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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 (www.equineguelph.ca/colictool). 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 HorsePortal.ca. 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 (www.equineguelph.ca/colictool).   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 (www.equineguelph.ca/colictool), and then sign up for the next offering of Equine Guelph’s online course, Gut Health and Colic Prevention, Feb 8 – 19 on the HorsePortal.ca.   by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions, Equine Guelph  

Mie Ostersen can’t remember a time when she wasn’t entrenched in the horse world, as her parents raised her in the thriving harness racing industry in Varberg, Sweden. But she didn’t really get introduced to show jumping until she was a teenager. Now, at age 23, she’s one of the top grooms at Irish Olympic show jumper Cian O’Connor’s stable with an FEI World Equestrian Games on her resume and the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games on her to-do list. “My father trained trotting horses, and my mother would help with the riding and grooming of the horses,” Ostersen said. “From an early age I started grooming and riding my horses at home. All my basic skills I have learned from my parents. They taught me a lot, and I’m grateful for it. I can always call and talk to them. It’s great to have a family that understands the sport and the time it takes to do what I do. “[Harness racing] is very different from show jumping,” Ostersen continued. “But in the end, we want the same final result. We want happy horses that want to do the job.” Mie Ostersen learned her horsemanship skills while caring for her parents’ harness racing horses. Photos Courtesy Of Mie Ostersen Growing up, Ostersen helped take care of her family’s trotters and rode them when she could. Her father also worked as a farrier, and when she was 15, he introduced her to an Irish show jumping couple, Michael Whyte and Sarah Murphy, for whom he shod horses. “I was interested in seeing a different side of the horses. I’d been doing the racing thing for so long with my dad. That’s when I first fell in love with the sport,” Ostersen said. “I would go to the stable most days after school, and on the weekends we would go to shows. I rode their horses and groomed them. They taught me a lot. It was also a different language; I got to practice my English.” After Ostersen graduated from high school in 2016, she went to visit Whyte and Murphy in Ireland, where they’d returned after their sojourn in Sweden. She wanted to take a year off before university and thought about traveling, but she also needed to work. Whyte and Murphy connected her with O’Connor, and the job with him was a good fit. “I found out that I could do that with grooming—work with horses and see the world—so I thought it would be a great idea,” Ostersen said. “I got the chance to spend the winter in Florida, and it was nice. I thought it couldn’t get much better!” Mie Ostersen bonds with all of the horses she cares for, but she has a special affinity for PSG Final. O’Connor is based in Ireland, winters in Florida, and he travels extensively to compete. “I’ve been to so many countries!” Ostersen said. “There are times we’re busy, but there are also times afterward when we make time to see things. When we were in Paris, we got to see the Eiffel Tower and see a few things around town, which was cool as I’d never been to Paris before. I’ve gone to Dubai as well, which is such a different culture. In Florida is when we get to see the most of an area, because we’re based there for so long, three to four months. We’ve gotten to travel a good bit then.” Ostersen enjoys helping O’Connor. “Before I started, I’d heard that he was hard to work for, but we get along quite well,” she said. “He knows I mind his horses well, and I know what he likes. We have long days, but they’re usually really good days. He’s a quite fair man to work for. He is very organized and always has a plan! He always puts the horses first, no matter what.” When O’Connor’s team is in Ireland, they’re based at Karlswood, a state-of-the-art facility in County Meath. “The new facility here is a beautiful place to work, with absolutely everything you could think of, from water treadmill to salt room, spa and vibrating floor,” said Ostersen. “Our horses get to go on the water treadmill, and they all love it. They get to work out at the same time as they get to splash in the water. After jumping they get to go on the spa. On other days they would go on the vibrating floor or go in the salt room. A horse that is well-minded is also a horse that will feel good!” One of Mie Ostersen’s duties includes supervising horses using the water treadmill. Ostersen’s primary goal is to keep her charges content. “I keep my horses happy with a lot of grooming and snacks,” she said. “It’s important to have them out in the field, and if they can’t go in the field I would bring them out for grass. I keep my horses happy with a nice straw bed. We find they tend to lie down more in the straw instead of shavings. There is nothing better than a relaxed horse that can enjoy a good nap. Last but not least, it’s important to reward the horses if they do something good. That’s where the treats come in. Most horses are happy when they get food!” Ostersen doesn’t ride much in her role with O’Connor, but she doesn’t mind. “I love just spending time with the horses, grooming them, taking them out for grass, bonding with them,” she said. “When you get to spend a lot of time with them, you know what the horse is like, and if there’s an issue, you notice it. I love seeing the horses happy.” Mie Ostersen initially started grooming as a way to earn some money and see the world before going to university, but four years later, she’s still working with horses. PSG Final is one of Ostersen’s favorite charges, and she’s taken care of him for two years. “I love the ones that are a bit special, that there’s something different to them,” she said. “PSG Final is very much one-of-a-kind. He makes me smile every day! He loves napping; you could leave him napping for hours.” A highlight of her time grooming was when a jubilant Irish team, including O’Connor riding PSG Final, won the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final at Barcelona (Spain) in 2019. “Not only did we win, we also qualified for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. It was our last chance to qualify! We knew what we had to do, and as a team, we secured the qualification,” she recalled. Mie Ostersen loves spending time with the horses she grooms. Another memory she’ll cherish is accompanying O’Connor and Good Luck to the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina. “Good Luck has always been in the stable, and he’s the kind of horse that you never thought you’d get to mind, but I actually got to mind him for a while and to do the World Equestrian Games with him, which was really cool for me,” she said. “It was a great experience. Just to be there and be able to groom that horse was a big thing for me.” Ostersen originally intended to take one year off before starting university, but it’s now been four years, and she doesn’t have plans to change course just yet. “I take one day at a time. My goal right now is to do the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2021,” she said. “I would like to go back to school one day. But that could be a year or two down the line. I’m still young, and right now I’m very happy with my life.” By Molly Sorge Reprinted with permission of The Chronicle of the horse

