have for so long, and everything was very kind and calm." While it was not an easy decision to make, it was a respectful and humane ending for a pony who gave years of enjoyment to the Wilton family. Knowing When to Make the Call The decision to have one's horse euthanized can be complex and is unique to each individual horse and its owner, advises Laura Frost, BSc., DVM, of Halton Equine Veterinary Services in Puslinch, Ontario. "It is beneficial to explore the options of euthanasia ahead of time," says Frost. "Many of us, including veterinarians, can be highly emotional while dealing with our horses' illnesses, and the ability to make decisions can be hampered, especially when one is expected to make a tough decision within a short period of time." Euthanasia, the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering, comes from the Greek language meaning "a good death." In the majority of cases, there are two instances wherein equine euthanasia is considered. The first involves an emergency setting where the horse is seriously ill or injured, such as cases of severe colic, head or spinal trauma of the horse. This requires immediate veterinary attention and involves evaluation and consideration for euthanasia. Many times the decision is made for the owner by the vet, for the sake of the horse. The second situation is a chronic, longer-term problem, whether the horse is suffering due to an age-related ailment or a chronic injury that can affect the quality of its life or the cost of care is prohibitive. And in this case, the end of life decision can be much more difficult, as many prefer to avoid making "the call." Euthanasia is a kinder option than letting a horse suffer explains Frost. Removing ourselves from the picture and knowing what is best for the horse helps us all deal with the reality of the situation. "The vet can help with the transition by discussing how the quality of life can be assessed, such as the lack of appetite, severe weight loss, identifying signs of pain, such as bruxism (habitual grinding of teeth), prolonged periods of recumbency (lying down), and chronic wounds that are not healing," says Frost. The cost to euthanize a horse can vary depending on the veterinarian, farm location, medications that were administered to treat the horse, etc.; however, most average from $175 to $250, barring any complications. Determining the Options Considering one's options and having the knowledge provided by your veterinarian beforehand rather than during an emergency-type situation will make it easier in dealing with a death and the grieving process. "The veterinarian can also talk about options such as the location of the euthanasia, and what can be expected during the procedure so that the owner can decide if he or she will be present," says Frost. "It is also important to know how the body will be looked after (buried, cremated). The time of season may limit certain options such as dealing with frozen ground, and if dealing with extreme heat, you may need to try to time the euthanasia so that pickup by a deadstock removal company can be at the farm promptly, not only because of decomposition of the body, but also to avoid predators." Disposal options should be considered in advance and carried out according to municipal and/or provincial regulations. Euthanasia is a final decision, notes Frost, and both the before and after should be well thought out. "Horse owners should make themselves aware of the options available beforehand, such as a post-mortem or the return of ashes through special cremation, or they may have some regrets, which will make the grieving period that much more difficult," she says. The 2013 Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines recommends the decision to euthanize should be made with careful consideration, and at the same time, not to delay the process for reasons such as the horse owner's convenience or related costs. The act of leaving a suffering animal to die of natural causes, as what some refer to as "letting nature take its course," is considered to be unacceptable. The Code is also now being utilized by the OSPCA in assessing potential equine welfare cases. The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines can be viewed or downloaded at: A Humane End of Life While the decision to euthanize one's horse can be a difficult one, it's something that most horse owners will have to face at some point and plays an important responsibility in horse ownership. Planning ahead for the inevitable arms you with the correct tools to assist you in deciding with a clearer head. It's important to remember that "It's not about you" - it's about what's best for your horse. Sign up for our free e-newsletter which will deliver monthly welfare tips throughout 2014 and announce tools to aid all horse owners in carrying out their 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' to our beloved horses. In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Equine Guelph is developing a 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' equine welfare educational initiative which stands to benefit the welfare of horses in both the racing and non-racing sectors. by Barbara Sheridan, for Equine Guelph    

Guelph, Ontario - August 7, 2014 - When it comes to breeding the importance of sound management and health practices play a key role in building a solid foundation toward a horse's future. Equine Guelph is pleased to offer its newly updated "Growth and Development" online course as part of its Fall 2014 lineup, which has been designed to increase awareness by incorporating the advances in research and evolving management practices for the broodmare and stallion. "The Growth and Development course will eliminate all the old wives' tales and myths, and replace tradition with hard facts from research and development," says course instructor Doug Nash who served as farm manager at Glengate Farms in Campbellville, Ontario for almost 30 years. "It will also bring those same people up to date with the latest technology, nutrition and methods used today by the professionals of the trade, through class discussion and the use of guest speakers, as well as the new audio/visuals and revised textbook." Offered as a 12-week online course through the University of Guelph in September, key topics include examining barn and breeding facilities, property location and renovation of an existing facility, water sources and quality, bio-security, nutrition, and animal conditioning for reproduction, as well as encompassing all aspects of reproduction and sound management practices prior to conception and beyond. The course will also consist of video interviews with experienced industry breeders; along with video demonstrations of preparing for semen collection and new technological advances such as embryo transfer. "This is a course for anyone who might be contemplating horse ownership and breeding, as well as future veterinarians considering large animal practice, and veterinarian assistants," says Nash. "It would also benefit those working in the production for sales of equine breeding supplies and building design for the horse industry, as well as the area of bio-security with regard to producing or selling mare and foal feeds, supplements and milk replacers and those boarding mares and foals as a profession or producing weanlings to yearlings for sale or training." Registration for Equine Guelph's Fall 2014 semester is now open with courses beginning on September 15, 2014. Other Fall course offerings include Management of the Equine Environment, Equine Health & Disease Prevention, Equine Nutrition, Equine Functional Anatomy, Equine Business Management, Stewardship of the Equine Environment, Equine Journalism, Advanced Equine Functional Anatomy, and Advanced Equine Behaviour. The early bird deadline is Friday, August 15, 2014. More information can be found at or by contacting Open Learning and Educational Support at or 519-767-5000. Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit by: Barbara Sheridan Photo Captions: Understanding the birth cycle of the horse and related warning signs of problems is just one of the many topics that will be explored in Equine Guelph's Growth and Development online course.  

