Wednesday, December 31, 2008

FEI Clean Sport Commission Moves Ahead - Full Article

by: Edited Press Release
December 24 2008, Article # 13330

FEI Anti-Doping and Medication Commission Chair Arne Ljungqvist, MD, PhD, FEI First Vice President Sven Holmberg, and FEI Secretary General Alexander McLin met Dec. 16 to plot the way forward for the FEI Clean Sport Commission, which was recently established by the FEI General Assembly.

The subject matter to be addressed by the commission's members is vast and falls into the broad categories of policy, legislation, education, communication, prevention, evidence, prosecution, adjudication, and financing.

The commission's objective is to recommend a practical course of action aimed at establishing the best possible system to prevent the use of methods or substances that influence the performance of a competition horse, while ensuring horse welfare at all times. The recommendations should be able to be universally recognized and supported by all the stakeholders of equestrian sport, namely the athletes and their entourage, the FEI's member National Federations, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and the media as the best effort that can be made by equestrian sport's governing body to tackle the issue. The commission, which includes athletes, will examine the question of the role and responsibility of riders in all relevant subject areas. Ljungqvist is Chair of the IOC Medical Commission and Vice President of WADA.

A number of focus groups formed by commission members, selected experts, and staff, will be tasked with addressing key questions in the following areas: laboratory science, prohibited substances, rules and legal procedure, and communication and education.

The commission aims to produce its initial findings in a report to the FEI Bureau on March 31, 2009. Focus groups will meet in January with a full commission meeting scheduled for March 6.

The members of the focus groups will be announced in due course. They will start working immediately in January and February with the aim of reporting to the commission on March 6, 2009. Comments on the work in progress will only be made through FEI Headquarters.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Contagious Equine Metritis Case Could Impact Horse Transport - Full Article

by: Erin Ryder, News Editor
December 16 2008, Article # 13281

State and federal agriculture officials announced Dec. 16 that a Quarter Horse stallion standing at stud in Kentucky has tested positive for contagious equine metritis (CEM). As the United States is considered free of the highly contagious venereal infection (which can cause infertility and abortions, or can exist and spread subclinically), this raises two major issues: where did it come from, and will it affect equine transport, either interstate or internationally?

According to Rusty Ford, equine programs manager in the office of Kentucky State Veterinarian Robert Stout, DVM, the affected stallion is a 16-year-old Quarter Horse who came to a farm in Kentucky (the identity of which he cannot legally reveal) in February 2008, after being collected for breeding via artificial insemination in Texas. Twenty one other stallions, all Quarter Horses, stood at the Kentucky facility. The CEM causative organism, Taylorella equigenitalis, was discovered when the affected horse was examined prior to his semen being shipped to the European Union. All but eight of the stallions had shipped to other farms this summer, following the conclusion of the 2008 breeding season. One stallion had moved to another farm within Kentucky and the rest moved out of state.


Maintain Trailer Breakaway Systems for Safe Hauling - Full Article

by: Edited Press Release
December 17 2008, Article # 13286

Emergency breakaway systems lock trailer brakes automatically if the trailer becomes disconnected from the tow vehicle. Maintaining this equipment is an aspect of trailer maintenance you don't want to overlook, although hopefully you'll never need to use it.

"Be a good steward--don't take chances with the safety and welfare of your precious cargo," said Mark Cole, managing member for USRider, a nationwide roadside assistance program for equestrians, which provides emergency road service to its members in the continental United States, Canada, and Alaska.

To ensure your breakaway system is in good working order, USRider offers the following safety tips:


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Australian Equine Endurance - Summising Horse Welfare

Kholonial Endurance Training

By Jo Hamilton-Branigan BVSc (Endurance Vet/Rider)

In Australia the sport of endurance riding has always been under the microscope (and very accountable) as far as horse welfare issues have been concerned. In the beginning welfare authorities (RSPCA) were not convinced that this sort of riding/event could be achieved without compromising the horse. In order for the sport to be accepted and continue into the 21st century an incredibly comprehensive horse welfare system has been devised and it has continued to evolve in parallel with the nature of the sport. Australia has long been a world leader in this regard.

The Australian Endurance Riders Association (AERA) works in close association with a panel of highly experienced veterinarians (AERA Veterinary Panel – which consists of an experienced endurance veterinarian from each State). An event cannot take place without a veterinary team in control with an Accredited Endurance Veterinarian at the helm (as Head Veterinarian). Strict monitoring by veterinarians (of a number of parameters, including heart rate, respiration, temperature, demeanor, metabolic factors – particularly relating to the gastrointestinal tract and hydration, as well as gait evaluation) creates a safe environment for the horses. The Veterinary Team is in control of the ride and can disqualify a horse/rider combination at any time in the event. The Head Veterinarian oversees all decisions made by the veterinary team.