On December 4 2020, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) was informed a Standardbred horse that had travelled from PEI with three other horses has tested positive for strangles. The horse is now in isolation at a farm in Princeton, ON. With respect to the other three horses: One non-racing saddle horse was unloaded at a Quebec farm. The second horse was unloaded at the First Line Training Centre and immediately put in isolation. This horse is considered not at risk to other horses. The third horse was unloaded at Barn 5, at the Tomiko Training Centre near Campbellville, ON in proximity to 12 other horses. The AGCO has spoken to all trainers with horses in that barn at the Tomiko Training Centre. They are required to have their veterinarians create a testing plan and submit it to the AGCO before the horses will be allowed to train or entered to race. Strangles is a highly contagious and serious infection of horses and other equines caused by the bacterium, Streptococcus equi. Horse people are reminded to remain vigilant and institute appropriate biosecurity measures and should consult their veterinarians for advice. The AGCO will monitor the situation and any further developments will be reported. For more information Horse People: Dr. Adam Chambers Senior Manager of Veterinary Services (289) 237-3922   Media: media@agco.ca  

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 www.equineguelph.ca.   Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions   Web Link(s): Story web link: https://thehorseportal.ca/2020/08/horse-human-interactions-studied/   Other web links: 50 recent horse behavior studies referenced https://equineguelph.ca/pdf/facts/A-Match-Made-in-Heaven-references.pdf   humans can distinguish between positive and negative domestic horse vocalizations https://equineguelph.ca/pdf/surveys/VOX lay abstract.pdf   Cordelie DuBois, surveyed participants with surprising results https://www.equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=663   Effect of Human Attachment Style on Horse Behaviour and Physiology during Equine-Assisted Activities https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071156   horses might blink significantly less when they’re experiencing acute stress https://equineguelph.ca/news/index.php?content=646   horses are adept at distinguishing human facial expressions http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2015.0907   facial grimace recognition in horses https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/figure?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0092281.g002   if the human voice could have a calming effect on horses https://thehorse.com/116430/study-tone-pitch-human-voice-could-affect-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 www.equineguelph.ca.      

A horse stabled at Leamington Raceway has tested positive for Strangles. This horse had previously tested negative but had been in contact with the original Leamington case. The horse was contained when clinical signs were first noted and removed to an isolation facility this morning. There has been no evidence of transmission beyond this second horse and horses have been monitored closely since Strangles was first identified. Measures are in place to closely monitor the health of horses at Leamington and an isolation area has been made available at the facility. The horses on the property have been identified as a “high health group,” where monitoring and recording of temperatures at least twice daily, and other clinical signs of Strangles should continue. In discussions with AGCO Senior Manager, Veterinary Services, Dr. Adam Chambers, Dr. Scott Weese of the University of Guelph and Leamington Veterinarian Dr. Bernard Ferguson, a plan was agreed pertaining to the horses in the affected barn. Horses in this barn will require negative tests results to be allowed to race or qualify. The positive horse will need three negative tests over at least a two-week period, while other horses will require either one or two negative tests, based on exposure risk. Racing at Leamington can continue with appropriate biosecurity measures in place. Horses at the other two barns at Leamington can race and qualify, but trainers and racetrack officials shall monitor and record temperatures twice daily, and other clinical signs of Strangles. Strangles is a highly contagious and serious infection of horses and other equines caused by the bacterium, Streptococcus equi. There is no such thing as zero risk. It is found in racehorses, including those without exposure to the known positive cases. Horse people are reminded to remain vigilant and institute appropriate biosecurity measures and should consult their veterinarians for advice. Please refer to Industry Notices (link below) for more information. The AGCO will continue to monitor the situation and any further developments will be reported. For more information Horse People: Dr. Adam Chambers Senior Manager of Veterinary Services (289) 237-3922