Whether you’re 18 or 80, have lots of time or a little – Equine Guelph have the equine program for you. They have a range of online programs from general interest short eWorkshops on practical topics to a comprehensive course of study leading to an accredited Diploma in Equine Studies. Not your typical learning forum, here’s why they are different: • Join a leading online program - the first of its kind (est. 2002) • Learn from an accredited university • Balance your studies with work, family and your horses • Experience practical, meaningful learning • Benefit from leading instructors and industry experts • Be part of a learning community of fellow horse enthusiasts • Share experiences and learn from students around the world Whether you’re destined for a career in the horse industry or a horse enthusiast hungry for knowledge, Equine Guelph’s award-winning online programs have one prerequisite – a love of horses! We welcome you to explore our many educational offerings. Click here for upcoming programs    

Often times, horse owners feel their beloved equines are simply a magnet for injuries. Being accident prone just seems to be in their nature, most times brought on by their instinctive fight-or-flight response, their need to establish herd hierarchy, and in some cases, their sense of natural curiosity. By spending time to minimize the various hazards found on your property through identification and removal, you'll take one step closer to making your barn and property safer for your horse and eliminate any potential accidents that may occur. "There is no such thing as an accident, they are only incidents," says Dr. Rebecca Gimenez, Primary Instructor and President of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Inc. (TLAER), based in Georgia. "No matter how unfortunate the situation, looking back, something somewhere probably could have prevented it from happening in the first place." Gimenez provides training in technical animal rescue techniques, procedures, and methodologies across the U.S. and internationally. In addition to publishing numerous critiques, articles, and journal submissions on horse safety, technical large animal rescue and horse handling issues, she published her first book, Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, in 2008. She recommends that horse and facility owners become educated in both prevention and safety in order to identify any possible hazards and take the appropriate action beforehand to help offset an emergency visit from your veterinarian or even worse, having to resort to calling 911. "The issue is usually having enough knowledge to understand where these hazardous problems lie and to act on them," says Gimenez. Farm properties can commonly become a catch-all for clutter and various safety hazards. Make it a habit to walk the property and be on the lookout for anything that could pose a problem should a horse connect with it. Keep an eye out for any sharp edges or protruding items such as nails, screws, torn metal, etc. Farm and maintenance equipment such as mowers, bailers, and harrows, should all be stored away in its proper place. Take the necessary steps to dispose of any clutter or debris that has been collecting along fence lines, laneways, or around the barn. Walk your pastures and fill in any holes to prevent torn ligaments or a broken leg, as well as collect any discarded round bale netting or binder twine - it's surprising how some horses like to munch on this. Also keep a look out for any potentially poisonous or toxic plants, such as tansy ragwort, nightshade, cocklebur, etc. While they may have not bothered with them in the past, a hungry horse without adequate pasture or hay will eat anything. Inspect not only your grazing field, but your hay as well. For a list of dangerous plants in your area, check with your local ministry of agriculture. If you are unable to tackle any of the potential hazards immediately, make note of your findings so that they are not forgotten. For a complete list of identifying hazards on the farm, please visit Hidden Hazards Dusts, fumes, and vapours are hidden hazards that can have long-term effects on respiratory health for both horses and the humans who work around them. Poor ventilation can contribute to allergies and respiratory ailments including recurrent airway obstruction (RAO), better known as heaves. "We've all been in barns during the winter, where all the doors and windows are closed up tight because of the cold," notes Gimenez. "And this comes down to human comfort. We're cold, so we think the horses are cold and close everything up. Without proper ventilation, the horses breathe in all that dust and ammonia. This is an unseen hazard that a lot of people don't think about." A properly ventilated barn encourages correct airflow movement that expels stale air and pushes chemicals odors such ammonia out of the barn and allows fresh air to enter. "I've seen people spend $100,000 on a new barn and put in cheap $10 box fans, which are also a huge fire hazard," continues Gimenez. "Why didn't they spend a bit extra and install overhead fans? Or bring in a ventilation expert to look at their place and evaluate a proper ventilation system that can release the fumes and help improve the air quality in that barn?" High Risk Factors Statistics show that the two most common emergencies affecting horse owners are trailer wrecks and barn fires, notes Gimenez. This is followed by entrapment-type emergency situations where the horse is stuck in mud or icy water, tangled in fences, or other around-the-farm situations where they become trapped and cannot remove themselves. While a necessity, fencing is also a major contributor to hazards on the farm and inspection should be done as part of your daily routine. Don't forget to check BOTH sides of your fencing and look for any protruding nails or wire, rotting posts, loose boards, dropped gates, etc. "Make a habit of checking your fences regularly," says Gimenez. "Not only can your horses injure themselves on broken boards or wires, but it only takes a stiff wind or the snow being so deep that the horses can just step over them, and then they're loose. And a panicky, loose horse on the run can then open up a whole new set of emergency situations." Another danger that Gimenez warns of is housing horses in fields with ponds during the winter. If you are not able to relocate them to another area of the property, ensure that ponds are fenced off with some form of temporary fencing before they freeze over. There have been numerous incidents where a horse will walk out across a snow-covered pond and fall through the ice into freezing water. Sometimes it doesn't end well. "Last December, the Emergency Equine Response Unit in the Kansas City area had the horrifically tragic and difficult job of retrieving the bodies of three young horses out of a pond after they fell through the ice and drowned," she says. "I can't stress it enough, people have to fence off their ponds and keep them out of mud, ice and water." Don't Fall Victim to "It Won't Happen to me" Syndrome Accidents involving horses can happen anywhere, anytime, and it's an unfortunate fact that many could have been prevented. By taking the time to identify and correct any hazards that may be found on your property, you'll be in a better position to prevent any possible injuries that can arise. This saves aggravation on not only your horses, but also your pocketbook. "I can't stress it enough, take the time to educate yourself on accident prevention and maintain your facilities so as to minimize injury to your horses," says Gimenez. "They will thank you for it." Interested in learning more? Equine Guelph will be hosting an Emergency Preparedness Workshop for Horse Owners in Guelph on Sept 18, 2014 followed by a Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Awareness and Operations Level Course on Sept 19, 20, 21. Sign up for our free e-newsletter at, which delivers monthly welfare tips throughout 2014 and provides tools to aid all horse owners in carrying out their 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' to our beloved horses. In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Equine Guelph is developing a 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' equine welfare educational initiative which stands to benefit the welfare of horses in both the racing and non-racing sectors. Visit Equine Guelph's Welfare Education page for more information. by Barbara Sheridan, for Equine Guelph    