Each event generally consists of a series of phases (“legs” or “loops”). The ride base may stay stationary or it may move (“travelling" check points). A typical phase will range from about 10km to 45km – depending on the length and nature of the event. Longer events have multiple legs/phases. Generally longer phases at the start of the event and shorter as the event proceeds. At longer events horses may be checked seven or eight times during the course of an event. The horse is checked by the veterinary team between phases and judged as fit to continue or eliminated on veterinary grounds. There is a mandatory rest period between phases after the veterinary check. A horse can be eliminated at any time, even on track during the event if the track veterinarian deems it necessary. Consider also that it is not uncommon for horses to be asked to “represent” and be checked twice at the one check. These days it is usual for there to be a “compulsory represent” (double check) at a designated check.

There is a comprehensive National Logbook system now in place. Every endurance horse must be identified & registered with its State Association/AERA. They are then issued with a Logbook which must be used at endurance events. This official Logbook contains a myriad of information pertaining to the health and welfare of each horse at each event. This is a work in progress and details the ongoing successes and failures of each horse at each event – it is an historical record which can be referred to by connections, veterinarians and officials over time.


Oral Potassium for Endurance?
Susan Piscopo, DVM, PhD

Endurance riding can lead to significant losses of water and electrolytes, which can cause clinical illnesses related to increased neuromuscular excitability, including cardiac arrhythmia, muscle cramping and twitching, and gut motility changes. When plasma potassium (K+) increases--as it does with increasing exercise intensity--there is a concomitant increase in neuromuscular excitability. Yet, many endurance riders believe that oral potassium supplementation before and during competition is critical to the good health of their horses.

Researchers from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Rutgers University, Virginia Intermont College, Rectortown Equine Clinic, and the Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition in the United Kingdom evaluated whether potassium-free oral electrolytes given during endurance work could moderate the expected increase in plasma potassium, decreasing related neuromuscular side effects. They compared the effects of a potassium-free high-sodium electrolyte mixture (EM-K) to a potassium-rich mixture (EM+K) on plasma ions and acid-base status in horses during an endurance ride.

Forty-six horses entered in an 50-mile (80-km) endurance race were used for the study--24 receiving EM-K and 22 EM+K. Rest stops and veterinary inspections were conducted at 21, 37, 56, and 72 km. Electrolyte mixtures were given orally by syringe after each loop.

Seventeen horses in each group finished; the others were withdrawn for various reasons. For all horses, plasma potassium significantly increased from the ride's start to the 56-km rest stop, then significantly decreased to the end of the ride. Plasma sodium significantly increased from before the ride to 37 and 56 km, and significantly decreased from there to the end of the ride.

However, hydrogen ion (H+, a measure of acid-base status ) was found to be significantly lower in EM-K horses compared to EM+K horses. Another significant finding was that plasma potassium was significantly lower at 80 km and during recovery in EM-K horses compared to EM+K horses.

The authors concluded that the decrease in potassium and hydrogen ion in the last stage of the ride in EM-K horses might have been attributable to the absence of potassium and the increase in sodium in the EM-K formula. However, despite the differences, EM+K horses had increases in plasma hydrogen and potassium that were moderate and not likely to cause clinical neuromuscular signs. The authors conceded that the moderate nature of the ride and mild weather were likely the reason for this, as well as the reason that the significant differences between groups were not evident until the end of the ride. The EM-K mixture would therefore likely be most beneficial in faster horses working harder during more strenuous rides.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Malaysia: Dr. Nik looks ahead

Dr. Nik's Blog
Post World Endurance Championship ,Lembah Bidong Terengganu .Where do we go from here ?A million dollar question .

Let us not discuss how much WEC costs us .That is beyond mere mortals like you and me and anyway it was a monumental success from the viewpoint of Malaysians as perfect host.We always are .

From the perspective of actual performance of Team Malaysia ,OK friends ,I have promised I am not going to go over it again ,lest I will qualify myself for the firing squad .OK ,so ,where do we go from here ?

First and foremost ,let us look at Bahrain and Qatar .Forget about UAE ,since UAE is a million miles ahead ,not from just us but from the rest of the world .Some blokes in the USA are even thinking of opting out of FEI Endurance because even USA , a former superpower in Endurance a decade ago has now been reduced to the dustbin of history .


Saturday, December 13, 2008

A weird and wonderful year for horses - Full Article

December 11, 2008

by Neil Clarkson

Confucius once said that if you put people and horses together for long enough, there's bound to be trouble.

OK, it may not have been Confucius who said it, but I'm absolutely certain someone has uttered words to that effect.

Horses and people have come together in their usual crazy way during 2008 and it's time to look back at just how weird and wonderful that relationship has been.

What a year! Horses have copped the blame for everything from Madonna's divorce to providing bad press for a US presidential hopeful.