There are twenty-five hours left for harness racing fourteen trotters and pacers still left in the slaughter-pen.   The Standardbred Retirement Foundation, (SRF) was able to secure homes and or donations for forty of the horses tagged to ship to slaughter tomorrow, Sunday, August 23 at 9 pm.   Fourteen are still crammed in the pens, being injured, fighting to get to their basic needs, if they are available.   They are desperate for help to keep from shipping to the Canadian slaughterhouse.    Initially 54 horses were in need. SRF is pleading for help for them. Choosing who to let ship to that horrific end is a heart-wrenching thing to have to do. Every effort to help them all has been exhausted.   What is Needed 14 horses need homes, a few offers fell through. If 14 homes are secured, the needed funds noted in the link to pay for releasing the horses from the slaughter-line, will no longer be needed. This is unlikely to happen, nor happen in 25 hours. SRF can help a few more, however the goal is is not to choose who will ship for slaughter. in order for SRF to take all remaining14 horses it will need $23,550. Basically, for every $1682. donated SRF can take in another, thanks to kind donations. Typically, it costs about $4,000. to take a horse in from the slaughter-line. Sponsorship is also very helpful. Any amount in a sponsorship is appreciated, SRF can combine with others who may sponsor.   How to Help These Horses That Have Given Their All To give a home directly one can pay the pen and the horse will be theirs, contact SRF for the info to the pen; To offer a home or foster home please email or call; Please use the link below to make a donation toward the release of a horse, and for help with medical care for those pulled out of the pen in need of emergency veterinary attention;   Donations are tax-deductible.   To offer a home SRFassist@gmail.com or call 609-738-3255; The list of horses AdoptaHhorse.org/Rescue Donation link (tax-deductible) https://www.adoptahorse.org/donate or call SRF at 609-738-3255. Sponsorship Link https://www.adoptahorse.org/sponsor   Racing must address the routine of these race horses and broodmares being sold off the tracks and from farms, then found in rural areas where so many work hard lives. They are too often treated like machinery; not fed or watered while working; work in emaciated condition while suspensories hit the ground; are foundered; and are tied up in the heat and left there for full days. They then sell them at livestock auctions in their teens just to do this again to the younger ones. The authorities are not stepping in to enforce laws. https://www.adoptahorse.org/        

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 www.equineguelph.ca.   by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

Just over two weeks after trans-Tasman equine flights resumed following a COVID-19-enforced shutdown, exports from New Zealand to Australia have been suspended indefinitely yet again, this time due to a possible case of equine piroplasmosis. On May 20, New Zealand's Ministry of Primary Industries informed exporters that shipments to Australia had been suspended with immediate effect. A flight Tuesday night was prevented from leaving the country, and another shipment, scheduled for Friday night, is also expected to be held over as the department negotiates alternative arrangements with their Australian counterparts, the Department of Agriculture. Friday's flight, though, was still scheduled to depart as of Wednesday night; a number of owners with horses set for that shipment had not been informed about any potential delay. Equine piroplasmosis has never been identified in New Zealand before, but MPI director for animal health and welfare Chris Rodwell confirmed that a mare tested positive to equine piroplasmosis in a pre-export blood test. The mare had arrived in New Zealand last year from a European Union country that is known to harbor the tick-borne disease. Further testing is expected to confirm that the horse is infected with Theileria equi, one of two known parasites to transmit equine piroplasmosis. Rodwell told ANZ Bloodstock News: "Further blood tests have been taken from the mare, and we expect confirmation of whether the horse is negative or positive for the disease by the end of this week. "Theileria equi is a blood disease that causes anemia and is spread from animal to animal by ticks. The horse in question was imported to New Zealand from the EU early last year for breeding. No signs of disease in the animal have been reported in its time here." While the disease cannot be passed from horse to horse without the ticks known to transmit the parasite—with those tick species not found in New Zealand—most veterinary agreements with other countries require that equine piroplasmosis has not been present in the exporting country for a certain period of time. For Australia, the requirement is three years—meaning that, under the current certification process, trans-Tasman exports would be banned until 2023. While other arrangements are likely to be determined as a matter of urgency, it is a blow to the beleaguered New Zealand industry at a time when it is already under tremendous pressure. Even a temporary ban has the potential to upset spring preparations and breeding plans for New Zealand-based mares in Australia. On Wednesday night, MPI was moving to reassure horse owners that they were working as fast as possible with an aim to find a quick solution. "MPI is aware this situation may cause some concern to those in the equine sector, and work is underway to resolve things as quickly as possible to ensure ongoing horse exports are not interrupted," Rodwell said. "Some countries, including Australia, that import horses from New Zealand require certification that New Zealand is free of Theileria equi. This current suspect test result has meant that MPI cannot currently provide that assurance of country-freedom status. The ministry's market access specialists are working with Australian authorities to explore alternative assurance options to allow exports to continue." Biosecurity New Zealand has already started an investigation to confirm that it is an isolated case of equine piroplasmosis, but questions remain as to how a case could not only have occurred in New Zealand but how it could have gone undetected for so long. "The horse met MPI's importing requirements in that it had received a negative test for Theileria equi within 30 days of shipment," Rodwell said. "Before shipment, horses are quarantined and treated to remove any ticks that may be present. They are also further inspected and quarantined on arrival." According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, either of the two parasites that carry equine piroplasmosis—Babesia caballi and Theileria equi—can be found on most continents, including much of Europe. The Theileria equi parasite has also been reported in Australia in the past; the most recent case was an outbreak in the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales in 1976, but it did not take hold, and Australia is now considered to be free of equine piroplasmosis. The official zoosanitary certificate, which must be certified prior to export to Australia, states that New Zealand must have been free of 16 diseases for a three-year period prior to export; equine piroplasmosis is on that list, along with the likes of African horse sickness, equine influenza, and glanders. MPI's Dr. Emma Passmore stated in an email to exporters: "The export certificate for horses traveling to Australia, either for transit or permanent import, requires MPI to certify that no clinical, epidemiological, or other evidence of equine piroplasmosis has occurred in New Zealand within the three-year period immediately prior to export. This can no longer be certified, and exports to or via Australia are suspended with immediate effect." While Australia is the biggest market to be affected and also has notoriously strict quarantine laws, exports to other countries will also be potentially compromised. Macau requires the exporting country to have been free of equine piroplasmosis for two years, and Singapore asks for extra tests and treatments to be completed if the country has not been free from equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. The United States also requires that the country has been free of equine piroplasmosis for 12 months. Japan has no time frame but also requires a piroplasmosis-free environment. However, Hong Kong's requirements are less stringent, simply requiring a horse not to have completed its pre-export quarantine on premises where equine piroplasmosis has occurred in the 60 days prior to export. Exporters on Wednesday night were digesting the ban and the potential implications that may follow if it is prolonged beyond the next couple of weeks. Most suggested that the immediate suspension of exports to Australia was an unfortunate but required step. "This is very disappointing news, but the suspension is totally necessary at this time," Equine International Airfreight managing director Cameron Croucher said. "Just as flights were starting to operate across the Tasman after the COVID-19 shutdowns, outcomes of this nature will be very disappointing to owners and trainers who now face a further delay in relocating their bloodstock. "I'm sure that both government departments in New Zealand and Australia will work very hard to find a quick solution to resume services once confirmatory testing is completed. Also, a proper investigation is needed into how this has been allowed to occur, which could have a massive impact on the New Zealand Thoroughbred industry if the suspension is prolonged, especially leading into the Southern Hemisphere breeding season." In the past week, a number of New Zealand horses have been confirmed as relocating to Australia, and Cambridge Stud last week announced that a number of its fillies would join the Te Akau assault on the Melbourne spring. In addition, almost 200 mares crossed the Tasman from New Zealand for breeding purposes in 2019, with a similar number expected this year. By Andrew Hawkins/ANZ Bloodstock News Reprinted with permission of Bloodhorse