Early Bird Registration extended to April 7th A Guided Tour of Equine Anatomy is a dissection workshop offered to horse enthusiasts and professionals alike to help them understand equine anatomy first hand. Led by Ontario Veterinary College researcher and anatomy instructor, Dr. Jeff Thomason, this unique educational workshop is offered at the Ontario Veterinary College. Early bird sign up has been extended to April 7th for workshops offered on April 26 and 27, 2014. Well known for his ability to bring anatomy to life, Thomason guides participants through plenty of hands-on exploration of the anatomy of a horse in a way most do not get to experience. An overview of the large muscle groups of the neck, trunk and legs is followed by an exploration of the abdomen and chest. The latter part of the laboratory is designed to allow individual students to explore their areas of interest in further detail. This one day workshop can be followed by a second day of advanced exploration which would allow the participants to get even more specific in learning how different systems function. Some of the second day topics have included looking at the mechanics of the leg or the complexities of the respiratory system. Students leave with a much broader understanding of how form and function intertwine. Dr. Thomason, is not only an internationally recognized researcher but he also teaches anatomy to veterinary students at the OVC and is excellent at explaining basic to advanced anatomy topics. Registration is online at: For more information about this workshop: or contact Equine Guelph. 519-824-4120 ext 54205 email:  

Storms, blizzards, floods, or tornadoes - it seems that over the past few years, we've seen them all. Disasters often strike without warning as demonstrated recently by the notable December ice storm that wreaked havoc on hundreds of thousands residents in Ontario, the Maritimes, and the northeastern U.S. with downed tree limbs and power lines. Many were without power for days, while for others it was weeks, which meant no heat, hydro or water. No one is immune from the possible effects of a disaster, no matter what the season, but preparing ahead of time and having an emergency plan in place before disaster strikes will help to keep our horses safe and out of harm's way. Plan it Out Being aware of the possible risks in your region is the first step toward preparing for any possible disaster that has the potential to cause a short term or long term disruption to you, your family and your animals. Is your area prone to flooding? What about tornadoes or blizzards? If the roads are closed, how do you get food to your horses? The next step is to plan for any possible extended disruption of services. Authorities usually recommend having at least two weeks supply of feed/hay on hand, and kept stored in a dry area. Top off all water tanks and buckets before an impending storm, and store additional water in plastic trash cans secured with lids in a safe place. Consider having well-maintained generators on hand to provide emergency power, and have enough fuel to keep them running for several days. Always keep an up-to-date emergency care kit that includes vetwrap, bandages, medications, flashlights, batteries, etc. Having an envelope set aside with emergency cash, the amount depending on your budget and needs will also come in handy for times such as these. In addition to Mother Nature's list of natural disasters, you should also consider other potential dangers such as wildfires or the possibility of manmade emergencies including gas leaks or propane spills. Many times, these result in evacuation with very little notice. In the case of an evacuation, while you might be able to take the family pet along with you to a hotel, it's not the time to start calling around to find a safe location to move your horses. Prearrange an evacuation site for your horses and map out primary and secondary routes in advance. Develop a buddy system with friends and neighbouring barns. Don't hesitate to ask for help when the time comes. Also, make sure your horses are trained to easily load and unload from a trailer. If evacuation is not possible, decide where on the property to safely store your horses. Micro chipping, branding, or tattooing, along with registration with online identification agencies, provides a permanent form of animal identification. As an alternative, ensure that your horses are equipped with some form of identification such as a halter tag, neck collar, or leg tag that contains your contact information, should you have to leave them behind. Human Safety Comes First In the case of a natural or man-made disaster, it's important that the safety of humans come first, says District Chief Victor MacPherson of the Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department. "Make sure that you and your family are safe before assisting your animals," he says. "In the case of a fire, this is where emergency preparedness comes into play. If the barn is on fire, what do you do? What do you do with your livestock? My advice is, if it's safe to do so, try to get them out. However, if you bring them out of the barn and just turn them loose, most likely the horses will try to run back into the barn. That's where their haven is; what they consider to be their safe place. People should have a location in mind ahead of time to safely keep them together, such as a field or another barn far away from the fire." MacPherson recalls an incident with a large grass fire that claimed nearly 200 acres in the Adjala-Tosorontio area in July 2012. "The grass fire was moving aggressively towards a certain farm area, and was a heavy fuel load [had a lot to burn], with a lot of smoke," he says. "Smoke can be just as dangerous as fire because it'll spook the horses. With the help of the property owner, we were successful in moving them out to a safer place." As is often the case in an emergency when people call 911, firefighters are usually the first responders to the scene. Because of this, many firefighters are now receiving training in how to handle animals in emergency situations. Last year, the Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department held a Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) course for first responders and animals owners. Deborah Chute, owner and operator of Laurenwood Stables and a volunteer firefighter with the Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department, helped co-ordinate this course after seeing the need for such a training program. "I first started thinking about the need for a course such as this one after the grass fire in June 2012," she says. "It was necessary to evacuate people, but there were over 50 horses that were also at risk, as well as other large animals and livestock. Thankfully, the fire was brought under control, but contemplating the logistics of moving that many animals made me realize we needed some additional training." Preparedness is Essential While it's impossible to prepare for all conditions, don't let an emergency situation catch you off guard. Having a basic plan in place ahead of time for either the evacuation or sheltering of your horses allows you to handle an emergency with less stress and a clearer head. "Pre-incident planning is crucial for any farm owner," says Chute. "Farms by their very nature contain many hazards to humans, animals and the environment, and careful planning before the event of an emergency can save lives and property. Local fire departments are usually quite happy to assist in developing pre-incident plans and can give further advice on fire detection and suppression systems that can be retrofitted or installed in new buildings. Regular inspection and repair of all human and animal housing and fencing will go a long way to keep you and your animals safe." Sign up for our free e-newsletter at which will deliver monthly welfare tips throughout 2014 and announce tools to aid all horse owners in carrying out their 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' to our beloved horses. Visit Equine Guelph's Welfare Education page for more information In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Equine Guelph is developing a 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' equine welfare educational initiative which stands to benefit the welfare of horses in both the racing and non-racing sectors. Equine Guelph will be hosting an Emergency Preparedness course for horse owners Sept 18 (tentative date) followed by a Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Awareness and Operations Level course Sept 19, 20, 21 (tentative dates). Contact Susan Raymond for more details. 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 by Barbara Sheridan, for Equine Guelph    