Several incidents have proven that alcohol, horses and people never mix - and it doesn't matter who is doing the drinking.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Skin pinch test an unreliable measure of dehydration - Full Article

December 6, 2008

A working horse being treated for heat stress and dehydration in Pakistan.
The standard pinch test to assess dehydration in a horse is an unreliable measure, research involving work horses in Pakistan has revealed.

Veterinarians from Bristol University and The Brooke equine welfare charity examined hydration levels in 50 working horses in Lahore during May and June 2006 at a field clinic run by The Brooke.

Dehydration is a serious welfare concern in horses working in developing countries, where they regularly work for more than eight hours a day in temperatures often exceeding 40degC.

It was hoped the study might identify a valid and practical indicator of dehydration that would enable more rapid treatment and prevention by horse owners.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Feeding Horses When Temperatures Drop - Full article

by: University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
November 30 2008

Winter presents a challenge to horse owners when it comes to feeding their horses. Low temperatures, harsh winds and rain, snow, and ice all contribute to the increasing nutrient requirements a horse has to keep themselves warm and maintain their body weight.

Here are a few feeding tips to help horse owners keep their horses happy and healthy this winter:

* Winter tends to be a time when horses lose weight, and a heavy winter coat can hide a thin horse. Make sure to check your horse's body condition every 30 days. If your horse loses weight during the winter, try increasing his body weight prior to the winter months so that he can lose some weight during the winter without becoming thin.

* Horses require additional energy from the diet to maintain body weight when temperatures drop below 45°F. Remember that pasture grasses do not grow during the colder months. Providing good quality hay at 2% of the horse's body weight should meet his nutrient requirements for maintenance. Feeding hay also generates heat during digestion by gut microbes, and that helps horses stay warm.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Karen Chaton: Musings about endurance riding awards and lifetime achievements

From Karen Chaton's Blog:

I have always thought it to be especially difficult to really compete in the West Region in the AERC. There are so many members here compared to most of the other regions, so the number of awards given to the riders here are substantially less than are given in most of the other regions by membership %. To explain further, they give top ten in each weight division, up to ten max and based on 5% of the ridership. Some regions don’t even give ten awards because they don’t have that many riders in each division. If the West Region were to be awarded the same 5% of awards based upon riders in each division, it would go well past ten in most of the divisions. This system makes it very difficult to place in the region unless you ride a lot, or ride fast. Or both.

One year I won the West Region in points for weight division and overall with Rocky and top tenned 19 of the 23 rides we completed. I couldn’t have gotten enough points without also going fast. He also got a regional best condition and a national best condition award that year. Looking back in hindsight I have always thought that this was not something that I was especially proud of because I think in the end it reduced the longevity of his endurance career. He did have a long career and made the Decade Teams and over 7600 lifetime miles, but I think had I been thinking farther ahead at the time that I may have been able to have extended it even longer. It was fun while it lasted and was probably good for me in a way to get the whole winning, top tenning, getting best condition thing out of my system.

I don’t think that there is anything wrong with always riding conservatively or slowly. You may think other riders are looking down on you but they are really just jealous :^). I have often heard comments about how something must be wrong with somebody’s horse if they are not riding fast. What a retarded way to think! Or you’ll hear a condascending remark something like “well if that’s all you want to do”, as if your goals or accomplishments are less important than somebody else’s because they are different. I think it’s great that there are so many different options and ways to approach the sport of endurance riding that we should all be respectful of what somebody else does and not judge them just because they want something different than we do for our own horses.

New point standings posted today and it turns out that it was a very odd year for the standings in the West Region. Neither Dave Rabe, nor myself either one placed in any category, regionally or otherwise. We both did miss rides for different reasons but we still did a lot of riding. I completed 20 rides and 1,020 miles. Of that, 660 of those miles were on Chief. Dave completed a lot more - 2,470 miles in 47 ride completions. He also had two horses with more than 600 miles each. Now what other region in the AERC can you do that much riding and not even get a single award?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining just pointing out that a lot of slower riders who just go for mileage are not even acknowledged. In the case of Dave and myself, we both have more jackets and awards already than we’ll ever be able to wear. Most of us don’t ride for the awards but if somebody were to set a goal of getting into the endurance/AERC standings, at least in the West region - it’s going to be a lot easier to drop to the shorter distances and do limited distance. Or you are going to have to ride a lot faster. Or go to a LOT of rides or a combination of a lot with some speed. No matter how you do it, placing in a regional award category is a big accomplishment and all of the riders placing this year deserve to be congratulated for a successful ride season!

Fortunately, the AERC also gives awards that recognize long term achievement in the sport. Riders get patches for every thousand miles ridden. I am only a couple of rides short of getting my 22nd one. I think getting the first 250 mile patch and the first 1,000 mile patches seemed to be the longest/hardest. There is such a learning curve in that first thousand miles.