Guelph, ON April, 30, 2020 - Spring is upon us and so is the prevalence of gas colic. Equine Guelph is sharing many strategies to prevent it.   First, Equine Guelph recommends that every horse owner refers to its FREE Colic Risk Rater Tool (www.equineguelph.ca/colictool) to help them assess their management practices, such as introducing new feeds slowly to reduce their colic risk.  An excellent video discussing safe introduction to spring pasture with expert in equine nutrition, Don Kapper, has just been added to the valuable resources housed on the Colic Risk Rater web page. Horse people are generally good about making changes to their horse’s grain rations over a two-week period. It is understood that an increase in grain means an increase in starch that can cause hind gut issues like colic and diarrhea and there is also the risk of laminitis.  Pasture is not always thought of in the same way, but it should be!  Spring grasses are higher in Non-Structural Carbohydrates, (NSC’s), starch and sugars, like fructan and low in fibre, especially during rapid growth phases.   A sudden increase of fresh spring grass in a horse’s diet can change the pH in the hindgut and cause all sorts of health issues including colic.  Spring grass, low in fibre is rapidly fermented, and an overload of starch enters the cecum killing off microbes important to digestion.  Kapper says, “The first sign you will see is a loosening of the stools.”   When excessive fermentation creates a buildup of gas in the gut this is when gas colic can occur.  The stretching of the intestinal wall from the gas build up causes considerable pain.  A veterinarian should be consulted whenever colic is suspected.  Gas colic is often mild, but it can also lead to a twist in the gut that would require surgery.     To keep your horse’s digestive system healthy, the gradual introduction of new forage (including pasture) is very important.  The nutritional composition (e.g. the amount of protein, sugars and types of fibre) varies greatly between forage types, and especially between hay and newly growing spring pasture. The bacteria in a horse’s gut need time to adjust to these changes.    “If the horse is turned out 24/7, mother nature will take care of your horse’s gradual introduction to spring pasture,” says Kapper. “The grass grows slowly, and they will continue eating hay on the side.”   For the horse that is stabled, the stable manager must limit the amount of new growth the horse is exposed to in the pasture on a daily basis.  First, let the grass paddock grow to approximately six inches.   You may start with just one hour of turn out per day on the lush grass pasture before putting them back in their sacrifice paddock or dry lot where they have been all winter.  You can slowly increase that by 30 minutes to an hour every other day.    Consider turn-out very early in the morning when NSC concentrations are lower (NSC concentrations increase throughout the day with increasing sunlight).  However, if there has been frost overnight, NSC’s will accumulate in the grass.  In this instance you will want to restrict turn-out.   Kapper makes a clear distinction between the management of horses diagnosed with metabolic issues and the rest of your herd.  The metabolic horse requires a diet low in NSC’s and may be best managed on a dry lot, with hay as the only forage.  One must always work with their veterinarian when planning the best options for care of the metabolic horse.   Kapper also discusses weed control and pasture maintenance.  Horses generally avoid poisonous plants unless there is nothing else to eat.  Being diligent with pasture maintenance pays off not only in the reduction of weeds but in the ability to use your pasture to help fulfill your horses forage needs.     With a high moisture content than hay, there is great value in being able to provide pasture to your horses.  It is good for your budget and good for your horse’s overall health if introduced with caution.   CapriCMW Insurance Services Ltd. is the generous sponsor of the Colic Risk Rater Tool (www.equineguelph.ca/colictool) 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 this initiative, “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.”   Equine Guelph extends a big thank you to Don Kapper for sharing his expertise. There were so many great tips in this video. Here are the top 10:   Introduce spring grass gradually, increases of 30 minutes to an hour every other day NSC concentrations are lower early in the morning except when overnight frost occurs. Keep hay in front of your horse at all times.  Chew time=saliva= healthy pH in the gut and reduces the chance of digestive issues. As little as 4 hrs without forage can have a negative impact on gut health. Signs of not enough fibre:  loose stools, eating dirt, fences, manes & tails, trees Mow weeds as soon as you see them start to flower (in spring about every 3 weeks)  When mowing pasture set the mower 6 inches from the ground. If stools loosen during a change in forage, brewer’s yeast can provide a good culture for microbes in the horse’s gut.  Pre-biotics could also prove useful. Consult your veterinarian for diet and management advice for metabolic horses, they are very susceptible to issues when starch is even slightly elevated. Spring pasture maintenance begins with a soil test checking for an ideal pH between 6.5 & 7.  From there you will know what to add in lime and then what to add to your fertilizer.     More tips on getting the most out of your pasture and maintaining your horse’s digestive health in the 27 minute video and at The Colic Risk Rater tool (www.equineguelph.ca/colictool).   Equine nutritionist Don Kapper (Professional Animal Scientist) is the author of the chapter on “Applied Nutrition” for the authoritative veterinary textbook: “Equine Internal Medicine”, 2nd edition and was a member of the “Performance Electrolyte Research” team at the University of Guelph. He is also a frequent guest speaker in Equine Guelph’s online Nutrition courses and TheHorsePortal.ca online Gut Health and Colic Prevention course.   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 www.equineguelph.ca.   Story by: Jackie Bellamy-Zions