Stem cell therapy at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) Health Sciences Centre is yielding promising results in the treatment of tendon injuries in horses. Two horses are currently being treated using allogous stem cells - cells that were banked and transplanted from another donor horse - a medical first in Canada and among only a handful of cases reported worldwide. "The results are encouraging," says Dr. Judith Koenig, an equine surgeon in the Department of Clinical Studies and OVC's Equine Sports Medicine and Reproduction Service. "Now we want to attract more cases so we can continue to evaluate stem cell therapy for the treatment of tendon lesions, ligament and joint injuries." Koenig is treating the horses using stem cells derived from the umbilical cord blood of foals obtained using a process developed by Dr. Thomas Koch, a veterinarian and researcher in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. Koch's work is focused on regenerative medicine and the potential of stem cells to repair damage to joints and cartilage caused by injuries and diseases such as arthritis. The cases illustrate the hope and promise of stem cell therapy, and the need to proceed with caution. Koenig first assessed one of the horses, a two-year old racing Thoroughbred, about seven months ago for an injury to the superficial digital flexor tendon in its right front leg. "The injury was career-ending in severity using conventional therapies," Koenig says. So a new approach was needed. In June, stem cells were injected into the horse's injured tendon. The horse has since shown remarkable improvement at its three-month and six-month rechecks at OVC. "We were absolutely astonished," says Koenig. "At three months, the tendon looked as good as it would after six months of healing. It looks amazing on ultrasound." Diagnostic imaging is provided by Dr. Heather Chalmers, who uses ultrasound to assess the injuries and to guide the injection of stem cells to the injury site. The other horse, a Hanoverian breeding stallion, has received two stem cell injections to treat a chronic injury to its left hind leg that prevents him from mounting. The horse had been making good progress following successful surgery at OVC to treat a proximal suspensory lesion, but then came up lame again before Christmas. "This time, he was more lame than before," says Koenig. "Because our other stem cell patient was doing so well, we decided to try it in this case as well." However, while the injury responded well to the first injection, the follow-up ultrasound also revealed a new tear in another part of the tendon. "He's tolerating the stem cells quite well - there have been no signs of inflammation or rejection in response to the injections," says Koenig. "So we plan to bring him back in a month for another injection and hopefully we'll see improvement." Koch was the first to establish a protocol for collecting and differentiating stem cells from equine cord blood, a process that is non-invasive and simple compared with obtaining cells from embryos or bone marrow. Subsequent research, by a number of Koch's and Koenig' s graduate students, has shown that compared to cells from other sources, mesenchymal stem cells derived from cord blood have equal or greater potential for healing connective tissue, muscle and bone. "From my perspective, these clinical cases are first of all about safety because these cells are not from the patients themselves, but transplanted from another horse," says Koch. "Second, we want to know if the cells make a difference and help the patient heal - and it seems that they do." The hope is that allogous stem cells will offer at least one key advantage over autologous therapy in which the patient's own cells are used: time. It can take two to four weeks to collect cells from the patient's bone marrow, blood or fat, and culture the millions of cells required for injecting back into the injured tissue. The process only takes four to six days with cord blood including over night courier shipping to the treating clinician. Allogous cells can be banked for future "off the shelf" use, which means horses can be treated within days of being injured. Allogous cells can also be screened and categorized into cells with optimal properties for treating various conditions. When treating soft-tissue injuries, timing is everything, says Koenig. Studies of tendon injuries treated with bone-marrow-derived stem cells have shown that horses are much more likely to re-injure the same tendon if they're not treated within 44 days. "That's why it's so critical to treat them quickly," she says. by Barry Gunn, for Equine Guelph  

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) has received reports of several cases of equine Strangles (S. equi sp. equi infection) in the Waterloo-Wellington County area. Strangles is not a reportable disease in the province of Ontario, however, it is highly contagious to horses and other equids, and outbreaks are a concern to the equine industry. The reported cases have predominantly shown signs of high fever (40-41⁰C) and mucopurulent nasal discharge with only occasional horses developing enlarged lymph nodes with abscessation. Disease Facts: Strangles is a highly contagious infection of horses caused by the bacterium Streptococcus equi. Clinical signs include fever, nasal discharge and, most typically, lymph node abscessation. Transmission occurs by direct nose-to-nose contact with infected horses or via contact with contaminated surfaces, objects or people (e.g. twitches, tack, buckets, feed troughs, stall walls, fences). The bacterium can survive indoors for weeks to months depending on temperature. The disease is diagnosed by detection of S. equi using bacterial culture and/or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of nasal or lymph node discharge, nasopharyngeal (throat) swabs or nasal or guttural pouch washes. Treatment involves managing the fever and encouraging abscesses to burst. Antibiotics should only be used under veterinary supervision as they may prolong the maturation of abscesses and the disease process. Infection control Minimize all human and animal traffic in and out of the premises. No horses should leave the premises unless they are being taken to an isolation facility, as this increases the risk of spread to other horses. All owners, riders and other personnel in the barn should be made aware of the situation to ensure strict control measures are followed, and so they don’t inadvertently carry the bacterium to other equine facilities Isolate suspect horses as much as possible in a separate, low-traffic area or treat the stall as a quarantined area. Handle infected and suspect horses using gloves, designated coveralls and designated footwear/footbaths. Promote hand hygiene (using products such as alcohol-based hand sanitizers) even when gloves are worn. Take temperatures twice daily on all horses in the facility, including those not showing signs of disease. If a fever is detected (>38.5°C, >101.3°F), the horse should be considered infected and isolated/quarantined until diagnosed. Monitoring should continue for at least two weeks after the last case shows clinical signs. Clean all equipment and surfaces of visible organic material (e.g. dirt, hair, manure) before applying disinfectants. Most common disinfectants are effective. Test horses that have recovered from disease at least twice at one week intervals using throat swab or nasal wash samples to confirm they are negative. Identify those horses that are carriers and intermittently shedding S. equi by testing nasal or guttural pouch washes. Carriers can shed the bacterium for months or years. Prevention Isolate new horses coming on to the farm, or those returning from extended absences, for 2-3 weeks and test them to ensure that they are not shedding the bacterium. If isolation cannot be performed, barn managers should ask for proof of Strangles–free status (based on recent testing) prior to accepting new horses. Discuss with your veterinarian about vaccinating for Strangles. Vaccines can help minimize the severity of disease but may not be appropriate during outbreaks. It is recommended that horses that have been frequently vaccinated for Strangles or have had the disease itself should have a S. equi antibody titre performed prior to vaccination to avoid potential immune reactions. The best method of disease control is disease prevention. See the resources below for other basic biosecurity and infection control practices. RESOURCES OMAF: WORMS & GERMS BLOG: EQUINE GUELPH: Submitted by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food

It is often said that if you ask a question to ten horse owners, you will get ten different answers. However, one thing we can all agree upon is that horses are expensive! Affording the initial purchase cost is the least of expenses. Calculating the maintenance over the horses' lifetime is a more realistic look at a long-term budgeting plan. How much does horse ownership really cost? The short answer is that it depends. There are many variables that come into play when calculating the cost of horse ownership: Buying a Horse "How much does a horse cost?" is a frequently asked question, and like many things in the horse world, the answer is highly variable. Horses can cost anywhere from free to millions of dollars! Realistically, one can expect to spend a few thousand dollars to find an appropriate mount, though this price will depend on the market, the type of horse, intended use and your location. The price of the horse is not the only expense you will encounter when horse shopping. Before buying a horse, it is recommended that you have a trusted veterinarian conduct a pre-purchase exam. After the examination, the vet will give you an opinion on the horse's strengths and weaknesses and discuss any potential problems. This exam will cost anywhere from a few hundred to two thousand dollars, depending on the extensiveness of tests your vet performs and whether you decide to take X-rays. Remember that you will also have to buy all the necessary supplies for your horse: grooming equipment, tack, blankets (if needed) and medical supplies. The cost of these individual items may seem small, but they quickly add up! Routine Costs Your horse has routine care needs. If you are boarding at a stable, the monthly bill can range from $300 to $3000, depending on the services provided. Usually, board includes: food, water, shelter and basic care - however, you may need to provide extra feed and supplements (including salt), or pay for additional services such as blanketing. Keeping your horse at home can be less expensive than boarding, but you will have to pay to maintain the property and provide your horse with feed, water and daily care. Other essentials include routine hoof care by a reputable farrier or trimmer, approximately ever six weeks. A vaccination schedule should be discussed with your veterinarian for annual core vaccines and others which will depend on your horse's individual needs and infection control measures recommended for your area. Your horse may require medication or supplements. Unexpected Costs As a horse owner, you will need to learn to expect unexpected costs - your horse does not know when the next pay day is, or whether you're planning your next vacation; the horse may need immediate veterinarian care, board might increase or the price of hay may suddenly sky rocket. The average horse owner should have a plan to deal with unexpected costs. Common health problems, such as colic, can leave you with thousands of dollars of vet bills. Even relatively minor health problems can become costly. Vet visits, medical supplies and care costs quickly add up. It is important to always have a plan to deal with unforeseen costs; you might consider creating a horse specific savings account, or purchasing equine insurance. Human Costs While it is entirely possible to pay only horse-related expenses; if you intend to ride or drive your horse, there will be human costs. Appropriate clothing is a must to stay safe around the barn. You will need a helmet, gloves, breeches or jeans and a boot or shoe with a low wedge heel. While you need not buy expensive clothing, safety is a must. You will likely require lessons to learn how to properly ride and/or drive and handle your horse. Expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $100 dollars a lesson. If you are planning on showing your horse, be prepared to get out your cheque book. At the introductory levels, a schooling show will cost about $200 when you add up trailer, coaching, office and class fees. Show fees increase as one moves up through the levels. More than Money Horses take a toll on more than just your wallet; you will need to invest emotional and physical resources, as well as your time. Driving to the barn, grooming and working your horse can require upwards of two hours each time. For most horse owners this is a three to six day a week commitment. Are you capable of staying up all night with a sick horse - or are you willing to pay somebody else to take on that responsibility? If you get injured by your horse, can you afford to take time off work to heal? Could you handle choosing between an expensive surgery or euthanasia if the situation arises? Horse owners often have to make tough decisions that impact more than their bank account. The Bottom Line As you can see, the cost of horse ownership has a number of variables. Remember that while you don't need to buy the trendiest, most expensive products or services, you do have a responsibility to provide your horse with a safe and healthy environment. What works for one horse and owner may not work for another, and the rules of horse ownership are not set in stone. Working with horses can be very rewarding - building athleticism, co-ordination, dedication, and many life skills - but before deciding your level of involvement, it is important to plan a realistic long-term budget for time and finances. To learn more about the cost of horse ownership, please take a look at Equine Guelph's 'Cost of Horse Ownership' chart, which will outline necessary purchases and their average cost. You can also view our 'The Real Cost of Horse Ownership" video, where real horse owners' talk about their experiences. Sign up for our free e-newsletter at which will deliver monthly welfare tips throughout 2014 and announce tools to aid all horse owners in carrying out their 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' to our beloved horses. Visit Equine Guelph's Welfare Education page for more information In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Equine Guelph is developing a 'Full-Circle-Responsibility' equine welfare educational initiative which stands to benefit the welfare of horses in both the racing and non-racing sectors. Submmitted by Equine Guelph    