For some people, the federal indictments of over two dozen people in horse racing for drug adulteration and misbranding were a confirmation of long-held suspicions — that racing wasn't as clean as it should be. For Hanover Shoe Farms president and CEO Russell Williams, it was a call to action. Williams is the grandson of Hanover Shoe founder Lawrence Sheppard, who launched the Standardbred operation in Hanover, Penn., when he was a junior partner in the Hanover Shoe Company. The farm burst onto the Standardbred scene in the 1920s and emerged as one of the sport's largest commercial breeders. Hanover Shoe has been the country's top breeder by U.S. Trotting Association figures year after year. He is also the president of the U.S. Trotting Association. As such, the allegations in the indictments, of Standardbred and Thoroughbred trainers doping horses while escaping the detection of pre- and post-race testing, offended Williams deeply. “Here at Hanover Shoe farm, we sell about 230 yearlings, or that's what we're going to sell this year,” said Williams. “We try to raise them right and love them and take good care of them. To send them out into the world to be subjected to the things described in those indictments … it breaks our hearts. “We're going to show them we're not going to say goodbye to them when they leave here. We're going to put this challenge grant down and make some things happen.” To read the full report written by Natalie Voss in the Paulick Report click here.  

Pursuant to the Directive for Harness Racing Horses Linked to Alleged Drug Violations issued March 17, 2020, all horses claimed, sold or otherwise transferred from a summarily suspended, indicted trainer or a trainer named in a criminal complaint in the 60 days prior to the date of the announcement of the indictment or criminal complaint, were placed on the Steward’s List. Such Commission Directive provided that hair sampling could occur once 30 days have passed since the claimed, sold or otherwise transferred horse arrived at the new trainer’s barn.  In furtherance of such Directive, the Commission has determined to commence hair testing on standardbred horses on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. Until further notice, such testing shall be conducted at the following locations: Buffalo Raceway 5600 McKinley Parkway Hamburg   Monticello Raceway 204 State Route 17B Monticello   Saratoga Raceway 342 Jefferson Street Saratoga Springs   Testing will only occur on an appointment basis, secured through the Presiding Judge of the appropriate racetrack. Should qualifiers be authorized, the Commission will expand testing availability.  For horses outside the State of New York, the Commission will only accept hair sampling if performed by the State’s racing regulatory office. Such office may make arrangements for the submission of such samples through the Office of the Equine Medical Director by contacting me at scott.palmer@gaming.ny.gov. To: All New York Licensed Trainers and Veterinarians From: Scott E. Palmer Date: April 24, 2020  