Below freezing temperatures can make hibernation look tempting but inactivity in horses can lead to many issues including lameness. Even though the weather outside may be frightful, your horse's need for mobility has not changed. As a grazing animal, horses naturally move and eat for the better part of a day but this can prove challenging when a winter storm hits. Many horses will stay put by the hay feeder and you will see no evidence of tracks elsewhere in your snowy fields. Feeding hay in several different locations throughout the paddock can encourage travel which not only encourages healthy limbs but also aids in digestion. Be sure the paddock is free of dangerous footing and clean up any decaying forage before spring. What is your winter plan? When the yard freezes, your horse may not be able to go outside if the risk of slipping makes conditions dangerous. Those with indoor riding rings have an area to help maintain movement. If you do not have this luxury, hand walking horses where it is safe may be one of your limited options. Winter presents more problems than just storms. Hard ground in the winter can be the perfect storm for bruised feet. It is good practice to keep your horse on a regular schedule with the farrier. If bruising is a recurring problem, seek their advice on options for your horse's feet. Bruising leading to abscess formation is another common winter foe. Immobility can have negative effects including joint stiffness and losing range of motion in horses suffering from arthritis. To learn more about lameness detection, check out Equine Guelph's online healthcare tool 'Lameness Lab' sponsored by Zoetis. The Lameness Lab will allow horse owners to discover the causes and factors contributing to increased risk. You will learn about the body tissues involved and how to tell if your horse is lame. Plus, see videos of lame horses; test your knowledge and find out how a veterinarian detects lameness. Manager of Equine Veterinary Services at Zoetis, Cathy Rae says, "We hope that by visiting the Lameness Lab, horse owners can develop or sharpen their skills in early lameness detection, and work with their veterinarians to ensure that their horses are "road ready" when winter is FINALLY over." Learn something new about lameness. Go to Equine Guelph's 'Toolbox' at and click on Lameness Lab. Zoetis also sponsors 'Journey through the Joints,' another tool to help horse owners understand inflammation and how it affects the health of their horses joints. Please note: This information provides guidelines only and should never replace information from your veterinarian. From Equine Guelph

Cold and still can equal stiff Below freezing temperatures can make hibernation look tempting but inactivity in horses can lead to many issues. Read up on tips to stay mobile this winter And when to call the vet if lameness is suspected. A breath of fresh air  Equids are equipped to deal with the cold. With certain precautions, maximizing turn-out time can be the healthiest option for your horse. Stall bound horses incur a higher risk for respiratory ailments that can impead or halt your horses athletic career. Read tips for cleaner air in your stable courtesy of Equine Guelph's Management of the Equine Environment course.   Shivering seniors If your senior steed is looking cold this winter, it may be time to feed more fibre and consider a blanket. Learn more horse management tips for the elderly equine with this information sheet Top Seasonal Tips Colic alert - Horses need water 24/7. When moist grass is replaced by dry hay the need for water in digestion becomes even greater. Don't allow water sources to freeze. Use Equine Guelph's interactive Colic Risk Rater tool to assess your risk. Safe passage - You put winter tires on your car but how will your horse fare in icy conditions? Keep pathways clear with a handy mix of wood chips, sand and rock salt. Hair raising experiences - Beware the dangers of throwing a winter blanket on a sweaty horse. If your horse is not clipped, cooling out time will increase. Horses' lose the ability to insulate themselves against the cold when hair is wet and laying flat. More tips... Winter weight - what is going on under that blanket? Check your horse is maintaining condition. Horses should still receive a daily once over in the winter including hoof picking, wound checks... and weight loss or gain. Fire safety - keep warm but not with household extension cords and heaters in your stable. For 38 more fire safety tips... For more information on online educational courses - click here Submitted by Equine Guelph, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada,   