Guelph, ON April, 23,2020 - Could the same biomarkers linking low vitamin D to seriously ill humans be present in horses?  Starting this spring, Ontario Veterinary College researcher, Dr. Luis Arroyo and his team will be collecting and analyzing equine blood samples measuring vitamin D and other biomarkers of inflammation and systemic disease.  They expect to find major disorders of hormonal pathways, much like in human studies looking at hypovitaminosis D as a marker of disease severity.  This knowledge could be pivotal to future studies looking into clinical intervention at the earliest stages.   Equine enterocolitis (diarrhea, colitis) is a major cause of equine deaths worldwide.  “It is a black box,” says Arroyo as he recalls a staggering statistic from a recently published paper out of California.  The paper stated that in 13 years of studying over 700 enterocolitis cases, the cause of the disease was unknown at least 65% of the time.  Colitis can result in loss of hormonal control, metabolic/ electrolyte / fluid imbalances, and organ failure.   Horses are hindgut fermenters and they depend on the microbiota in the gut to break down what they eat and produce energy.  Disturbance of this ecology will affect the health of the horse directly.  Colitis causes inflammation of the intestine and the horse can end up with diarrhea.  When this occurs and there is significant nutrient loss, they can end up becoming very sick.     Vitamin D is involved in regulation of calcium and phosphorus, bone health, controls the immune system, and reduces inflammation.  Currently, there is no information on how the blood levels of vitamin D change in sick and healthy adult horses.   “This research project is not about the pathogenesis of colitis but more on how the horse responds to this disease and how the system is coping with it,” says Arroyo.  “Much like taking a car to the mechanic and having them perform tests to see what is wrong; the research is very much in the diagnostic stage to see what is wrong in the digestive system.”   “Can we better understand what is going on in these cases and then better manage them, help them recover faster or even prevent them?” asks Arroyo.  “With this knowledge comes the possibility of modulating what is going on in the intestine.”   Arroyo stated that it is quite common to have several cases of colitis admitted to the OVC in a month.  The diligence in the research will be collecting samples from each horse, every day for at least four consecutive days.  They will analyzing at 6- 8 different metabolites.  “We want to understand the progression,” says Arroyo regarding the importance of collecting samples for at least 4 days from the same horses.   “The focus will be to follow horses with colitis but we also want to understand patterns in horses with different conditions as well as healthy horses,” says Arroyo.  The research plan includes analyzing serum samples of 40 horses, including a control group.   “We are interested in the talk between the adrenal glands and the brain and how one can stimulate or inhibit the other,” says Arroyo.  “If disorders of hormonal pathways are discovered, this knowledge will be useful for future studies.  Some of these so-called vitamins, they are actually viewed now as hormones, as they have a function more like a hormone playing important roles in multiple organs.  Hormone therapy has shown promise in treating humans.  We want to see where there are opportunities to intervene in the early stages for horses with colitis.”    Arroyo is looking forward to collaborating with expert in Equine Endocrinology from The Ohio State University, Dr. Ramiro Toribio on this exciting new research study.  New OVC faculty, Dr. Diego Gomez, will also be part of the team in this project kindly funded by Equine Guelph.   Equine Guelph

Nakhon Ratchasima, April 20 (Reuters) - Thailand began vaccinating some 4,000 horses on Monday in a bid to contain the spread of the deadly African Horse Sickness (AHS), a disease that only affects horses and other equine animals. More than 200 horses in seven provinces have died since the outbreak was first reported earlier this year, the first time the highly infectious AHS virus, transmitted by insects, has appeared in Southeast Asia. Horse owners in northeastern Nakhon Ratchasima province have installed mosquito nets on stables and conduct regular temperature and health checks, while putting sick horses under quarantine. The government has also banned the import and export of horses, zebras and related animals. Veterinarians say if the disease cannot be contained by mass vaccination, it could wipe out all 11,800 horses in Thailand, where they are kept for racing and leisure riding for tourists and private owners. "Without any prevention, 10 out of 10 horses will contract the virus... nine out of 10 sick horses will die from it," Aree Laikul a veterinarian from Kasetsart University's faculty of Veterinary Medicine who is helping the vaccination drive. There have been no reported cases of AHS in humans, and it is not related to the coronavirus pandemic. AHS is endemic in the central tropical regions of Africa, from where it spreads regularly to Southern Africa and occasionally to North Africa, according to information from the World Organization for Animal Health. (Editing by Kay Johnson & Simon Cameron-Moore)   By Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat   Reprinted with permission of Reuters

Opinion piece - In late March, just days after first denying she was going to force the country into lock down a lugubrious looking Jacinda Ardern waved around the “flatten the curve” graphic and told us that if covid-19 was unchecked “our health system will be inundated and thousands of New Zealanders will die" and that consequently New Zealanders now needed to sacrifice fundamental civil liberties and their livelihoods to “save lives.”   There are two critical observations from that press conference.   First, it is now increasingly clear that Ardern misled the country with the claims that tens of thousands of deaths. In an excellent and courageous piece of research (read it here) economist Ian Harrison (who has worked for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements and specialises in risk modelling) demolished the fundamental research on which the government relied for compelling the country into lock down.   No doubt the Ardern government will first dissemble, distract and deny this fact. If that doesn’t satisfy the usually quiescent media expect to see the University of Otago Covid-19 Research Group go under the bus as the government claims it simply “relied on the advice it was given.”   Except this is either a bald-faced lie or chronically incompetent. Let’s be charitable and assume it’s the later: Ardern’s incompetence stems from that fact that no one, anywhere, in any position of authority, ever should take a decision of that magnitude without double and triple checking the facts on which you are relying. Ardern didn’t. If one-man band economist Harrison can figure this out why couldn’t the government’s army of advisors?   Nevertheless, emboldened by a public terrified by hysterical, wall to wall reporting from the legacy media, the government doubled down and so we found ourselves locked into lock down, with all its unintended consequences. Consequences which will be severe, long lasting and almost certain to do more damage than Covid-19 will or could.   Which brings us to the second point from that infamous press conference. The lock down we were told was all about “flattening the curve”, to stop our health system from being “swamped.” But then a funny thing happened: the health system (like those offshore here and here and here) didn’t end up getting overwhelmed at all.   So, like slaves chiselling a pretender pharaoh’s name from the pyramids the flatten curve graphics were quietly removed from the press conferences and in the legacy media. They were replaced with a new message – this time “elimination.”  The Prime Minister stated: "We will step down to level 3 in a way that is consistent with our goal to eliminate Covid-19 in New Zealand.”    To be fair to Ardern you could justify the change in course if it was going to work, no one should expected to pursue a strategy that is clearly flawed solely for political expediency (except of course she has before – see here)   The problem of course is that this new strategy is a), as hopelessly flawed in its empirical justifications as the original strategy, and b) worse, even if succeeds it will cripple New Zealand for years to come.   First, elimination means just that, elimination, and no one outside New Zealand is taking that possibility seriously. Brendan Murphy, Australia’s chief medical officer, told a New Zealand parliamentary committee April 14 that eradicating the virus is a “nirvana” scenario. The reasons the elimination strategy is extremely unlikely to be successful are surprisingly simple:   The R0 value of the corona virus is high and its spreads asymptomatically, so in short it spreads extremely easily, making containment with anything short of a lock down impossible. Upwards of 80% of those who contract the virus have no symptoms (ie never feel sick at all) which makes tracking the virus extremely difficult unless you implement mass population testing and contact tracing at a level far beyond New Zealand’s capacity (our contract tracing system has been described as a dinosaur).   The tests the government plans to rely on to identify Covid-19 are well known to generate both false negatives and false positives. It is estimated the number of unidentified cases is between 8 and 10 times the real figures, meaning New Zealand is likely to have tens of thousands of people carrying Covid19 with no symptoms.  In short it is almost inconceivable that New Zealand can eliminate Covid19 without maintaining a permanent lock down. Which begs the question: if weren’t flattening the curve and we can’t eliminate it why did we go into an economy crippling, poverty inducing, long term public health damaging lock down?   But, just for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that somehow New Zealand achieves the impossible and we do eliminate Covid19 – what then? What happens when the dog chasing the car actually catches the car?   The rest of the world will still have Covid19. As mentioned, no one, anywhere else in the world is even considering this strategy. New Zealand will become a de facto prison for its 4.9M “citizens.”   Large scale in-bound travel to New Zealand will be effectively eliminated, and with it the tourism sector, our largest export earner, contributing $45 billion to GDP annually. Without offshore tourism Air New Zealand will become a domestic only airline, so expect few flights to or from our fair shores (great news if you are a hard-green environmentalist, curtains for tens of thousands of employees).   With few onshore flights the opportunities for New Zealanders to travel offshore will become few and expensive – say goodbye to that holiday in Europe or 2 weeks in Fiji and look forward to 2 weeks quarantine when you return home. It’s also very difficult to grow an international business entirely through Zoom so expect the slow but steady strangulation of New Zealand’s export orientated businesses. Likewise expect prices of imports to surge and with the virtual elimination of immigration and a collapsing economy, walled off East Germany-like from the rest of the world, property prices to fall.   And all this assumes that there are no slip ups. But as Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician at Canberra Hospital who advises the Australian government on Covid19 states: “the reality is this virus is everywhere, it’s all around the world. So even if you’re successful for a short period of time, how long do you do this for? Six months? Two years? Invariably, you’re going to get the virus re-introduced.” As Steven Joyce succinctly put it the “idea that we would get rid of Covid-19 is pie in the sky fantasy”   Proponents of the elimination strategy argue that “Colditz New Zealand” won’t be needed for more than 18 months and all we have to do is wait for a vaccine. However, there is no guarantee we will get a vaccine. As David Nabarro, professor of global health at Imperial College, London, and an envoy for the World Health Organisation on Covid-19 states: “You don’t necessarily develop a vaccine that is safe and effective against every virus. Some viruses are very, very difficult when it comes to vaccine development - so for the foreseeable future, we are going to have to find ways to go about our lives with this virus as a constant threat.”   Neither will anti-body testing be anymore effective, with even the World Health Organisation warning that “there is no evidence that people who have recovered from coronavirus have immunity to the disease [and] there is no proof that such antibody tests can show if someone who has been infected with COVID-19 cannot be infected again.”   In short, there is a very, very real risk that the cavalry is not coming for New Zealand. We could be trapped here for a very long time – like Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings – “we cannot get out.”   Finally, we need to consider even if an effective vaccine was developed just how high up the priority list is New Zealand really going to be? If you are handing out vaccines do you prioritise the 5M people at the bottom of the world who are at no immediate risk or other 7.5 billion who are? The US and China are already hoarding and interdicting Personal Protection Equipment – what makes us think a vaccine will be different?   In short, the government’s whole Covid-19 “strategy” from start to finish has been flawed. It was based on flawed modelling and amplified by hysterical media reporting. And now New Zealand’s plan to “eliminate” the virus looks more like a bullet wound to the stomach, the result of which will be long, painful and lonely death. If you enjoyed this article please share across on FaceBook, Twitter etc. These articles take a long time to research and your support in getting the message out there is greatly appreciated.   Both the NZ Herald and Stuff originally indicated they would publish my Covid-19 articles but then pulled the pin at the last moment, I suspect (with good reason) under political pressure. The Emperor's Robes - The Observations of Alex Davis