Guelph, Ontario - We live in a technologically driven information age where there is an app for almost anything, but when it comes to horses, there is no substitute for knowledge and education. Learn to better understand horses through their own eyes and how to care for their physical and behavioural needs with Equine Guelph's online course, Equine Behaviour. "The primary focus in this class is not to explore what horses can do for humans, but to teach humans what they can do for horses, to facilitate willing partnerships by maintaining optimal physical and behavioural health," says course instructor Dr. Sid Gustafson. Within this 12-week course, Gustafson says students will learn about the evolution of the horse, tracing the horse's development through time in order to appreciate the nature of the horse. Students also discuss domestication science to understand the merging of human society with horse society and the social constructs that are shared between humans and horses. Other topics include horsemanship based on learned science, equine welfare, social play, training, and the various stereotypies that affect horse behaviour such as cribbing, rearing and bucking. An equine behaviourist, novelist, and veterinarian, Gustafson was raised with horses on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana and was able to experience the culture of horses and humans in a natural setting. He operates a pet and equine practice in Big Sky, Montana, where "these days, my students and horses are my primary teachers". To learn more, please visit "The objective of this course is to make the world a better place for horses, and subsequently make it a better place for horse folk," he says. "Students learn how to care for horses as horses prefer to be cared for." Equine Behaviour and Advanced Equine Behaviour arepart of the Equine Science Certificate continuing education program and will be included in Equine Guelph's Winter 2014 online lineup. Other course offerings include Equine Functional Anatomy, The Equine Industry, Management of the Equine Environment, Equine Health & Disease Prevention, Marketing and Communications in the Equine Industry, Advanced Equine Health through Nutrition and Global Perspectives in Equine Welfare. The Winter semester runs from January 13, 2014 to April 5, 2014. Registration is now open.   For more information, please contact Open Learning and Educational Support at, call 519-767-5000 or visit 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 epicenter for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit      

Looking back at the infectious disease alerts for 2013 - Biosecurity is now a well-known word in every horse owners' vocabulary!  Equine Guelph is renowned not only for their evidence-based online courses for horse owners but also for responding quickly to industry needs.   Equine Guelph's new eWorkshops are two-week online short courses designed for busy horse owners and industry professionals looking to gain crucial knowledge on some of the industry's hottest topics.  From Equine Herpes virus outbreaks to common flu virus outbreaks, prevention is the key concept.  Understanding practical ways to reduce your risk is vital for everyone with the role of horse caretaker.   In Equine Guelph's Biosecurity eWorkshop, industry experts, including guest speakers from the Ontario Veterinary College, share their knowledge of how you can decrease the risk of infectious disease in your own horse and horses you care for. Participants learn practical ways to reduce the chance of infectious diseases both on the farm and while traveling.  OVC researcher, Dr. Weese, who also authors the "Worms and Germs" blog, says "Having a basic infection control plan in place is probably the biggest thing someone can do to reduce the risk of disease."  Weese was the first speaker at Equine Guelph's "Beat the Bugs" biosecurity workshops launched in April 2012 for horse enthusiasts around the globe.  He says, "Equine Guelph's biosecurity programs are great for getting people thinking in a broader context when it comes to infection control and putting into practice the easy day-to-day steps which can reduce outbreaks of disease."  The new dates for the online classes is November 4 - November 17. With tuition of only $75 + HST, participants receive a much greater understanding of simple procedures which can translate into huge savings by potentially minimizing costly vet bills.   "If you care about the health of your horse don't miss this course! This was the best equine course I have taken. I gained new, valuable knowledge from every assignment. The assignments provided information and practical practices that you can apply immediately around your barn and horse to make the chances of catching or spreading diseases less likely. It is about time someone made the topic of Biosecurity available to equine owners and handlers. This was my first course with Guelph but it will not be my last. With my busy schedule, your mini course allowed me to gain valuable knowledge in a fast and practical manner."  - Jan Huntley, Ontario, Canada, Student Equine Guelph's director, Gayle Ecker says, "The two-week short course format has proven popular as a quick, effective way for horse owners to learn more about important equine welfare topics.  We are very pleased with the response from the industry."  Equine Canada has approved this eWorkshop for updating credits for their coaches.  Register for Equine Guelph's next offering of the Biosecurity eWorkshop at: Submitted by Equine Guelph    

Equine Guelph has launched a new two and a half minute video to help horse owners with parasite management. When a growing resistance to dewormers is cited as a major issue concerning horse owners today, a fecal exam to see if your parasite control program is working makes sense. Collecting a manure sample is easy, but it must be done properly to ensure accurate test results. How to Collect Manure for a Fecal Egg Count (FEC) 1) Write the date and horse's name on the front part of this zip-lock bag. 2) Take another zip-lock bag and turn it inside-out over your hand. 3) With your hand inside the bag, pick up a fresh fecal mass. 4) Use your other hand to pull the zip-lock bag over your hand, turning the bag right side out. Squeeze out as much air as possible. The feces are now in the bag. 5) Zip up the bag. Place the bag into the labelled bag. 6) Store in a cool place, such as a refrigerator but not in the freezer. 7) Deliver your fecal sample to the vet within 48 hours! WARNING! Do not place the sample in the freezer or leave it in your car. Extreme cold or heat can kill parasites, defeating the purpose of collecting a sample. Be sure to request feces are examined for a strongyle egg count in horses aged 2 years and up. Rotate or rest? That is a very good question when it comes to the use of deworming products. After peaking with parasitic disease expert and Ontario Veterinary College researcher Dr. Andrew Peregrine, I am not only eager to pick up more poop but I am keen to have it analyzed. Ontario Veterinary College researcher Dr. Andrew Peregrine says, "Less than three percent of horse owners perform fecal exams and to date this is the only way to find out if your horse is carrying an unhealthy parasite burden." He recommends all horse owners get in the habit of performing a fecal at least once a year. Peregrine advises horse owners to discuss the right parasite control program with their vet to be sure they are following an individual program that is right for their horse. Rotation of deworming products (not just switching brands but switching drug classes) should not be the only point of conversation. Environment and stage of life plays a key role in determining what measures can be taken to keep the parasite population in check. And of course, the starting point is a fecal exam to learn if the egg count warrants action. If the fecal egg count is high - another exam two weeks after deworming will let the horse owner know if what they are doing is working. For more information on parasite control programs read the full article at: and check out the video outlining how to collect a fecal sample attached. Jackie Bellamy