There was a time in the 1980s and early nineties that the name of William (Bud) Fritz was synonymous with harness racing in Ontario. The Fritz stable came as close to dominating the province’s sires stakes program as any single operation ever has. - The Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame. Enter granddaughter Monica Fritz of Walkerton, Ontario. She’s a 22-year-old student getting set to graduate from the University of Guelph with a degree in Animal Biology. She says her next step in education is ‘hopefully’ vet school. “That’s what I’m aiming for,” states Fritz. “I’m really looking forward to starting my new job with the Milton Equine Clinic, working under Dr. Marc Desjardins, in May.” Like her grandpa Bud and like her father Dale - Monica, too, has raced horses and won with them here in Ontario. “My Dad got Jamigo to the races back in 2010,” she says. “He was always a good trotter around Hanover and London, but then he got claimed away from us in the Spring of 2013. That summer we’d get North Leigh to the races and he’d win for us at Hanover, in his second lifetime start, but his career ended suddenly after just five races.” Sounds like it would be a tough blow to any seasoned veteran of the game, let alone a teenager, but Monica stayed with it. “I love the horses - I’ve been around them my whole life and I do get really attached to them, but this losing a horse to a claim or anything else - well I learned very quickly that it’s sometimes just part of the business.” Jamigo never did make it to the winner’s circle, following that particular claim, until he made it back to the Fritz barn that Fall. “I was able to get him back privately from horseman Dennis Morrissey,” she says. “We picked him up after not finding anything at the yearling sale, that year, in London and right off the bat he was racing good for us again.” Jamigo would spend the next few years racing for Team Fritz, trotting to a mark of 1:59.3 and racing plenty of Preferred action as well. In November, of 2015, Jamigo got claimed again and since then he’s been racing mainly up around Rideau and Three Rivers. “He’s in Ottawa now and I still enjoy following him and his races.” Like so many others, involved in the industry, Monica’s racing roots run deep… “Our family goes back a long ways in this business and I’ve always enjoyed being a part of it… I’m very proud to be my Dad’s biggest fan. I’ve always wanted to be there for him and we’re still close - watching old replays and stuff now and then. I just feel very lucky to be a part of this family that is so passionate about horses.” The earliest memories for Fritz, around The Raceway, involve the pacer Back To Back Jack. “My dad bought him as a yearling in London (2004) when I was six and we’ve had him ever since. He’s always been one of my best friends for sure. Everything about him is just special and he’s got that forever home with our family.” Hall of Famer Bud Fritz is on the ownership line for the good pacer Im Not Bad who’s raced in London plenty of times. “My Grandma (the late Ethel Fritz) loved him at the yearling sale (2014) and picked him out for Grandpa… He was dark and had some nice markings - a real looker! I can remember him winning his first start at The Raceway in 2017… Uncle Terry (Fritz) races him.” Reflecting on her Grandparents… “Bud has always been a man of a few words. A great all-around horseman who could do anything with any racehorse. He instilled his hard work ethic in all of us and our family has a lot of great memories of his time in racing… Grandma, no longer with us, was my best friend. I really looked up to her - raising nine children - plus she helped Grandpa lots too. She looked after all of us and was the backbone of our family for sure.”  And going forward… “I’ve been doing everything for school online and helping out at the barn with my fiancé, Jake Roberts, who works for trainer Rob Fellows. My job in Milton will be starting soon - so I’m really looking forward to that.” And what about a return to harness racing for Monica? “I’ve always known that I wanted to be in this industry, but I wanted to be something, maybe, unique to the business within our family. I’m sure I’ll be involved in one way or another.” And finally - any words of encouragement to share with your fellow horse people during this downtime from racing? “Try to stay busy - try to keep motivated and look forward to better days ahead.” SHANNON DOYLE​ TRACK ANNOUNCER

New Brunswick, NJ — In a joint project by the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University; Equine Integrated Medicine, Georgetown, Ky.; Duer Forensic Toxicology, Clearwater, Fla.; and the New York Drug Testing and Research Program, Morrisville State College; a recently published journal article shows that a sterile solution of cobalt salts (50 mg of elemental cobalt as CoCl2 in 10 ml of saline, given IV for three consecutive days) did not affect aerobic or anaerobic performance or plasma erythropoeitin concentration in race fit harness racing horses. The study was funded in part by the United States Trotting Association. “The Evaluation of Cobalt as a Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) in Racehorses” study sought to determine if cobalt acts as a performance enhancing drug by altering biochemical parameters related to red blood cell production, as well as markers of aerobic and anaerobic exercise performance. The study also identified the normal distribution of plasma cobalt in a population of horses on a maintenance dietary ration without excessive cobalt supplementation. Research was conducted using 245 Standardbred horses with no supplementation of cobalt from farms in New York and New Jersey, including those at the Rutgers University Equine Science Center. The authors concluded that a threshold of 25 micrograms per liter in plasma, currently in place in many racing jurisdictions, may result in horses exceeding the threshold without excessive cobalt administration. They suggest that a threshold of 71 micrograms per liter be considered. The study also found that plasma cobalt concentrations over 300 ppb had no adverse effects on horses’ well-being or on performance. However, we caution that investigators have found that higher doses are purportedly being illicitly administered to horses with reported dangerous adverse and life-threatening effects on the horses. The present study does not address the effects of administering the much larger doses that racing officials and investigators have suggested are being misused to enhance performance. Cobalt in salt form (closeup) According to Dr. Kenneth H. McKeever, Associate Director for Research at the Equine Science Center, “The results of this study are the first to document that administration of cobalt salts at the level studied does not stimulate the production of red blood cells and does not affect markers of performance in race fit horses. Horses appear to respond in a species-specific fashion that is different from human studies that showed toxicity at plasma concentrations above 300 ppb. This study presents data rather than speculation for the decision-making process for setting thresholds.” The study has been published as an open access paper, accessible for free at this link. The Rutgers Equine Science Center

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