Fortuitous timing was unmistakable as Gayda Errett of Balderton, Ontario realized the value her recent online educational venture - participating in Equine Guelph's new Behaviour and Safety eWorkshop. Never in her wildest dreams would she have imagined herself applying the information learned about horse rescue, less than one month earlier, to her own beloved 29 year old horse, Sundance, but in the face of an emergency on Saturday, May 4, 2013, Gayda's newly found knowledge saved the day. It was Gayda's husband who returned from the paddock with serious news that their beautiful Clyde cross was cast in his shelter in a state of stress and exhaustion. He had lain down too close to the outside wall of the stall and thus had no room to engage his front legs to get up. Gayda immediately called their vet but he was away. The vet on call was at another emergency and would not be available for another two hours! Realizing this was too long to wait, the next call was answered by a member of the fire department whose equipment would be able to help get Sundance back on his feet.  When help arrived, the firefighter's initial plan was to pull the stocky steed upright by putting strapping around his hind legs. Gayda knew this could be injurious to her horse, thanks to a video she had seen in the Behaviour and Safety short course which explained how to rescue a cast horse in a stall. She suggested they slide the webbing under his belly in order to pull him back away from the wall to give him space to get up. Much to everyone's relief, it worked perfectly! Gayda recounts poor Sundance was absolutely traumatized and very weak from the ordeal of trying so hard to get up for such a long time. However, thanks to his successful rescue, he immediately drank water, ate another helping of his morning supplements and headed albeit with difficulty to the hay feeder to catch-up with breakfast. Gayda had Sundance examined by the vet after the ordeal and was grateful to have a bit more time to spend with the dear old boy. Unfortunately, Sundance was euthanized ten days later with complications that may or may not have been caused by the incident, but it was so important that Gayda had the knowledge to help that day.  Gayda says, "Thank you so much to Dr. Susan Raymond at Equine Guelph and emergency rescue specialist, Dr. Rebecca Gimenez for creating this important two-week online course. I am going to encourage all my fellow horse friends to take the upcoming fall offering of this course as a must!" The next offering of Equine Guelph's Behaviour and Safety eWorkshop will be from September 9th to the 22nd, 2013. Sign up at  There are still a few spaces left!   Equine Guelph will also be offering two more invaluable short courses this fall covering Colic Prevention (Sept 23 - Oct 6) and Biosecurity Oct 21 - Nov 3). by Jackie Bellamy for Equine Guelph 

Guelph, Ontario - After declaring 2013 the 'Year of Colic Prevention,' Equine Guelph has announced the release of its latest online health care tool - the Colic Risk Rater.   This free, customized tool is designed for the individual horseperson to rate his/her horse's risk of colic. The Colic Risk Rater assesses and calculates colic risk while providing useful feedback on management practices through a series of questions in 10 categories, requiring less than 10 minutes to complete. The goal of the Colic Risk Rater tool is to provide horse owners a simple way to determine if their horse is at a high risk for colic, given the horse's personal scenario. After each question, the risk rater dial will fluctuate back or forth, revealing the constantly changing risk - and in the end, providing an overall colic risk rating calculation for each horse. Historically, colic became the horse's arch nemesis thousands of years ago when humans started taking horses out of their natural environment. The use and management of modern horses are a huge departure from their wild counterparts, placing them at a higher risk of colic. Logically, it follows in Dr. Christine King's writings from "Preventing Colic in Horses" that 80% of colic cases are management-related. Dr. Crossan, guest speaker in Equine Guelph's colic prevention eWorkshop, concurs with Dr. King's staggering statistic. "Experts agree that the majority of colic's are a result of management practices," says Dr. Crossan. "Prevention through management is the best course of action when it comes to colic." Thus, horse owners can play a major role in reducing colic risk through management. Owners must be aware of the risk factors, especially the ones we can manage such as feeding, housing, parasite control and stress. The Colic Risk Rater is one more crucial tool in the horse caregiver's arsenal, designed to identify the risk factors and provide prevention tips, aiming to minimize needless pain and suffering of our equine companion. Given that colic is the number one killer of horses (other than old age), the ten minute investment in this free tool is invaluable. In addition to funding from Standardbred Canada, investment in this project has been provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP). In Ontario, the Agricultural Adaptation Council delivers this program. Partners include: Central Ontario Standardbred Association, Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Society of Ontario, Ontario Association of Equine Practitioners, Ontario Equestrian Federation, Ontario Harness Horse Association and the Ontario Veterinary College. To check out the Colic Risk Rater or to find out more about Equine Guelph's Colic Prevention Programs including the upcoming fall eWorkshop, scheduled for September 9 -22, visit by Kayla Dorricott Equine Guelph is the horse owners' and care givers' Centre at the University of Guelph. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit  

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